Friday, January 13, 2012

English Folk Music Part 3

Hello and welcome back to my series of posts on English Folk music.

This month, I have two songs again. The first is "The Keys of Canterbury" and the second is "Poor Murdered Woman".

The Keys of Canterbury

The Keys of Canterbury is a lovely tale of courtship. It tells of how a man tries to buy the love of a woman, promising her all sorts of gifts.

There are several variations of this song. In the one below, the man offers the lady all sorts of riches, but she refuses until he offers her his heart and she accepts. He realises that the only way to win her is to give her his heart.

However, there are other versions where the lady accepts after the offer of a number of riches but the man then withdraws his offer saying she is only after money.

This tune was first written down in 1846, but it dates back much further. In one of the versions the man offers the lady a pair of cork shoes. This means that the song dates from no later than the era of chopines or high cork shoes: 1400-1600's. In 1670, there was an Act of Parliament that banned women wearing high-heeled shoes (and other items) and it was punishable by "the penalty of the laws now in force against witchcraft, sorcery, and such like misdemeanors." I hope it was repealed!

This song has also been widely sung as a singing game amoung children (singing in rounds).

The version is by Show of Hands. Lyrics are below (lyrics may be slightly different to this version).


O Madam, I will give you
The keys of Canterbury,
And all the bells in London
Shall ring to make us merry.
If you will be my joy, my sweet and only dear,
And walk along with me, anywhere.


I shall not, Sir, accept of you
The keys of Canterbury,
Nor all the bells in London,
Shall ring to make us merry.
I will not be your joy, your sweet and only dear,
Nor walk along with you, anywhere.


O Madam, I will give to you
A pair of boots of cork,
The one was made in London,
The other made in York,
If you will be my joy, my sweet and only dear,
And walk along with me, anywhere.



I shall not, Sir, accept of you
A pair of boots of cork,
Though both were made in London,
Or both were made in York.
I will not be your joy, your sweet and only dear,
Nor walk along with you, anywhere.


O Madam, I will give you
A little gold bell,
To ring for your servants,
And make them serve you well.
If you will be my joy, my sweet and only dear,
And walk along with me, anywhere.


I shall not, Sir, accept of you
A little gold bell,
To ring for all my servants,
And make them serve me well.
I will not be your joy, your sweet and only dear,
Nor walk along with you, anywhere.


O Madam, I will give you
A broidered silken gownd,
With nine yards a-drooping
And training on the ground,
If you will be my joy, my sweet and only dear,
And walk along with me, anywhere.


O Sir, I will accept of you
A broidered silken gownd,
With nine yards a-drooping
And training on the ground,
Then I will be your joy, your sweet and only dear,
And walk along with you, anywhere.

-----

Poor Murdered Woman:

This song tells of the true story of a murdered woman found in Leatherhead in 1834 by the Surrey Union Hunt. It was said to have been written by Mr Friars, a Brickmaker in the area and tells of the sad tale of the woman who nobody knew but whose murder shocked and stirred the locals compassion.


Below is the newspaper report of the murder from The Times Tuesday January 14th 1834:

SUPPOSED MURDER - While the Surrey Union Fox Hounds (which are under the direction of H. Combe, Esq.) were out hunting on Saturday last, on Leatherhead Common, a most extraordinary and horrid circumstance occurred which at present is involved in great mystery. About 12 o'clock in the day, as the huntsman (Kitt) was beating about for a fox, the hounds suddenly made a dead set at a clump of bushes on the common. As no fox made his appearance, the huntsman whipped the hounds off, but they still returned to the bushes and smelling all round, would not leave. Supposing there was a fox which would not break cover, the huntsman &c., beat the bushes and in so doing, to their astonishment and horror, they discovered the body of a woman in a state of decomposition, so much so, that on attempting to remove it it was found to be impracticable. A person was placed to watch the remains, and information was sent to Dr. Evans of Leatherhead, who promptly attended. On examining the head, a severe wound was found, and from the general appearance of the body it is supposed to have lain there several months. It was placed in a shell and removed to the Royal Oak, on the common, where a coroner's inquest is summoned to assemble this day (Monday). Various rumours are afloat, some stating the unfortunate woman was the wife of a travelling tinker.

---



Jackie Oates has recently done a version of this song, unfortunately it's not available yet on YouTube, but click here, and you'll be able to hear a clip.

Lyrics:

It was Hanky the squire as I've heard men say
Who rode out a-hunting on one saturday
They hunted all day but nothing they found
But a poor murdered woman laid on the cold ground

About eight o'clock, boys, our dogs they throve off
On Leatherhead Common and that was the spot
They tried all the bushes but nothing they found
But a poor murdered woman laid on the cold ground

They whipped their dogs off and they kept them away
Cried "We think it is proper that she should have fair play"
They tried all the bushes but nothing they found
But a poor murdered woman laid on the cold ground

They mounted their horses and they rode off the ground
They rode to the village and alarmed it all around
"It is late in the evening, I'm sorry to say
She cannot be removed until the next day"

The next sunday morning about eight o'clock
Some hundreds of people to the spot they did flock
For to see the poor creature, your hearts would have bled
Some cold-hearted violents came into their heads

She was took off the Common and down to some inn
And the man that has kept it, his name is John Simms
The coroner was sent for, the jury they joined
And soon they concluded and they settled their mind

The coffin was brought, in it she was laid
And took to the churchyard of this court Leatherhead
No father nor mother nor no friend I'm told
Came to see the poor creature laid under the lawn

So now I conclude and I'll finish my song
And those that have tarried shall find themselves wrong
To the last day of Georgemont a trumpet shall sound
And this soul's not in heaven, I'm afraid, when being found


I hope you have enjoyed this month's selection of folk songs. I'll be back on February 13th with some more.

Jenna Dawlish

www.jennadawlish.com

Author of two Victorian novels: Love Engineered and Sprig of Thyme.

2 comments:

  1. I have always found it fascinating what tales get turned into songs. An unknown woman's murder must have been hard on the mind of the man who wrote the second song.

    Thanks for this series of posts! I've enjoyed enriching my knowledge of folk music.

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  2. Thanks Sophia, glad you liked it. The story of the Murdered Woman is so very sad isn't it.

    Jenna x

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