Richard Of Taunton Deane

The photo is of a Rectory near Taunton, Somerset; just the kind of place a good-natured, well-meaning bumpkin might have gone courting a young lady above his station; and an appropriately plodding tune and chorus.


Sam Gilbert of St Mawgan East, Cornwall, sang Limady to Sabine Baring Gould in June 1904. The word ‘limady’ (in other versions lemany) is a remarkable folk memory of the Old English word, leman, meaning sweetheart.

The drawing of a view from the Sussex Downs to the sea, is from Countryside Treasures, an entirely handwritten and illustrated book by Horace Knowles, printed on uncut handmade paper and published as a limited edition in 1946.

Dicky The Miller

Dicky The Miller was noted by Henry Hammond in 1908 from John Seaward, Charnmouth, Dorset. One of the few traditional songs in which the miller turns out to be a decent fellow. Hurrah! has the story of the miller in the photo.

The Seasons Of The Year

Lucy Broadwood had these words from John Burberry, a Sussex gamekeeper, in 1892, which was published in her pioneering collection, English County Songs. I don’t remember where the tune came from. The last verse, a different kind of reflection on the year, makes me ponder.

My Boy Willie

John Bradley of Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire, sang this song to Cecil Sharp on 22 August 1911 and Randolph Caldecott painted the illustration. This was one of many songs I enjoyed as a boy, without the faintest notion of what it was about.

With Jockie To The Fair

With Jockie (or Jockey) To The Fair first appeared in print in The Songster’s Companion of 1772. Its origins are unknown. The music is used by morris dancers to this day. I searched in vain for a suitable picture of a young lady escaping from her home at the crack of dawn with her young man, so instead we have two fine illustrations by outstanding artists: an atmospheric painting by Randolph Caldecott (Manchester Art gallery) and a May Day drawing by Henry Matthew Brock.

The Banks Of Green Willow

As we now have it, this ancient ballad is enigmatic, though a little clearer if we recall the story of Jonah in the Bible, or the incident on the ship taking the apostle Paul to Rome in which a bad storm was blamed on the some guilty person on board. It was a long-standing belief that the only way to save a ship in danger was to throw the guilty one overboard. In our song the lady makes her view known: It’s better to lose two lives, than lose so many (sailors). However, we are none the wiser about what she was said to have done wrong.

George Butterworth collected the song from Mr & Mrs Cranstone of Billingshurst, Sussex in 1907. Anna Turnbull of crafted the remarkable willow sculpture The Huntress of Ripon. The terrifying heavy seas were photographed by Philip Stephen.