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Weyhill Fair

[ Roud 10536 ; trad.]

Roy Palmer printed Weyhill Fair with a tune collected by Frank Kidson in his book Room for Company: Folk Songs and Ballads (Cambridge University Press, 1971). Dave Hillery sang in a year later on the accompanying album Room for Company. Roy Palmer noted in his book:

The fair at Weyhill, three miles from Andover in Hampshire, is still held every year on old Michaelmas Day (10 October). It dates back at least to the eleventh century. In the eighteenth century, Defoe commented on the large sums—up to half a million pounds—which changed hands at the fair, and the large number of pickpockets. The song concentrates on the horse-trading at Weyhill, with some interesting references to the dealers' subterfuges. There are a number of specialised terms: windgalled (having tumours on the legs), roarers (horses suffering from a disease which causes loud breathing during any exertion), clickers (horses that click while trotting).

Sue Harris and John Kirkpatrick sang Weyhill Fair in 1974 on their first album, The Rose of Britain's Isle. They commented in the sleeve notes:

The fair at Weyhill, near Andover, Hants, has been held continuously for at least eight hundred years. In the eighteenth century it was one of the greatest horse fairs in the country, and Daniel Defoe wrote about it. Only the words of the ballad survived, so Roy Palmer fitted them to the tune of a comparable Yorkshire song, Shelburn Fair.

Lyrics

Sue Harris and John Kirkpatrick sing Weyhill Fair

It's I have been to Weyhill Fair
And, oh, what sights I did see there
(To tell my tale would make you stare)
    And see the horses showing.
They come from East, they come from West,
They bring their worst, they bring their best.
And some they lead and drive the rest
    Unto the fair at Weyhill.
    Sing fal la la la, sing fal la la lay,
    Unto the fair at Weyhill.

There were blacks and bays and duns and greys
And sorrel horses, aye, and mares;
And piebald too I do declare
    And more that I do know on.
There were blind and lame and windgalled, too,
Crib-biters there were not a few
And roarers more than one or two,
    All at the fair at Weyhill.
    Sing fal la la la, sing fal la la lay,
    All at the fair at Weyhill.

All ages, too, as I'm alive,
From one to two, to thirty-five;
And some they scarce could lead or drive,
    Or on the downs could show 'em.
There were broken-winded, too, I saw,
And some for panting scarce could draw,
And there were clickers, too, I'm sure,
    All at the fair at Weyhill.
    Sing fal la la la, sing fal la la lay,
    All at the fair at Weyhill.

Now some upon the road were shown
And others found upon soft ground;
And up the hills their heads were turned,
    And that's the way to show 'em.
They can gain or lose an inch or two,
Oh yes, they this, and more, can do,
To find the horse that will suit you,
    All at the fair at Weyhill.
    Sing fal la la la, sing fal la la lay,
    All at the fair at Weyhill.

The dealers through the fair do splash
And swing around a long whiplash,
And say, “My lads, come stand a-swash”
    And that's the way to show 'em.
They crack their whips and curse and swear,
And cry, “My lads, be of good cheer,
For this my lads is Weyhill Fair,
    Do you like the fair at Weyhill?
    Sing fal la la la, sing fal la la lay,
    Do you like the fair at Weyhill?”

(repeat first verse)