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Thursday, 29 December 2016

Six Wassailing Songs

Revised lyrics for four wassailing songs have now been issued and can be downloaded using this link. These incorporate the changes to previously issued lyrics which were discussed at our last Beechwood singing session. Two new songs are also included.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Local Group Report – Lewes Tuesday 20th December 2016

So near to Christmas and the shortest day, but five of us made a lot of noise in the snug at The John Harvey Tavern. At least six of our number were making even more noise with the Napier Quire in Brighton Pubs.

We started with Ha’nacker Mill and then worked on harmonies to several songs such as Poor Froze out Gardeners and Where Stormy Winds Do Blow. In Seasons Turn we repeated verses to get our way around the words. Continuing with The Woodcutter’s Song, Copper’s Christmas Song, Christmas Now Is Drawing Near at Hand at a determined pace, Sweet Chiming Bells and “Pentonville” at which point we had the attention of a talented young folk musician, Jack, who was pleased to hear us singing folkie versions of Hark The Herald Angels Sing (with lots of Alleluias) and The Holly and The Ivy, too. He is with Ditchling Morris and was keen to invite us to the village on Boxing Day when Mummers and the Morris will be performing. Tina managed to get us back on track and singing Pleasant and Delightful, Farmer’s Toast, finishing with Thousands Or More.

We are delighted to know that our colourful young singer Cat has given birth to a beautiful boy, Rhion Marvin, so congratulations to Cat and Matt, and also to Adrian who has got engaged to Jane. Lots to sing about over the dark winter holidays.

A bit more information from Margo: Might suggest that folk look up their local Morris side's website. On 1st January 2017 Sompting Village Morris are at The Richard Cobden (behind The Beechwood Hall Hotel, at 12 noon. And on Thursday, 5th January they are in Tarring High Street at 8pm.

Brighton Morris Men are at the Pump House, 12 - 3pm on 1st January 2017.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Local Group Report – Easebourne Thursday 15th December 2016

A goodly crowd of us (18 to be precise) were back again at The Chichester Inn in West Street, Chichester on Thursday night to socialise, imbibe a few drinks and sing all our favourite carols and wassailing songs. It was a fun night and we had a really good sing too. Nick the landlord welcomed our singing and a couple of folk even came in from the lounge bar to tell us how nice it sounded through there. We persuaded them to stay and join us in singing the West Sussex Drinking Song together.

It is generally agreed that this pub is easier to get to (and park at) than the Three Moles in Selham, so if it’s convenient, we may well make the Chichester Inn our regular venue in 2017. And we may have to change our name from the Easebourne Group to the Chichester Group... Watch this space!

Friday, 16 December 2016

Our Christmas Carol on the BBC

At our practice session at the Beechwood on 23rd November 2016 we recorded the Pentonville tune version of "While Shepherds Watched" and if you would like to listen to this you can download one of the .mp3 files below. The larger files are higher audio quality. This recording is scheduled for broadcast on BBC Sussex and BBC Surrey on Friday 23 December at about 10.50am. Full details are in the email below from the BBC.

Your Christmas Carols on the BBC!

Dear all

I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has submitted a recording of a Christmas carol or a song.

A number of contributors asked me when the recordings would be aired, so that you could alert all involved to listen. Please find below a list of some of the choirs that we will be featuring in the next couple of weeks. You may well feature more than once in the next few days, but we just wanted to make sure that you had at least one confirmed “appointment to listen”. Suffice to say, if you are a new listener, we hope you like what you hear and will stay with us! Do tune in, but also use social media to tell your friends and family.

BBC Sussex broadcasts on 104.5/104.8 and on 95.3FM (Brighton). We are now also on DAB Digital Radio, and online at Social media: Twitter - @bbcsussex

BBC Surrey broadcasts on 104 (East Surrey/North Sussex) and 104.6FM (West Surrey/NE Hampshire), on DAB and online at Social media: Twitter -@bbcsurrey

We have scheduled carols to run at the following (approximate) times:

0825 Surrey Breakfast - Burstow Primary School - Smallfield Winter Wonderland
0755 Sussex Breakfast - Rainbow Chorus - Jingle Bells
1050 Mid-Morning - Bramber Primary School - Winter Wonderland
1335 Afternoon - Milton Mount School - Midnight
1755 Sussex Drive - Rainbow Chorus - Jingle Bells
1755 Surrey Drive - Burstow Primary School - Smallfield Winter Wonderland

Tuesday 13 December
0825 Surrey Breakfast - Sir William Perkins School - Christmas Lullaby
0755 Sussex Breakfast - Bourne Chorus - Most Wonderful Time of The Year/Let It Snow
1050 Mid-Morning - Warbleton Church Community Choir (aka Warblings) - Hark The Herald Angels Sing
1335 Afternoon - Sussex Gruffs - Rise Up Shepherd And Foller
1755 Sussex Drive - Pop Up Singers - Listen To The Bells
1755 Surrey Drive - Sir William Perkins School - Christmas Lullaby

Wednesday 14 December
0825 Surrey Breakfast - Caterham School - Madonna & Child
0755 Sussex Breakfast - Weald School Choir - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
1050 Mid-Morning - Angel Voices Children's Choir - Diamond Bright
1335 Afternoon - Sompting Village Primary School. - The Christmas Song (also known as "Chestnuts Roasting")
1755 Sussex Drive - Weald School Choir - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
1755 Surrey Drive - Caterham School - Madonna & Child

Thursday 15th December
0825 Surrey Breakfast - Farnham Youth Choir - Carol of The Bells
0755 Sussex Breakfast - Heron's Dale Primary School - We Wish You a Merry Christmas
1050 Mid-Morning - InChoir - O Holy Night
1335 Afternoon Upper Beading Primary School, Horsham - Tell Me a Story
1755 Sussex Drive - Heron's Dale Primary School - We Wish You a Merry Christmas
1755 Surrey Drive - Farnham Youth Choir - Carol of The Bells

Friday 16th December
0825 Surrey Breakfast - St Catherine's Prep School, Bramley - In The Bleak Midwinter
0755 Sussex Breakfast- Blackthorns Community Primary Academy - He's The King
1050 Mid-Morning - Concentus  - Christmas Time
1335 Afternoon - Brighton and Hove Rotary Choir a.k.a The Loose Cannons - Bright Morning Star
1755 Sussex Drive - Blackthorns Community Primary Academy - He's The King
1755 Surrey Drive St Catherine's Prep School, Bramley - In The Bleak Midwinter

Saturday 17th December
0825 Surrey Breakfast - Upper Beading Primary School, Horsham
0755 Sussex Breakfast - Bramber Primary School - Winter Wonderland
1050 Mid-Morning - Milton Mount School - Midnight

Sunday 18th December
0735 Breakfast - Warbleton Church Community Choir (aka Warblings) - Hark The Herald Angels Sing
1050 Mid-Morning - Angel Voices Children's Choir - Diamond Bright

Monday 19 Dec
0825 Surrey Breakfast - Onslow Infant School - It Was On a Starry Night
0755 Sussex Breakfast - Southover Primary School - White Christmas
1050 Mid-Morning - St Peters Community Primary School in Portslade - 'Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant'
1335 Afternoon - Eastbrook Primary School, West Sussex - Once In Royal David's City
1755 Sussex Drive -  Southover Primary School - White Christmas
1755 Surrey Drive - Onslow Infant School - It Was On a Starry Night

Tuesday 20 Dec
0825 Surrey Breakfast - St Barts Primary School, Haslemere - She Owns The World
0755 Sussex Breakfast - Burgess Hill Girls School - Winter Wonderland   
1050 Mid-Morning - Harlands Primary School in Haywards Heath, West Sussex - One Bright Star
1335 Afternoon - Jessie Younghusband School, Chichester - I Saw Three Ships
1755 Sussex Drive - River Beach Primary School, Littlehampton - Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree
1755 Surrey Drive - St Barts Primary School, Haslemere,- She Owns The World

Wednesday 21 Dec
0825 Surrey Breakfast -  The Merry Mary Men - Little Bag of Hot Chestnuts         
0755 Sussex Breakfast - Northolmes Junior School in Horsham - Bethlehem Is Near
1050 Mid-Morning - Liz Cass - Merry Christmas Darling (written/produced D'Artagnan Arbuah)
1335 Afternoon - Fishersgate Community Choir - Gaudete
1755 Sussex Drive - Northolmes Junior School in Horsham - Bethlehem Is Near
1755 Surrey Drive - The Merry Mary Men SY - Little Bag of Hot Chestnuts     

