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The Wonderful Sucking Pig / The Sussex Pig

[ Roud 1615 ; Ballad Index RcTSuPig ; VWML GG/1/11/699 ; Bodleian Roud 1615 ; trad.]

Marrow Bones

Bob Lewis of Patcham, Sussex, sang The Sussex Pig to Mike Yates in 1980. It was released in 1990 on his Veteran Tapes cassette A Sweet Country Life (VT120). This recording was included in 2001 on the Veteran anthology CD of traditional folk music from rural England, Down in the Fields. Mike Yates noted:

Known elsewhere in the country as The Wonderful Suckling Pig (not be confused with Will Noble’s song of the same name which is a completely different song), The Sussex Pig belongs to a large group of songs that concern larger than life individuals—be they human or animal. Perhaps the best-known song in this group is The Derby Ram. It’s actually quite an old piece which, fittingly, is sung to an old tune, Bow Wow Wow or, to use another title, The Barking Barber, which has also been used for quite a number of other songs, including Pop Maynard’s Shooting Goshen’s Cocks Up.

Craig Morgan Robson sang The Wonderful Sucking Pig on their 2006 CD Stranded. They noded

This was collected by Gardiner from Alfred Stride of Dibden, Hampshire [ VWML GG/1/11/699 ] . Dibden is in the New Forest, just a mile or so from where Sarah [Morgan] spent much of her childhood. Pigs used to be an important part of the forest animal life, and if you are a New Forest commoner, you may still have the right of “ pannage”—in other words, you can let your pigs roam the forest looking for food.This song is one of a category known as “Songs of Lies and Marvels” which includes The Crocodile and the well known Derby Ram. Such songs may have their origins in pagan animal worship… and there again, they may just be a bit of fun! We added some chorus words replacing the orginal “tol lol lol”s.

Lyrics

Bob Lewis sings The Sussex Pig

You all have heard of the Christmas goose, and the walloping great pie
But I think to myself it’s not much use to tell such a precious lie
I will tell you of a wonder now that’s as true as I’m a sinner
About a wonderful Sussex pig we had for Christmas dinner
To my Tol lala rol lol Tol lala rol lol Tol lala rol li day,
Tol rol rol rol rol rol rol rol rol ri day.

Now the very day this pig was born he cut some running capers
He swallowed a field of turnip tops and forty tons of taters
They took and draw out all his teeth, but it only made him snarly
For he bolted a wagon load of sweeds and a sack of oats and barley
To my Tol lala rol lol Tol lala rol lol Tol lala rol li day,
Tol rol rol rol rol rol rol rol rol ri day.

This Sussex pig he got so fat, you might think it a lark,
They say his head when three weeks old was as large as Noah’s ark,
One leg was as big as a greasy pole with a ton of bristles on it
And his curly tail when pulled out straight were longer than the comet.
To my Tol lala rol lol Tol lala rol lol Tol lala rol li day,
Tol rol rol rol rol rol rol rol rol ri day.

To kill this wonderful Sussex pig, the folks got tired of trying
Without telling one word of a lie, he were twenty years a dying
Two hundred men then set to work with lots of knives and choppers
And it took them all about seven years to cut off one of his trotters
To my Tol lala rol lol Tol lala rol lol Tol lala rol li day,
Tol rol rol rol rol rol rol rol rol ri day.

These men had one leg for their lunch, so to Cowdray Park they took it
They had to boil the river up before that they could cook it
His bones were sent up to North Mill to be ground up for flour
And they ground about ten thousand sacks in less than half an hour
To my Tol lala rol lol Tol lala rol lol Tol lala rol li day,
Tol rol rol rol rol rol rol rol rol ri day.

To see this wonderful Sussex pig the people came in clusters
And bakers bought these sacks of flour and made their quarter busters
Now you may not think this all true, but I don’t care a fig
For everything I’ve said is true about this wonderful pig
To my Tol lala rol lol Tol lala rol lol Tol lala rol li day,
Tol rol rol rol rol rol rol rol rol ri day.
Tol lala rol lol Tol lala rol lol Tol lala rol li day,
Tol rol rol rol rol rol rol rol rol ri day.