Dead Maid's Land

by Paul Wilson & Marilyn Tucker

Traditional songs from the 19th Century collection of Sabine Baring-Gould. The songs on this album have been selected from the hundreds collected by Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould over a century ago in Devon and Cornwall and have been chosen for the way they enrich and inform our lives now. As collected the songs have a rough, magical beauty like the moorland landscapes from which they come; now, like stones brought in from the weather to adorn a living room, they have been trimmed and polished for a new audience. The musical arrangements embrace harmony singing, fiddles, concertina, a touch of brass and other ideas borrowed from living traditions in England, designed to make these gems sparkle like the crystals in moorland granite.

Singers and Musicians

Paul Wilson (PW) voice - fiddle - accordion
guitar - cittern - tabor
Marilyn Tucker (MT) voice
Chris Bartram (CB) fiddle - cello - voice
Tim Laycock (TL) voice - concertina

Chris Foster (CF) guitar
Martin Graebe( MG) voice
Phil Humphries (PH) serpent - trombone
Ellen Thomson (ET) recorder
Bob Tinker (BT) trumpet

Wren Chorus
Paul Kemeny (PK), Dawn Newton (DN), Anne Perry (AP)
Julia Perry (JP), Marilyn Pinn (MP), Jenny Southam (JS)



Sabine Baring-Gould (1834 - 1924)

Sabine Baring-Gould spent the last 43 years of his life as Squire and Parson of Lewtrenchard, in West Devon and for much of this time he was active in the collection of traditional song in Devon and Cornwall and published Songs of the West in 1889. This was, as Cecil Sharp put it, The first serious and sustained attempt to collect the traditional songs of the English peasantry. Because he was trying something new Baring-Gould did it his way and brought into his work all the prejudices and conceits that mark his character as well as the scholarly interest, phenomenal memory for detail and ability with words that make it an exceptional collection.

He also brought his deep interest in people and in Characters. His published work contains many word pictures of the singers from whom he collected and these accounts leave us a unique insight into the lives of these men and women. What he has also left is a mass of manuscript and printed materials that he assembled during the course of his work and, particularly, his personal fair copy of his collected songs, from which most of the items on this album have been taken.

Other songs from the collection of Baring-Gould are on the album Parallel Strands by Martin Graebe & Shan Cowan.

1 Blue Muslin 


This song is known to thousands by one or other of it's many titles - The Keys of Canterbury, The Keys of Heaven, The Paper of Pins. Published widely in the 19th Century this version, from John Woodrich of Thrushleton, comes with a fresh twist. 

2 Dead Maid's Land 


It was from Thomas Paddon in December 1889 that Baring-Gould took down this early version 
of the song which Cecil Sharp later collected as The Seeds of Love. The powerful flower symbols climax with the rose where the allegory has a strong basis in fact - slow-growing roses are the most poisonous. 


3 Frog and Mouse 


Delighting children and adults alike for centuries, here is the full story of Froggie went a Courting/Anthony Rowley that Sam Fone of Lewdown gave to Baring-Gould. The tune is very complete and beautiful and the song has resonances of the Elizabethan England in which it was published. 


4 The Mower 


Although Baring-Gould 'cleaned up' this song of sexual encounter for publication in A Garland of 
Country Song, the words and tune as sung here were taken from James Parsons of Lewdown and are recorded unedited in his notebooks. A printed copy of the song can also be found in Baring-Gould¹s personal collection of broadsides. 


5 Herrings Head 


From the village of South Zeal, here is a version of The Herring's Head where images of Dartmoor 
hill-farming have replaced the usual fishing symbols. Sung by Lucky Fewins at the Oxenham Arms, this is from the 'argumentative' strain of the song - as opposed to the 'cumulative.' 


6 Drunken Maidens 


In a disagreement with Cecil Sharp about this being a 'proper' folk song, we find Baring-Gould, as so often, on the liberal side of the argument, advocating it's inclusion into the folk canon. The version on this recording is from thatcher Edmund Fry, collated with other texts in the collection. 


7 Gipsy Countess 


Sabine reconstructed some of this version of the Gipsy Laddie (Wraggle Taggle Gipsies). Exactly how much we may never know. What is important is that the story is well told and what is fascinating is that there are autobiographical echoes of Baring-Gould's own courtship - though his story had a happier ending! 


