© Jonathan Causebrook 2019
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 -1958) was a notable collector of folk
songs at the beginning of the twentieth century. He travelled around the
countryside and notated the songs sung by the people that he
encountered in order to preserve them for future generations. The songs
he collected were not always completely unknown or even specific to a
particular location, but as is often the case with the oral/aural tradition,
many of them had their own local versions.
On the 27th of August 1904 Ralph Vaughan Williams came to
Ramsbury, Wiltshire. There, in Back Lane, he met an Agricultural
worker/woodman aged around 70 named John Woolford. John who
was born in Ramsbury sang five songs that Vaughan Williams considered
worthy enough to make a record of. All Serene, Mossy Banks of the Lea,
The Lost Lady, The Young Indian Lass and Erin’s Lovely Home.
The accompanying CD contains my versions of these songs. To
compliment these songs I have also included material from the
surrounding villages of Baydon, Aldbourne, Ogbourne St Andrew and
the local town of Marlborough.
Ralph Vaughan Williams - 1902 Courtesy of The Ralph Vaughan Williams
Charitable Trust
Alfred Williams (1877 - 1930) “The Hammer Man Poet” was born
in South Marston north east of Swindon where he lived all of his life.
At the age of 15 he started working at the Great Western Railway
factory works until ill health forced his departure in 1914. He had a
brief spell serving in the British Army in India before returning to
South Marston to earn his living as a market gardener.
He was a published writer and poet mainly on the subject of nature and
rural life. One of his most notable works, “Life in a Railway Factory”
drew on his experiences at GWR.
Alfred was also a keen collector of folk songs and spent many hours
travelling around the villages of Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and
Gloucestershire writing down the lyrics to the songs that were sung to
Only being interested in the words he never notated any tunes.
Luckily, there is a crossover between the songs that Ralph Vaughan
Williams collected in Ramsbury and Alfred Williams collected in
others. It is the words from Alfred’s collection which I have turned to
for this CD.
Alfred Williams - Courtesy of Wiltshire and Swindon Archives
AAron’s LoveLy Home (er+n’s LoveLy Home)
All Serene
Mossy Banks Of The Lea
The Cocks They Is Crowing
Come All You Little Steamers
The Jolly Waggoner
The Young Indian Lass
Young Collins / Winster Processional
The Lost lady
Show Me The Way To Go Home
Baydon Mummers Play
John Woolford 1832/33 - 1908
AAron’s LoveLy Home (er+n’s LoveLy Home)
Collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams from John Woolford of Back Lane, Ramsbury
Roud No.
The manuscript for this tune only shows the
musical score and makes no reference to any lyrics.
There is a suggestion that the version seen here is
quite different to any of the more standard versions
commonly heard. It is possibly for this reason
Ralph Vaughan Williams (RVW), being aware of
the song, made a note of this tune’s unusual variant.
Alfred Williams did collect some words from
Henry “Wassail” Harvey of Cirencester in 1916 to
a song titled Aaron’s lovely home. The same song,
but a good example of how songs evolve as they get
passed around.
Confusingly, the lyrics in his version refer to place
names in Ireland and England!
For my version I have chosen to use the less
standard John Woolford tune with the less standard
Henry “Wassail” Harvey words and changing the
Copyright The British Library Board MS54190-RVW2/2/127
place name references to be more Wiltshire
oriented. The song itself does have its origins in
Ireland and it is quite possible it was brought over
and passed on by the navigators working on the
canals and railways in England.
