The Lost Lady

Jonathan Causebrook

Jonathan Causebrook home Ralph Vaughan Williams 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 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 with the oral/aural tradition many of them had their own local versions.

On the 27th of August 1904 Vaughan Williams came to Ramsbury, Wiltshire. There, in Back Lane, he met a Agricultural worker/Woodman aged around 70 named John Woolford. Woolford who was born in Ramsbury (and according the census information had lived in the same house all his life) sang five songs that Vaughan Williams considered making a record of, All Serene, 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 surround villages of Baydon, Aldbourne, Ogbourne St George and the local town of Marlborough.


Aaron's Lovely Home ( Erin's Lovely Home )

Collected by Ralph Vaughn Williams from John Woolford of Back Lane, Ramsbury
Lyrics biased on those in the Alfred Williams collection of Folk Songs
collected from Henry ‘Wassail’ Harvey
Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre
Roud No. 1427

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Lyrics

When I was young and in my prime
my age was twenty one
then I became a servant
unto a gentleman
I served him true and honest
and that it is well known
‘till cruelly they banished me
from Aaron's lovely home

'Twas in her father's garden
all in the month of June
his daughter she came to me
in youth and beauty's bloom
she says - "My dearest William
if along with me you'll roam
I will not grieve for those I leave
at Aaron's lovely home"

'Twas on that night I gave consent
which proved my overthrow
to leave her father's garden
and with the maid to go
the moon was shining bright and fair
from the garden we did roam
and we thought that we’d got safe away
from Aaron's lovely home

But to my great misfortune
her father did appear
and stuck me down for taking
his daughter oh so dear
he marched me off to Bridewell gaol
so no more we may roam
from servant to a criminal
From Aaron's lovely home

My sentence transportation
It grieved my heart full sore
But leaving my own true love then
It grieved me ten times more
There are seven strong links all in this chain
And seven years must I roam
With the iron band upon my hand
From Aaron's lovely home

the prison cart came to the gate
to take us all away
my true love she came up to me
and unto me did say -
"Cheer up your heart be not dismayed
for you I'll ne'er disown
so do not grieve for those you leave
in Aaron's lovely home"

Adieu unto old England
for the space of seven long years
and those I leave behind me
are wailing in their tears
and if ever once I do return
I never more will roam
but bid adieu to all my friends
at Aaron's lovely home


All Serene

Collected by Ralph Vaughn Williams from John Woolford of Back Lane, Ramsbury
A broadside ballad described as ‘Music hall’ by RVW
Full lyrics taken Frank Kidson Manuscript Collection
Roud No. 23271 & V14838

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Lyrics

I came from the west a long way down
to look for a wife in London Town
All Serene
I met with a stunning buxom lass
I’m sure there’s none could her surpass
she picked me pockets and done me clean
then holloa’d chap its all serene

As I was going down regents street
a drunken snob I chanced to meet
All Serene
He whistled a jig called off she goes
then beat tattoo on me poor nose
I have been served out since here I’ve been
I think in my hearts it’s all serene

I went one day to the park to see
and there a cove pitch’d into me
Quite Serene
Then up came one of the awkward squad
and I was sent seven days to quad
on skilly and whack they made me keen
my appetite was all serene

When up from the prison they let me out
near hyde park corner I rambled about
All Serene
I met with a lass they call her Peg
she had a nose as long as my leg
she whispered in my ear so keen
good night my love its all serene

To a public house we both went in
and called for a half a pint of gin
All Serene
She says to me do you want a wife
can you please a lady in humble life
oh yes says I my lovely queen
come on she says its all serene

Away with her I did repair
she took me to the you knows where
All Serene
She treated me so good and kind
and she gave me two little kids to mind
and since that time she has not been seen
so I christened the children all serene

No longer in this town I’ll roam
in the third class train I’ll toddle home
All Serene
And there I’ll have some sport and play
with all the country lasses gay
and if they tumble upon the green
I’ll play the a tune called all serene

Lads take a warning all around
or you’ll remember I’ll be bound
All Serene
Beware of the lasses bear in mind
and keep your breeches tight behind
for if your rhubarb should be seen
the girls will cry its all serene

The Green Mossy Bans Of The Lea

Collected by Ralph Vaughn Williams from John Woolford of Back Lane, Ramsbury
Full lyrics ………………………………….
Roud No. 987

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Lyrics

When first in this country a stranger
curiosity caused me to roam
over Europe I resolved to be a stranger
so I left Philadelphia my home

We quickly sailed over to England
where forms of great beauty do shine
‘till at length I beheld a fair damsel
and I wished in my heart that she was mine

