New Singers

+ + + +
+ + + +
+ + + +
New singers  are always welcome to join us – read more

Event Organisers  – want us to sing for you? – read more
+ + + +
+ + + +
+ + + +

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Local Group Report – Chichester – Thursday 16th August 2018

Twenty three of us plus our good canine friends Buster and Stanley enjoyed a very jolly sing at the Chichester Inn on Thursday evening. We warmed up by singing Oak Ash & Thorn, the Bee-Boys Song and Pleasant and Delightful and then went on in the first half to sing many old favourites, including The Smugglers Song, On Sussex Hills, all four verses of the West Sussex Drinking Song, The Turnip Hoer and The Magpie. We were certainly singing very well as a choir and having a lot of fun too.

In the second half we tackled some new and less familiar songs, starting with Gordon’s humorous The Three Moles; Alan taught us to sing the beautiful winter song The Fields Lie Silent and Dave introduced us to a new song entitled One for the Rook which tells how the old ploughmen used to have to sow four seeds in order to ensure that at least one “lived to grow”. We finished the evening by bravely singing two verses of the Song of the Sussex Downsman and Keith managed to guide us through the tricky bits and keep us all on track. I really hope we eventually manage to learn this lovely song and sing it out.

Thanks to all of you who came to make this a very successful evening. Please be aware that next month we will meet on Thursday 20th September, but at The Three Moles Inn in Selham, near Graffham. See you there!

Thursday, 16 August 2018

SDFS at 'The 1918 Lloyd George Garden Party', Danny House, Hurstpierpoint

Sunday 2nd September
The afternoon's festivities celebrate Danny's association with the signing of the Armistice.

For those of you who like dressing up and formal dancing this is an added element to supporting this event which is part of the 'Hurst Festival' of which our further participation on the 16th September at the Hurstpierpoint 'Super Sunday' village day is also a component (details to follow).

You don't need to be in period costume or join in the dancing as it is ticketed and open to the general public. The usual blue & green apparel elements if possible, if you're not in costume. Seeing there is a 'Hot Rhythm' Orchestra, the tunes might migrate into the period up to WW2.

Arrive by 2.00pm with parking on site and entry by named list for the Singers taking part. Please email me on southdownsfolksingers@gmail.com by 29th August if you are coming.

We will sing, at appropriate intervals, songs from the Bateman's song sets (details to be confirmed and added) during the breaks in the dance programme and at other times, adjacent to or in the smaller refreshment marquees (depending on weather) and away from the large dance marquee where the Orchestras will not be amplified.

A statue of Lloyd George is to be unveiled at 2.40pm.

John C.

Monday, 6 August 2018

The Fields Lie Silent: A New Song For Us

Here's a new song from Alan, The Fields Lie Silent, written by Colin Gates.

Use the links below to download mp3 and pdf files.

Recording with melody and harmony Fields Lie Silent.mp3

Recording with melody only Fields Lie Silent melody.mp3

Recording with harmony only Fields Lie Silent harmony.mp3

Lyrics Fields Lie Silent.pdf

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 1st August 2018

We almost reached a record 50 with 48 singers gathering at YOHAH for this month’s session. Nattering and notices kicked off proceedings and a shortlist of the songs we are due to use at Bateman’s was agreed for the evening’s Sing. So, with the volume turned up by the number of voices present, we sang through and polished The Bee Boy’s Song, All Things are Quite Silent, Follow Me ’Ome and Home Lads, Home. A small group then presented My Boy Jack, as planned at last month’s session, which was duly approved. A refreshment break (with a longer queue than usual at the bar!) took up some time before we resumed with work on a medley of wartime songs that could be added to our performance on Sunday (tbc on the day). None strictly South Downs songs but doubtless known, sung and made their own by all who became comrades in the Great War. A verse or chorus each from Keep the Home Fires Burning, It’s a Long Way to Tipperary and Pack up your Troubles were sung through and then shared between us to weave them together into the medley. We finished our singing with a rousing Thousands or More before the gathered crowd dispersed, with thanks again to Emily and all.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

SDFS & Secret Shore Singers At Arundel Festival Sunday 19th August 2018

Flying Turmuts and Ahoy Landlubbers!

As Arundel was the original port, not Littlehampton, in combination we will be representing both aspects of its past in our song sets.

The SSS commence our contribution to the day at 1.00pm outside The Swan P.H. for perhaps 35 minutes as we have until 2.00pm before the Silver Band set up.