AAron’s LoveLy Home
When I was young and in my prime
But to my great misfortune
Adieu unto old England
my age was twenty one
her father did appear
for the space of seven long years
then I became a servant
and struck me down for taking
and those I leave behind me
unto a gentleman
his daughter oh so dear
are wailing in their tears
I served him true and honest
he marched me off to Bridewell gaol
and if ever once I do return
and that it is well known
so no more we may roam
I never more will roam
‘till cruelly they banished me
from servant to a criminal
but bid adieu to all my friends
from Aaron's lovely home
From Aaron's lovely home
at Aaron's lovely home
'Twas in her father's garden
My sentence transportation
all in the month of June
it grieved my heart full sore
his daughter she came to me
but leaving my own true love then
in youth and beauty's bloom
it grieved me ten times more
she says - "My dearest William
there are seven strong links all in this chain
if along with me you'll roam
and seven years must I roam
I will not grieve for those I leave
with the iron band upon my hand
at Aaron's lovely home"
from Aaron's lovely home
'Twas on that night I gave consent
The prison cart came to the gate
which proved my overthrow
to take us all away
to leave her father's garden
my true love she came up to me
and with the maid to go
and unto me did say -
the moon was shining bright and fair
"Cheer up your heart be not dismayed
from the garden we did roam
for you I'll ne'er disown
and we thought that we’d got safe away
so do not grieve for those you leave
from Aaron's lovely home
in Aaron's lovely home"
All Serene
Collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams from John Woolford of Back Lane, Ramsbury
Roud No.
23271 & V14838
This appears to be only the first verse of the song,
maybe that’s all Mr Woolford remembered, or
maybe RVW did not feel the need to write down
others. It’s possible he wasn’t too concerned with
the words as he has written at the top of his
manuscript “music hall - but good tune“.
Cross referencing the song lyrics to the broadside
from which it originated, shows it was printed in
various publications up and down the country. One
such copy is held in the Bodleian Library as printed
by Hodges, E.M.A. (London) between 1846 and
1854. It has 9 verses!
I have used the lyrics from the Frank Kidson
Manuscript Collection.
Copyright The British Library Board MS54190-RVW2/2/121
I came from the west a long way down
When up from the prison they let me out
No longer in this town I’ll roam
to look for a wife in London Town
near Hyde Park corner I rambled about
in the third class train I’ll toddle home
All Serene
All Serene
All Serene
I met with a stunning buxom lass
I met with a lass they call her Peg
And there I’ll have some sport and play
I’m sure there’s none could her surpass
she had a nose as long as my leg
with all the country lasses gay
she picked me pockets and done me clean
she whispered in my ear so keen
and if they tumble upon the green
then holloa’d “Chap its all serene”
“Good night my love its all serene”
I’ll play the a tune called all serene
As I was going down Regents Street
To a public house we both went in
Lads take a warning all around
a drunken snob I chanced to meet
and called for a half a pint of gin
or you’ll remember I’ll be bound
All Serene
All Serene
All Serene
He whistled a jig called off she goes
She says to me “Do you want a wife
Beware of the lasses bear in mind
then beat tattoo on me poor nose
can you please a lady in humble life”
and keep your breeches tight behind
I have been served out since here I’ve been
“Oh yes” says I “My lovely Queen”
for if your rhubarb should be seen
I think in my hearts it’s all serene
“Come on” she says “It’s all serene”
the girls will cry its all serene
I went one day to the park to see
Away with her I did repair
and there a cove pitch’d into me
she took me to the you knows where
Quite Serene
All Serene
Then up came one of the awkward squad
She treated me so good and kind
and I was sent seven days to quad
and she gave me two little kids to mind
on skilly and whack they made me keen
and since that time she has not been seen
my appetite was all serene
so I christened the children all serene
Mossy Banks Of The Lea
Collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams from John Woolford of Back Lane, Ramsbury
Roud No.
This song, like many others, goes under several
different names. Looking for the full lyrics that
John Woolford might have sung led me to the
1981 publication of Wiltshire Folk Songs by Jean
Morrison and Celia Cologne. In this book, in their
version of “The Green Mossy Banks of the Lea”
they publish the words for three verses as collected
by Alfred Williams under the title “The American
Copyright The British Library Board MS54190-RVW2/2/125
When first in this country a stranger
Was there I spied a fair creature
curiosity caused me to roam
some Goddess she looked for to be
over Europe I resolved to be a stranger
and she rose from the brink of the river
so I left Philadelphia my home
on the green mossy banks of the Lea
We quickly sailed over to England
I stepped up and wished her good morning
where forms of great beauty do shine
her fair cheeks they blushed like the rose
‘till at length I beheld a fair damsel
I said the green meadows are charming
and I wished in my heart that she was mine
and your guardian I'll be if you choose
One morning I carelessly rambled
She said I nev’r want a guardian
where the great flushing waters did flow
young man you are a stranger to me
was down by a clear crystal river
and yonder is my father coming
not knowing where else for to go
on the green mossy banks of the Lea
The Cocks They Is Crowing
A Tune collected by Cecil Sharp from Thomas Smith of Marlborough in 1923
Image Courtesy of The English Clare College Archives, Cambridge
Come All You Little Steamers
A tune collected by Mr A Foxton Ferguson in Marlborough in 1906
Roud No.
