> Cyril Tawney > Songs > Strawberry Fair

Strawberry Fair / Chilbridge Fair

[ Roud 173 ; trad.]

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 album it was on wasn't released until 1976 on the Leader label as Down Among the Barley Straw: Seduction Songs from the Baring-Gould Manuscripts. He commented in his sleeve notes:

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.

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.

Lyrics

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

“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.”

Acknowledgements

The original lyrics that Baring-Gould collected were copied from the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Req: Strawberry Fair - old English trad.. See also the thread Lyr Req: Strawberry Fair.