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Saturday, 23 December 2017

Local Group Report – Chichester – Thursday 21st December 2017

Our last sing together for the current year took the form of a jovial celebration of Christmas and 22 South Downs Folk Singers and friends came to the Chichester Inn armed with poems and songs ready to turn the evening into a bit of a party. We lit candles on the tables and Anne, Alan and Dave brought their guitars, melodeon and recorder to play a few tunes and accompany some of the songs. After a rendering of Silent Night we went around the circle inviting everyone to do their party piece or recommend a favourite song. Anne and Alan gave us Kipling’s poem Eddi’s Service telling the tale of the bleak mid-winter service conducted by Eddi the Priest in the chapel at Manhood End in AD 687. This was followed by The First Noel sung to the tune of Young Banker and While Shepherd’s Watched to the tune of Ilkley Moor bar t'at. We then sang the Sugar Wassail and Gordon recited a lovely Christmas poem he had written. There followed the Coppers’ Christmas Song, Sweet Chiming Bells, the Angel Gabriel, and Masters in this Hall. Stephen recited Robert Louis Stevenson’s Winter-Time and Chris got us all to participate in a rendering of G R Sims’ magnificently melodramatic monologue Christmas Day in the Workhouse! Keith sang the apocryphal Bitter Withy and Alwyn told us all about Snapdragon, a game in which you have to pick nuts and raisins out of a bowl of flaming brandy! Danny and Jenny sang the Hooton Pagnell Wassail from South Yorkshire. Les and Patsy requested the Boar’s Head Carol and Stormy Winds and Sue and Dave finished up the first half with the Cowboy Carol and a comic version of Deck the Halls.

After a break to refill our glasses, we went around the circle again; Anne and Alan treated us to a sprightly version of the Sussex Carol and a lovely rendition of The Terror Time by Ewan MacColl. We then sang more songs and carols, including the Sans Day Carol, Pentonville, the Falmer Carol, Righteous Joseph, Hark the Herald Angels, the Woodcutter’s Song, Here’s a Health to the Company and the round I Heard a Bird sing in the Dark of December. Chris got us all to join in with the hilarious I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas and then Keith gave us the more solemn Remember O Thou Man written in 1611 by Thomas Ravenscroft. Time was sadly running out so we had one more from Danny and Jenny – Si Kahn’s beautiful song New Year’s Eve which ends “May the New Year bring you freedom peacefully.” We finally finished up singing We wish You a Merry Christmas and an impromptu Happy Birthday to You to a girl called Beth in the other bar! It had been a fantastic evening. Thanks to everyone for their excellent contributions. We’ll meet again on Thursday 18th January 2018 at the Chichester Inn. Hope to see lots of you there!

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Local Group Report – Lewes – Monday 18th December 2017

Seven stalwarts came to The John Harvey Tavern. I’m sure Mac only came to try the Harvey’s Christmas Ale at 7.5% but that’s OK because it kept his bass voice working beautifully all evening. We started with Sweet Chiming Bells and The Coppers’ Christmas Song, both with lovely harmonies to put us in a festive mood before Tina introduced us to the Littlehampton Collier Lads and the contrast of The Brave Eleven and then back to our well-practised They Won’t Let Us Go To Sea Any More.

After a quick break, it was back to Angel Gabriel and Tina had the seven of us singing four beautiful harmonies. Then we polished off Masters In This Hall, Sugar Wassail, The Falmer Carol, “Pentonville” and Fathom The Bowl ending with Farmer’s Toast. Thank you again to Tina for planning such a productive and enjoyable evening.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

A bit More festive singing!...

Hello all,

For those of you who have not yet had your fill of festive singing you might be interested to know that a friend and I are organising another jolly singing gathering at Coast Café in Worthing on Thursday 21st December.

There will be a mixture of folky carols, good old traditional ones and some slightly more modern classics, with a few wintry themed rounds sprinkled in.

It'll be from 6pm til 10ish.

It's a lovely venue with yummy food and drink and the best view of the wild wintry sea.

See you there perhaps!

Em X

Michelham Priory, Sunday 10th December 2017

Braving a miserable and cold day and a road closure, the intrepid Singers made their way to the 'Victorian Christmas' to sing two sets of rousing seasonal songs.

They were joined, presumably by some sort of 'Outlander' time warp, by some Victorian ladies craftily  provided with degaussing rings in their skirts to pick up any WW2 magnetic mines in the vicinity.

The Catches at the end of the second set (when we were joined by our groupies and the odd audience member) were great fun, bring on some more Emily! It's a pity Tina's heavy work commitments prevented her joining us. Thanks also to Amaryllis, Mike and Alan.

The Priory kindly provided beverages, sandwiches, mince pies and chocolate biscuits to the Singers and Helen emailed us this after the first set:
"I'm just emailing now to say thanks so much for coming out today in awful weather. I heard you singing in the house and it sounded great – hope to catch up on some more songs later, but I'm running around a bit at the moment. Please pass on my thanks to the Singers.

Very best to all of you and wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!"
John C.

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 6th December 2017

Our last local gathering in 2017 saw another good turn out of singers, in spite of the deteriorating weather. Cosy indoors we enjoyed good songs, good company and good cheer – and the news that “Ye Olde House at Home” had just won the local “Pub of the Year” award! Plans for the SDFS ‘Wassail' social (also posted on our website) and thanks to singers for their contributions and support at recent events were shared before the singing began. In preparation for the next SDFS event due the following weekend at Michelham Priory, we sang again the seasonal songs familiar to most of us and recently used at the Weald and Downland Christmas Market. These included the catches Hey Ho, Winter Snow and Child of Light introduced by Emily this year, plus one other, Bird in December, tried just for the pleasure and fun of it! By special request from our pub hosts we added Silent Night before the evening concluded with a resolution to meet and sing together again on 3rd January for the first Worthing session of 2018.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

South Downs Folk Singers “Wassail” winter party!

Update 10th January: More than half the places have now been taken and Margo is still taking bookings. To be absolutely sure of joining in with us, email Margo now!
Our annual clan gathering to celebrate the turn of the year and look forward to a new season of song, is now on the diary page of this website.

South Downs Folk Singers, plus family and friends, are all welcome.

The fun will begin at 7.30pm (arrivals from 7.00pm) on Saturday 20th January 2018 at the venue we used last time:
St. John’s the Divine Church Hall, on the corner of Ripley Road and Elm Grove in West Worthing, BN11 5LD.

Tickets are £2.50 each.

Numbers are limited, so to avoid disappointment contact Margo NOW via the South Downs Folk Singers email (or you may see her at some local group sessions).

She will reply to confirm your booking, and also the payment arrangements (in advance if practical, otherwise ‘on the door’ when you arrive).

(NB Tickets may be available on the door too, but only if not all SOLD OUT in advance.)

Bring food to share and your drinks of choice – and as usual your voices and a readiness to join in song!

Individual contributions are also invited to add to the pleasure of the evening – songs, readings, dance and music – any and all are welcome. (Please let Margo know if you’d like to contribute.)

See you there – “Wassail”!

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Local Group Report – Lewes – Wednesday 22nd November 2017

Eleven of us met on this altered evening and Tina led us through 15 songs. While Shepherds Watched to Pentonville, Sussex Mummers' Carol, Hark The Herald Angels to the new tune, The Angel Gabriel, The Moon Shone Bright and then switching to Apple Wassail before the break.

Continuing with Sugar Wassail, Christmas Now Is Drawing Near at Hand, Masters in This Hall, Sweet Chiming Bells, then the combined catches Child of Light and Hey, Ho, Winter Snow to which it didn’t take folk long to catch on, and finishing our winter collection with the tongue-twisting Falmer Carol.

Tina then refreshed our memories of our Dave’s Caburn Hill, and while he sang the verses we mumbled along and tried the harmony. We hope that we can present it to the whole group soon. And so to finish we sang Thousands Or More and The East Sussex Drinking Song which we hope will have a revised final verse in the New Year!

Looking forward to Michelham Priory on the 10th and our other altered meeting date of Monday 18th December.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

'Offical Opening' of Renovated 17th/18thC Barn at Sullington Manor Farm

Update 17th December: Gail emailed her apologies for the several changes of timetable on the day occasioned by circumstances beyond her control, but expressed her and the Church Wardens' thanks for our contribution making the day that bit more special for the community.