Image Courtesy of The English Folk Dance and Song Society
The Jolly Waggoner
Collected by Alfred Williams from David Phoebus Sawyer of Ogbourne St Andrew
Roud No.
This song was first published as far back as 1857 in “Ancient Poems,
Ballads and Songs of the Peasantry of England” by Robert Bell. Bell
suggests even then that the song can be traced back at least a century.
Vaughan Williams did in fact collect a version of this song but it was
not from John Woolford, or even Ramsbury. I have included it in this
collection as Alfred Williams collected it from the neighbouring village
of Ogbourne St Andrew from an agricultural labourer named David
Phoebus Sawyer.
Alfred Williams only collected lyrics and not melody so here I have
used a generally well know tune and changed a few words!
Courtesy of Wiltshire and Swindon Archives
When first I went a-waggoning a waggoning did go
Now summer is a coming what pleasures shall we see!
I filled my parent's hearts with sorrow grief and woe
hear all the small birds whistle on every green tree
and many are the hardships that we must undergo
blackbirds and the thrushes nightingales too
who can lead the life jolly waggoners do
who can lead the life jolly waggoners do
Sing woa! My lads sing woa!
Drive on my lads-i-o!
Who else can lead the life jolly waggoners do
It is a cold and stormy night me lads and I'm wet unto my skin
Michaelmas will soon be here and the hiring fair rolls in!
I'll bear it with contentment till I come unto an inn
we'll make the gold to fly my boys like chaff before the wind
and there I'll sit a-drinking with the landlord ‘till it’s through
and every lad shall take his lass and steel a kiss or two
who can lead the life jolly waggoners do
who can lead the life jolly waggoners do
The Young Indian Lass
Collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams from John Woolford of Back Lane, Ramsbury
Full lyrics based on those collected by Alfred Williams from Edwin Warren of South Marston
Roud No.
This is a popular broadside
ballad from the mid-19th
century and quite well known
up and down the country.
In America the same song
became popular as “The Little
Mohee” it can also be found
as “The Little Maumee”
which is thought to refer to
the South Pacific.
Copyright The British Library Board MS54190-RVW2/2/124
As I was a-walking in a far distant shore
Now the time being appointed that I had to leave
I called at an alehouse to spend a half hour
to leave this sweet damsel the ocean to breathe
as I sat a smoking beside me a glass
she pulled out her handkerchief wiped her bright eyes
by chance there came in a young Indian lass
"Oh don't go and leave me dear William" she cried
This lovely young Indian as you shall soon hear
It was early the next morning we were going to set sail
with her features of beauty with none she compared
to cross the wide ocean and into the swell she says
she was tall, she was handsome her age was nineteen
"When you are over in your own native land
she was born and brought up in a place near Orleans
remember me William how I squeezed your hand"
She came and sat by me and squeezed my hand
We hoisted our anchor and away then we flew
she says “You're a stranger not one of this land
and a sweet pleasant breeze we soon parted from view
I'll find you lodgings if with me you'll stay
not now I am over and taking my glass
you shall have all my portions without more delay"
here is a health to the lovely young Indian lass
With a jug of good liquor she welcomed me in
now she says "You are welcome to have anything
and besides if you'll stay with me ner’more to roam
I know you're a stranger and far from your home"
Young Collins / Winster Processional
In April of 1971 Aldbourne was transformed into Devil’s End for the filming of the Doctor Who episode ‘The Daemons’ staring Jon
The Master poses as the new vicar in the rural community of Devil's End, just as an archaeologist begins work on opening an ancient barrow
near the village. Despite the Doctor's attempts to stop the work, a Daemon named Azal is released from dormancy within the barrow. A
member of an ancient alien race who guided nascent human life on Earth, Azal has remained behind to judge humanity's worthiness. But the
Master will stop at nothing to seize Azal's tremendous power.
