He may even have met some of the Chapel Royal singers in a professional capacity: several times during the 1510s and 20s some of them had sung at St Mary s on major feast days, and it is possible that this practice continued in the 1530s.
Whatever its attractions, London proved to be only a staging post for Tallis.
There seems to be no record of Tallis s departure from Dover, but the priory itself was dissolved in the autumn of 1535, very soon after it had been visited by the king s commissioners.
The more affluent monastic houses of the period certainly endeavoured to participate in the fashionable cultivation of elaborate church music by employing a small choir of professional lay singers; such a choir, which was quite distinct from the monks own ch o i r, would usually have performed in the Lady Chapel of the monastery, because this was often the only part of the monastic church to which the laity had access.
Dover Priory, however, was far from wealthy in the early 1530s its annual income was about 170, less than a tenth of that of a major Benedictine abbey such as St Albans and it can hard ly have been in a position to spend lavishly on music.
This compact disc is the first in a series of nine which will cover Tallis s complete surviving output from his five decades of composition, and will include the contrafacta, the secular songs and the instrumental music much of wh i ch is as ye t unrecorded.
Great attention is being paid to performance detail i n cl u d i ng pitch, p ronunciation and the music s liturgical context.
The cathedral had a long and live ly musical tradition involving not only the maintenance of a p ro fessional Lady Chapel choir but also the encouragement of the monks own musical talents; it seems quite possible that this could have assisted the exploitation of music at Dover.
Even so, any choir available to Tallis at Dover Priory must surely have been tiny perhaps solo voices on each of the lower lines and three or four boys at the top of the texture.
Because Tallis had joined the staff only recently he was not awarded a pension; instead he received 20s. It is tempting for us to see the course of the English Reformation as having been inevitable and predictable; yet here we observe Tallis, who was presumably as capable of sensing what was in the wind as any other professional musician in London, making a career move that would bring him to a dead end some eighteen months later.
In f a c t, d u r i ng the late 1530s and early 1540s government policy on religion was astonishingly unpredictable and sometimes contradictory, and this must have had an extremely unsettling effect on church music.
On the other hand, the fact that the priory employed a lay organist at all could be taken to imply quite a serious commitment to music.
In addition, Dover was a cell or dependent house of Canterbury Cathedral, which was itself a Benedictine priory.
One might expect that in 1540 the prospects of ree m p l oyment for a redundant ch u rch musician would have looked decidedly bleak.