The event was reported in the local newspaper.
Update 27th November: The timing for some of the proceedings has been brought forward and singers are now asked to arrive at 12.30pm to allow for this.
Update 13th November: Further details have been added to the end of this post. Twelve singers have now volunteered. (Further update: 15 singers as on 15th November.)
The local MP Nick Herbert will be opening this Exhibition and Community use barn on Friday 1st December. Gail and Grahame (who organised and applied for the HLF grant funding for this second renovation, after the previous Great Barn restoration) have asked us if we could sing some songs on this occasion to enliven the proceedings.

The opening has been delayed, due to unforeseen circumstances, to a less clement time of year, so unless you are well wrapped up you may not want to take a trailer tour ride (which is also dependent on the weather).

Don't RSVP Gail, as on the poster, please email me on if you can come.

Eight Singers have volunteered so far (as on 9th November) and further details will be posted as they become available, but the songs will be ones that you are all familiar with.

John C.

Further details

Singers please arrive around 1.00pm to ensure a parking space on hard ground.

We have been asked to sing an introductory few songs as people are gathering before the first trailer trip, and then again before the next one. This will allow listening to the intervening talk and participation in the 'champagne' tea.

Provisional song lists

First set:
  1. Country Life [Eb - Ab]
  2. The Coppers' Christmas Song [Bb]
  3. Old Adam [E]
  4. On Sussex Hills [A]
  5. Brisk Young Ploughboy (leaving out 2nd verse) [C]
  6. Sweet Chiming Bells [B]

Second set:
  1. Twanky Dillo [G]
  2. Rosebuds in June [B]
  3. The Holly Bears a Berry [C]
  4. West Sussex Drinking Song [E]
  5. Thousands or More [A]
  6. Here We Come A-Wassailing [C]

Calling all the South Downs Folk Singers preparing to sing at our Winter season Events

This notice is to confirm plans for an Extra session on Wednesday 15th November at 7.30pm at “Ye Olde House at Home” pub in Worthing (BN14 9AD).

(N.B. Another extra session considered for 29th November will NOT be going ahead – but the next regular Worthing group session, on Wednesday 6th December, is open to all as usual.)

Monday, 6 November 2017

Along The Road With Cotillion in Local Song and Verse

Saturday 25th November at 7.30pm in St Nicolas' Church, Old Shoreham, BN43 5NH
Doors open 7.00pm. Bar available

We are delighted to announce that Cotillion are returning to St Nicolas' to present a collection of folk songs, tunes and poetry from their Folk Shows and CDs.

The group (which includes two of our SDFS, Anne and Alan) sing and play various instruments to create a superb atmosphere with catchy songs and rhythms, spiced with humour.

Tickets (£5) will be available from the church and the usual outlets – Bookworms and Day Lewis Pharmacy in Shoreham, The Red Lion in Old Shoreham, or on the night on the door. Proceeds to the Friends of St Nicolas' who maintain the fabric of this beautiful historic church.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 1st November 2017

Our new hosts at “Ye Olde House at Home” made us very welcome and 35 singers gathered for an evening of festive songs to herald the season ahead and prepare us for our events at the Weald and Downland Museum and Michelham Priory.  On Sussex Hills, which has almost become our anthem, warmed us up before moving on with The Holly and The Ivy, the Sussex Mummers Song (with a different selection of verses), and then Christmas is Drawing Near at Hand which some have dubbed the ‘Marmite’ song due to the mixed responses it receives!  The Pentonville tune for the shepherds and their flocks reunited us and, with a refreshment break along the way, we continued with Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Masters in This Hall and The Angel Gabriel, which was liked by all.  Sugar Wassail, The Moon Shone Bright (beginning with women’s voices but gradually introducing the men’s), and the Falmer Carol with its different harmonies, were all sung before time and energy ran out and the session needed to close. The end of our first evening at “Ye Olde House” concluded with enthusiastic agreement from singers and landlord alike that we make it our regular venue, and future sessions were duly booked.

(NB – These include an Extra session on 15th November to have more time to prepare for the Weald and Downland event on 26th November – and similarly, an option on 29th November, if needed (tbc), before Michelham Priory in December.  Our usual Worthing session will be there again on 6th December.)

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

W&DLM 'Christmas Market' Sunday 26th November

Update 17th December: Georgia has emailed her thanks for again supporting the Museum with our performances and hopes that they can rely on our continued support in 2018.
Update 20th November: 40+ Singers will be attending. Set lists have been added to the end of this post.
Update 13th November: A reminder that John will be at 'Ye Olde House at Home' on 15th November and will have with him the last few free passes for singers, to distribute to those who have either already booked a place by email or who want to participate.
Update 4th November: Here's a message from John C to keep us up to date – "Following the issue or reserving of 30 of the 40 wristband passes for this event I will be attending the practice at the 'Ye Olde House at Home', Broadwater on the 15th November to issue the remaining ten to Singers wishing to take part. If you are volunteering for this event and cannot attend on this date, please ask another Singer to pick up the requisite pass for you.
Obviously if you are a paid up supporter or volunteer at the Museum you will not need a pass."
Again a packed event with over 120 stalls, so if the weather is reasonable it's worth making a day of it.

All the new 'Gateway' buildings are operational now.

As always Sunday is the busiest day 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.

See the organiser's website.

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 1st November and hope to have with me by then the 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.

John C.

First Set:
  1. Pentonville (While Shepherds...) B
  2. The Holly Bears A Berry C
  3. The Falmer Carol (See seraphic throngs...) Db
  4. Sussex Mummers' Carol (When Righteous Joseph...) G#
  5. Hark The Herald Angels Sing F
  6. The Angel Gabriel B
  7. Deck The Hall B
  8. The Moon Shone Bright Bb
  9. Here We Come A-Wassailing C

Second Set:
  1. The Holly & The Ivy F
  2. The Sugar (Sussex) Wassail (A wassail, a wassail...) C
  3. Christmas Now Is Drawing... G
  4. The Sussex Carol (On Christmas night all...) G#
  5. Apple Tree Wassail (Oh lily-white lily...) G
  6. Masters In This Hall B
  7. Sweet Chiming Bells (While Shepherds...) D
  8. (Rounds) Child of Light & Hey Ho
  9. We Wish You A merry Christmas C

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

A 'Victorian Christmas' at Michelham Priory, Sunday 10th December

Update 20th November: 33+ singers will be attending and we will be singing either inside the house, or in the barn, or a combination of both.
If other than wearing the odd festive decoration on your person you want to dress in Victorian-themed garb, please do.
Please be there for 11.30am, the song sets are provisionally scheduled for 12.00 & 2.30pm.
I (John C) will be on the gate to identify you for swift entry.
Set lists have been added to the end of this post.
We have been invited to sing seasonal songs in the Priory on the middle weekend of three in December with a Christmas theme.

Helen the organiser writes:

"'s the first time we have done a 'Victorian' theme. Our Tudor weekends are generally quite well attended, but they are not massive events. At the Victorian weekends, there will be decorations, children's craft activities, Santa, dressing up / drama and a trail, plus some cookery in the house. There may be a film show in the barn, but we aren't sure yet. It might be a good idea to have the Christmas folk singing in the house. Anyway, let me know whether your Singers can help us make it an even better weekend."

See the organiser's website.

12 singers including Tina (leading) and Emily have volunteered so far.

It will be a great way of airing our seasonal songs in addition to the W&DLM 'Christmas Market'.

Please let me know as soon as possible if you are willing to support it at

Song sets and other details will be added in due course.

John C.

First Set:
  1. Pentonville (While Shepherds...) B
  2. The Holly Bears A Berry C
  3. The Falmer Carol (See seraphic throngs...) Db
  4. Sussex Mummers' Carol (When Righteous Joseph...) G#
  5. Hark The Herald Angels Sing F
  6. The Angel Gabriel B
  7. Deck The Hall B
  8. The Moon Shone Bright Bb
  9. Here We Come A-Wassailing C

Second Set:
  1. The Holly & The Ivy F
  2. The Sugar (Sussex) Wassail (A wassail, a wassail...) C
  3. Christmas Now Is Drawing... G
  4. The Sussex Carol (On Christmas night all...) G#
  5. Apple Tree Wassail (Oh lily-white lily...) G
  6. Masters In This Hall B
  7. Sweet Chiming Bells (While Shepherds...) D
  8. (Rounds) Child of Light & Hey Ho
  9. We Wish You A merry Christmas C

Hark, Hark What News The Angels Bring

Yes, it's coming up to that time of year again. The Brighton Pub Carols practices start on Tuesday 7th November – just two weeks away.

As usual, these will take place at Dorset Gardens Methodist Church, Dorset Gardens, off St James's Street, Brighton from 8.00 pm to 10.00 pm.