Thurs 22 Dec
0825 Surrey Breakfast - St Edmund's School, Hindhead - Star Carol
0755 Sussex Breakfast - Plaistow and Kirdford Primary School, Billingshurst - In the Bleak Midwinter
1050 Mid-Morning - Sound Waves Community Choir, Hastings - The Boar's Head Carol
1335 Afternoon - West Dene Primary School, Brighton - Snow Song
1755 Sussex Drive - Plaistow and Kirdford Primary School, Billingshurst - In the Bleak Midwinter
1755 Surrey Drive - St Edmund's School, Hindhead - Star Carol

Friday 23 Dec
0825 Surrey Breakfast - Earlswood Junior School, Redhill,- O Little Town of Bethlehem
0755 Sussex Breakfast - William Penn Primary School, Horsham - Winter Carol
1050 Mid-Morning - South Downs Folk Singers - While Shepherds Watched.
1335 Afternoon - Handcross Park School, Haywards Heath - Star Carol
1755 Sussex Drive - William Penn Primary School, Horsham - Winter Carol
1755 Surrey Drive - Earlswood Junior School, Redhill - O Little Town of Bethlehem

Saturday 24th December
0825 Surrey Breakfast - Northolmes Junior School in Horsham
0755 Sussex Breakfast - St Peters Community Primary School in Portslade, 'Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant'
1050 Mid-Morning - Harlands Primary School in Haywards Heath - One Bright Star

Christmas Day
0835 Breakfast - The Merry Mary Men - Little Bag of Hot Chestnuts         
1050 Mid-Morning - Fishersgate Community Choir - Gaudete
1340 West Dene Primary School, Brighton - Snow Song

Finally, on behalf of all of us at BBC Sussex and BBC Surrey, thanks again for taking part and we would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Best wishes

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

South Downs Folk Singers Wassail!

We will soon be welcoming the new year with our “Wassail” gathering from 7.30 – 10.00pm on Saturday 21st January 2017 at a new venue:

St. John’s the Divine Church Hall, on the corner of Ripley Road and Elm Grove in west Worthing, BN11 5LD.

South Downs Folk Singers, plus family and friends, are invited join us for this festive frolic – bringing food, drink and songs to share with all for a merry time.

Tickets are £2.50 each. Numbers are limited so get in quickly and secure your tickets NOW by contacting Margo, via the South Downs Folk Singers email.

(Tickets / ticket ordering will also be available at our local singing sessions in December and early January – but don't delay, confirm today!)


Friday, 9 December 2016

Local Group Report – Beechwood Wednesday 7th December 2016

Over 30 of us gathered at the Beechwood Hall Hotel for our December Sing. David led the singing and we practised our wassailing songs for the Slindon Wassail on Saturday 14th January. We sang the four wassailing songs that we know, namely: The Gloucester Wassail, The Sugar Wassail, Here we come a-wassailing and The Apple Tree Wassailing Song. Then David introduced two more songs in this genre: The Jacobstowe Wassail and The Gower (or Somerset) Wassail, which we agreed might be fun to learn for another year.
We’re hoping that the words for all six wassail songs will soon be added to our lyrics page on the website.
We then sang a post-Christmas version of the Coppers Christmas Song – the last verse will now go: Now Christmas is gone and our song is almost done, for we now have seen the turn of the year...
After an interval we invited individuals or tables to suggest or perform a song of their choice, which resulted in a jolly selection of seasonal songs from Dark December and The Old Woman from Ryde to Jennifer’s Rabbit and a Carol from New Zealand! We finished the evening singing the Falmer Carol, Pentonville, Sweet Chiming Bells, the Sans Day Carol and Pity the Poor Gardeners. Finally we sang We Wish you a Merry Christmas, on which note we do indeed wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and hope to see you soon again in 2017!

Monday, 21 November 2016

Local Group Report – Easebourne Thursday 17th November 2016

Six brave souls braved the wind, rain and wilds of Selham to sing at The Three Moles on 17th November: Stephen, Carol, Peter, Dermot, Debbie, Gordon and Julie. We did our best with the Christmas songs for the WDOAM event despite trying to sing the words of one song to the tune of another (we got it right in the end!). Gordon had written a song especially for The Three Moles, called of course The Three Moles, which we sang to the delight of our patrons and the recording of which is now doing the rounds on Facebook. We finished off the evening with a rendition of some of our favourites including The Turnip Hoer and Pleasant & Delightful. We'll be at The Chichester Inn, 38 West Street, Chichester, PO19 1QP on 15th December.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Local Group Report – Lewes Tuesday 15th November 2016

We thought we might be depleted because of rehearsals for the Brighton Pub Carols, but Judith and Jacqui joined us for their first visits and hopefully will become regular participants. Tina led us through the set list for WDOAM which at least eight of us will be attending on Sunday 27th. Tina helped us with the various harmonies and we even managed a credible rendition of the round at the end of The Sussex Mummers Carol. The only song that really didn’t warrant practice was We Wish You a Merry Christmas and so we finished with Thousands or More, instead.

Monday, 14 November 2016

WDOAM 'Christmas Market' Sunday 27th November 2016

Again a packed event with over 120 stalls, so if the weather is reasonable it's worth making a day of it.

As always Sunday is the busiest with the whole of the overflow car park filled out to West Dean College by 1pm on a good day.

If you arrive early (by 10.30am) you may be able to park in the permanent parking area, or nearer to the entrance booths, and avoid being in the long traffic queues around the site. Use the dedicated 'Friends' / stall holders queue for quick entrance by showing your pass.

We have two sets, at 1.00-1.30pm on the decking outside the Gridshell building and 3.15-4.00pm at the Music Tent in the Market Square, with Emily leading us.

Dress for cold variable weather and wear stout shoes, but please don whatever festive headgear you want for the occasion.

I will be at the practice at Worthing on the 23rd with the remaining Singers' free passes for those of you who have already booked but not collected them.

If you are one of the above Singers, and in the interim you have discovered another commitment and cannot come to the Market, please email so that I can reallocate the remaining passes to those Singers still on the reserve list on the 23rd.

John C.

Song sets below are subject to revision at the rehearsal on 23rd November.

First Set:
  1. Sweet Chiming Bells
  2. Righteous Joseph
  3. The Holly and the Ivy
  4. The Moon Shone Bright
  5. Deck the Hall
  6. The Falmer Carol
  7. The Holly Bears a Berry
  8. The Coppers' Christmas Song
  9. While Shepherds Watched
Second Set:
  1. The Holly and the Ivy
  2. Hark the Herald Angels
  3. The Sussex Carol
  4. The Falmer Carol
  5. The Holly Bears a Berry
  6. Masters in this Hall
  7. Wassail, Wassail!
  8. Sweet Chiming Bells
  9. We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Local Group Report – Beechwood Wednesday 2nd November 2016

The gathered throng at this month’s Beechwood put their voices together to sing through the songs most likely to be used at the Weald and Downland Museum’s Christmas Market event later this month. From last year’s set the two Holly carols and Wassail were aired, also the Sussex Mummers Song including a pleasing three times ‘round’ on the last refrain. The Moon Shone Bright was tried with the gents joining in throughout, singing softly alongside the ladies. We then worked on While Shepherds Watched with the harmony parts, the Coppers’ Christmas Song and also Hark the Herald after agreeing with the Selham group’s recommendation to trim it by not repeating the refrain. Christmas Drawing Near was discussed, but the majority present did not favour singing it – so the minority await another opportunity to give it a try! An in-house ‘flashmob’ struck up with Sweet Chiming Bells to resume proceedings after our thirst-quenching break and later the Sussex Carol closed the session on an uplifting note. And there’s the promise of more... at the Extra Session booked at the Beechwood for 23rd November!

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Finding Lyrics For Our Songs

Most of our songs are listed on the Lyrics and Recordings page (there's a link to this in the menu across the top of each page), however some of our newer songs are not listed there. So how do you find these?

  • You can use the search box at the top of the column on the left to search this website for a particular song.
  • Lyrics and recordings for our newer songs appear in a post on the News page as they are released and you can use the New Songs link in the menu at the top of the page (this is a recent addition) to see all of these posts. You may need to scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the 'Older posts' link to see more of them.

Remember that most website browsers allow you to search for text within a web page. On a desktop computer or laptop you can type control+F on a Windows PC, or command+F on a Mac, and enter the text you would like to search for on the page. You will need to investigate for yourself how to do this on other portable devices.