8 Golden Vanity 


The ballads offer a special opportunity for singers to develop and change the song in live performance, adding verses, modifying tunes while the kernel of the story remains. James Olver's version provided the departure point for this treatment of this ballad. 

9 Georgie 


Sung amongst the travellers, popularised by Joan Baez, Geordie becomes Georgie, Bohenny 
becomes Broadhembury as singers have localised their stories. This stunning tune has relatives in other Westcountry collections and was given by John Woodrich whom Baring Gould sent on collecting missions for his ability to hear and retain a tune on one hearing. 


10 The Old Ewe 


An entrepreneurial trip to Guernsey turns out all right - a small slice of local life collected from John 
Radmore at South Zeal on August 9th 1894. 


11 W. Andrews Hornpipe No. 1 


One of around 25 tunes from the tune-book of local fiddler William Andrews of Sheepstor. 

12 When I was Young 


A remarkable gazetteer of jobs and place names provides yet another twist on the Jack of All Trades theme from William Cann of South Tawton. No tune was noted, so Paul has grown a new one from local roots as a vehicle for some great lyrics. 

13 Haymaking 

Something like this song is found alive and well in the repertoire of several country singers like the 
Coppers of Sussex, while the poetry suggests more urban stage play origins. John Woodrich sang tune and words to Baring Gould in 1890, but claimed it was an imperfect remembering of his father¹s favourite song from 40 years earlier. 

14 Harvest Song 

Charles Arscott of South Zeal and Harry Westaway of Belstone both sang this song to Baring Gould 
but for some reason he did not include it in the manuscripts he sent to Plymouth. 


15 Robin Redbreast 

Baring-Gould, through his writing and his lectures, encouraged people to send him songs. This Cornish Wassail song text is based on one sung in Jacobstowe and sent to him by Mrs. Batchellor as taken down from a local wassailer. Mrs Batchellor provided no music so a tune sent in independently from G. Lewis Maitland seems to fit the bill. 

16 W. Andrews Hornpipe No. 2 

Dartmoor fiddler William Andrews tune-book has quite a few pieces in Bb and F with echoes from other English regions. Do these pieces represent a lost strain of Devon tradition or were they grafted on from elsewhere? In any event, great tunes like this have just got to be played. 

17 My Ladys Coach 

A song Baring-Gould learnt from his nurse, Mary Bickell. Lady Mary Howard was a 17th century figure who outlived four husbands, getting a divorce from the last for cruelty. Folklore has made her a wicked woman who murdered all four and as a penance rides nightly from Tavistock to Okehampton and back in a coach made of their bones, a headless horseman and a huge black dog running in front. 
Blue Muslin
This song is known to thousands by one or other of it's many titles - The Keys of Canterbury
Sample not available
Dead Maid's Land
It was from Thomas Paddon in December 1889 that Baring-Gould took down this early version <br>of the song which Cecil Sharp later collected as The Seeds of Love. The powerful flower symbols climax with the rose where the allegory has a strong basis in fact - slow-growing roses are the most poisonous. <br>
Sample not available
Frog and Mouse
Delighting children and adults alike for centuries
Sample not available
The Mower
Although Baring-Gould 'cleaned up' this song of sexual encounter for publication in A Garland of <br>Country Song
Sample not available
Herrings Head
From the village of South Zeal
Sample not available
Drunken Maidens
In a disagreement with Cecil Sharp about this being a 'proper' folk song
Sample not available
Gipsy Countess
Sabine reconstructed some of this version of the Gipsy Laddie (Wraggle Taggle Gipsies). Exactly how much we may never know. What is important is that the story is well told and what is fascinating is that there are autobiographical echoes of Baring-Gould's own courtship - though his story had a happier ending! <br>
Sample not available
Golden Vanity
The ballads offer a special opportunity for singers to develop and change the song in live performance
Sample not available
Georgie
Sung amongst the travellers
Sample not available
The Old Ewe
An entrepreneurial trip to Guernsey turns out all right - a small slice of local life collected from John <br>Radmore at South Zeal on August 9th 1894. <br>
Sample not available
W. Andrews Hornpipe No. 1
One of around 25 tunes from the tune-book of local fiddler William Andrews of Sheepstor.
Sample not available
When I was Young
A remarkable gazetteer of jobs and place names provides yet another twist on the Jack of All Trades theme from William Cann of South Tawton. No tune was noted
Sample not available
Haymaking
Something like this song is found alive and well in the repertoire of several country singers like the <br>Coppers of Sussex
Sample not available
Harvest Song
Charles Arscott of South Zeal and Harry Westaway of Belstone both sang this song to Baring Gould <br>but for some reason he did not include it in the manuscripts he sent to Plymouth. <br>
Sample not available
Robin Redbreast
Baring-Gould
Sample not available
W. Andrews Hornpipe No. 2
Dartmoor fiddler William Andrews tune-book has quite a few pieces in Bb and F with echoes from other English regions. Do these pieces represent a lost strain of Devon tradition or were they grafted on from elsewhere? In any event
Sample not available
My Ladys Coach
A song Baring-Gould learnt from his nurse
Sample not available