Dates are 7th,14th, 21st & 28th November and 5th December. The 12th,19th and 23rd December have been earmarked for the three pub nights – probably at the same pubs that have been used for the past few years.

Practices will be in the upstairs hall and you can arrive from 7.45 pm. Teas and coffees will be available as usual – a small donation is requested to cover the hall hire and refreshments.

Two carols that we haven't sung before will be introduced and these will be covered in the first practice. Music for them will be circulated via Dropbox or e-mail attachments nearer the date. Visit the Brighton Pub Carols Facebook page for all the details!

Local Group Report – Chichester – Thursday 19th October 2017

A wet and windy evening found 12 singers at the Chichester Inn on the 19th October. We decided to each pick a song we’d like to sing. We resurrected The Cuckoo and Drink Me Brave Boys, songs which we haven’t sung for a long time, and then continued with Jim the Carter Lad, Country Life, and Hard Times of Old England. We thought we’d better sing something for the Weald and Downland Christmas Market event so sang Sweet Chiming Bells, Where Stormy Winds Do Blow and the Coppers’ Christmas Song. The Turnip Hoer made an appearance along with the Brisk Young Ploughboy, Valiants All and the Song of the Sussex Downsman. Despite proceedings being interrupted with the unblocking of some drains, a good time was had by all and we rounded off the evening with Rolling Home.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Local Group Report – Lewes – Tuesday 18th October 2017

Sixteen of us spent a very pleasant evening with a wide mix of songs. Maybe it was the weather that triggered us to start with Constant Lovers and The Coppers’ Christmas Song before Tina introduced us to Arthur Beckett’s Song of The Sussex Downsman. Tina was pleased with our sight-reading ability, but in fact our quick grasp of this tune and lyrics was helped by Barbara, Judy, Keith, Alwyn, Angela and Margo who had been taught the first verse and chorus by Emily the traditional way in preparation for Sullington! Then we “ran the length of the Downs” with the Floral Dance tune so that we could refresh our memories of the lyrics and names. Sweet Chiming Bells, The Moon Shone Bright and Masters in This Hall brought us to the break when we had much to discuss.

Rehearsals for the Brighton Pub Carols start on Tuesdays next month and many would like to attend the series so we will meet as SDFS on Wednesday 22nd November and Monday 18th December instead, and get back to our usual third Tuesday of the month next year.

Tina started the second half with Seasons Turn with a firm emphasis on the THIS is the time I love best. Then another new one, Hares On The Mountain with the amalgamated first and second verse and with hares and sheep in their rightful environments. Passions rose with the plight of The Turnip Hoer and then Adrian’s lively Hanover Hill. This will probably remain with us in the east as it is very specific to Brighton. Another of our group, also from Brighton, Dave has written a song and two melodies which Tina has realized blend in perfect harmony and on first attempt we are keen to forward Caburn Hill for the whole group to hear and adopt.

We finished the evening with Thousands Or More and Adrian’s East Sussex Drinking Song which he will have to modify again when we know where we will settle down as a Worthing venue.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

PLEASE NOTE – Change of Venue for the SDFS Worthing Local Group

Next Worthing singing session Wednesday 1st November 2017

Very sadly The Beechwood Hall Hotel in Worthing has had to close, so our next singing session with the SDFS Worthing Local Group will be at a different venue.

We will be meeting in the public bar at “Ye Olde House at Home” pub in Broadwater (77, Broadwater Street East, Worthing, BN14 9AD) (01903 230103). Our hosts there are Derek and Carole. The pub has its own car park, in addition to street parking nearby. The session times remain the same – arrivals from 7.30pm, to start singing by 8.00pm and finish by 10.00pm.
We look forward to seeing you there for a jolly good sing of some jolly good songs, with some new hosts who are keen to meet and hear us.

NB Some other parts of this website still refer to the Beechwood Hall Hotel. These will be brought up to date as time allows and as more information becomes available.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 4th October 2017

Our October gathering to sing at the Beechwood came hot on the heels of this year’s SDFS Annual General Meeting (thanks to all who attended and contributed). Having started a little late we motored through the songs planned for use at Sullington Church on 7th Oct. The Song of the Sussex Downsman had two outings during the evening and others more familiar took their turn. Jim the Carter Lad, Ha’nacker Mill, The Brisk Young Ploughboy, The Farmer’s Toast and Hares on the Mountain (another import, like the Downsman’s Song, for the Sullington event) preceded a break. The Woodcutters Song, Oak, Ash and Thorn, Pleasant and Delightful, A Smugglers Song and The Magpie soon followed and we finished a productive evening with a cheery Country Life – and no time left to brush the dust off any of our festive season songs. Roll on November!

(P.S. – Due to unforeseen circumstances we may need to use a different venue for our next sing in Worthing on 1st November – so please check this website for details nearer the time.)

Hares On The Mountain and more...

Here's a verse of Hares On The Mountain from Emily, for anyone who's not familiar with it.

Download mp3

Child of Light:

Download mp3

Hey ho winter snow:

Download mp3

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Local Group Report – Lewes – Tuesday 19th September 2017

Thirteen of us rolled through 19 songs.

Winter is on its way so we aired Where Stormy Winds Do Blow, Poor Froze-out Gardeners, The Magpie, Pleasant & Delightful and The Woodcutter’s Song. As we are nearer to Hastings than the rest of the group, we regularly sing They Won’t Let us Go To Sea Anymore and we want extra Brownie points for starting on the Christmas repertoire with Christmas Now is Drawing Near At Hand and The Coppers’ Christmas Song, then it was Country Life and A Smuggler’s Song before a well-earned break.

Then we happily launched into The Farmer’s Toast and Jim The Carter Lad before Hard Times of Old England and Ha’nacker Mill where we tried to develop a harmony but have found drones instead!

The Nightingale, Oak, Ash and Thorn and The Three Maidens brought us to a penultimate East Sussex Drinking Song with a loud “John Harvey Tavern” and ending with Thousands or More. Well done everyone!

Friday, 29 September 2017

A.G.M. Reminder

Our Annual General Meeting (further details here) is on Wednesday 4th October at the Beechwood Hall Hotel, Worthing. We aim to start promptly at 7.00pm to cover as much as we can before our singing begins at 8.00pm.

The agenda (download pdf file) invites you to come along with your comments and ideas and to have your say!  I look forward to seeing you there.


Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Southdowns Folk Festival Report

The South Downs Folk Singers sang brilliantly at the Southdowns Folk Festival in Bognor Regis on Saturday 23rd September. First off many of our singers joined the Secret Shore singers to sing a super set of shanties and sea songs outside the William Hardwicke public house and then performing as the South Downs Folk Singers we sang an hour of folk songs in the main street, with lots of people joining in with the choruses – especially Sussex by the Sea.

Photo: Richard Corkrey and his team of Festival Photographers

Monday, 25 September 2017

Local Group Report – Chichester – Thursday 21st September 2017

It was lovely to welcome sixteen singers to The Chichester Inn on Thursday 21st September for our monthly sing. The number included three new members – Chris, Vicky and Patsy – who came along to lend their voices to our group, having seen us perform at the Arundel Festival. Talk of course was of our two upcoming performances at the Southdowns Folk Festival and at the special “Songs, Poems & Pints” concert in Sullington Church in October. To that end we spent a good half hour practising the Song of the Sussex Downsman. With Keith on hand to guide us expertly line by line through the quite complicated melody, we eventually felt that we were beginning to master this beautiful song. After that we sang through much of our repertoire, songs both old and new, and especially the ones which were deemed by the group to need a bit of practice. We sang Rosebuds in June, the West Sussex Drinking Song (all four verses), Ebernoe Horn Fair, Home Lads Home, and Oak, Ash & Thorn before stopping for a break, a natter and a spontaneous sing of some of Emily’s catches. After the interval we visited the Stedham Oysterman’s Donkey, the Saucy Sailor, Hares on the Mountain and the Brisk Young Ploughboy and, in a surprising change to our usual routine, finished up with the shanty Leave her Johnny Leave Her. It was a convivial evening and we hope to see everyone again next month. Remember there’s no fee – you only have to turn up to come and join the South Downs Folk Singers!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

'More Songs, Poems & Pints' At Sullington Church, Saturday 7th October

Evening performance commencing at 7.30pm.

As you know we have the lovely Sullington Church performance coming up soon. It was so well received last year at the biennial Flower Festival (which will be held again next year in June) that we have been invited back in this intervening year. The refreshment break will be made in the newly-refurbished 17thC smaller barn adjacent to the Saxo Norman church if the weather precludes it being available outside the church.

