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Bampton Fair

[ Roud - ; Mudcat 111289 ; trad.]

Jim Causley sang Bampton Fair, which seems to be a Devon variant of Patrick Christopher Farrell’s Galway song Ballinasloe Fair, on his 2021 album Devonshire Roses. He noted:

Traditional. From the singing of Margaret Palmer, farmer from the Brendon Valley, Exmoor, who made the trip to Bampton Horse Fair with her father and the ponies many times throughout her life. The fair is still held every last Thursday in October.

Note: Paul Wilsons’s Bampton Fair as sung by e.g. Tony Rose is quite another song.


Jim Causley sings Bampton Fair

When I was a young maid my daddy said to me,
Daughter, come along to the horse fair with me,
Up in the morning, away we will go
And we’ll take the long road to the Fair at Bampton Hall.

We started off at daybreak in the cold October air,
We saw the Travelling People all going to the fair.
And as we went through Witheridge, it wasn’t far to go
To reach the town of Tiverton that made history long ago.

And as we jogged along to the outskirts of the fair
We then went down to Brook Street and to the Market Square.
’Twas there we saw the horse dealers busy at their trade,
They’d horses by the hundred, by every hue and shape.

Chorus (after each verse):
There was draught horses, race horses, cobs and hunters too,
And little Exmoor ponies, but them were quite a few.
We heard the ballad singers singing songs of long ago
Everyone was gathered for the Fair at Bampton Hall.

And as we went along the road we saw the famous ring,
’Twas here they were performing the crowning of the King.
We heard him make his speeches and he seems so very proud
As he jumped unto the platform, at the cheering of the crowd.

But times have changed a bit today, a new system now exists,
They’re chosen by the ballots instead of by the fist.
The (fathers?) they would practice in the days of long ago
To fight the whole in battle for the King of Bampton Hall.

And then to Maggie May’s we went for a jar or two of cider,
We heard the music playing and the dancing getting wilder.
The women in their home-made shawls, the men in hobnail boots
The atmosphere was jolly with the fiddles and the flutes.

And then my father says to me, he’d had enough to drink,
So hop into the horse and cart, we hit the midnight trip.
We started on the road again, it was a fair a way’s to go,
I never shall forget about the Fair at Bampton Hall.