Dirty Linen

Ivan Emke

This release consists of 15 songs (and two hornpipes) from Devon and Cornwall, selected from the hundreds that were collected in the late 1800s and early 1900s by the Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould. Many of these are newly recovered folk songs, and others are well known already, such as a version of Gypsy Laddie, called The Gypsy Countess, and a rendering of Golden Vanity. The Rev. Baring-Gould personally collected over 650 songs, in addition to other printed materials. His first published collection, in 1889, was one of the first serious attempts to preserve the songs of the English peasantry (according to Cecil Sharp). Baring-Goulds manuscripts were published in late 1998, and this recording project is a part of the preservation of the tradition to which Baring-Gould was devoted.

The music is directed by Paul Wilson (who also sings and plays fiddle, accordion, guitar, cittern and tabor). Other musical collaborators include Tim Laycock, Chris Bartram, Marilyn Tucker, Chris Foster and members of the Wren Chorus. These singers and musicians have produced quite wonderful versions of the material together, with fine singing (whether it be solo, choral, or harmony), sprightly fiddles, guitars, concertinas, recorders, and a seasoning of brass. Some of the many highlights include a jaunty Frog and Mouse, a cleaned-up version of The Mower (with a Carthy-esque guitar backing), the vocal jousting of Herrings Head, and the choral festivity of Robin Redbreast, a Cornish wassail. Dead Maids Land is much more than just a CD put together to remember and mark the publication of a folk song collection; it is a delightful celebration of a living tradition.

(CornerBrook, NF, Canada)

Taplas

Bob Harragan

Of all the CDs released in 1998 concerned with archivist?collectors of the early 20th. century, this modest product from the west country could turn out to be the most important. That it is also one of the most enjoyable recordings of the year is an added bonus.

No big?league names, but a set of singers and musicians whose names will be well?known on the folk scene: Tim Laycock, Paul Wilson, Chris Foster, Martin Graebe, Marilyn Tucker and others.

The first revelation is a set of new traditional songs (many of them variants on familiar themes) with an approach to arrangement more akin to The Mellstock Band and the way you imagine those old Hardy church choirs would have sounded. The result is very different from the way we have treated traditional songs in the revival, but sounds totally authentic. The most important thing this project from the Wren Trust does is remind us that these songs were performed, more often than not, on social occasions, in a formal setting. It was only the collector with his notebook or recording equipment that got the performance one?to-one.

Poor old Baring?Gould got a reputation as a bit of a prude for his bowdlerisation of some of his songs, but some here, like The Mower and Drunken Maidens, show how he was right. These are the kind of saucy?erotic songs that are still sung on girls night out. The men, of course, prefer the direct pornographic. This album also includes Frog and Mouse, Herrings Head, Golden Vanity and Georgie in versions you wont have heard before. If you are buying one album blind this year, make it this one. You wont be disappointed.

 

Shire Folk

Chris Mills



These songs are all from those collected in Devon and Cornwall at the end of the last century by the Reverend Sabine Baring?Gould. There is a version of The Drunken Maidens which obviously travelled readily across from the Isle of Wight. There is some well arranged fiddle accompaniment to the songs from Chris Bartram, and some equally welcome contributions from Tim Laycock (concertina), and Marilyn Tucker (vocals), among many others. This CD will be of particular interest to singers and players in search of new material, and It enriches the archive for the tradition as a whole.