It is a ticketed event so we need to be at our musical best! To this end we have made a couple of extra practice dates, one on the 20th and one on the 27th, to go through the set and make it as good as it can be. We've chosen two dates to make as much extra practice available as possible, to those who want to come. You don't need to come to both, but just whichever one suits best.

As the Sullington Church is quite small we have limited the spaces to 20/25 people. So if you are hoping to come please make sure you can make at least one extra rehearsal, and do please give your name as soon as possible to John to confirm your place. Update 20th Sep: all places are now taken. Also, please have a listen to the Song of the Sussex Downsman which we will be singing.

Thanks indeed, see you soon,


Here is the provisional set list:
On Sussex Hills
Ha'nacker Mill
Oak, Ash and Thorn
A Smuggler's Song

Pleasant and Delightful
Hares on the Mountain


Country Life
The Magpie
The Woodcutter's Song
The Brisk Young Ploughboy

Jim the Carter Lad
The Farmer's Toast
Song of the Sussex Downsman

Song of the Sussex Downsman

Update 19th October: Please note that the audio file has been revised, as indicated by "rev2" in the filename. (Apologies, in the previous update three days earlier an incorrect file was uploaded here.) One note has been changed, for the syllable "be" in "Wool-ston-be-ree". This is at 1m9s from the start. The score remains unchanged and corresponds to this revision.
For everybody who will be singing at Sullington in a few weeks' time (and of course anybody else who takes an interest in this!), here is a recording of Emily singing the first verse of Song of the Sussex Downsman.

Download mp3

Download score pdf

Monday, 18 September 2017

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 5th September 2017

We made a prompt start with brief notices on future events, including a reminder about the AGM due on 4th October (see notices on this website). Emily confirmed the finalised song list for the Sullington Church event, for the particular attention of the limited number of singers able to attend (the location has limited space). The evening’s singing proceeded by warming up On Sussex Hills before spending time on the Sullington list – all worth a sing whether going to the event or not. We sang The Woodcutter’s Song with a repeat chorus to finish; The Brave Ploughboy; Jim the Carter Lad and The Farmer’s Toast. Emily then took us through the opening lines of the first verse of The Song of the Sussex Downsman that some of us had tried at our last session, and by the end of the evening we had gradually progressed to complete all of the first verse and tried the chorus. We sang Pleasant and Delightful to conclude the break and, last but not least, we worked on another lesser known song Hares on the Mountain including trials of different arrangements between male and female voices. (Like The Song of the Sussex Downsman this song is not in our official repertoire but suits the requirements of the Sullington event, and may thereafter join the queue of songs awaiting consideration by all three of our local groups.) A busy but enjoyable evening – more please!

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

Update 29th September: Download the Agenda (pdf file) here.

This year’s A.G.M. will be on Wednesday 4th October 2017. As previously it will be held at the Beechwood Hall Hotel in Worthing starting at 7.00pm.

(Our monthly singing session will follow at about 8pm.)

The AGM is our opportunity 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 be available to view, and we will hold the annual elections for our committee. Voting will be conducted at the AGM by a show of hands and carried on a simple majority of those present.

The Election gives you another chance to volunteer to be part of the team. There are usually four committee meetings a year, currently held at “Beechwood” as the most central of our venues.

The meetings are very informal and you can be a committee member without taking on a formal role – although the role of Minutes Secretary is available if anyone wants the job!

So … If you are interested in doing more than the singing and want to take 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, and the names of the singers proposing and seconding you as a candidate for the election – and if seeking a particular role or office, please specify.

Also, if there are any items you would like to raise for discussion at the AGM please let me know and they can be added to the Agenda.

I look forward to seeing you there - Henny (Chairperson)

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Southdowns Folk Festival Saturday 23rd September

Note the change of day this year to Saturday as we asked for the busier day based on our experience last year.

The venue will again be the William Hardwicke Pub, High Street coupled with a performance area opposite the Arcade.

As a first at the Festival, Emily will be leading a short 'taster' Sea Shanty Workshop (possibly to be expanded next year) between 12.00-1.15pm at the William Hardwicke, and the SDFS will subsequently perform either in the pub or at the Arcade (see below) from 1.30-2.15pm. All those Singers who have taken part in the recent 'Secret Shore' workshops are welcome to support either session but please let me know if you're coming, at by the 16th September. Please be at either or both sessions half an hour before they commence just in case there is any last minute change of plan. I will be there early putting up the banner and liaising with Roger.

Depending on the weather, the singing for the first session will either take place inside in the performance area at the rear of the pub, or outside in the temporarily-pedestrianised High Street. If the weather is good we will then move to the Arcade stage area (opposite the Arcade at the southern end of London Road Precinct) for the second session. Alternatively if it's raining we will perform inside the William Hardwicke.

Other details will be added to this post as they are arranged.

John C

Set list for SDFS:
  1. Country Life [Eb - Ab]
  2. Rosebuds In June [B]
  3. West Sussex Drinking Song [E]
  4. The Nightingale [A - D]
  5. Ha'nacker Mill [E]
  6. Life Of A Man [B]
  7. A Smuggler's Song [C#]
  8. Twanky Dillo [A]
  9. Pleasant & Delightful [G]
  10. Oak, Ash & Thorn [E]
  11. Fathom The Bowl [D]
  12. On Sussex Hills [A]
  13. Ebernoe Horn Fair [G - C]
  14. The Magpie [D]
  15. Home Lads, Home [B]
  16. Thousands Or More [A]
  17. Sussex By The Sea [A]
  18. Jolly Good Song

Marine Conservation Society Beach Clean Saturday 16th September

Use this link to download a pdf file containing the poster with text that can be read easily.

Here's the information provided by Barbara for this event:

In essence anyone interested needs to email name and numbers (if a group) to the address given on the poster and then turn up, preferably before 10.30am, to sign in at Beach House Grounds next to Splashpoint Pool. Clean-up finishes at lunchtime so folk can go along to Steyne Gardens to the Food Festival for eats!

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

SDFS Appearance At Hurstpierpoint Festival Cancelled

Unfortunately due to a combination of circumstances the SDFS will not be appearing at this event on Sunday 17th September.

Our next main event therefore will be the Southdowns Folk Festival on Saturday 23rd September.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Local Group Report – Chichester – Thursday 17th August 2017

Fifteen singers gathered in The Chichester Inn, but without David to lead us we had to encourage Alan to give us a starting note so that we could tackle The Brisk Young Ploughboy, Country Life and Rosebuds In June. Alan seemed to think that we ought to move out of the sweet smelling meadows and so he sang The Muckspreader with Anne’s assistance. We couldn’t remember who wrote this delightful tale, but as it is obviously from Dorset we won’t be in a hurry to add it to our repertoire. Then we sang West Sussex Drinking Song, The Nightingale, Ha’nacker Mill, Life Of A Man, A Smuggler’s Song and Twanky Dillo before taking a break. Basically we ran through the set list for Arundel with Pleasant And Delightful, Oak, Ash And Thorn and Fathom The Bowl adding The Stedham Oysterman’s Donkey and Valiants All to the mix. We rounded off the evening with three catches that we had learned with Emily at the Weald & Downland Living Museum: Joan Glover, The Cat Sits In The Plum Tree but failed to recall the Icelandic one with enough confidence so ended with Rolling Home.

Do take a look at The Southdowns Folk Festival, Bognor website, on Friday 22nd John Fitzpatrick is appearing with Home Service and Skerryvore on the evening of 23rd September.

Local Group Report – Lewes – Tuesday 15th August 2017

Another lovely summer’s evening, so much so that The John Harvey Tavern was very busy and we decided to use the vacant upstairs room. Eventually, eleven of us arrived and we made a late start with The Farmer’s Toast, The Magpie, On Sussex Hills, Rosebuds In June, A Smuggler’s Song, Green Grow The Laurel and The Turnip Hoer.

At some time we took a break to refill glasses. At Bateman’s, Peter B was handing out our flyers and met Valerie who, I am delighted to say, joined us for the evening. Valerie is a bit of a historian and knows Chris Hare from many years ago.

We also managed to sing through Ha’nacker Mill, Old Adam, Drink Me Brave Boys, The Ladies Go Dancing At Whitsun, All Things Are Quite Silent, Hard Times Of Old England, Country Life, East Sussex Drinking Song, and Thousands Or More, by which time we all felt 100% better for a good sing!