So, it seemed like a good idea to use The Doctor as the Dr in the Mummers play, and as a very tenuous link to use Jon Pertwee‘s later
portrayal of Worzel Gummidge as the basis of his accent!
During the filming of Doctor Who, The Doctor was captured and tied to a Maypole on the Village Green. The Morris dancers who
performed for the camera were Headington Quarry Morris Men (now known as Headington Quarry Morris Dancers).
Their current squire Dave Townsend confirmed to me that these were the two tunes that John Graham (playing the accordion on the right
of the Maypole!) played in the program.
Photos courtesy of Peter West, Aldbourne
The Lost lady
Collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams from John Woolford of Back Lane, Ramsbury
Roud No.
This song can be traced back to at least 1843 when it was published in John Boardwood’s Old English Songs under the title of “Gipsy
Song”. RVW again only collected the first verse. Alfred Williams has also written down a version of this song catalogued under
Miscellaneous by the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre. Unfortunately there is no date or location mentioned.
Again I have used the words collected by Alfred Williams.
RVW’s Folk Song Suite arranged in
1923 features a tune in the intermezzo
taken from a traditional song called
“Green Bushes”. This is noted as being
very similar to a tune called “The Lost
Lady” in Percy Grainger’s 1937
composition “Lincolnshire Posy”.
Grainger collected songs with Lucy
Broadwood (John’s Niece) in 1905 and
the Lincolnshire Posy version of “The
Lost Lady” is based on the one she
recalled from her nurse Mrs Hill in
1893. Although not exactly the same as
the one RVW collected in Ramsbury,
Copyright The British Library Board MS54190-RVW2/2/122
there are similarities!
'Twas down in the valley a young damsel did dwell
When she saw him she knew him and flew in his arms
she lived with her father we all know full well
he told her his grief while he gazed on her charms
'twas down in the valley with violets so gay
“How came you to Dublin my darling?” said he
three gypsies betrayed her and stole her away
“Three gypsies betrayed me and stole me away”
Long time she'd been missing and could not be found
“Your father in England in prison does lie
‘till her father he searched the wide country round
and for your sweet sake he's commanded to die”
he came to a trustee betwixt hope and fear
“Carry me back to old England my dearest” she cried
and the trustee made answer “She has not been here”
“One thousand I'll give you and will be your bride”
Then up spoke the trustee with courage so bold
When she came to old England her father to see
“I'm afraid she is lost for the sake of her gold”
the cart it stood under the old gallows tree
“We'll have for life Sir” the trustee did cry
“Oh pardon! Oh pardon! Oh pardon! I crave
“We'll send you to prison and there you shall die”
don't you see I'm alive your dear life to save”
There was a young squire who loved her so
Then from under the gallows they led him away
and oft to the school house together they'd go
the bells they did ring and the music did play
“I'm afraid she is murdered and great is my fear
every house in the valley with mirth did abound
if I'd wings like a dove I would fly to my dear”
as soon as they heard the lost lady was found
Then he travelled through England through France and through Spain
and he ventured his life on the watery main
‘till he came to a house where he lodged for one night
and in that same house was his own heart's delight
Show Me The Way To Go Home
During the Second World War Aldbourne
became home to the American 506th Parachute
Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne
Division in preparation for the D-Day landings.
The Blue Boar became the Officers Mess and
was off limits to enlisted men. Amongst the
memorabilia on display there is a copy of an
original Officers Club document celebrating the
‘Keglars Club’ and sites the 1925 song “Show
Me The Way To Go Home” as their official
Club theme song! Both verses are documented
in the 101st Airborne Division Songbook.