Eventually – time permitting! – our new songs will all be listed on the Lyrics and Recordings page along with the older songs. If anybody would like the job of building an index to all of our songs on this website, please make yourself known!

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Local Group Report – Easebourne Thursday 20th October 2016

We had to move venues last Thursday owing to an ‘at home’ darts match at The Three Moles so we tried out The Chichester Inn hoping that regular Selham members wouldn’t mind the trek to Chichester and that the pub would be suitable.  As it was 21 singers arrived and the venue was excellent.  We sang a dozen songs, old favourites like Country Life and On Sussex Hills and we practised many of the new Christmas carols that we’re trying to learn. These included the Coppers Christmas Song, Masters in this Hall, While Shepherds Watched (to the tune of Pentonville) and Hark the Herald Angels (to Alan Wheeler’s tune). We also sang the Falmer Carol, the Gloucester Wassail, Sugar Wassail and the Cruel Mother and finished up with a spirited rendition of Rolling Home.

We thought the venue lent itself well to our singing. It was certainly a jolly evening! We’re back at the Three Moles on 17th November but homeless again for 15th December so may well go back to The Chichester Inn again for a Christmas get-together if all agreeable.

Saturday, 22 October 2016


For anyone interested in singing at our seasonal events this winter ... we have booked some more extra time at the Beechwood Hall Hotel in Worthing to help us prepare.

In addition to our regular gathering there on 2nd November we will be back on Wednesday 23rd November, from 7.30 - 10.00pm.

Do come along and join us if you can.

AGM and Local Group Report – Beechwood, Wednesday 5th October 2016

About 25 singers arrived in time for the SDFS Annual General Meeting before our usual gathering at Beechwood this month, with more joining us in time for the singing.

At the AGM, in addition to the annual reports and elections for the committee (all current members were re-elected unopposed), there was time to share and discuss ideas and plans. This included a review of hopes to make a new SDFS recording, with agreement to go ahead and an appeal for volunteers to reply to the SDFS email address if they can help with this project. We looked at having another social Wassail in January 2017 (if a suitable venue can be found now that Heene Gallery has closed), and we debated again the pros and cons of colour co-ordinated outfits for public performances and considered having SDFS badges.  Watch this space for news of these and for details of events in the pipeline for 2017.

Our singing began a little late and thank you David for stepping up when Emily was needed at home and had to go.  We managed to cover some of the songs in the set planned for Slindon Apple Day and then tried a few of our seasonal songs including the Coppers’ Christmas Song and the newly-introduced Masters in this Hall and While Shepherds Watched (Pentonville).  A busy evening but always a pleasure and we look forward to having more time on these and other winter songs at our November and December sessions.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Local Group Report – Lewes Tuesday 18th October 2016

Sixteen singers make a good gathering for singing and harmonising. Tina started us with the autumnal Ha’nacker Mill before progressing to Christmas Now Is Drawing Near at Hand, The Moon Shone Bright, the flowery, Pentonville version of While Shepherds Watched, Poor Froze Out Gardeners and the seraphic Falmer Carol. The Woodcutter’s Song, Sweet Chiming Bells, Hark The Herald Angels Sing, Masters in This Hall, Coppers’ Christmas Song with the recent changes, Seasons Turn (in Cmaj - starting on G and the emphasis on THIS), Pleasant And Delightful. So you can see we worked hard on concentrating on winter songs. Dawn’s daughter made the mistake of saying she was too tired to go for a run and still gave her lungs a good workout. Cat came along for the first half only so as to get the baby used to regular bed times! Only five weeks to go. We finished the evening listening to Adrian’s lovely ballad – Jack and Jill.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Christmas Songs 2016

These are our new songs for the festive season. The words for these (pdf file) can be downloaded using this link. Also download the score for While Shepherds Watched (Pentonville) which includes the bass line as sung by Emily in the last two verses in the recording below (NB the score and recording are not in the same key).

You can download recordings of these songs using the links given below. NB If you have to pay to download data on a mobile device you should not play the songs directly from this web page, but instead download the mp3 files and play these.

The Coppers’ Christmas Song download mp3

Hark the Herald Angels Sing download mp3

Masters in this Hall download mp3

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks (Pentonville) download mp3

Monday, 3 October 2016

Slindon Apple Day 2016

Saturday 8th October 10am - 4pm
In the field behind the Jubilee Orchard and The Forge in Reynolds Lane, Slindon.

Yes, it’s that day again and keeping fingers crossed that the weather will be as good as last year. If it is variable we have the adjacent village hall in reserve.

We will be singing the two song sets that we sang at Midhurst two weeks previously, at midday and 2.00pm, so please arrive by 11.30am especially with regard to parking.

Complimentary coffee, tea and biscuits will be provided in the hall during the day for contributors.

Parking will be either on the adjacent roads through the village, or in the field to the south of the hall if you don't mind picking your way around the sheep poo!

Look forward to seeing you there.

John C.

First set:
  1. Country Life
  2. Pleasant And Delightful
  3. On Sussex Hills
  4. Rolling In The Dew
  5. Rosebuds In June
  6. Run Of The Downs
  7. Smuggler’s Song
  8. West Sussex Drinking Song
  9. Hard Times Of Old England
  10. Green Grow The Laurel
  11. The Turnip Hoer

Second set:
  1. Oak, Ash And Thorn
  2. Twanky Dillo
  3. The Magpie
  4. The Woodcutter’s Song
  5. The Nightingale
  6. Fathom The Bowl
  7. Ebernoe Horn Fair
  8. Life Of A Man
  9. Thousands Or More
  10. Sussex By The Sea
  11. Jolly Good Song

Friday, 30 September 2016

Local Group Report – Lewes Tuesday 20th September 2016

The John Harvey Tavern is under new management and we found our usual tables laid up for full dinner, so 16 of us sat around three separate tables and managed to get through 14 songs. Tina had selected those that were on set lists, but also added some we haven’t done for a while. Country Life, Oak, Ash & Thorn, The Magpie, The Run of the Downs, A Smuggler’s Song, The Turnip Hoer, On Sussex Hills, Rosebuds in June, Ha'nacker Mill, Poor Froze-Out Gardeners, Where Stormy Winds Do Blow, The Constant Lovers, The Woodcutter's Song and Thousands Or More. We were very pleased that Cat could join us (31 weeks pregnant) and introduce her little man to our repertoire.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Local Group Report – Easebourne Thursday 15th September 2016

Thunder and lightning accompanied us at our Selham session on 15th September but eleven of us soldiered through with a rousing set of old and new songs in our repertoire including The Woodcutter's Song and Oak, Ash and Thorn. We're looking forward to singing at our 'home' ground at Midhurst on 24th September. Alan then gave us some lovely old Music Hall songs such as What a Mouth (What a North and South) and those of us old enough to remember them joined in. He then sang the lovely The Parting Song and for Emma, the Three Moles landlady, he sang The Freeborn Man of the Travelling People.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Shoreham Wordfest Event

Dear Singers,
One of our members, Janet Behan, is performing a play she has written on 2nd October 2016, see the flyer below, it looks very interesting. More information.
See you soon
Peter Bo

Friday, 16 September 2016

Local Group Report – Beechwood, Wednesday 7th September 2016

We welcomed two new singers to our recent gathering to sing at the Beechwood. In preparation for our September events we raised our voices in praise of the Sussex Hills before singing the ‘Kipling songs’, and revisiting and refining our rendition of The Woodcutter’s song. The rich tones of The Magpie and rustic tones of The Turnip Hoer were enjoyed as ever, as were some old favourites Ebernoe Horn Fair, Rolling in the Dew and Ale Glorious Ale. Thanks to all contributors. Notices about our SDFS and other events of local interest were shared, and reminders were given about the extra session at the Beechwood on 28th September (to refresh our winter season repertoire), and about the AGM preceding the singing at the next regular Beechwood session on 5th October.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

“South Downs Folk Singers” – A.G.M. Notice

This year’s A.G.M. will be on Wednesday 5th October 2016. As previously it will be held at the Beechwood Hall Hotel in Worthing starting at 7.00pm.

(It precedes our usual monthly singing session there, so the early start allows for a break and goodly time to sing afterwards.)

The AGM is our opportunity collectively to review our activities and achievements from the last year and to make plans for the next year. As usual, the Meeting Minutes file, the Constitution and the Accounts will all be available to view.