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Singing at Danny Park 300th Anniversary Cricket Match, Sunday 9th July 2017

Update 12th August 2017: A selection of photo images from the 300th anniversary cricket match can be viewed and downloaded here.
To celebrate 300 years of cricket at Danny House, the beautiful Elizabethan country house set in lovely grounds, there was a friendly cricket match, in full period costume, played out between the Danny Park residents and Hurstpierpoint village.

It was a great day, full of fun, with Chanctonbury Morris dancing and the South Downs Folk Singers offering their singing of local folk songs, some from the same period. Spit roast lamb was consumed, ale flowed, games commenced and the onlookers were treated to an exciting match with those dropping the ball sent to the stocks for a good soaking.

Great fun for all and did the sun shine!

A message from Richard Burrows, the organiser of the event:

"Dear John,

I wanted to thank Emily and all the fabulous singers who entertained us so well on Sunday and played a big part in making it such a pleasurable and memorable day.

I hope we can find another occasion to invite you all back to Danny."

Thanks to David Broadhead and Damon Hart for the photos below.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Arundel Festival Sunday 27th August

A change of performance site and time this year, as we requested from the organisers after last year's experience.

We are in the temporarily-pedestrianised Tarrant Street at its widest part outside Fanny Adams / Nineveh Chapel from 1.00pm to 2.00pm, with a 10 minute break in the middle.

Don't take any notice of the Festival's website or brochure which list us spuriously as the South Downs Singers (an Eastbourne community choir) and have our performance an hour earlier!

There will be masses to see and do, but please be around the performance site half an hour before the start so we can go straight into it.

We will put the banner on the raised footway railings behind us. Please wear elements of green, blue, cream/yellow colour clothes if you have suitable garments.

Parking is abysmal any time at the weekend but especially on a Bank Holiday, so I will be parking as usual off the Ford Road in Torton Hill Road, and that can be well up the hill depending on time of day. Cross under the A27 road bridge by the river and walk through The Slipe into Tarrant Street, it takes about 10 minutes depending on pace.

Please let me know if you are coming via, the more the merrier! Fingers crossed for the weather, we might have to retreat to the pubs.

John C.

First Set:
  1. Country Life Eb - Ab
  2. Rosebuds in June B
  3. West Sussex Drinking Song E
  4. The Nightingale A - D
  5. Ha’nacker Mill E
  6. Life of a Man B
  7. A Smuggler’s Song C#
  8. Twanky Dillo A

(10 minute break between sets)

Second Set:
  1. Pleasant & Delightful G
  2. Oak, Ash & Thorn E
  3. Fathom the Bowl D
  4. On Sussex Hills A
  5. The Magpie D
  6. Home Lads, Home B
  7. Thousands or More A
  8. Sussex by the Sea A
  9. Jolly Good Song

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 2nd August 2017

At our Beechwood session we gave a few moments to consider plans for the Bateman’s event on 6th August and advised all to watch the website for song and time details for Arundel Festival on 27th August, but soon got on with singing. We warmed up with Country Life, then proceeded with a few of the songs listed for Bateman’s: The Magpie; Home Lads Home; Ladies Go Dancing at Whitsun; Ha’nacker Mill; Rosebuds in June and All Things Are Quite Silent. After a well-earned break we continued with Follow Me ’Ome before moving on to the many verses of Valiants All. This old song (collected in the Midhurst area) was offered and sung for fun by a few singers who know it from our Chichester group’s sessions. We then all sang The Stedham Oysterman and Brisk Young Ploughboy. We finished by returning to our roots and learning by ear the first verse of Song Of The The Sussex Downsman - with of course Emily leading us as skilfully as ever. Thanks again Emily! This was a lovely way to close the evening and we look forward to learning more next month.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Brisk Young Ploughboy

The words for Brisk Young Ploughboy can be downloaded here.

Before printing this, please note that the pdf file contains the song in two versions and you may want to print only one of these. The version on the first page includes bar lines to show where the beat falls and thus help with scanning the words. The second page is the conventional 'lyrics only' version.

If the first version makes no sense to you then please see me (Keith) as it really is very straightforward and will only take a few seconds to explain.

IMPORTANT NOTE: It has not yet been decided whether this song is to be included in the SDFS repertoire and used in any of our public performances.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Local Group Report – Chichester – Thursday 20th July 2017

We enjoyed a very pleasant evening singing in the Chichester Inn last Thursday and were pleased to welcome two newcomers who had heard about SDFS via a recent singing workshop.  We started off the evening with On Sussex Hills and then reprised Valients All, The Stedham Oysterman’s Donkey (which we hope might be included in the regular song list) and Saucy Sailor that had been sung at the Tullecombe event near Midhurst on Tuesday. All three songs had been collected in the Midhurst area.  We thought we’d practice some of the songs on the list for Bateman’s and so sang Home, Lads, Home, The Ladies Goes Dancing at Whitsun, Follow Me ’Ome, All Things are Quite Silent and Ha’nacker Mill. The Sussex Wedding Song and Jim, the Carter Lad were then requested which we all enjoyed singing, and rounded the evening off with a rousing Rolling Home as usual.

Friday, 21 July 2017

WW1 Battle of Passchendaele Remembrance, Sunday 6th August 2017

Bateman's, Burwash

This will be the third year that we join the volunteer re-enactors in remembering the fallen of WW1.

Starting on the 31st July and continuing till the 6th November, echoing the Somme Battle of the previous year, the Battle of Passchendaele (officially known as the Third Battle of Ypres) claimed 325,000 Allied casualties, mainly British and Canadian, and 260,000 German casualties for an advance of hardly 5 miles, over a limited salient.

I will be at the entrance kiosk from 10.00am to tick off the names of the up to 40 volunteer Singers for entry on the day [editor's note: this means a maximum of 40 singers, NOT singers up to 40 years of age!], who reserve a place by email to by the 1st August. I hope to abandon that position before 11.00am to grab a coffee.

If you have N.T. membership cards please bring them to be registered as it helps the site to bid for extra funds from the central N.T. pot.

Please bring friends and family if you wish, but their entry will be at normal rates if they cannot use membership cards.

Timing of the two song sets will be agreed on Saturday with the re-enactors, to not clash with any noisier activities on the adjacent encampment field. They will be either side of lunch at similar times to last year. If you have a poppy left over from last November please wear it together with any general green, blue, cream/yellow garments you fancy wearing.

Let's hope the weather favours us again, we brought the sun out last year with our singing.


1st Set:
  1. Country Life
  2. Pleasant & Delightful
  3. The Magpie
  4. Thousands Or More
  5. Home Lads Home
  6. Dancing At Whitsun
  7. A Smuggler’s Song
  8. Rosebuds In June
  9. Oak, Ash & Thorn
  10. Twanky Dillo
  11. Jolly Good Song

2nd Set:
  1. Fathom The Bowl
  2. Ha’nacker Mill
  3. On Sussex Hills
  4. Life Of A Man
  5. All Things Are Quite Silent
  6. Ale Glorious Ale
  7. Follow Me ’Ome
  8. The Nightingale
  9. West Sussex Drinking Song
  10. Sussex By The Sea
  11. Jolly Good Song

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Local Group Report – Lewes – Tuesday 18th July 2017

We had another uplifting evening singing in The John Harvey Tavern, with seven men and only four women. Tina is very busy at work and so hadn’t had time to prepare any new songs, but that didn’t matter as we have so many others that we don’t often sing. As we don’t have a confirmed set list for Bateman’s, Tina guessed likely candidates and threw in a few more.

Old Adam, Ladies Go Dancing, Hard Times, Fathom the Bowl, Home Lads Home, My Boy Jack, Eileen Aroon, All Things Are Quite Silent and Follow Me ’Ome were all worked through before the break, and then we sang The Magpie, The Nightingale, Green Grow the Laurel, On Sussex Hills, Oak, Ash & Thorn, Run of the Downs (more for the words than the tune as we haven’t got a replacement for the Floral Dance yet), A Smuggler’s Song and They Won’t Let Us Go To Sea Any More.

Staying with the East Sussex theme, we finished with a request for Adrian to sing his East Sussex Drinking Song and the rest of us joined in the chorus… “Put another barrel on Landlord and pull a pint for me, the ale in the east of Sussex is the best we all agree, put another barrel on Landlord, let’s raise a mighty cheer and we’ll drink to the health, success and wealth of all who sup in here.”

We then all left feeling a lot happier for singing jolly good songs and in good company, before travelling home to witness those fantastic electrical storms.

