This version of Lord Bateman was collected by Cecil Sharp. Arthur Rackham illustrated a version of the song in ‘Some British Ballads’ by Professor F C Child, 1919. I chose Arthur Rackham’s illustration, The Dance in Cupid’s Alley as a suitably joyful celebration of Lord Bateman’s second wedding that day with doves flying almost unnoticed over the happy couple.
I remember singing a version of Robin a Thrush at primary school and not understanding it at all, not that it mattered – I liked the refrain. Cecil Sharp was pleased to collect the song, and a great many others, from Sister Emma, aged 71, at Clewer, Berkshire in February 1909.
In contrast to Robin’s slatternly wife, the photos are of orderly places and people in my neighbourhood, beginning with the top photo of the poshest changing room I’ve ever seen in a charity shop (or anywhere else)!
This version of The Outlandish Knight is one of many collected by Cecil Sharp. Outlandish originally meant from a different part of the country or foreign parts. The first superb illustration is May Colvin by Arthur Rackham, from ‘Some British Ballads’ by Professor F C Child, 1919. The second is Enid and Geraint by Rowland Wheelwright, 1907.
One Night As I Lay On My Bed was collected by Janet Blunt from Mrs Nation of Baytree Cottage, Bathpool, Somerset, in 1916/17.
Ratcliffe Highway, now known as The Highway, was a notoriously tough area of bawdy houses, pubs, rough lodgings and ship’s chandlers, south of the Thames in Stepney. The song was collected by George Gardiner from Isaac Hobbes, of Micheldever (a more serene place in Hampshire) in June 1906.
The atmospheric paintings, better seen full-size, are by John Atkinson Grimshaw.
“This song is rooted deep in tradition, so deep, in fact, that its origins can only be guessed at. According to two scholars of English folk-song, Lucy Broadwood and Anne Gilchrist, it is a secularised version of a medieval hymn in praise of Christ, the Fisher King.” (Notes from ‘Marrowbones’ 1965)
Tune from Mrs Jane Gulliver, Combe Florey, Somerset; words from George Roper, Charlton St Mary, Dorset; collected by Henry Hammond 1905.
Outward & Homeward Bound was collected by Cecil Sharp and published in English Folk-Songs for Schools 1906, including the lines about the sailor giving his “old girl a hearty smack” and she replying “You are saucy…!”. The drawing is of the West India Docks, London 1888 as I couldn’t find a suitable one of the Katherine Docks mentioned in the song.