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> Cyril Tawney > Songs > Johnny Greyman and His Grey Mare

Widdicombe Fair / Johnny Greyman and His Grey Mare

[ Roud 137 ; Ballad Index K308 ; trad.]

Bill Westaway of Belstone, Devon, and George ‘Pop’ Maynard of Copthorne, Sussex, sang Tom Pearce (Widecombe Fair) on the anthology Songs of Animals and Other Marvels (The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 10; Caedmon 1961; Topic 1970). Another version of George Maynard singing this song as Lansdown Fair at The Cherry Tree, Copthorne on December 16, 1959 to Brian Matthews was included in 2000 on his Musical Traditions anthology Down the Cherry Tree and a year later on the Musical Traditions anthology Just Another Saturday Night. Yet another version of George Maynard singing Landsdowne Fair to Ken Stubbs in 1959 was printed in 1970 in Stubbs' E.F.D.S. book of English folk songs from the Home Counties, The Life of a Man.

Cyril Tawney, Lewis Johns and John Steel sang Widdecombe Fair at a concert presented by the English Folk, Dance and Song Society at the Royal Festival Hall, London on June 4, 1965; this recording was published in the same year on the concert EP The Folksound of Britain: Northumbria / West Country. Cyril Tawney recorded this song again as Johnny Greyman and His Grey Mare in 1970 on his Argo LP Cyril Tawney Sings Children’s Songs from Devon and Cornwall. He commented in his liner notes:

I found this among the Baring-Gould manuscripts. No source is indicated but presumably it is from either Devon or Cornwall. I have also recorded another version from Molly Spooner of Yelverton, Devon. An interesting poser for folklorists: Is this merely a simplified nursery version of the well-known Widdicombe Fair or an older, more primitive form of the song?

LaRena Clark sang The Old County Fair to Edith Fowke in Toronto in 1965. It was published in 1969 on her Topic album of folksongs from Ontario, A Canadian Garland.

Fred Hamer printed a version of William Bartle of Bedfordshire singing Bedford Fair in his 1967 E.F.D.S. book Garners Gay.

Jon Raven sang Midsummer Fair in 1968 on the Broadside album The Halliard : Jon Raven.

Brian Golbey sang Widdicombe Fair in 1983 on Tim Hart and Friends' album Drunken Sailor and Other Kids Songs. This track is one of the two not reissued on the compilation CD Favourite Nursery Rhymes and Other Children's Songs.

Bob Cann sang Widdecombe Fair on a Veteran cassette published in 1978-89 and on the 2004 Veteran anthology CD of folk songs sung in the West Country, Old Uncle Tom Cobleigh and All. John Howson commented in the album's liner notes:

The Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould published Widecombe Fair in Songs of the West (1895) stating that the original Tom Cobleigh lived in Spreyton in a house near Yeoford Junction and suggesting that the names in the chorus all belonged to Sticklepath. These two villages on the edge of Dartmoor are only a few miles from where Bob Cann was brought up and the version he sings here came from his grandfather. The song was included in many song collections including Ballads Ancient and Modern by Robert MacIntyre (1929) and was sometimes adapted to other locations. Sussex singer George (Pop) Maynard sang a version which he called Lansdowne Fair which listed different participants who were led by Uncle Tom Cockeral.

Lyrics

George ‘Pop’ Maynard sings Lansdown Fair

Tom Pearce, Tom Pearce, lend me your old mare,
Hey along, ding along, ding,
Tom Pearce, Tom Pearce, lend me your old mare,
Hey along, ding along, ding,
So that I may ride over to Lansdowne Fair.

Chorus (after each verse):
With Bill Brewer, Jack Stewer, Harry Hawkins, Bill Jo-sie,
Harry Hollops, Tom Brown, Joe Chapman, Ben Backwell
And our Uncle Tom Cockerel and all
And our Uncle Tom Cockerel and all.

Oh when will my mare return home again?
Oh, at Friday noon, or Saturday soon.

Now Friday's gone and Saturday's come
And my old mare she's not returned home.

So I took a ride over to Lansdowne Fair
There I saw my old mare a-making her will.

So I threw the halter right over her head
And my old mare she dropped down dead.

And my old mare she dropped down dead.

Brian Golbey sings Widdicombe Fair

Tom Pearce, Tom Pearce, lend me your grey mare,
All along, down along, out along lee.
For I want for to go to Widdicombe Fair.

Chorus (after each verse):
With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer,
Peter Gurney, Peter Davey,
Dan'l Whiddon, Harry Hawke,
Old Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all,
Old Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all.

And when shall I see my old grey mare again?
All along, down along, out along lee.
By Friday night or Saturday noon.

Then Friday came and Saturday noon,
All along, down along, out along lee.
Tom Pearce's old grey mare had not trotted home.

Tom Pearce he went up to the top of the hill,
All along, down along, out along lee.
He found his old grey mare a-making her will.

Tom Pearce's old grey mare she took sick and died,
All along, down along, out along lee.
Tom Pearce he sat down on her tombstone and he cried.

But this isn't the end o' this shocking affair,
All along, down along, out along lee.
Nor, though they be dead, of the horrid career.

When the wind whistles shrill in the dead of the night,
All along, down along, out along lee.
Tom Pearce's old mare do appear ghastly white.

And all the night long you'll rattlings and groans,
All along, down along, out along lee.
It's Tom Pearce's old grey mare, she's rattling her bones.

Bob Cann sings Widdecombe Fair

Tom Pearce, Tom Pearce, lend me your grey mare,
Right-fal-and-o-jingle-i-o,
For I want to go to Widdecombe Fair.

Chorus (after each verse):
With Bill Hewer, Jan Brewer,
Harry Hawkin, Joe Davey,
Philly Wigpot, George Parsley,
Dick Wilson, Tom Cobleigh and all.
'Ere is Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all.

Oh when will I see my old mare again,
Right-fal-and-o-jingle-i-o,
Be Friday noon or Saturday soon.

Then Friday came and Saturday soon,
Right-fal-and-o-jingle-i-o,
Tom Pearce's old mare he hadn't trotted home.

So Tom Pearce he went to the top of the hill,
Right-fal-and-o-jingle-i-o,
He saw his old mare there a-making her will.

Tom Pearce's old mare fell sick and her died,
Right-fal-and-o-jingle-i-o,
Tom Pearce sat down on a stone and he cried.

When the wind whistles cold on the moors of a night,
Right-fal-and-o-jingle-i-o,
Tom Pearce's old mare appears ghastly white.

And all the night long you hear shirkings and groans,
Right-fal-and-o-jingle-i-o,
Tom Pearces's old mare is a-rattling her bones.

Now that was the end of that shocking affair.
Right-fal-and-o-jingle-i-o,
And that was the end of poor Tom's old grey mare.