Singing at Tullecombe, Tuesday 18th July 2017

On a warm, sunny Tuesday lunchtime ten of us met up with enthusiastic song collector Stephen A at the Forestry Commission car park at Tullecombe, just north of Rogate. As you can see from the photos, we chose a pretty piece of the common to sing to a group of walkers who were on an officially organised hike along this section of the Serpent Trail. Whilst they sat and rested, Stephen told them all about the songs he’s been researching, which were once sung by local villagers in this small corner of Sussex. We sang four songs: the Saucy Sailor, Valiants All, the Stedham Oysterman’s Donkey and as an encore Pleasant and Delightful.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 5th July 2017

After brief reminder notices about our July events, we considered and agreed with Emily’s suggestion that we spend time on trying some new or newish (to us) songs. We warmed up our voices with an old favourite, Rolling in the Dew, before singing, with Emily’s guidance, The Stedham Oyster Man’s Donkey (minus a couple of its many verses!) and The Saucy Sailor. Both songs were originally sourced from the Midhurst area and they have been sung a few times in the SDFS Chichester group’s sessions. Emily then described discussions which have begun with the organisers of an event we have been invited to in the autumn at Sullington Church. We sang through a few of the songs that could be appropriate to the occasion (yet to be confirmed). The Woodcutters Song brought an autumnal touch to a warm July evening before The Farmers Toast brought us back to a more summery mood. The Brisk Young Ploughboy is another option and we were all pleased to sing it again, although use of this song at the event will be subject to its adoption into our ‘official’ repertoire if our Lewes and Chichester colleagues also favour it. Lastly we tried Hares on the Mountain, a south country song from Cecil Sharp’s collection, which some had heard when it was presented at an extra workshop run by Emily and Chris H. back in February. We hope to spend more time on all these songs in future sessions. Thank you Emily and all for a varied and enjoyable evening.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Davy Lowston

Here's a link to download the recording of Davy Lowston made at Emily's workshop on Saturday 10th June.

Davy Lowston.mp3

Note: This link are provided here for convenience, but for the moment the future relationship between South Downs Folk Singers and the Secret Shore project is undecided.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Heathlands Reunited Project: Singing at Tullecombe on Tuesday 18th July

For everybody interested in this event, here is further information provided by Stephen A by email. Stephen provided three files with this email and links have been added to enable downloading of these.
I would like to sing Valiants All, Saucy Sailor and The Stedham Oysterman’s Donkey and, if they are gagging for more, Pleasant and delightful.

I have included Bruce’s programme. I reckon if we meet at say 12.45 we will get a chance to go through the songs before the walkers arrive.

The meeting place is the Forestry Commission car park at Tullecombe, (see map). If you head north from the crossroads in Rogate and take a right at the cross roads (signposted Chithurst) it’s on the left after a couple of hundred yards.

If anyone is interested it’s not far to the Flying Bull in Rake afterwards.

Any questions get back to me.

Here are links for downloading lyrics to three songs that you may not already have:
Valiants All
The Stedham Oysterman’s Donkey
Saucy Sailor can be found in this collection.

Earlier information was provided for this event on this page.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Danny Park 300th Anniversary Cricket Match, Sunday 9th July 2017

Update 8th July: The meeting place at 12.45pm will be outside the Lunch Marquee. The contact number for the day is 07751 479383.
Update 5th July: For anybody needing help locating Danny House, the postcode is BN6 9BB and you will be able to find the location of the property by searching for this postcode using your favourite online mapping website.

To see exactly where you leave the public highway to enter the driveway leading to Danny House, use one of these links:
Google Maps
Update 2nd July: The deadline for confirming participation at this event has been extended to the end of Thursday 6th July.
Richard Burrows has invited us to support this celebration:
"Dear SDFS

I have always been a fan of yours and regularly play your cd! I own Danny House which is the third largest grade 1 listed house in Sussex. On Sunday afternoon, 9th July we will be holding a cricket match in Danny Park to celebrate 300 years of cricket in the village. We believe we have the third oldest cricket ground in the world. Danny will be playing Hurstpierpoint Cricket Club and we will be wearing C18th costumes and trying to play to C18th rules. The match will be promoted to everyone free of charge as a community event."
Richard will kindly provide participating Singers only with a free lunch and free drinks. Singers are welcome to bring friends and families and picnics. There will be a pay bar and pay scouts bbq. Parking is free at the entrance to the park.

You are welcome to come dressed in any 18th century costume that you have tucked away in your closet or can beg, borrow or steal. Those of us without this facility please wear any blue/green or cream/yellow garments you feel are suitable.

The programme for the day:
12 noonJunior teams from Hurstpierpoint Cricket Club will be playing C18th cricket. The beer tent etc will be operational from 12 noon.
12.45pmSDFS gather for the first set.
1pmLunch for the teams (spit roast lamb etc and drinks) served in the marquee. The SDFS will sing their first possibly longer set (depending on tea arrangements on the day) to the gathered crowds from 1pm, the Chanctonbury Morris Men will then follow us.
2pmLunch for the SDF Singers in the marquee.
2pmCricket match between Danny House and Hurstpierpoint Cricket Club starts. There will be a tea interval at just before 4pm when we will sing our second set. The match will finish at 6pm but if you want to drift away after the tea set please feel free to do so.

Please gather for the first set by 12.45pm. The songs in the sets below are generally well known to us.

Please confirm by email: if you wish to take part, by Monday 3rd July the end of Thursday 6th July to enable advance notification to the organisers for catering numbers on the day.

Many thanks,

John C.

First Set:
  1. Country Life Ab
  2. Oak, Ash & Thorn E
  3. Pleasant & Delightful B
  4. A Smuggler’s Song C#
  5. West Sussex Drinking Song F
  6. Rosebuds In June B
  7. Rolling In The Dew F
  8. Twanky Dillo A
  9. Jolly Good Song

Second Set:
  1. The Turnip Hoer Bb
  2. On Sussex Hills A
  3. Fathom The Bowl D
  4. The Magpie C
  5. Ale, Glorious Ale E
  6. The Nightingale A
  7. Life Of A Man B
  8. Thousands Or More A
  9. Jolly Good Song

Monday, 26 June 2017

Ferring Open Gardens Performance, Sunday 2nd July

Here's a note from Emily about singing at Ferring Open Gardens:

Hello All,

As some of you already know, my parents-in-law are opening their garden as part of the Ferring Open Gardens day and have asked if we might come and sing a couple of sets to add to the general delight.

It will be to raise money for St Barnabas and last year they raised a considerable sum.

It will be a lovely day and loads of gardens are open and well worth a browse around, some serve teas and refreshments, some have music being performed, some have classic cars lined up in the driveway...

My in-laws' particular attraction, apart from a lovely garden, is an extensive model railway track that winds around the garden. There will be loads of trains chugging around, past stations, a water mill, a castle, and even across the pond on a bridge!

Well worth a look!

The open day is on Sunday 2nd July.

Their address is 2 Green Park, Ferring, which is just over the level crossing and beyond the Henty Arms on the same side of the road.

There is an entry fee of £3 for access to all the open gardens and this can be paid at whichever garden you choose to visit first. You will then receive a programme and map to show you what's happening and where.

We singers will meet either at 12.30pm on the green, which is just where the Coastliner 700 bus stops, or in the Henty Arms just after, to gather those singers who are already there enjoying a lunchtime pint.

We will be doing two sets, one at 1pm and one at 3pm, which allows time for strolling around other gardens in between and perhaps also singing at Patsy's daughters house! She and her family are also opening their garden, and I understand from Patsy that one of their special attractions is guinea pigs! Not to be missed! My daughters are hugely excited about that!

We will be doing two sets at 2 Green Park (and however many songs seem good at Patsy's daughter's place).

The sets will be:

  1. On Sussex Hills
  2. Pleasant and Delightful
  3. A Smuggler's song
  4. The Nightingale
  5. Ale, Glorious Ale
  6. Rosebuds in June
  7. Twanky Dillo

  1. Country Life
  2. Life of a Man
  3. West Sussex Drinking Song
  4. Rosebuds in June
  5. The Magpie
  6. Thousands Or More
  7. On Sussex Hills

Both sets are of course open to changing according to what feels comfortable for all singers present.

If there's any info I've left out or any questions do feel free to email me at

Look forward to seeing you there!