The SDFS  will do a short 'warm up' session in Tarrant Street outside the Nineveh Chapel as last year from around 2.35 till 2.50pm, and then decamp to the Town Square to do the 3.00 to 3.30pm song set.

The SSS will then sing a set outside The Swan again from 4.30pm for say 35 minutes.

Given the experience of the Littlehampton Waterfront Festival, provisions are being requested to relocate sets inside The Swan and possibly also the Norfolk Arms Hotel in the event of inclement conditions.

Please gather for each respective set at least 15 minutes before the start time.

As there will be a mix of both groups of singers, come dressed as you feel appropriate, and there may also be acolytes from Emily's Family Singing Workshop in the parish church the previous day between 10.00am and 12.00 noon on a couple of songs.

I'll be street parking on the Ford Road side of the town on Torton Hill as usual and walking in under the A27 bridge and via The Slipe and Tarrant Street which takes about 10 minutes as parking is at a premium unless you arrive early in the town.

Please email John for the SDFS if you are coming and Emily for the SSS and copy John in to help co-ordination.

Contact mobile for the day is J.C. 07542 167828


SSS Song Sets are the same as for the LWF:

Set 1
  1. John Kanaka
  2. Sweet Ladies of Plymouth
  3. Littlehampton Colliers
  4. Pleasant and Delightful
  5. Leave Her Jonny (men on verses)
  6. Here's a Health

Set 2
  1. Roll the Old Chariot
  2. High Barbaree
  3. Roll Alabama
  4. Rollin' Down To Old Maui
  5. Mingulay Boat song

Set 3
  1. Haul Away Joe
  2. Our Jack Comes Home
  3. Spanish Ladies
  4. They Won't Let Us Go To Sea Anymore
  5. A Rovin'

And SDFS will be a selection from the Bateman's two sets.
As always fingers crossed for good weather.

John C

New Song Workshops For The Autumn

From Chris Hare we have news of a series of free song workshops to be held in Worthing and Rusper (near Horsham), starting in the autumn. The songs taught will be a mix of those written by Hilaire Belloc and those collected by Lucy Broadwood. As with the previous Songs of the South Downs, and Secret Shore courses, the workshops will combine teaching of the songs with short talks about the life and works of Hilaire Belloc and Lucy Broadwood.

Full details are on the Belloc, Broadwood and Beyond website and also this flyer (pdf file download).

You may also like to visit the Hilaire Belloc Society website.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Local Group Report – Chichester – Thursday 19th July 2018

Fifteen singers and two very well-behaved dogs pitched up to our monthly sing at the Chichester Inn on Thursday evening. Our voices blended beautifully and we enjoyed singing through many of the songs on the set list for our concert at Bateman’s next month. This 17th-century house in Burwash, East Sussex was once the home of Rudyard Kipling and this year is celebrating the centenary of the end of the First World War. So we sang songs pertaining to Kipling and military service, notably Oak, Ash & Thorn, Follow Me ’Ome, All Things are Quite Silent, Home Lads Home, The Ladies go Dancing at Whitsun, The Nightingale and Ha’nacker Mill.

After a break to refill our glasses, Gordon taught us to sing his very amusing self-penned song The Three Moles, Anne and Alan gave us a lovely winter song entitled The Fields Lie Silent Now which has a very nice chorus, and Dave (acting on recent suggestions that we perhaps need a couple more Great War songs in our armoury) led the group in singing an easy medley of Keep the Home Fires Burning / Long Way to Tipperary / Pack up Your Troubles and a rousing version of Hanging on the Old Barbed Wire, all of which went down really well, especially when we split into parts and tried singing the three medley songs all at the same time! We finished the evening by singing Sussex by the Sea and then some of the ladies broke into We’ll Meet Again as we packed up. Well we will indeed meet again next month at 8pm at the Chichester Inn on Thursday 16th August. Hope you can join us!

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Local Group Report – Lewes – Tuesday 17th July 2018

For various summer-related reasons, only eleven of us arrived at The John Harvey Tavern. Jan had brought her friend Maggie, who recognised several of our songs, and Adrian and Jane managed to come over from Seaford. With only two male voices, we made a goodly sound. Tina had brought the set list for Bateman’s which was hot off the SDFS website, so we sang through all twenty one songs on the list (including My Boy Jack) and for good measure, East Sussex Drinking Song and Thousands or More – mind you, we didn’t clear away our glasses until 10.45!