There will also be the annual elections for our committee, and now is your chance to volunteer to join the team! To date there have been about four or five committee meetings each year, using the “Beechwood” as a venue central to the current members.

You can become a member without having to take on a specific role in the Committee – but if willing to get more involved we currently have some ‘vacancies’ where the help of a Minutes Secretary and a Publicity Officer would be of great benefit to us all!

So… if you are interested in doing more than the singing and want to have a more active role in discussing, organizing and planning for the future of the SDFS… Please contact me as soon as possible via the SDFS email address ( with your name, the name of another singer willing to nominate you and another singer happy to second this.

You can also support others wishing to stand for election by nominating them or seconding their nomination.

Voting will be conducted at the AGM by a show of hands and carried on a simple majority of those present. I look forward to seeing you there.

Henny (Chairperson)

The SDFS go ‘To The Woods’ and then ‘To The Shore’

Update 20th September: For anybody planning to use the trains this weekend, please be aware that there will be replacement buses between Littlehampton and Chichester/Bognor on both days due to engineering work at Ford. Read more.
A celebration of the heritage of the South Downs is being held in Midhurst on Saturday 24th September followed by the Southdowns Folk Festival in Bognor Regis on Sunday 25th September.

Midhurst Saturday 24th September

The celebration marks the end of the Secrets of the High Woods project and will be held at the headquarters of the South Downs National Park Authority in North Street, Midhurst opposite the main bus departure point, with various activities and performances (details here) taking place from 10.00am.

We will be singing two song sets, at 11.00am and 1.45pm. Please arrive by 10.30am.

Buffet lunch and drinks will be provided, and parking will be available on a ‘first come first served’ basis in the visitors parking at the front of the Centre. If all parking places are taken, further parking is in the main municipal car park opposite (pay and display).

Download a sketch plan (pdf file) of the venue.

In case of precipitation the Memorial Hall will be available to the side of the ‘arena’.

For those of you who would like to learn more about this three-year HLF-backed project culminating this autumn, the travelling interactive exhibition will be on site with a précis of that information (further information here).

First set:
  1. Country Life
  2. Pleasant And Delightful
  3. On Sussex Hills
  4. Rolling In The Dew
  5. Rosebuds In June
  6. Run Of The Downs
  7. Smuggler’s Song
  8. West Sussex Drinking Song
  9. Hard Times Of Old England
  10. Green Grow The Laurel
  11. The Turnip Hoer

Second set:
  1. Oak, Ash And Thorn
  2. Twanky Dillo
  3. The Magpie
  4. The Woodcutter’s Song
  5. The Nightingale
  6. Fathom The Bowl
  7. Ebernoe Horn Fair
  8. Life Of A Man
  9. Thousands Or More
  10. Sussex By The Sea
  11. Jolly Good Song

Bognor Regis Sunday 25th September

The Southdowns Folk Festival is on all weekend but we will be singing only one song set at 12.40pm outside on the patio of (or if raining inside) The William Hardwicke pub in High Street, Bognor. The street will be pedestrianised for the event and the William Hardwicke will have a Real Ale Festival in full swing. We will be preceded by Bellacapella and followed by the two-hour Sussex Young Folk Competition.

Please be there by 12.10pm. Parking will be at a premium, especially if the weather is as good as in previous years. I will again be parking in a residential road to the north of the A259 and walking in. There is of course the bus or train if you intend to imbibe some wobbly juice!

The song set is:
  1. Country Life
  2. West Sussex Drinking Song
  3. On Sussex Hills
  4. Pleasant And Delightful
  5. Smuggler’s Song
  6. Ale, Glorious Ale
  7. The Magpie
  8. Thousands Or More
  9. Life Of A Man
  10. Sussex By The Sea
  11. Jolly Good Song

See you there
John C.

Local Group Report – Lewes Tuesday 16th August 2016

We spent a very pleasant evening at The John Harvey Tavern singing through the songs that are most likely to be used at future events. Angela B sang with her usual enthusiasm as she won’t be able to get to Arundel Festival or September’s Beechwood session. And we have heard that Cat won’t be able to sing with us again because she is expecting a baby in the autumn and routines will be changing! Thank you to Keith for rearranging the lyrics and recordings so that they are all under the same section which will make it much easier to find for photocopying, specially for our newer recruits.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Another Date For Your Diary

An Extra Singing Session – 28th September
Open to all our singers wanting to contribute to our public performances.

Although whilst writing this post it is still the summer, we are already looking ahead to our events in the winter and festive season (the first of which is in November). So to help prepare and refresh our winter repertoire in readiness, an extra session has been booked at The Beechwood Hall Hotel in Worthing for 7.30pm on Wednesday 28th September 2016

The more the merrier! See you there!

Bateman’s 2016

John C
John C
Fiona Hancock of the National Trust thanked us for “Again contributing to a very successful WW1 Remembrance weekend, with your fine selection of songs celebrating Kipling, and reflecting the traumatic effects of the war on the society that endured it.”

Colin B videoed the event and together with Keith D’s recordings, both here and at the Sullington Flower Festival, moved us toward promoting ourselves further to attract more members.

John C
Peter B
Special thanks to Emily, Amaryllis and Libby for providing the extra songs that were sung in the entrance hall of the house (till we were turfed out) and when ‘under fire’ afterwards, protected by the hedge in the garden when the whistles blew for ‘over the top’.

Mike, understudying David, did us proud with the song announcements which he was seen rehearsing at various points within the gardens between performances.

The event generated our best turnout of Singers so far this year.

Fiona is considering changing the format next year, so I will keep more closely in touch.

John C
Peter B
John C
Peter B

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Sid Wakeham, 1937 – 2016

Many people will be sad to learn of the death of Sid Wakeham who passed away on 18th August, aged 79.

Everyone knew Sid as ‘Father Christmas’, a role he played in the Sompting Village Morris ‘Mummer’s Play’ for decades. Sid was a founding member of Sompting Village Morris and kept dancing long after the other founding members had hung up their bells and hankies.

I interviewed Sid at his local pub and second home, The Richard Cobden in Cobden Road, in 2004. Looking back on those notes today it can be said that Sid was as dyed-in-the-wool Sussex as any man could be and to use that old, but on this occasion entirely apt, cliché, “we will not see his like again.”

Sid was born on the 30th January 1937 above Claxton’s butcher’s shop in Lyndhurst Road. All his family were born and bred in Sussex. His dad’s family had come from Horsham, including his grandmother who lived to the ripe old age of 104. His father’s family came from Petworth. One grandfather fought at the Battle of Jutland in 1916.

Sid was brought up with singing. His dad sang music hall songs, but his grandfather sang the old folk songs of Sussex that died out so quickly after the First World War. The only songs that Sid sang as a young man were rugby songs. In the late 1960s he was playing rugby at Castle Carey when he bumped into an old friend who was dancing with Broadwood Morris from Horsham. From then on Sid was hooked.

At first Sid and his friends would drive to join Morris sides in other towns but the oil crisis of the early 1970s changed all that, as Sid explained, “When petrol went up to 50p a gallon we thought, ‘we can’t keep going up there, we’ll form a side in Worthing.’” Mickey Sparkes, “an old postman and fisherman down by the Half Brick,” managed to secure the Post Office Social Club in Chapel Road as a practice venue.

In good weather they practised outside. One day an old lady came up to them said “Would you like the Sompting Village Mummer’s Play?” Her name was Mrs Pullenbury and her uncle, brother and father had all performed the play in Sompting before the First World War. She still had the original script and hoped that Sid and his friends would revive the play after a gap of sixty years. They were delighted to do so and indeed so impressed were they that they decided to call themselves The Sompting Village Morris in honour on the ancient play.

Sid with his great beard was the obvious choice to play Father Christmas. “In those days I had to spray it white but obviously that did not become necessary in later years!” Sid remembered Sompting Village Morris were one of the first sides to allow women to join and to dance – “that was our folly,” Sid told we with a laugh. In actual fact, the inclusion of women greatly increased their membership – to over 60 – and their popularity.

By the 1980s Sompting Village Morris were singing all across Sussex. They then started appearing at folk festivals, including Sidmouth in Devon and eventually internationally too. Mrs Pullenbury’s relatives probably never left Sompting village unless it was to fight in the Great War.