Em X

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Local Group Report – Chichester – Thursday 15th June 2017

Sixteen of us (if you include Stanley the dog) met at the Chichester Inn to sit round together and have a jolly good sing. After some notices and quite a lot of banter, Dave suggested we spent the first hour singing songs from the set list for our “Happy Sussex Day” event in Brighton that we will be attending on Saturday 17th June. So we sang Country Life, A Smuggler’s Song, The Nightingale, Rosebuds in June, The West Sussex Drinking Song, Ha’nacker Mill and Pleasant & Delightful. After a break to refill our glasses, Stephen A explained his plans for a sing at 1.00 pm at Tullecombe near Rogate on Tuesday 18th July, when he hopes we will be able to sing at a picnic for some intrepid souls hiking the Serpent Trail. The songs he has chosen and researched are local to the Midhurst area. So we practised Valiants All, The Stedham Oysterman’s Donkey and The Saucy Sailor. We had to laugh when we tried to interpret the hidden meanings behind the song Valiants All, which in the ancient language of flowers seems to be a lament (or a warning) by a young maid who has lost her virginity! We finished up the evening singing two songs requested by Lyn T from Yapton, namely Where Stormy Winds Do Blow and The Run of the Downs, and with the words “You’ll be glad you’re Sussex born” ringing in our ears we called an end to what was a most enjoyable evening. We’ll be back again at the Chichester Inn on Thursday 20th July. Join us if you can. New members always welcome!

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 7th June 2017

Briefings about SDFS events in June and July began proceedings, before running through most of the songs planned for the first of these in Brighton on 17th June, followed by time for a few requests.  All were sung with gusto to compete with the noises coming from a very chatty gathering of General Election campaigners in the adjacent space at the Beechwood.  We managed not to lose our voices in the attempt and successfully covered On Sussex Hills, The West Sussex Drinking Song (including the additional East Sussex verses), Sussex By the Sea, Follow Me ’Ome, The MagpieHa’nacker Mill, Country Life, Twanky Dillo, Oak, Ash and Thorn, A Smuggler’s Song and Jim the Carter Lad.  We sang Brian’s song The Moongazer again, after hearing it for the first time at last month’s session (it’s not in our SDFS repertoire so not on our website).  When almost all sung out we concluded the evening with Rolling Home (another one not in the official SDFS repertoire, but now an old favourite with many of us) before the crowds dispersed.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Local Group Report – Lewes – Tuesday 13th June 2017

Ten of us ventured over to Alfriston to join Mac and friends at their Folk Club in The Star. As South Downs Folk Singers, Tina led us through two sets, pitching our start note while Jo introduced each song: Country Life, Pleasant & Delightful, Ha’nacker Mill, The Woodcutter’s Song and The Farmer’s Toast followed by The Turmut Hoer, The Magpie, The Constant Lovers, Rosebuds in June and Thousands or More. The other participants at the evening treated us to a wonderful mix of music and songs, from a Scandinavian fiddle tune to A Shepherdess on the South Downs, and we were invited to sing along with several choruses which made for a jolly good time.

Thank you Mac and friends.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Sea Shanties

Here are links to download lyrics and recordings for songs taught at Emily's workshop on Saturday 13th May:

Four songs 2017-05-13.pdf

Here's a Health to the Company.mp3

John Kanaka.mp3

Saucy Sailor.mp3

Spanish Ladies.mp3

Note: These links are provided here for convenience, but for the moment the future relationship between South Downs Folk Singers and the Secret Shore project is undecided.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Happy Sussex Day at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, Saturday 17th June 2017

We have been invited to sing two featured sets at Brighton Museum's Happy Sussex Day event to celebrate our annual 'Sussex Day'.

It is aimed at families, with hands on activities for youngsters, together with extra related artefacts on display supporting the day's theme.

We will be doing two song sets, at 1.00pm and 3.00pm, so please be at the museum by 12.30pm to assemble. If you have items of clothing of blue, green or cream/yellow please wear them.

Several Singers have already indicated that they are coming by public transport direct from home, or free parking outside Brighton and then public transport, but there will be some limited allocated parking near site which will need Singers to arrange to car share (this can be arranged when we know how many Singers are attending, unless you make your own personal arrangements).

Please either email or sign up for the day with Henny at the next Beechwood session. The closing date for volunteering is 11th June.

I haven't been to the museum for a couple of decades so I'm going to have a good look around in the morning before we sing, see you there.

John C.

Song List

First Set, 1.00pm:
  1. Country Life [Ab]
  2. A Smuggler’s Song [C#]
  3. The Nightingale [A]
  4. Rosebuds In June [B]
  5. Sussex Drinking Song (East Sussex verses) [E]
  6. Ha'nacker Mill [E]
  7. Follow Me 'Ome [B]
  8. Twanky Dillo [A]
  9. Jolly Good Song

Second Set, 3.00pm:
  1. On Sussex Hills [A]
  2. Pleasant And Delightful [B]
  3. Oak, Ash And Thorn [E]
  4. The Turnip Hoer [Bb]
  5. The Magpie [C]
  6. Life Of A Man [B]
  7. Thousands Or More [A]
  8. Sussex By The Sea [A]
  9. Jolly Good Song

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Local Group Report – Lewes – Tuesday 16th May 2017

Twelve of us enjoyed a warm evening at The John Harvey Tavern singing a wide variety from the repertoire. Tina worked us through old favourites, spending time to polish up on the harmonies: Rosebuds in June, Pleasant and Delightful, The Farmer’s Toast, Country Life, The Magpie, The Turnip Hoer, Thousands or More, Ha'nacker Mill and The Woodcutter’s Song.

We also looked at some of the songs that might be on the set list at Bateman's in the summer: The Ladies go Dancing at Whitsun, A Smuggler's Song, Home Lads Home, Follow Me 'Ome, and Hard Times of Old England.

It was good to see Sandria again and Chris, who came last month, and brought his girlfriend along this time.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Adur Valley Beer Walk

Saturday 27th May 2017

Emily has been busy gaining permission for us to sing from the pubs and making a plan for us to sing along the Adur Valley Beer Walk. Get the official flyer from the Camra website (pdf file) which includes a map showing the pubs to be visited. If you want to join in, just turn up on the day – the more the merrier!

Hello All,

For those of you who fancy a delicious local ale or two and a rousing sing, here's the plan for the Adur Valley Beer Walk:

Gather at 2pm at the Riverside Brewery in Upper Beeding for sampling Ale and singing.

Then stroll to the Rising Sun for same.

Then up the river to the Kings Head for same (although possibly the only local ale they'll be serving is Harveys).

Then along to the Castle Inn for more of the same.

The Old Tollgate is on the map too but disapproves of singing, so perhaps then –

Wandering up to the castle ruin for those who want to see it, and then we can all head off, or on for those who fancy more, towards the pubs in Steyning, of which the Norfolk Arms, the White Horse, Chequers and the Star are all part of the trail.

If you can't make 2pm at the Riverside Brewery then you can catch up at the next couple of pubs...

Lets hope it's a lovely day, or nice and cosy in the pubs...

Look forward to seeing you there!


Thursday, 11 May 2017

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 3rd May 2017

After chats and notices we gathered our voices to sing and warmed up with a couple of old favourites – Fathom the Bowl and The Nightingale. We continued with Jim the Carter Lad to polish some details and later Ha’nacker Mill to brush the dust off, both in readiness for use at the Michelham Priory event on Sunday 14th May. Emily reintroduced The Littlehampton Collier Lads for those not yet familiar with it and proposed to spend more time on this at our June session. Then for our interest and enjoyment (and perhaps to consider it for listing in the future alongside Belloc’s Sussex Hills) she shared with us a song by Arthur Beckett who was one of the early Sussex Downsmen (which later became the South Downs Society). Dave and Alan also entertained us with a May-time song, Sumer is icumen in. Otherwise our songs were requests from ‘the floor’ – Constant Lovers, Follow Me ’ome, The Magpie, A Smuggler’s Song and again, for the sheer pleasure of it, the Brave Young Ploughboy.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

South Downs Folk Singers entertain at Horsham English Festival

A message of thanks from Les B and a report from David G:

Very many thanks to everyone who came and sang at the English Festival in Horsham yesterday. Our performance was much enjoyed, the festival organisers were most grateful and we received many compliments.
We're booked in for next year – 13th May 2018!
Best, Les.

On Sunday 7th May more than twenty of our gallant singers attended the Horsham English Festival and sang a rousing 40 minute set of Sussex songs praising amongst other things Hepworths Beer and life in the countryside. We were well received by the townsfolk, many of whom joined in with the choruses. The afternoon was organised by Horsham Folk Club and was in aid of the Samaritans. Well done to everyone who volunteered to sing at such short notice. See you at Michelham Priory next Sunday!

