Denys Darlow

The original Tilford Bach Society was started in 1952 by Denys Darlow, who was then Director of Music at All Saints Church Tilford.

There is a charming Pathe News video clip about Tilford village in 1959 with shots of Denys and other musicians practising.

In the early days many of the festival concerts were broadcast on the “Third Programme” (now Radio 3) and several recordings were made by the Tilford Ensemble. There was also a Tilford Bach Festival Choir. Each year there was a performance of the St Matthew Passion on the weekend before Easter and the Festival frequently ended with the B Minor Mass.

Denys Darlow subsequently moved to St George’s Hanover Square in London but remained Director of Music for the Society until 2002. Denys also started the London Handel Festival in 1978 and close links remain between the two festivals. You can read his obituaries HERE

Laurence Cummings took over as Director of Music and was later joined by Adrian Butterfield as joint Director.

In 2010 Laurence Cummings retired as the Music Director and became the Joint President. He is now Director of the London Handel Festival.  Adrian Butterfield then became Music Director.

The Society continued along these lines with all its administration and publicity based on paper until about 2012, when new committee members were appointed and a process of modernisation began. Regular emails were sent to members, a website of activities started and payments started to be taken by PayPal.

About 2016, the trustees agreed to “incubate” a new series of concerts in Godalming called Conservatoire Concerts, run by Suzanne Cacciottolo and these concerts were segregated in the TBS accounts.

The trustees became concerned about the liability risks that they faced and in 2017 they decided to create a CIO, which offered limited liability like a company to run alongside the original charity. Hence Tilford Bach Society CIO was borne – Registered Charity 1172416. The same name was used: the aim was that the two charities would appear as one entity to most external observers. Because the trustees has experienced little interest from members in attending the AGM for the original charity, the CIO was constituted without members being just under the control of its trustees. The original charity was continued because various members paid subscriptions to it by standing order.  If the standing orders had to be changed to a new bank account several would probably not have been renewed and income would be lost. From this time all the concerts and physical activities were run by the CIO because of the benefit of limited liability.

In 2018, following an approach by Matthew Taylor, Tilford Bach CIO offered to incubate Farnham Sinfonia, which started to hold typically two concerts a year. Its income and expenditure were also segregated in the accounts.

In 2019 issues concerning the festival led to the original Society and the CIO ceasing to operate as if they were one entity.  The original society took on the running of the festival and created its website, while the CIO continued to run the concerts in Farnham and Godalming and Farnham Sinfonia.

The CIO no longer runs any activities in Tilford and so it adopted the marketing name “TBS Concerts”. Its legal name remains Tilford Bach Society CIO because it would take a lot of work to change it  – mainly dealing with the banks whose administrative abilities have given some cause for concern. We think that this unusual name arrangement does not affect attendance at concerts, so it does not really matter much.

In 2020 Elizabeth Cooney wanted to try running a Farnham Chamber Music Festival in May and this ran until 2023.

In 2022, Farnham Sinfonia spun off and became a charity in its own right – Registered Charity 1197475. It runs typically three concerts a year and some educational activities.

There are two logical threads behind the TBS changes:

1 – We have been willing to incubate new ventures, ie let them start as part of TBS and then fly off on their own. This was the case with the Farnham Sinfonia, and Godalming Conservatoire Concerts.

2- We have found that it is too difficult to run activities with different business models as part of the same charity – both the Sinfonia and the Tilford Festival cover only about 30% of costs from ticket sales and so need large amounts of sponsorship. In contrast both both the Farnham chamber music concerts and the Godalming Conservatoire Concerts run with a much lower level of sponsorship.

At the end of 2023, Conservatoire Concerts became a separate charity (Registered number 1204804) and its concerts in Godalming go from strengh to strength.



Tilford Village Green is one of the oldest venues for cricket in the country and games take place most weekends in summer on the village green.

Cricket on Tilford green

Cricket on Tilford green