Sid recalled that two of the early members, Mike Longhurst and Mike Palmer, knew a number of old folk songs that they taught to Sid and the other members. They also used to go to The Fountain at Ashurst where the old landlord, Len Pelling, knew and sang many old Sussex songs. Soon the whole side were singing their hearts out at the end of a performance. This was especially true at the George and Dragon at Burpham on Boxing Day following the performance of the Mummer’s Play. That is where I first met Sid and the other dancers in the early 1980s. Boxing Day afternoon singing at Burpham remained a great fixture for many years, until the pub ‘gentrified’ and the boozy bellowing of old anthems began to sit rather uncomfortably with the refined diners in the pub restaurant!

Sid had some wonderful memories of Worthing in the 1940s and 50s. He remembered that family members sought to get around wartime rationing by catching and cooking their own food. As well as rabbits, rooks and pigeons were a regular dish. Sid remembered that the family once sat down to seagull but “it was horrible – oily and rank.”

Sid had memories of the war coming very directly to Worthing, including the day bombs dropped close to the family home in Lyndhurst Road – on that occasion a number of Canadian soldiers billeted in a neighbouring house were killed. Despite such incidents, Sid did not really see the danger: “I thought the war as a small boy was brilliant.” On one occasion he and some friends stole some live bullets from commandos stationed in the town. They later threw them on a bonfire, which they thought was great fun. Other children in the town were killed playing with live ammunition – Sid’s life could have ended before it had really begun! But children were far less under parental control during the war, with fathers away and mothers working hard to keep family and home together under trying circumstances.

Life did not get easier for people after the war, with rationing continuing until 1955. Sid remembered that Christmas presents in the late 1940s included an orange and a pen, although the handmade train set that his dad made for him, complete with replicas of Ham and Ladydell bridges, was the very best present of all! People used to make their own sweets and their own toffee – Sid remembered going from house to house to ask neighbours to contribute ingredients.

He was sad to see the end of the old bonfire night tradition in Worthing. For generations, Worthing folk had built great bonfires on the beach, but in the early 1970s Worthing Council banned the old tradition. Many local youths ignored the new by-law and continued to build bonfires, but council bulldozers came along to plough their efforts into the sea. When others persisted and built and lit bonfires on the evening of November 5th, the authorities intervened as Sid recalled: “The last time we had a bonfire on the beach, the fire brigade came down and put it out. That was a shame. They’d stop Lewes if they could.”

Sid was very pleased at all the money that Sompting Village Morris raised for charity – £12,000 in 2004, the year I interviewed him. Sid had a big heart and was never happier than in the company of family and friends. Boxing Day will never be quite the same again.

Chris Hare

Local Group Report – Easebourne Thursday 18th August 2016

It was a warm and balmy evening for our Selham session on 18th August and we were pleased to welcome Amaryllis and her friend Dermot who came with Peter and Carol. We also welcomed two newcomers Sally and Sarah who joined in the singing with great gusto. We went through the 'new' songs for Arundel Festival and then invited requests from the floor which included 'Thousands or More', which Amaryllis requested in memory of a friend, and as Sarah knew 'Cruel Sister' we sang that for her. Recent recruit Gordon sang us a tongue-in-cheek song he'd written about a Petworth well and blocked drains! We finished off the evening with a rousing rendition of 'Rolling Home' before 15 happy singers rolled home. Hopefully we'll see everyone there again on 15th September plus some missing regulars!

Thursday, 18 August 2016

SDFS at the Arundel Festival 2016

Sunday 28th August, 4.30-5.30pm

We are performing in the Town Square at the bottom of the High Street below the War Memorial, as requested of the organisers as our preference and where we gave an informal performance last year.

Emily will be leading us in a leisurely set with song introductions, separated by a break which because of being slotted in on the river stage we have not been able to do in the past. The Red Lion is adjacent!

The songs are mainly those we performed at Bateman’s, being in such close proximity to the War Memorial.

As it is a Bank Holiday weekend parking will be at a premium, so I personally will again be leaving my car in Torton Hill Road off the Ford Road. It is then a leisurely 10 minute stroll to the venue, under the A27 road bridge via The Slipe and Tarrant Street.

Song List
  1. Country Life
  2. On Sussex Hills
  3. Pleasant and Delightful
  4. Oak, Ash & Thorn
  5. The Turnip Hoer
  6. All Things Are Quite Silent
  7. The Magpie
  8. The Nightingale
  9. West Sussex Drinking Song
  10. Ladies Go Dancing At Whitsun
  11. Home Lads, Home
  12. Fathom the Bowl
  13. Life of a Man
  14. Thousands or More
  15. Rosebuds in June
  16. Sussex by the Sea

Look forward to seeing you there.

John C.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Another Chance To Sing...

“Worthing Beach Clean” – Saturday 17th September 2016 from 12.00 noon
Beach House Grounds (near the beach east of Worthing Pier)

One of our singers (Barbara) is organizing this event and has invited fellow singers to come along and form an informal group on the day to sing a few songs to add to the fun at lunch time (anytime between about 12.30 and 1.30pm).

It is suggested that this performance will not necessarily need formal planning with a song set and a lead but could be decided in situ by those singers attending and meeting up on the day, choosing perhaps 5 or 6 of our songs well known to them all.

So if you’re already planning to attend or would like to sing, just go along on the day for the 12.00 noon start of the event and see whom else from SDFS arrives!

Any queries – contact me (Henny) via the SDFS email address.

Local Group Report – Beechwood, Wednesday 3rd August 2016

We were a plentiful gathering of voices at Beechwood last week when we shared in the pleasure of singing songs from the set planned for Bateman’s (Sunday 7th). We continued work on the “Kipling Songs” to increase our confidence and familiarity with these and also enjoyed revisiting others from our established repertoire. Thanks to singers from the Lewes and Selham areas who had travelled to join us, and of course to Emily for leading us through, picking us up where needed, and for crowd controlling during a lively session!

The Last Trip Home

A celebration of the working horse and ox in folk song and verse. Cotillion (with Anne and Alan from the South Downs Folk Singers) will lead you through those years of dramatic change when horse and oxen were replaced by the internal combustion engine. Our story takes the audience through the agricultural landscape of bygone days, the sadness of the Great War when many horses were sent abroad to fight and never returned and then finally the arrival of the first tractors. Moving from pathos to humour, we hope you will help us relive this historic period of English agricultural history.

with Cotillion
(Anne, Alan, Linda & Bonnie)

Saturday 3rd September 7.30pm
Church of St Mary de Haura Shoreham

Tickets £10 includes refreshments

Tickets available at the Church after the 10.00am Sunday Service
At the Shoreham Parish Centre 01273 440202
Or on the night at the door

Local Group Report – Lewes Tuesday 19th July 2016

Tuesday 19th July was probably the hottest day this year; Margaret had already had to go home and Angela B, Tina and Margo didn’t think many would come and sit indoors at The John Harvey Tavern on such an oppressive evening. But we were wrong and as the evening developed there were twelve of us working through fourteen songs that would probably be on the Bateman’s set list. Our progress was fairly slow as Tina had to allow three new people time to join in. Jack was on a cycling visit to Sussex but obviously sings folk songs back in London as he could pick up the lyrics and even the bass harmony lines in an instant. Jane brought her friend Dolores (a Canadian from Spain) who entertained us at the end of the evening with a folk song from back home. And by popular request, Adrian sang East Sussex Drinking Song and we joined in the rousing chorus.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Oak, Ash and Thorn Male Harmony

This is the male harmony for the chorus of Oak, Ash and Thorn as given by Emily.

You can download the mp3 file here.
NB If you have to pay to download data on a mobile device you should not play the songs directly from this web page, but instead download the mp3 files and play these.

This is how the melody and harmony look and sound together:

You can download the mp3 file here.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Bateman’s, Burwash, Sunday 7th August 2016

Battle of the Somme Commemoration Weekend

This year’s event is centred around this particular prolonged battle.

We will be singing two sets at 12.00 midday and 2.30pm in probably the same location as last year, between the restaurant and the event field.

We are the only musical performers on the day, except for a lady amongst the re-enactors on the field, and the rest of the elements of the event have been arranged around our performances. A separate short performance of three of Kipling’s poems in the form of songs will be performed at the House by Amaryllis, Emily & Libby, probably between our main sets. We are hoping to video elements of the day, so if you have any objection to your visage appearing on it please warn me in advance, so that I can let you know when it is taking place.

Please arrive by 11.00am as this will ensure that you have a good parking space. John C will be at the admissions entrance from 10.30am to identify you to the staff for free entry. If you are a NT member please bring your membership card, as the level of the next year’s funding for each property is determined by HQ at Swindon based on annual visitor numbers. Please car share if you can personally arrange this.