Incidentally, the book and TV drama ‘Band Of
Brothers’ is based on Easy Company who were
one of the units billeted in Aldbourne.
Show me the way to go home
I'm tired and I want to go to bed
I had a little drink about an hour ago
and it went right to my head
where ever I may roam
on land or sea or foam
you will always hear me singing this song
show me the way to go home
Indicate the way to my abode
I'm fatigued and I want to retire
I had a spot of beverage sixty minutes ago
and it went right to my cerebellum
where ever I may perambulate
on land or sea or atmospheric strate
you can always hear me crooning the melody
indicate the way to my abode
Baydon Mummers Play
This Mummers play was collected from Baydon c1900 by Henrietta Batson from Charles Farmer. We know from clippings and
photographs collected by the Aldbourne Heritage Centre and Aldbourne Archive that the village did have a tradition of performing
Mummers plays. It seems quite likely that as Baydon is only 4 miles north east of the village that this particular play, or one very similar
could also have been performed here.
Mummers Play
Baydon c1900
Ordish Collection
Courtesy of The
Folklore Society
In the spirit of evolving traditions, I have changed some of the text in the documented play to include some Aldbourne references, most
obviously substituting the Doctor for Aldbourne’s very own Dr Who.
This new play was performed twice in the village over the Christmas period of 2018 by the Heritage Centre to a largely appreciative
audience. Hopefully we have revived a tradition for future generations!
Father Christmas
“Here come I old Father Christmas
Welcome or welcome not I hope old Father Christmas will never be forgot
Roast beef, plum pudding, mince pie
Who likes them better than you and I
Make room, make room for my broad sword
Let the Turkish Knight walk in and clear the way”
Turkish Knight
“Here come I the Turkish Knight
To draw my glittering sword to fight
Fight I will before I go
I will make King George’s blood to flow
I will cut him as small as fry
And he will do to make mince pie
I will cut him as small as dust
And he will do to make mince pie crust
And if you do not believe what I say
Walk in King George and clear the way”
King George
“Here come I King George so bold
To fight this man for all his gold
If his blood’s hot, my blood’s cold
A battle, a battle we will call
To see which on the ground first shall fall
So guard your head and mind your blows
We will have a battle before us goes”
Father Christmas
“Is there a doctor to be found
All ready here at hand
To cure a deep and deadly wound
And make the champion stand”
The Doctor
“I am the Doctor returned to Devils Ends
I beat the Master and the world defend
For 15 Guineas is my fee
My sonic screw driver will cure he
But if 15 Guineas you can no make
I’ll have a cup of tea and slice of cake”
King George
“Thank you Dr for I am saved
And the Turkish Knight he stayed slayed
But tell me stranger are you who you say you are
A traveller from world afar?”
“That I be I can give you proof
Over a pint of ale in the Cloven Hoof”
Father Christmas
“But to Dr who do we pay this homage
‘Cause you looks and sounds more like Worzel Gummage!
Now make room, make room I pray
Let little Jim Jack clear the way!"
Jim Jack
“Here come I little Jim Jack
With my wife and family at my back
Although my substance is but small
I will do my best to please you all
We have not come here to laugh or jeer
But for a pocketful of money and a skinfull of beer
But if you do not believe what I say
Walk in Father Beelzebub clear the way”
Father Beelzebub
“Here come I Old Father Beelzebub
On my shoulder I carry my stick
And in my hand my little can
Don’t you think I am a brave old man?
With my great head and little wit
I am the best man amongst this kit
My head so big, my wit so small
We will sing a song to please you all”
Father Christmas
“Now Ladies and Gentleman
Your sport has just ended
So now for the box
Which is highly commended
The box would speak
If it had but a tongue
So throw in your money
And think it no wrong”
Siddle Pizzle’ a photograph captioned
‘Mummers Play’ by the Aldbourne
Photographic Club/Civic Society
December 2018 - Aldbourne Heritage Centre Mummers.