One morning I carelessly rambled
where the great flushing waters did flow
was down by a clear crystal river
not knowing where else for to go

Was there I spied a fair creature
some goddess she looked for to be
and she rose from the brink of the river
on the green mossy banks of the Lea

I stepped up and wished her good morning
her fair cheeks they blushed like the rose
I said the green meadows are charming
and your guardian I'll be if you choose

She said I nev’r want a guardian
young man you are a stranger to me
and yonder is my father coming
on the green mossy banks of the Lea

The Cocks They Is Crowing / Come All You Little Steamers

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Lyrics

The Jolly Waggoner

Collected by Alfred Williams from David Phoebus Sawyer of Ogbourne
Alfred Williams only collected lyrics and not melody so here I have used a generally well know tune and changed a few words!
Roud No. 1088

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Lyrics

When first I went a-waggoning a waggoning did go
I filled my parent's hearts with sorrow grief and woe
and many are the hardships that we must undergo
who can lead the life jolly waggoners do

Chorus
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
I'll bear it with contentment till I come unto an inn
and there I'll sit a-drinking with the landlord ‘till its through
who can lead the life [-] jolly waggoners do

Chorus

Now summer is a ‘coming what pleasures shall we see!
hear all the small birds whistle on every green tree
blackbirds and the thrushes nightingales too
who can lead the life [-] jolly waggoners do

Chorus

Michaelmas will soon be here and the hiring fair rolls in!
we'll make the gold to fly my boys like chaff before the wind
and every lad shall take his lass and steel a kiss or two
who can lead the life [-] jolly waggoners do

Chorus

The Young Indian Lass

Collected by Ralph Vaughn Williams from John Woolford of Back Lane, Ramsbury
Full lyrics biased on those collected by Alfred Williams from Edwin Warren of South Marston
Roud No. 2326

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Lyrics

As I was a-walking in a far distant shore
I called at an alehouse to spend half an hour
as I sat a smoking beside me a glass
by chance there came in a young Indian lass

This lovely young Indian as you shall soon hear
with her features of beauty with none she compared
she was tall she was handsome her age was eighteen
she was born and brought up in a place near Orleans

She came and sat by me and squeezed my hand
she says “You're a stranger not one of this land
I'll find you lodgings if with me you'll stay
you shall have all my portions without more delay"

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"

Now the time being appointed that I had to leave
to leave this sweet damsel the ocean to breathe
she pulled out her handkerchief wiped her bright eyes
"Oh don't go and leave me dear William" she cried

It was early the next morning we were going to set sail
to cross the wide ocean and into the swell She says
"When you are over in your own native land
remember me William how I squeezed your hand"

We hoisted our anchor and away then we flew
and a sweet pleasant breeze we soon parted from view
nut now I am over and taking my glass
here is a health to the lovely young Indian lass

Young Collins / Winster Processional

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Lyrics

The Lost Lady Found

Collected by Ralph Vaughn Williams from John Woolford of Back Lane, Ramsbury
Lyrics biased from the Alfred Williams collection of Miscellaneous Unknown Songs
Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre
Roud No. 901

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Lyrics

'Twas down in the valley a young damsel did dwell
she lived with her uncle father we all know full well
'twas down in the valley with violets so gay
three gypsies betrayed her and stole her away

Long time she'd been missing and could not be found
‘till her uncle father he searched the wide country round
he came to a trustee betwixt hope and fear
and the trustee made answer 'She has not been here'

Then up spoke the trustee with courage so bold
'I'm afraid she is lost for the sake of her gold
‘we'll have for life sir' the trustee did cry
'We'll send you to prison and there you shall die'

There was a young squire who loved her so
and oft to the school house together they'd go
'I'm afraid she is murdered and great is my fear
if I'd wings like a dove I would fly to my dear'

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

When she saw him she knew him and flew in his arms
he told her his grief while he gazed on her charms
'How came you to Dublin my darling?' said he
'Three gypsies betrayed me and stole me away'

'Your uncle father in England in prison does lie
and for your sweet sake he's commanded to die'
'Carry me back to old England my dearest' she cried
'One thousand I'll give you and will be your bride'

When she came to old England her uncle father to see
the cart it stood under the old gallows tree
'Oh pardon! Oh pardon! Oh pardon! I crave
don't you see I'm alive your dear life to save'

Then from under the gallows they led him away
the bells they did ring and the music did play
every house in the valley with mirth did abound
as soon as they heard the lost lady was found

Mummers Play

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Lyrics

Show Me the Way To Go Home

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Lyrics
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