Photo: Barbara W

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Weald and Downland Museum – ICOMOS Singing Project

Sunday 28th May, 11.00am-4.00pm

Here's a short message from Emily about an exciting workshop coming soon.
Hello all, I am delighted to have the opportunity to be involved in this brill workshop at the Weald and Downland Living Museum.

It's a project suitable for all ages and families, to explore our 'intangible cultural heritage', what a phrase! And, most importantly, to sing some wonderful songs, rounds, or 'catches' as they were once called. The workshops are free, so they are also a great chance to look round the museum which is wonderful. Check out this link for more info.

SDFS at Michelham Priory, nr Hailsham, East Sussex, Sunday 14th May 2017

Update 12th May 2017 – here are the song lists:

First Set:
  1. Country Life Ab
  2. The Turnip Hoer Bb
  3. Ha’nacker Mill E
  4. The Nightingale A
  5. Jim, The Carter Lad B
  6. The Magpie C
  7. Follow Me ’Ome B
  8. Thousands Or More A
  9. Jolly Good Song

Second Set:
  1. Oak, Ash & Thorn E
  2. Pleasant & Delightful B
  3. On Sussex Hills A
  4. Life Of A Man B
  5. Ha’nacker Mill E
  6. A Smuggler’s Song C#
  7. Rosebuds In June B
  8. Fathom The Bowl D
  9. Sussex By The Sea (if time) A
  10. Jolly Good Song

If you have not been before, Michelham Priory is a very interesting and attractive group of buildings on a Medieval and later site. The event is part of National Mills Weekend and is the first time we have been able to support both a Sussex Archaeological Society 'Sussex Past' event and the national Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings celebration.

Please use this link to download the poster (pdf file) where you will see that we are down to sing two sets, at midday and 2.30pm. Emily will be leading us.

As the event is so close we will use the two song sets used at the Weald & Downland Living Museum last Sunday, with of course Ha'nacker Mill, hopefully the weather will be warmer and this will allow you to perhaps wear items of apparel of blue, green or cream.

I will be at the entrance to identify free entry for singers on the day and half-price entry for one accompanying person with each participant. Complimentary teas, coffees and soft drinks will be provided for Singers.

Please gather at the watermill on site about half an hour before each set.

As I need to let the organisers know the number of singers that have volunteered to support the event, please either email me ASAP at or book a place with me at the Beechwood session this week.

Could you also indicate to me if you wish to volunteer for the Brighton Museum's heritage event on Saturday 17th June so arrangements can be made, especially for car sharing/parking with the organisers, if you are not coming by public transport to the event.

Many thanks,

John C.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 5th April 2017

Apologies from the editor for the late publication of this report, which was received nearly two weeks ago.

A list of songs proposed for performance at the “Folk and Food” event on 30th April set the agenda for most of this month’s Beechwood Hall session. We sang our way through the Sussex Hills, Ale Glorious Ale, The Farmer’s Toast and, although a fine spring evening, the Poor Froze-out Gardeners. We cracked on with Jim the Carter Lad (using the words as amended on the SDFS website) and then tried out The Brisk Young Plough Boy again. This had been aired at our March meeting and all agreed it is a lovely song, but since it is not yet on our SDFS list or website and probably not known by all the local groups there was doubt about its suitability for singing on 30th April. After a break we galloped on with A Smuggler’s Song and The Magpie, and gave The Farmer’s Toast another go. This left enough time for Emily to sing and then guide us through a song in keeping with the spring season, Moon-gazer, written by one of our singers (Brian) inspired by the folk stories and legends about hares on the South Downs. The session closed as it often does with, by popular demand, Rolling Home.

Singing at Horsham English Festival, Sunday 7th May 2017

We have accepted an invitation to sing at the Horsham English Festival next Sunday, 7th May 2017, at 2.00pm, for about half an hour. We will be singing in the Bandstand in the Carfax, in the centre of Horsham. Apologies for the short notice, but the invitation has arisen following a cancellation by another choir. There is a Festival web-site with information, but briefly there are food stalls, music, classic cars and motorbikes and some splendid pubs. Our singing spot will be part of a concert held in support of the Samaritans. We propose to sing the songs approximately from the second set that were sung at Singleton on Sunday.

If you would be available and willing to sing next Sunday then could you please let us know by replying to South Downs Folk Singers.

A wee tip regarding parking in Horsham: there is an excellent park-and-ride, at Hop Oast on the southern route into Horsham. £2.00 for a car and 5 passengers. If that does not appeal then the nearest car park is probably Piries Place.

We'll meet at the Bandstand at 1.30pm.

Best Wishes,

Friday, 28 April 2017

Local Group Report – Chichester – Thursday 20th April 2017

We had a very happy evening on 20th April, and worked very hard as we went through the song list for the Food and Folk Festival on 30th April. We were pleased to welcome another newcomer who is an experienced folk singer but wants to know more about Sussex folk songs and learn the harmonies to ‘our’ songs. We hope she will come again! We finished off the evening of course, by Rolling Home

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Local Group Report – Lewes – Tuesday 18th April 2017

Again this month, we sang through 22 songs with 12 singers. From the start a young man from Brighton joined us and picked up the tunes and some bass harmonies very quickly, so we hope he’ll be coming along in May, too. Tina led us through the Weald and Downland set list as well as Ha’nacker Mill, The Woodcutter’s Song and fortuitously Constant Lovers as new boy Chris grew up with grandparents who sang music hall favourites, so he was able to join in enthusiastically and we made a “terrible sound”, enough to make anyone seasick. We finished the evening on a fast pub crawl with East Sussex Drinking Song and Jolly Good Song.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Shoreham Wordfest – Celebrating Shakespeare festival

20th – 23rd April 2017

Here's a message from Emily:
Hello all,

Here's a great thing to do this weekend! A fab festival in Shoreham celebrating Shakespeare: Workshops, talks, singing, a Saturday night Elizabethan dance and feast... dressing up if you fancy... wonderful costumes last year!

Come and join in!

A small group of SDFS and Secret Shore singers will be performing under the name of Sounds and Sweet Airs. This will be at approximately 11.00-11.30am by the War Memorial in East Street and at midday in St. Mary de Haura Church, Shoreham-by-Sea.

On Sunday afternoon Emily will be leading two workshops titled "Sounds and Sweet Airs" and "Hey ho! To the Greenwood".

For more information about the whole weekend click the images below to download the poster and leaflet as pdf files, and visit the Shoreham Wordfest website.

2017-04_Shake_Poster.pdf      2017-04_Shake_leaflet.pdf

Saturday, 15 April 2017

SDFS at the Weald & Downland Living Museum's 'Food & Folk', Sunday 30th April 2017

Dear Singers,

You will have received by now an email requesting you to confirm with John C. if you are volunteering to sing at this event, to be placed on the free passes list, so there may be some duplication in the following details, but better safe than sorry.

We will be performing our two sets in the Market Square at 13.00-13.45hrs & 15.30-16.15hrs, they are detailed further down this piece. Please be in the Market Square half an hour before we commence each set.

As usual if you have apparel that you can wear that reflects our standard colours of blue, green or cream, then please do so but I suspect that as in previous years you will be wearing your coats most of the time. There will be a list of participating Singers at the pedestrian entrances (follow the 'Friends & Exhibitors' stream) where you will be ticked off the alphabetical-by-surname list, and issued with a wristband pass.

This year there is a fuller content of Folk performances on the now-extended-to-three-day weekend, with Emily's 'Sounds & Sweet Airs' Shoreham 'Celebrating Shakespeare' splinter group performing Tudor songs on the Saturday, plus other groups on the other days.

In addition SDFSingers participating will have free entry to the Folk Concert with your wristband on the Sunday evening if you requested this in your email when confirming that you are volunteering to perform.

The Museum is open from 10.30 hrs, and those Singers who have been before are well aware that, especially with good weather forecast, entry traffic queues swiftly build up, so allow for that for your arrival.


John C.

First Set, 1.00pm:
1. Oak, Ash and Thorn E
2. Jim the Carter Lad B
3. On Sussex Hills A
4. Pleasant and Delightful B
5. The Farmer’s Toast
6. Smugglers Song C#
7. Ale, Glorious Ale E
8. Rosebuds in June B
9. West Sussex Drinking Song E

Second Set, 3.30pm:
1. Country Life Eb – Ab
2. Poor Froze-out Gardeners C#
3. Life of a Man B
4. The Magpie C
5. The Turnip Hoer Bb
6. Brisk Young Ploughboy C
7. Thousands or More A
8. Gooch’s Beer F
9. Sussex by the Sea A
10. Jolly Good Song