(Back row, left to right) Terry Gilligan, Sydney Watts, Jan Lambourn, Liz Dymond, John Dymond
(Front row, left to right) Alan Heasman, Jonathan Causebrook
John Woolford 1832 - 1908
Ramsbury Wiltshire
John Woolford was born to George and Elizabeth in 1832. He was the oldest of 6 children and the family lived in Back Lane, Ramsbury.
On the 5th of August 1854 John, then aged 22 married 21 year old Martha Avenell. Martha was born in Letcombe, Berkshire but she and
her family had been living back in her father’s home village of Ramsbury since she was at least 7 years old. Most latterly they had been living
in Whitehouse Lane.
John and Martha set up home close to John’s parents in Back Lane and there they raised a family of 15 children. Thomas, Rachel, Emma,
George, Mary Ann, John, Elizabeth, Hester, Ann, William, Jane, Harry and Edith are the only names listed in the census records, the other 2
names do not appear. Later records suggest that 3 of their children died, but it is not clear what their names were or when that happened.
All the while John had been working as a woodman in the village, he is occasionally described in the census as an agricultural worker, but it is
clear that many of the extended Woolford family were also woodmen and hurdle makers too.
Whilst the census records tell us that the family lived in Back Lane, no entries include a house name or number. What we do have however,
is the schedule number of the household that the enumerator assigned to it. Occasionally, alongside the schedule number a house name
or description may be given. Things such as The School House, The Vicarage, The
Rookery, Bodorgan House along with the street name gives us the orientation that
each census was ordered.
Mapping the 1861, 1881, 1891 and 1901 census out this way clearly suggests that
the Woolford household in Back Lane was between Whitehouse Lane (Burdett
Street) and the High Street and on the same side of the road as Bodorgan House
(Ramsbury Hill). Even more telling is that in each census following the schedule
numbers household by household, the Woolfords always come up as having The
Bleeding Horse public house and the Blacksmith as their neighbours.
This leads me to believe that their actual house no longer exists, however, it may
well have been between where Maslin’s Close now stands and the junction of the
High Street.
John Woolford died in 1908 at the aged of 72, not 1905 as recorded in the 1911 census. He is buried in Ramsbury’s Holy Cross
Churchyard along with Martha, their fourth son William, eldest daughter Rachel and third son John. The headstone stands in plot 472 in
the south east corner.
In Memory of
The Beloved husband of
Martha Woolford
Who departed this life
October 10th 1908
Aged 75 years
Also of his wife
Martha Woolford
Also in loving memory of William Woolford
Who departed this life
Their fourth son
May 1st 1921
Killed in action in France
Aged 82 years
March 2nd 1916
Aged 44 years
Her children shall rise up and
Sweet and honourable it is to
call her blessed
die for your country
This stone was erected by their children
Also their eldest daughter
as a token of love and affection
Who died Dec. 1st 1934
Aged 78 years
and their third son
Who died Jan 19th 1946
Aged 82 years
I have known Alan Woolford for a number of years, long before I was aware of John
Woolford and his encounter with Vaughan Williams. Alan has often spoken of the fact
that his family have lived in Ramsbury for many generations and it seemed to me that there
was quite possibly a link to be made. Having spent many hours researching and piecing
together snippets of information from the census and birth, death and marriage records, I
have been able to deduce that John Woolford’s paternal Grandparents, William and Mary
are also Alan’s Great, Great, Great Grandparents. Alan’s Great Grandfather Ambrose, son
of Joseph, was 1st cousin to John Woolford.
This makes Alan and John 1st cousins 3 times removed (I think!!).
Alan Woolford
- Ramsbury
- John
Woolford’s 1st cousin 3 times removed
The Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust
Wiltshire and Swindon Archives
The British Library
Clare College Archives, Cambridge
Peter West
The Folklore Society
Aldbourne Heritage Centre
Aldbourne Archive
English Folk Dance and Song Society
Vaughan Williams Memorial Library
Halsway Manor
Wiltshire Council - Chris Wildridge
101st Airborne Songbook
Adventures in Audio
The Blue Boar Inn, Aldbourne
Headington Quarry Morris Dancers
Faustus - for Inspiration!