Living Tradition

Bob Blair

This CD is part of the Songs of the West Project coordinated by the Wren Trust about the folk song work of Sabine Baring-Gould.

The main singers Marilyn Tucker, Paul Wilson and Tim Laycock are supplemented by a variety of instruments (including fiddle cello, concertina, recorder, accordion, guitar and serpent) and players (Chris Foster, Chris Bartram and Ellen Thompson) and all have an association in one form or other with the work of the Wren Trust.

The songs are gems! - and the various singers do them justice. Some of the songs may appear elsewhere in other versions or even in the work of Baring-Gould, either previously published or in the manuscripts he deposited in Plymouth Library, but these have been loving resurrected and there are additions culled from the Baring-Gould collection that have only come to light in the last few years. For this we owe thanks to the work of the Wren Trust and Martin Graebe in particular.

All but one song is accompanied, the exception being a version of The Golden Vanity, but the accompaniments are tasteful and do not intrude on the songs. There is also a couple of instrumental tracks featuring tunes from BaringGoulds collection.

The notes accompanying the CD credit, most properly, the source singers from whom the songs came and contain further information on the Wren Trust including information on Internet sites which feature the work of the Trust and Baring?Gould.

This CD is a must for those interested in the work of Baring-Gould and/or British traditional song.


Folk North West

Derek Gifford

This album is a collection of 15 songs and 2 tunes selected from the many hundreds collected in Devon and Cornwall by the Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould over a century ago. They reflect very well the local life of the time. The song When I Was Young probably represents this comprehensively with its veritable gazetteer of West Country places and a compendium of trades and professions of the time.

Among the better known songs are very interesting versions of Herrings Head, Three Drunken Maidens, Golden Vanity and Georgie (AKA Geordie). The title track is an early version of the Seeds of Love a song collected much later by Cecil Sharp.

There is also an unusual wassailing song from Cornwall called Robin Redbreast .

Among the other highlights is Gypsy Countess a fascinating song with links to the Wraggle-taggle Gypsies and The Old Ewe is a strange account of a trip to Guernsey. Haymaking and Harvest Song are particularly appealing chorus songs. I can almost hear them been sung at many a singaround or festival singing session.

The two jaunty tunes included are William Andrews Hornpipes nos. 1 & 2  making a nice break from the songs.

Paul Wilson acted as a creative musical director reflected in the competent arrangements, harmonies and accompaniments some of which even include a touch of brass. A high standard of performance from the musicians and singers (too many to mention individually) on this album make it well worth a place in anyones collection of our traditional folk song heritage. Highly recommended and available from WildGoose via their web site - www.WildGoose.co.uk or telephone 01264 860569.

Netrythms

David Kidman

This disc is a remised reissue of one released a few years ago which presented 17 traditional songs from Devon and Cornwall, taken from the manuscript collection of Sabine Baring-Gould and performed by singers and musicians associated with the Wren Trust, under the auspices of whose Songs Of The West Heritage Project the recording was made. Each song features a different permutation of artistes from the pool, and there's a good range of performing styles and arrangements from solo to harmony singing. The instrumentation employed incorporates (variously) fiddle, concertina, guitar, cello, recorder and a smidgen of brass (trombone, trumpet, serpent). With folks like Chris Bartram, Tim Laycock, Chris Foster, Martin Graebe and the aforementioned Marilyn Tucker and Paul Wilson involved, you can expect lively and characterful performances that are fully committed, while you can also trust the songs will be accorded the necessary respect. The actual settings range from rich and lusty to early-chamber, but always apposite to the texts. The selection of songs is as representative as it can be given the playing-time of just one disc, with a sensible variety of moods, with ballads (Golden Vanity), country songs (The Mower, The Old Ewe, Haymaking), and songs over which arguments have long raged as to their provenance as "proper" folk songs (The Drunken Maidens). Many of them may have familiar titles, but they use tunes or variants which are markedly less so. And just for contrast, there are a couple of hornpipes, delectably played. Put simply (for there is little else that needs saying), this is a delightful disc which will give a lot of pleasure.