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Bateman’s: WW1 Final Defeat of Germany / Armistice Remembrance

Sunday 5th August 2018

As we did last year there will be two song sets, one before lunch and one in the afternoon, led by Emily. Please be on site by 11.00am.

If precipitation is forecast a gazebo will be put up in the Mulberry Garden outside the Cafe to shelter us.

We have been offered free teas and coffees and an ice cream this year.

Please wear an item of blue, green, cream apparel if possible and a B.L. poppy if you still have one.

The number of Singers participating is limited to 30 this year on a first-come first-served basis, with a reserve list if necessary. Free entry is by this list. Email me to volunteer: southdownsfolksingers@gmail.com

Please car share if possible and let me know the car's registration number (unless you have already provided this for me at an event earlier in the year), to enable free parking. If you are a National Trust member then you will already have a parking sticker.

Fingers crossed for good weather again.

John C

First Set:
  1. Oak, Ash & Thorn E
  2. The Nightingale A
  3. All Things Are Quite Silent B
  4. Pleasant & Delightful A
  5. Dancing At Whitsun B
  6. The Bee-Boy’s Song G
  7. Follow Me ’Ome B-G#
  8. Ale, Glorious Ale E
  9. Rosebuds In June B
  10. Country Life Eb-Ab
  11. Jolly Good Song

Second Set:
  1. West/East Sussex Drinking Song F
  2. The Magpie B
  3. Home Lads, Home B
  4. On Sussex Hills A
  5. Life Of A Man B
  6. My Boy Jack C
  7. Hard Times Of Old England F
  8. Ha’nacker Hill E
  9. A Smuggler’s Song C#
  10. Sussex By The Sea Ab
  11. Jolly Good Song

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 4th July 2018

By popular vote our songs this month focussed mainly on the theme of the event we are due to do at Batemans in August. On an already hot summer evening we warmed up with Thousands or More before turning our attention to working on the wartime songs in our repertoire – Follow Me 'Ome; Ha'nacker Mill; The Ladies Go Dancing at Whitsun; All Things Are Quite Silent and Home, Lads, Home. After the break we discussed My Boy Jack and ways in which we could use it at Bateman's, but since it was not known by many of the singers present this was deferred to a separate session for a smaller group to prepare and perform within the set on the day. We continued with some other requests for other songs in need of a polish – Where Stormy Winds Do Blow and Old Adam. So with some enjoyable singing and quenching of thirsts in good company, our evening was done.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Local Group Report – Chichester – Thursday 21st June 2018

On the evening of a balmy Midsummer Solstice 14 singers plus Stanley the dog came to the Chichester Inn and we sat round in a circle and filled the bar with merry song. We were joined by two welcome newcomers, Cathy and Gemma, who lent their voices keenly to our more popular traditional songs and were content to attempt the less well-known songs that we practised. We are always happy to welcome new singers to our group and are able to give you the song words so that you can join in with our singing. Many of the songs that we sang are on the set list for our concert at the Foresters Arms in Graffham on Wednesday 27th June at 7.00 pm. We started with Stormy Winds and went on to sing the Farmer’s Toast and A Smuggler’s Song. These were followed by the West Sussex Drinking Song, Rolling in the Dew, Fathom the Bowl and Poor Froze-out Gardeners. The singing sounded really beautiful, although this time we missed not having Amaryllis and her group of talented harmony singers to add that extra sparkle! The last two songs before the break were the Turnip Hoer and the Bee Boy’s Song.

In the second half we practised a new song To Be A Farmer’s Boy, which could easily become another gem in our repertoire, as it has a very well-known chorus. Then we sang the first two verses of Arthur Beckett’s Song of the Sussex Downsman and were grateful to Keith and Alwyn for guiding us through the trickier bits of the scansion and melody. Stephen regaled us with an interesting song he has researched called The Marler’s Song and Chris, when urged to contribute, gave us The D-Day Dodgers and we all joined in with the refrain. Finally there was just enough time to finish with Rolling Home. Our thanks to everyone who came along to sing. We hope to see you next Wednesday at Graffham, but if not then our next session at the Chichester Inn will be on Thursday 19th July.