Dress theme is the usual green, blue or cream/yellow if you have such an item you want to wear. If you have a Poppy left over from last November then that would be even better.

Fingers crossed that we have as good weather as last year.

John C.

First set:
  1. Country Life
  2. Pleasant and Delightful
  3. A Smuggler’s Song
  4. Oak, Ash and Thorn
  5. The Turnip Hoer
  6. All Things Are Quite Silent
  7. The Magpie
  8. Follow Me ’Ome?
  9. West Sussex Drinking Song
  10. Rosebuds in June
  11. Sussex by the Sea

Second set:
  1. Run of the Downs?
  2. On Sussex Hills
  3. Ladies Go Dancing At Whitsun
  4. Life of a Man
  5. Oak, Ash and Thorn
  6. A Smuggler’s Song
  7. Home Lads, Home
  8. Thousands or More
  9. Rosebuds in June
  10. West Sussex Drinking Song
  11. Sussex by the Sea

Local Group Report – Easebourne Thursday 21st July 2016

Twelve of us met at The Three Moles in Selham near Midhurst on Thursday 21st July to enjoy a few drinks and have another really jolly sing. We were especially pleased to be joined by a new member – Jean – and to welcome back four new members – Robin and Sue, and Gordon and Debbie – who had come to our session in May. We practised a dozen or so songs from the SDFS repertoire, sometimes repeating a song just to make sure we were singing it correctly! Old favourites like Fathom the Bowl and Hard Times of Old England were sung alongside newer songs such as the Smuggler’s Song and The Magpie and songs that we felt we needed to revisit like All Things Are Quite Silent and Home Lads Home. We finished up with a hearty renderings of songs like The Turnip Hoer, the Ebernoe Horn Fair Song, Sussex By the Sea and Rolling Home.  It’s not just the singing though that makes us go home with a warm feeling of satisfaction – it’s the realisation that we’ve just spent a couple of hours together with friends in a spirit of happy conviviality! The next Three Moles sing will be on Thursday 18th August.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Singing at The Star

(Apologies for the very late posting of this item – Adrian F)

The South Downs Folk Singers were welcome guests in April at The Star in Alfriston under the guidance of Tina, with introductions to the songs by Adrian F. This was the second time that we had performed at The Star and the unaccompanied harmonies of a small group really go down well, complementing  hosts Andy & Mac’s varied repertoire and the contributions of other guests, some planned and others turning up on the night to offer a song or two.

The Folk Club at The Star, which is an old pub, restaurant and hotel, on Alfriston High Street, and located perfectly for South Downs Way walkers to break their journey, has now been running for a year and has rapidly built up a following amongst new and established – principally acoustic – singers and musicians from around the Brighton-Lewes-Eastbourne triangle.

We will continue to guest at The Star from time to time, with our next scheduled performance in October. SDFS singers who feel like giving it a go with a song or two sometime should contact me (an SDFS member, e-mail: or Tina.


Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Local Group Report – Beechwood, Wednesday 6th July 2016

After warming up with Thousands or More, our minds turned to Kipling and our Bateman’s event in August. We enjoyed working on A Smuggler’s Song, with ladies and gents taking turns to sing the verses, then Oak, Ash and Thorn, with Emily guiding those interested in adding a low harmony line to this. It was suggested by one of our singers that we do The Turnip Hoer with the verses sung by the chaps and the ladies joining in the fun on the choruses. This worked well, as did The Magpie when the verses were this time carried by the ladies in contrast to the deeper tone of the choruses when the men joined in. The Woodcutter’s Song and Poor Froze-Out Gardeners followed, before Oak, Ash and Thorn was reprised, with Emily leading us through a two- and then a four-part round on the last chorus. A productive and fun evening indeed, thank you all!

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Sullington Flower Festival 25th June

Thank you to all the Singers who took part from Gail and the Churchwardens, 52 tickets for the evening were sold in support of the church as part of a very successful three-day festival.

“We all thought the performance yesterday was superb.  The voices of the group are magnificent and I think the audience really enjoyed the evening.  I had a feeling the group enjoyed themselves too – I do hope so.

Thank you very, very much for facilitating the whole evening.”

Many thanks to David for leading us so joyously, the acoustics were great, the spoken pieces by members of the congregation apt, the weather enhanced the beautiful location and you all sang with gusto.

John C.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Confirmation of SDFS’ Plans to Sing at The “AldingBoom” Festival

Saturday 2nd July at the Aldingbourne Country Centre

We are pleased to say enough singers have volunteered for this event to go ahead, so arrangements for the SDFS to sing two sets on the “Woodland stage” at the Centre have been confirmed. Our singing times are now 1.00pm and 4.00pm – so we need to assemble there by 12.45 and 3.45pm at the latest please. Please find the song sets listed below.

Entry to the Festival is free to performers, so if you have let us know you are coming then your name will already be on a list for the gatekeepers to check you in when you arrive. (If you want to sing but haven’t let us know, you can still have your name added to a “late additions” list next week by contacting me via the SDFS email address, asap please.)

Also use the SDFS email address for any queries about the event in advance – but, if needed, use contact number: 07751 479383 on the day.

Looking forward to a good sing and a lovely day!

First set:
  1. Country life
  2. On Sussex Hills
  3. West Sussex Drinking Song
  4. The Nightingale
  5. Life of a Man
  6. Hard Times of Old England
  7. Rosebuds in June
  8. Pleasant and Delightful
  9. Fathom the Bowl
  10. Jolly Good Song

Second set:
  1. Twankey Dillo
  2. On Sussex Hills
  3. Green Grow the Laurel
  4. Ale Glorious Ale
  5. Old Adam
  6. West Sussex Drinking Song
  7. Ebernoe Horn Fair
  8. Rosebuds in June
  9. Thousands or More
  10. Sussex by the Sea
  11. Jolly Good Song

Further notes (copied over from the Proposed Events page):

We have been invited to sing at the “AldingBOOM” one day music festival. The festival is a charity fundraising event organised each year by The Aldingbourne Trust, “L’Arche” and the Chichester Music Academy to celebrate music, performers of all abilities, their families and the Summer! A computer search using “Aldingboom” or “the Aldingbourne Trust” will access more information about the charities, the Centre and the festival. Here are a few links:
There will be front of stage microphones set up for use if we need them, depending on conditions, and these will be managed for us by the festival staff. Emily has kindly offered to lead our singing on the day.

Dress code suggested – the blue and/or greens we usually go for but with maybe a splash of white cloud, wildflower pink or sunshine gold to reflect the summer countryside (with hopefully no grey skies evident on the day!).

The Festival is open from 11.00am until 7.00pm and the usual entry charge will be waived for performers. It sounds like it will be a lovely day in a lovely setting – and for a good cause.

Local Group Report – Lewes Tuesday 21st June 2016

Fifteen of us made an impressive noise in the John Harvey Tavern so that Fiona joined us at half time making 16! Mike and Margaret returned after joining us last month and this time brought their friend Ann, Sandria managed to come with a quiet, young French friend and also Angela is back from Austria.

Tina guided us through fifteen songs in a delightful jumble, mixing old with new, for a very enjoyable evening: Rolling in the Dew, The Woodcutter’s Song, A Smuggler’s Song, Come Write Me Down, O Good Ale, Run of The Downs, Pleasant and Delightful, Shepherd of The Downs, Jim the Carter Lad, Follow Me ‘ome, Three Maidens (with lots of giggles from new folk as they got the bird in the bush message), Constant Lovers (Musical Hall Style), Oak, Ash and Thorn, Farmer’s Toast, finishing with Rosebuds in June... but the group sang on with The Magpie, Jo’s lovely contribution of Steeleye Span’s Saucy Sailor and finally Thousands or More.

Monday, 20 June 2016

‘Songs, Poems & Pints’ with the South Downs Folk Singers

Saturday, 25th June 2016 commencing at 7.30pm in St Mary’s Church, Sullington
The songs below are now confirmed.