EDS in 2007

Jacqueline Patten

Songs of the West Heritage Project was a two year programme co-ordinated by Wren Trust, which brought together Wren Trust, Devon Libraries, the Baring-Gould family and the National Trust to provide a microfiche copy of the song collection and related material accumulated by Sabine Baring-Gould. This album draws from that collection. Not only does it draw attention to the significant role that Baring-Gould had as a song collector at the turn of the twentieth century, it also shows that his collection continues to be relevant at the beginning of twenty-first century.

To make a selection for this album from such an abundance of material could not have been easy. The balance of light-hearted with more serious songs is to be commended. They were chosen and arranged by Paul Wilson, the musical director. He has done justice to the collection at the same time as pleasing his audience. Many of the songs are local variants of widely known songs, while `The Old Ewe', 'When I Was Young' and `My Lady's Coach' provide insight into West Country life. Together the songs provide a delightful picture of nineteenth-century rural life. To the songs are added two hornpipes from another West Country manuscript, the tune book of local fiddler, William Andrews. Both are played in a light and crisp style.

The 'friends' who perform with Marilyn and Paul are Tim Laycock, Chris Foster, Martin Graebe, Phil Humphries, Ellen Thompson and Bob Tinker, plus six singers from a local choir. Instruments used in the arrangements are the fiddle, cello, concertina, accordion, guitar, cittern, tabor, recorder, trombone, trumpet and serpent. The arrangements enhance the quality of the songs in a way that the original singers and Baring-Gould would surely have approved.

It is to be hoped that other albums based on the collection will follow . . . soon.

Mardles 2007

Mike Everett

Even though, as I write this review, there are still a few months of 2007 left, this CD gets my vote as album of the year. This is despite the fact that it is a remixed reissue from almost 10 years ago. I missed the original release so Im particularly pleased that its out again. This is an album of traditional songs from Devon and Cornwall, all collected by the Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould in the late 19th century, one of this countrys most prolific collector of folk songs. This selection has been chosen by Paul Wilson of the Wren Trust and is performed by a host of fine singers and musicians, including Paul himself, Chris Bartram, Tim Laycock, Marilyn Tucker and Martin Graebe.

Many of the songs will be recognisable, but probably in rather different versions. The title track is a variant of The Seeds Of Love; the opening track, Blue Muslin, will be more familiar as The Keys Of Canterbury, and there are versions of The Drunken Maidens, Golden Vanity and Georgie, as well as other less familiar songs. The song that is most different from the North East version that I know is Herrings Heads with its hill farming images rather than fishing symbols.

So, why should it be the CD of the year? Simply, because Im playing it more frequently than any other album and enjoying listening to it. And you will too.

Shreds & Patches 2007

Julian Weaver

On first receiving this album I thought the title of the album - "Dead Maid's band" seemed a little ghoulish somehow but on reading the sleeve notes and listening to the CD I can assure everyone that it is anything but. The title song was also collected elsewhere by Cecil Sharp but he published it under the name of Seeds of Love.

As ever from Wild Goose the quality of the recording is excellent. It is a good varied work with a fine selection of songs and the sleeve notes are concise and informative. Importantly the singing is clear and distinct with fine harmonies. The accompaniment complements the singing; giving it a nice light touch with nothing overbearing that might detract from the song.

The friends help to move the music along but this is not surprising considering the talent involved - Chris Bartram; Chris Foster; Martin Graebe and Tim Laycock being amongst them. It is generous of Marilyn & Paul to pass the lead on some of the tracks to Tim. The inclusion of two instrumental pieces adds nicely to the variety.

I appreciate the couple of paragraphs on the back of the insert, especially the line "Because he was trying something new Baring-Gould did it his way and brought into his work all the prejudices and conceits that mark his character as well as the scholarly interest..." Not demeaning the fact that he "corrected" the words of songs he collected before publishing them but stating that that was the way of the man and of his time. Equally I appreciate that The Mower is the one from his manuscripts and not the "cleaned up" version.

My overall Lasting impression? It is a real pleasure to listen to.

