> Cyril Tawney > Songs > Strawberry Fair

Chilbridge Fair / Strawberry Fair

[ Roud 173 ; Master title: Chilbridge Fair ; Ballad Index ReCi125 ; Mudcat 37992 , 74995 ; trad.]

Sabine Baring-Gould, Henry Fleetwood Sheppard: Songs of the West Roy Palmer: Everyman’s Book of English Country Songs Frank Purslow: The Constant Lovers James Reeves: The Everlasting Circle

Frank Purslow and John Pearse sang Chilbridge Fair in 1960 on their Folklore Records album Rap-a-Tap-Tap: English Folk Songs Miss Pringle Never Taught Us.

Cyril Tawney recorded Strawberry Fair in 1971 but the ensuing album of seduction songs from the Baring-Gould manuscripts wasn’t released until 1976 on the Leader label as Down Among the Barley Straw. He noted:

In its re-written version for schools this must be one of the most widely known of English “folk songs”. The original text and melody given here were obtained from James Masters of Bradstone, although Baring-Gould informs us that most singers in Devon and Cornwall knew the song and everywhere it was sung to the same tune. I have doubts about his assertion, however, that the lock-and-key double entendre was lost on the majority of the singers.

Derek Sarjeant and Hazel King sang Chilbridge Fair on their 1973 album Folk Matters. They noted:

Learnt orally. A version from Dorset is printed in The Constant Lovers. Collected by the Hammond Brothers.

Chris Sarjeant sang Chilbridge Fair in 2012 on his WildGoose CD Heirlooms. He commented in his sleeve notes:

My father learnt this wonderfully euphemistic song from his friend John Pearse in the 60s and recorded it on his 1974 album, Folk Matters.


Cyril Tawney sings Strawberry Fair

As I was going to Strawberry Fair
   Ri-tol-ri-tol, riddle-tol-de-lido
I saw a fair maid of beauty rare
I saw a fair maid go selling her ware
As she went on to Strawberry Fair

“O pretty fair maiden, I prithee tell,
My pretty fair maid, what do you sell?
O come tell me truly sweet damsel
As you go on to Strawberry Fair.”

“O I have a lock that doth lack a key,
O I have a lock, sir,” she did say.
“If you have a key then come this way
As we go on to Strawberry Fair.”

Between us I reckon, that when we met
The key to the lock it was well set;
The key to the lock it well did fit
As we went on to Strawberry Fair.

“O would that my lock had been a gun
I’d shoot the Blacksmith, for I’m undone.
And wares to carry I need have none
That I should go to Strawberry Fair.”