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What Will Become of England?

[ Roud 1779 ; Mudcat 35883 ; trad.]

Harry Cox sang What Will Become of England? to Peter Kennedy in Catfield, Norfolk, in the 1950s. This recording was released in 1965 on his eponymous EFDSS album, Harry Cox. Another recording made by Alan Lomax in 1953 was included in 2000 as the title track of his Rounder anthology What Will Become of England?.

Georgia Shackleton sang What Will Become of England? on her 2023 CD Harry’s Seagull, followed by the tunes Yarmouth Hornpipe and her Harry’s Seagull. She noted:

Harry Cox was a fantastic traditional singer and song-writer born in Barton Turf, and raised in Catfield from 1890. Catfield is where he lived for the rest of his life. Sadly, ‘What Will Become of England’ doesn’t lose relevance. This is followed by one of many Yarmouth Hornpipes, which often appear in the East Anglian step dancing tradition. Harry’s Seagull is a tune I dedicate to Harry Cox. I was delighted to learn that Harry was an animal lover and kept a wounded seagull as a pet for some time.


Harry Cox sings What Will Become of England?

What will become of Eng-e-land if things go on this way?
There’s many a thousand working man is starving day by day.
He cannot find employment, for bread his children cry,
And hundreds of these child-e-ren they now lay in their graves.

Some have money plenty but still they crave for more,
They will not lend a hand to help the starving poor.
They pass you like a dog and on you cast a frown,
That is the way old Eng-e-land the working man cast down.