SDFS at Graffham

Everyone is really looking forward to singing at the Foresters Arms on Wednesday 27th June.
Don't miss it!
It will be a grand evening.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Local Group Report – Lewes – Tuesday 19th June 2018

Sixteen, enough to make four parts of four and sing through summer songs, new and old, with a few that may come up in the Bateman’s song list and the occasional request! Country Life, West Sussex Drinking Song, All Things Are Quite Silent, Follow Me ’Ome, Home Lads Home, Run of The Downs (we wish we had a better tune), The Bee Boy’s Song, The Magpie, The Nightingale and A Smuggler’s Song before the break. Then Littlehampton Collier Lads, Lark in the Morning, Song of the Sussex Downsman, Fathom the Bowl, Rosebuds in June, Pleasant and Delightful, Rolling In The Dew, The Farmer’s Toast and finishing with Thousands or More.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 6th June 2018

After some chat about future events and calls for volunteers to enlist for these, we sang through a selection of songs from the setlist planned for our next outing to the Weald and Downland Museum on 10th June – Country Life; The Bee Boy's Song; Brisk Young Ploughboy; Oak, Ash and Thorn; Life of a Man and A Smuggler's Song.  Emily then introduced us to Reynard the Fox, a song she has just begun to learn from the Lucy Broadwood collection.  We followed her in trying out the first verse of this and we look forward to more at future sessions.  After the break we successfully repeated this verse and went on to remind ourselves of the what we’d learned from the Song of the Sussex Downsman a while ago.  Requests followed for Twankydillo and then Hares on the Mountain. The May Day Carol and Hal an Tow were similarly revisited, with the suggestion that these be added to our official repertoire for use again in Maytime performances next year. With seasonal songs in mind our evening finished with Alan and others who knew it singing Seasons of the Year – and very lovely it was too, thank you Alan and all.

Monday, 18 June 2018

SDFS sing at Weald & Downland Living Museum

On Sunday 19th June over a score of us merry South Downs Folk Singers performed at the Morris Day of Dance at the Weald & Downland Living Museum at Singleton. It was a lovely sunny summer’s day and Morris sides came from near and far to demonstrate their colourful brand of traditional dancing. We were invited to entertain between dances with three sets of songs from Sussex and the South Downs and our enthusiastic singing was very well received by a large crowd of people well versed in the folk tradition. Our lusty songs about country life, smugglers, ploughboys and turnip hoers could be heard loud and clear in the Market Square and around the park where groups of tired dancers sat and rested and joined in with the choruses. Our thanks as ever to Emily for leading the singing and for encouraging us to give a great performance!


Saturday, 9 June 2018

A Sussex Calendar with Cotillion

Anne's and Alan's folk group 'Cotillion' will be performing a folk show 'A Sussex Calendar'
at Newtimber Church (map link)
on Saturday 23rd June, arrive at 7pm.

It takes us through the seasons with local songs, tunes, poems etc.

Tickets £10 to include refreshments.

Contact Lucy Dalrymple, Church Warden on 01273 881877 for further info and tickets.

Friday, 8 June 2018

South Downs Folk Singers sing at Horsham English Festival

On Sunday 13th May twenty-five stalwart singers visited the Horsham English Festival and entertained the good people of Horsham with an excellent selection of Sussex songs. Introduced by Dave and conducted with great aplomb by Alan, we sang songs of magpies, bees, soldiers, smugglers, sailors and turnip hoers and finished the 45 minute set with a rousing rendition of Sussex by the Sea. We were complimented on our performance by the townsfolk, many of whom joined in with the choruses. The afternoon was organised by Horsham Folk Club and a collection was made in aid of the Samaritans. Well done to everyone who participated!



South Downs Folk Singers sing at Butser Ancient Farm

Following a very successful concert of songs celebrating country life and the arrival of May, which we performed in the ancient long house at Butser Ancient Farm on 5th May as part of the annual Beltain Festival, here is a sepia photograph of some of the singers who took part. We dressed up to reflect the dress style of rural folk at the beginning of the 19th century.


Monday, 21 May 2018

SDFS at the 'Rural Life' Historic Gardens Weekend, Weald & Downland Living Museum

Update 28th June 2018: The performance times and set lists have been added below.
Sunday 1st July 2018

Organiser's website

Here's a chance to both sing and find out how to keep the fly off your turmuts organically!!!

Details for the weekend are here and we will be the only wandering minstrels on the Sunday.

You will need to let me know via email by the 24th June if you want to sing on the day so that your name can be put on the list for free entry, as I won't be at the YOHAH, Worthing Meeting on the 5th June.