Country Life
The Turnip Hoer
Hard Times of Old England
On Sussex Hills

    Chris Cotton – The Rolling English Road (GK Chesterton)
    Jo Graves – Home Thoughts from Abroad (Browning)
    Heather Cotton – South Downs (Don Filiston)
    Chris Cotton – Trees (Joyce Kilmer)

Old Adam
Life of a Man
The Nightingale
Pleasant and Delightful

    Kay Channon – Snippets from ‘We Won’t be druv’ (EFDSS)
    Douglas Parkes – ? (Kipling)
    Heather Cotton – Diary of a Church Mouse (Betjeman)
    Kay Channon – More snippets from ‘We Won’t be druv’ (EFDSS)


West Sussex Drinking Song
Rolling in the Dew
Green Grow the Laurel

    Gail Kittle –
    Philippa Warner – The Ballard of Rum (Peter Wolveridge)
    Jo Graves – Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day (Shakespeare)
    Anne Owen – Blame the Vicar (Betjeman)

Fathom the Bowl
Rosebuds in June
Thousands or More
Timing is expected to be approximately 12 mins per set of songs; 10 mins per set of readings; 20 minute interval = 2 hours-ish

The readings will be from the lectern and David will be provided with the separate vicar’s microphone to announce songs and then be able to switch off during each song.

We will be situated in the chancel in the choir stalls, with additional chairs to sit on and then stand for the song sets.

Suggested apparel would include anything green, blue or cream.

Drinks and nibbles will be provided in the interval.

Please arrive by 7.00pm at the latest and park either in the farmyard or beyond the Church as directed.

If you wish to come earlier in the afternoon to view the other elements of the Festival and perhaps bring a picnic supper you will be directed to the main field for parking.

Contact mobile for the evening is John C. – 07542 167828

All singers wishing to participate should email John as we need to inform the event organisers how many of us there will be.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Local Group Report – Easebourne Thursday 16th June 2016

Twelve of us met at the Three Moles in Selham on Thursday evening and we were joined by Jacquie and David down here on holiday from Lancashire. They thoroughly enjoyed our singing, joining in with many of the songs. Jacquie herself gave us a lovely rendition of a Watersons song called The North Country Maid. It was a really jolly evening and we practised all the songs for the Sullington event on 25th June plus Freeborn Man of the Travelling People, Oak, Ash & Thorn and Rolling Home. The beer was good too – especially a particularly nice ruby ale called Sovereign brewed in honour of the Queen’s 90th birthday. The next Selham Sing will be on Thursday 21st July. Why not make a date to join us then?  You’ll be very welcome!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Sing at The Three Moles, Selham, Thursday 16th June

Here's a reminder for all our singers who can make it to come along and sing in our regular session at the Three Moles, Selham, 8.00pm on Thursday 16th June. If you're not one of our singers but would like to join in, you're very welcome to come along too – no need to contact us in advance, just turn up!

Monday, 13 June 2016

A New Invitation for the South Downs Folk Singers to Sing...

At the Aldingbourne Country Centre, near Chichester, on Saturday 2nd July

We have been invited to sing on the “Woodland Stage” at the “AldingBOOM” one day music festival. We have been offered two 20-30 minute slots to perform at 12.30pm and again at 3.00pm.

The festival is a charity fundraising event organised each year by The Aldingbourne Trust, “L’Arche” and the Chichester Music Academy to celebrate music, performers with or without disabilities, their families and the Summer!

It sounds like it will be a lovely day and 2nd July is not far off now, so if you want to come along and sing at this festival please reply to me (Henny) via the SDFS email address ( as soon as possible so that we can confirm singer numbers and attendance with the organisers in good time. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Henny     (For more details please refer to our “Proposed Events” page.)

Friday, 10 June 2016

Sussex Day, Worthing, Sunday 12th June 2016

Update 10th June:
We commence singing at 1.50pm. It is suggested that we all assemble outside the Guildbourne Centre at 12 noon and then find a spot elsewhere in the vicinity but out of earshot of the performance stage, to do a 'Flash Mob' type event as a warm up for the stage performance.

The Borough Council's car park behind the Town Hall and Assembly Hall off Stoke Abbott Road appears to be free on Sunday on checking their website.

Further details are as in the original post below. Here is the song list:
  1. Country Life
  2. On Sussex Hills
  3. The Turnip Hoer
  4. Pleasant and Delightful
  5. Life of a Man
  6. West Sussex Drinking Song
  7. The Nightingale
  8. Rosebuds in June
  9. Thousands or More
  10. Sussex by the Sea
  11. Jolly Good Song

Original post published 11th April:

It seems such a short time ago that we launched our CD in the Gridshell at WDOAM on Sussex Day 2013 (see YouTube video).

We have been asked to sing with other groups in support of Safe in Sussex and Superstar Arts on a covered, amplified stage outside the Guildbourne Centre, at the junction of South Street and Warwick Street in Worthing town centre.

It will be a 30 minute set around lunch time (TBC), and refreshments will be provided by the organisers. If the weather is good we could find ourselves another spot and sing another set afterwards.

We have approached several organisations in Worthing in the last three years to take part in main events in the centre of the town without result, so we have Colin B to thank for this invite.

Please let me know if you can make it, song list to follow.

John C

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Local Group Report – Beechwood, Wednesday 1st June 2016

It was a well attended and lively evening had by all at the Beechwood session. We warmed up with the Woodcutter's Song and the Turnip Hoer, and then between pints and chat we learned and sang through A Smuggler’s Song and Oak, Ash and Thorn, both of which sounded great and were much enjoyed. They will be good additions to the repertoire and hopefully ready for Bateman’s. Then we sang The Magpie and Pleasant and Delightful, which are ripening nicely, The Magpie being the trickier of the two but beautiful when we get it right!

Thanks to all for coming along, good company and good singing can't be beat!


Saturday, 28 May 2016

Event Preparations

ANOTHER EXTRA SINGING SESSION has been arranged for any SDFSingers (from all our local groups) wanting to sing at our public performances, to help us prepare for the events we will be attending in the late summer and early autumn. The Beechwood Hall Hotel in Worthing has been booked for 7.30pm on Wednesday 13th July.

(P.S. – We hope to arrange a further session in September for some extra time to work on our winter songs. The date is yet to be confirmed but watch this space for details in due course.)

Monday, 23 May 2016

Local Group Report – Easebourne Thursday 19th May 2016

The beer and the bravado were flowing well at The Three Moles in Selham near Midhurst, when the SDFS Easebourne Group met on Thursday night for their monthly sing. We welcomed four new members – Robin and Sue, and Gordon and Debbie – who joined in enthusiastically and brought our total up to 16 singers. We hope they’ll join us again next month on 16th June. After warming our voices with Pleasant and Delightful and O Good Ale we sang another 16 songs plus a version of Ewan MacColl’s Freeborn Man of the Travelling People which our landlady Emma has requested we learn for next time, it being her father’s favourite song! We enjoyed singing the new Kipling songs, namely Oak, Ash and Thorn,  Follow Me ’ome,  Smuggler’s Song, and Run of the Downs, and followed this by practising many of the songs scheduled for the Sullington Event on the 25th June. You could really hear the difference in our voices once we got back to singing the songs we all know and love! Our thanks to everyone who came along and helped make it a great evening. See you all again soon!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Local Group Report – Lewes Tuesday 17th May 2016

We welcomed five new faces from Eastbourne, Cuckfield and Seaford, so there were 16 singers to make a good sound to compete with the party next door at The John Harvey Tavern. Tina had planned an excellent mixture of songs new and old, so that everyone could join in, starting with Rolling in the Dew. The newer Woodcutter’s Song and Smuggler’s Song needed a few notes to be corrected but we galloped through Come Write Me Down and O Good Ale with its reduced verses. Run of the Downs with its line of hills, east to west, was a tongue twister but with practice it should become as easy as The West Sussex Drinking Song or On Sussex Hills! Pleasant and Delightful was already known to two of our newcomers so the alterations to fit in with The Secret Shore Project proved a minor problem. Jim the Carter Lad and Follow Me ’ome will work really well for performances when we manage to speed them up and enjoy their lively rhythms. We then sailed through the Constant Lovers when Tina asked us to treat it like a music hall number and emphasize the roll of the waves and also to start the ghostly last verse quietly. Tina reminded us of the music for Oak, Ash and Thorn but we will need to print off the words from the website and do some homework. Finally, Tina asked Adrian to sing the verses of The East Sussex Drinking Song while we joined in the choruses. But that wasn’t the end of the evening because John K sang Searching For Lambs and Jasna sang a Croatian song about Fishermen and their nets and got us to sing the choruses!

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Pleasant and Delightful Lyrics Updated

The lyrics for Pleasant and Delightful were made available on our Lyrics and Recordings page a couple of weeks ago and they have now been updated to correspond to the lyrics read out by Emily at our last Beechwood singing session. There was in fact only one small change: in the last line of the last verse, "if ever I return to you" was changed to "if ever I return again".

