1 An Acre of Land
Sung by Frank Bailey of Combe Bissett, Wiltshire on 3rd August, 1904, to the composer and collector Ralph Vaughan Williams, who published it in ‘Bushes and Briars’. It’s part of the Scarborough Fair group of songs, which in turn are descended from the ‘Elfin Knight’ ballad.
2 The Wycombe Caning Girl
From the singing of Dick Frost (1939-) of High Wycombe, and arranged for choir stalwart Paul Howland who hails from the town. Tom Burt’s Hill, mentioned in the song, is situated between Marlow Hill and Carver Hill Road.
3 The Bedmaking
Mrs Marina Russell of Upwey, Dorset, from whom this tune was collected by the Hammond brothers, was a Sartin by birth – Paul’s ancestor. The Hammonds found a set of words in nearby Halstock, from George Udall, which have been supplemented by ones from Benjamin Arnold of Winchester.
4 Byker Hill
Collected by S. Paton, this arrangement is especially for choir member Mike Barrie, who hails from the North East.
5 Come Write Me Down
From the repertoire of the acclaimed Copper Family of Rottingdean, and known also as ‘The Wedding Song’, this was scored out for the marriage of former Loft Singer Shirley Fergusson.
6 All in a Row
Collected by the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould, better known for his hymn ‘Onwards, Christian Soldiers’, from Charles Arscott of South Zeal and Harry Westaway of Belstone, Devon, and published in ‘English Minstrelsie II’ in 1895.
7 Pleasant Month of May
Another song from the Copper Family of Rottingdean, first recorded by James and Bob Copper in 1951.
8 The American Stranger
The text is a compilation of versions from Alfred Porter (73) of Basingstoke Workhouse and Henry King (75) of Lyndhurst, taken in 1906 by John F. Guyer and Dr George Gardiner. According to a note at the top of the manuscript it is ‘Indecent’! The tune is from James Saunders (77) of Newcastle, noted on 2nd September, 1910, by Cecil Sharp.
9 The Hog’s Eye Man
Also noted from James Saunders on the same day, a second number dedicated to Mike Barrie.
10 The ‘’New’’ Deserter
Featured on broadside ballad sheets during the nineteenth century, this rapidly entered the aural tradition; James Brown of Basingstoke sung his version to Dr George Gardiner in August, 1906.
11 Queen of the May
Paul first heard this performed by local musicians Mick Ryan and Pete Harris. The traditional words were set to music by Ian Palmer.
12 The Country Carrier
From Henry Norris, Farnham Union ( April, 1909) and William Randall, Hursley ( June, 1905) via Dr George Gardiner, this has a touch of Music Hall about it.
13 The Wild Rover
A less-familiar version of a well-known song, taken from labourer Henry Lee of Whitchurch, Hampshire May, 1906 by Dr George Gardiner, with additional words from Wiltshire.
14 Johnny Todd
A Liverpool song for Loft Singer, conducting assistant and Scouser David Hughes, the melody of this found fame as the theme to ‘Z Cars’. It was first published by collector Frank Kidson in 1891.
15 Homeward Bound
Versions of this shanty abound, from Hampshire, Somerset, and elsewhere in Britain and the New World. This one is from David W. Bone’s ‘Capstan Bars’ (1931).