Many thanks,
John C


SDFS performance times

11.00am, 11.30am and 12.00 noon near the millpond (C9 on the site plan)
2.00pm at Bayleaf Farmhouse (B1)
2.45pm near the millpond (C9)

Please gather at 10.45am near the millpond in readiness for our first set.

The songs we’ll be singing are:

Set 1 11.00am near the millpond:
  1. Country Life Eb
  2. Rosebuds In June B
  3. The Nightingale A
  4. The Magpie B
  5. Oak, Ash & Thorn E

Set 2 11.30am near the millpond:
  1. West Sussex Drinking Song F
  2. Life Of A Man B
  3. A Smuggler’s Song C#
  4. Thousands Or More A
  5. On Sussex Hills A
  6. The Turnip Hoer B

Set 3 12.00 noon near the millpond:
  1. Twanky Dillo G
  2. Pleasant & Delightful A
  3. Ale, Glorious Ale E
  4. The Bee-Boy’s Song G
  5. Brisk Young Ploughboy C

Set 4 2.00pm at Bayleaf Farmhouse:
  1. The Farmer’s Toast A
  2. Rosebuds In June B
  3. Hard Times Of Old England F
  4. Green Grow The Laurel G
  5. Ale, Glorious Ale E

Set 5 2.45pm near the millpond:
  1. Old Adam D
  2. The Bee-Boy’s Song G
  3. Rolling In The Dew F# - B
  4. Jim The Carter Lad C#
  5. The Turnip Hoer B
  6. Jolly Good Song

For more information about what is happening on the day, read this document (pdf file). SDFS are mentioned at the very end of this. You may be interested to know that at 11.00am (when we will be singing) and again at 1.30pm a '10-minute taster talk' will be given on Alehouse culture and songs in Winkhurst Tudor kitchen (B2).

Sunday, 20 May 2018

SDFS at the Foresters Arms, Graffham

Wednesday 27th June 2018
7.00pm – 9.30pm

We have been invited to perform an evening of folk songs in the garden of the Foresters Arms in Graffham (GU28 0QA) on Wednesday 27th June as part of this year's Graffham Arts Festival. As is our custom we will be singing a rousing selection of songs that reflect life in the Sussex countryside across the centuries. It would be lovely if as many of our singers as possible could come along on this date and enjoy a few songs and a drink out of doors on a balmy midsummer’s evening. (Under cover if wet.)

We shall gather at 7.00pm and eventually sing two sets:

First Set 7.30pm till 8.10pm:
  1. Country Life [Eb]
  2. West Sussex Drinking Song [E]
  3. Oak, Ash & Thorn [E]
  4. The Magpie [B]
  5. The Bee-Boy’s Song [G - C]
  6. Ale, Glorious Ale [E]
  7. The Turnip Hoer [B]
  8. A Smuggler’s Song [C#]
  9. Pleasant and Delightful [A]
  10. Thousands or More [A]
  11. Jolly Good Song
Second Set 8.30pm till 9.10pm:
  1. On Sussex Hills [A]
  2. Fathom the Bowl [D# - G#]
  3. The Nightingale [A]
  4. Rosebuds in June [B - E]
  5. Rolling in the Dew [G]
  6. Where Stormy Winds Do Blow [A -D]
  7. The Farmer’s Toast [A - D]
  8. Twanky Dillow [G#]
  9. Sussex by the Sea [G#]
  10. Rolling Home [A - D]
Please sign up as usual by e-mailing your name to John C at southdownsfolksingers@gmail.com if you wish to attend this event.

There will be extra parking available by the Recreation Ground (follow the signs and take the turning on the left by the war memorial just beyond the pub).

David G

Friday, 18 May 2018

Local Group Report – Lewes – Tuesday 15th May 2018

Angela and Margo couldn’t get over to Lewes but there were 17 around the tables, including Adrian and Jane who have moved to Seaford and three new voices, Jonathan, Emily and Sarah.