The updated version (dated 12th May 2016 in the footer) is available from the Lyrics and Recordings page, or you can obtain it directly by using this link.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Weald & Downland Christmas Market – Sunday 15th November 2015

A little late, here are photos from the Weald & Downland Christmas Market and a lovely comment from Emily. Thank you Emily and to all the photo contributors.

What a way to blast the dismal rain away! Lovely, festive, rousing songs beautifully sung! Thanks to John C for organising it, thanks to Dave G for leading the first set and thanks to you all for your enthusiastic participation, delightful voices and festive hats. The harmonies, both practised and spontaneous, were lovely and we made a good big sound. I think it might have been the heavy grey sky and chilly drizzle that made a number of you request we leave out 'Christmas is now...', but actually I missed it being there in the mix! I think it has a depth and a passion which would have been a good addition to the Christmas market, and it does sound strong and rich when we sing it. I do hope you go for it at Haywards Heath, whatever the weather! Thanks again everyone. I was told by one of the listeners afterwards that he'd been very moved by our energy and song, and it had been the best part of his day.

Angela B

Peter B

Peter B

Peter B

Peter B

David G

Peter B

Peter B

Peter B

Local Group Report – Beechwood, Wednesday 4th May 2016

SDF Singers from Worthing and other areas, including two newcomers to the fold, gathered again at Beechwood Hall on a warm May evening.  After starting with Sussex Hills, and discussing the newly proposed set of Kipling’s songs to be tackled at our next session, we continued work to polish the details of our other ‘new’ songs - the chopping rhythm in The Woodcutters, the vigour of The Turnip Hoers (which as ever produced a few chuckles at the chorus) and the rich tones of The Magpie.  Also, Pleasant and Delightful, once the words to match the version used on in the “Secret Shore” songs project had been confirmed.  After these and the usual breaks for event news and refreshment, we concluded with the ever popular (but not actually part of our official South Downs collection) Rolling Home, which served well to wind down before going our separate ways.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Cotillion performing in Lewes on Sunday 8th May

You may be interested to know that Anne and Alan's group Cotillion will be performing their folk show ‘The Last Trip Home’ in Westgate Chapel, Lewes. This is about the change from using horses and oxen to internal combustion engines in song, tune and verse with a narrator.

Sunday 8th May at 2.30pm

Westgate Chapel
92a High Street
Lewes BN7 1XH

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Local Group Report – Lewes Tuesday 19th April 2016

Twelve singers joined Tina at The John Harvey Tavern (that is 13 really!).  We have been elevated to the room upstairs because the snug was being used as a repository for furniture.  The meeting room allowed us to all sit around one big table with more ease and, with carpet on the floor, the sound of our practice session was less audible downstairs in the main bar! Because we will we going back to Bateman’s in August there are some more songs penned by Kipling that we hope to learn.  Tina introduced us to “Follow Me Home” and “Oak and Ash and Thorn” which we worked through thoroughly before revisiting “The Farmer’s Toast”, “Jim The Carter Lad”, “Seasons Turn”, “Poor Froze Out Gardeners”, “The Magpie” etc.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Local Group Report – Easebourne Thursday 21st April 2016

Twelve of us were all hale and hearty at last night’s Selham session. We welcomed Janet from the Worthing group and Geoff from the Lewes group, both of whom had not been to Selham before. Alan led us as we worked our way through the song list for the Food and Folk Festival starting off with ‘Country Life’. We followed them with ‘Oak, Ash and Thorn’ and ended up with a rousing version of ‘Rolling Home’. Those of us who can make it, will look forward to the extra session on 27th April in Worthing. We hope there will be room for us!

Julie T

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Kipling Songs

Here are four more songs that we think SDFS singers might like to perform at events like the Rudyard Kipling Day at Bateman's on Sunday 7th August. We don't necessarily have to learn them all at once, but have a listen and let us know what you think.

The words for these (pdf file) can be downloaded using this link.

You can download recordings of these songs using the links given below. NB If you have to pay to download data on a mobile device you should not play the songs directly from this web page, but instead download the mp3 files and play these.

Oak, Ash and Thorn:
You can download the mp3 file here.

Follow me 'Ome:
You can download the mp3 file here.

A Smuggler's Song:
You can download the mp3 file here.

The Run of the Downs:
You can download the mp3 file here.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Local Group Report – Beechwood, Wednesday 6th April 2016

The Beechwood session was again nearly full to the brim with regular attenders plus some new faces, welcome all!  With notices and reminders about future events, our singing, and some nattering, it was a lively and sociable evening. We began with a hearty rendition of “Country Life” before continuing work on some of the newer additions to our repertoire: “Pleasant and Delightful”, “The Woodcutters Song”, “The Turnip Hoers”, “The Magpie” and “The Poor Froze-Out Gardeners”.  Thank you to Emily for her skilful leadership and teaching, including her guidance on possible harmony options for “The Magpie”. (Work on these and on our other songs for the new event season will continue at our Extra performance preparation session at the Beechwood on 27th April, 7.30pm – all SDFS performers welcome.)


Wednesday, 6 April 2016

‘Food & Folk’ At The Weald & Downland Open Air Museum, Sunday 1st May 2016

Update 18th April: The song list has been added at the end of this post.
The dawn chorus is in full swing, the weather is getting warmer, it must be time for our first Spring event.

As usual the Museum have provided us with a limited number of wristband passes for those Singers volunteering to sing at the event. First come first served.

I will be at the Worthing session on the 6th April to hand out these as well as on the 27th April beginning-of-season practice session at the same venue. If you can't make either of these and only Lewes on the 19th or Selham on the 21st, please let me know ASAP by email so that I can arrange to give them to a singer from these meetings to pass on to you.

There will be 2 sets, at 12.00 - 12.30hrs & 14.00 - 14.30hrs in the central exhibition area as last year.

The song list appears below.

The Museum is in the throes of the HLF + funded 'Gateway Project' (see WDOAM website) of new construction and re-positioning of existing buildings, so it will be interesting to view their progress, as well as all the event's activities.

Many thanks,

John C.

The organiser's website is here.
Here are the songs we will be singing (download this list here):
First Set:
  1. Country Life
  2. Twanky Dillo
  3. On Sussex Hills
  4. Ale, Glorious Ale
  5. Life Of A Man
  6. The Nightingale Song
  7. Hard Times Of Old England
  8. Green Grow The Laurel
  9. Rolling In The Dew
  10. Rosebuds In June
  11. Fathom The Bowl
Second Set:
  1. West Sussex Drinking Song
  2. Old Adam
  3. Pleasant And Delightful
  4. Country Life
  5. Thousands Or More
  6. Ebernoe Horn Fair
  7. Gooch’s Beer
  8. Rosebuds In June
  9. Sussex By The Sea

Saturday, 26 March 2016

For the Attention Of any “South Downs Folk Singers” interested in contributing to our public performances this summer...

An EXTRA SINGING SESSION  has been booked for 7.30pm at The Beechwood Hall Hotel in Worthing on Wednesday 27th April.

Singers from all three of our local groups are invited to share in this extra time to prepare for our early summer events.

( P.S. – Another extra session to ’top-up’ is proposed for late July – date to be confirmed in due course.)

Hope to see you there,

Friday, 18 March 2016

Local Group Report – Easebourne Thursday 17th March 2016

Seven of us made it out to the Three Moles in Selham to be greeted by our hosts and asked to wear funny hats in honour of Saint Patrick! We returned the favour by drinking Guinness and singing a medley of snippets of all the Irish songs that we knew. Then we settled down to a pleasant evening, practising many of our new songs. After Drink Old England Dry and Ale Glorious Ale we tackled a couple of Rudyard Kipling songs – Oak Ash & Thorn and Follow me ‘Ome – and then sang The Magpie, Ha’nacker Mill, The Turnip Hoer, The Woodcutter’s Song, They won’t let us go to sea anymore and Sussex By The Sea. We finished as usual with Rolling Home. As usual there were a lot of jokes and laughter and some cheery banter with a local farmer who was fascinated by our Magpie song! We look forward to seeing more of you at our next sing on Thursday 21st April.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Local Group Report – Lewes Tuesday 15th March 2016

Twelve singers gathered at The John Harvey Tavern and sang loudly through 16 songs from the repertoire, with a good mix of those we don't sing so often and the "new songs" for this year which are shaping up nicely. Thank you, Tina for your expert guidance. We finished another satisfying evening with the East Sussex Drinking Song and Thousands or More.