Shire Folk (remix)

Tony ONeill

Sub-titled 'Traditional Songs from Devon and Cornwall' from the collection of Sabine BaringGould. Like many people I had heard of the enormous task of collating and transcribing the collection(s) of the Rev BaringGould by Wren Music, and apart from a small sample from Martin and Shan Graebe this is my first listening to a slice of the collection.

The songs had in fact been 'lost' throughout the Revival and were not 'rediscovered' until comparatively recently, the result being that most of the material is related to more familiar versions; 'Blue Muslin' to 'The Keys of Canterbury' etc. One wonders what impact the collections would have had if they had been better known? The overall feel of the CD is that of the West Gallery movement - hardly surprising when you consider where West Gallery is rooted. Because of that I found the CD over orchestrated in places and thus distracting from the bare material of the songs. It seems unlikely to me that the songs would have been sung in such a fashion by the people that B-G collected from, and some would have benefited from being sung without accompaniment.

That being said the CD provides an insight in to the vast reservoir of songs and tunes, and achieves its stated aim to select songs from the collection to 'enrich and inform' - and that can't have been been easy from such a vast source.

I liked the CD presentation with its illustrations and brief sleeve notes giving just enough information to whet one's whistle and make one want to explore further.

Lancashire Wakes

The Rev Sabine Baring-Gould was one of the most significant folk-song collectors of the 19th century, and this album is but a tiny selection from his vast gleanings. I quote from the blurb on the back: "As collected, the songs have a rough, magical beauty like the moorland landscapes from which they come ... (here) they have been trimmed and polished for a new audience. The musical arrangements embrace harmony singing, fiddles, concertina, a touch of brass and other ideas borrowed from the living traditions in England ..."

The recording was made as part of the "Songs of the West Heritage Project" co-ordinated by Wren Music in a two year collaboration with Devon Libraries, the Baring-Gould family and the National Trust, with the aim of copying the reverend gentleman's folk?song manuscript collection (including his personal copy manuscript of over 650 songs, discovered in Killerton House [NT] as recently as 1992) together with broadside ballads, chapbooks and much material from his own library and other collections. I'm amazed that it took only two years! The BaringGould Archive is now available in microfiche from Wren Music, to consult for research or to buy: a worthy project indeed.

Wren Music is a professional folk and community arts development organisation and was established by Marilyn Tucker and Paul Wilson in 1983. All the other artists on this CD have also been involved in Wren Music's work, and include the well established performers Chris Bartram, Tim Laycock, Chris Foster, Martin Graebe and Phil Humphries along with a further eight names new to me who do a good job filling out harmonies and augmenting the instrumental accompaniments.

The CD contains fifteen songs and two tunes, in the main unusual versions of fairly familiar material, and there isn't a duff track amongst them ? not surprising when you consider the line?up. Song titles are Blue Muslin (also known as The keys of Canterbury/Keys of Heaven/Paper of Pins); Dead Maid's Land (a version of The Seeds of Love); Frog and Mouse (Froggie Went A Courting/Anthony Rowley); The Gypsy Countess (Wraggle Taggle Gypsies); Georgie (Geordie, to a haunting and very different tune); The Old Ewe (making the best of an unwise purchase); When I Was Young (to learn by heart this remarkable catalogue of 42 jobs in almost as many west country locations is a challenge and a half!); Haymaking and Harvest Song (familiar words, unusual tunes) Robin Redbreast (a Cornish Wassail song); My Lady's Coach (learnt by Baring-Gould from his nurse - a spooky tale that would give any child nightmares!) Rather more easily recognised items are The Mower (a song of sexual encounter reminiscent of many more); Herring's Head (from the 'argumentative' strain of the song rather than the 'cumulative'); The Drunken Maidens and Golden Vanity (close to the usual versions). The two instrumental items, William Andrews' Hornpipe No 1 & No 2 step hop hornpipes that add variety to the mix, are also vaguely reminiscent of tunes we've all danced to, but I can't quite put a name to them.

The eight page illustrated booklet, compiled by Martin Graebe and the two main performers, gives detailed and interesting background information on the chosen items, their sources and Baring?Gould. The performers and Wren Music are to be congratulated on bringing this material to a wider audience.