Tina managed to lead the group through Pleasant and Delightful, The Nightingale, A Smuggler’s Song, Oak, Ash and Thorn, The Magpie, The Bee Boy’s Song, Lark In The Morning, Dave’s Caburn Hill, Searching For Lambs, Hares On The Mountain, West Sussex Drinking Song, Brisk Young Ploughboy, Old Adam, The Turnip Hoer, Malcolm’s Compassion and finish with Thousands Or More.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 2nd May 2018

The arrival of May was duly celebrated in song during our gathering this month. We warmed up with Country Life before enjoying the seasonal songs chosen for our performance events this month: Hal An Tow, The May Day Carol, Summer is A-Comin In and It is the First of May / Good Morning Lords and Ladies. The Bee Boy’s Song, Lark in the Morning and Brisk Young Ploughboy followed with a break included. Still with an eye on our set lists for the Butser and Horsham events a few of our more established songs were requested and sung: A Smugglers Song, Sussex by the Sea and Life of a Man. The last request made was for Searching for Lambs, about which some discussion ensued on whether or not to change “doth” to “do” and “step” to “tread” – no changes were made and our evening closed with this lovely song.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

SDFS at the Morris Day Of Dance, Weald & Downland Living Museum

Update 9th June 2018: The set list has been added below. Apologies for the delay in providing this.

Sunday 10 June 2018
10.30am - 6.00pm

Organiser's website

Come along for a day to celebrate this traditional form of English folk dance, its music and song.

We (SDFS) have also agreed to join the programme. PLEASE LET ME KNOW BY THE 1ST JUNE IF YOU WANT TO PARTICIPATE so that I can put your name on the list as a Singer for free entrance on the day.

A whole host of sides will perform at the Museum to show the wide range of dances and music in the Morris tradition, and prove that it doesn’t just involve bells and handkerchiefs!

Confirmed morris sides participating include:

  • Knockhundred Shuttles
  • Sompting Village Morris, with Morris Minors
  • Fleur de Lys Morris Dancers
  • Minden Rose
  • Deorfrith Morris
  • Victory Morris
  • TRADS with Gail Duff

There will be displays of maypole and country dancing with plenty of opportunities to join in.

John C.

First set starting at 11.45am in the Market Square:
  1. Country Life
  2. Rosebuds In June
  3. The Nightingale
  4. The Magpie
  5. Oak, Ash And Thorn
Second set 1.00pm in the Market Square:
  1. West Sussex Drinking Song
  2. Life Of A Man
  3. A Smuggler's Song
  4. Thousands Or More
  5. Sussex Hills
  6. Turnip Hoer
Third set 2.40pm in the Market Square:
  1. Twanky Dillo
  2. Pleasant And Delightful
  3. Ale, Glorious Ale
  4. The Bee Boy's Song
  5. Brisk Young Ploughboy
  6. Country Life

Monday, 23 April 2018

SDFS at the English Festival, Horsham

Update 1st May 2018: The set list has been added below. Car parking passes are available to singers on the day to be issued this Wednesday (2nd May) at YOHAH on submission of the car's registration (apologies for the late notice but this concession only came through today, despite being mooted more than a month ago). Car sharing would help as spaces are limited (not specified).
Sunday 13th May 2018

For the second year running we will be supporting the Horsham Folk Club's musical day on behalf of the Samaritans, at the Bandstand in the Carfax.

It will be a 40-45 minute song set commencing at 2.00pm.

Final details will be posted here as they become available.

Organiser's flyer download (pdf file)

Song List

  1. West Sussex Drinking Song E
  2. Pleasant & Delightful A
  3. The Magpie B
  4. Oak, Ash & Thorn E
  5. The Bee-Boy’s Song G
  6. Ale, Glorious Ale E
  7. The Turnip Hoer B
  8. A Smuggler’s Song C#
  9. The Nightingale A
  10. Brisk Young Ploughboy C
  11. Sussex Drinking Song A
  12. Life of a Man B
  13. Thousands or More A
  14. Country Life Eb–Ab
  15. Sussex by the Sea A
  16. Jolly Good Song

The Last Trip Home with Cotillion

A celebration of the working horse and ox in folk song and verse
with Cotillion (Anne, Alan, Linda and Bonnie).

Saturday 28th April 2018 at 7.30pm in St Giles’ Church, Shermanbury (map)

Tickets £10 include refreshments, available at Village Care, Henfield,
or on the night at the door,
or from Richard Putnam 01273 493154.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Local Group Report – Chichester – Thursday 19th April 2018

Fifteen singers plus Stanley the dog came to the Chichester Inn on Thursday night and even the landlord agreed that we were in very fine voice as we sang through the two sets of songs planned for Saturday evening at Butser Ancient Farm on the 5th May. We were reminded that it was Primrose Day, which marks the death of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli on 19th April, 1881. “And all England, so they say, yearly blooms on Primrose Day.” We were more concerned however with preparing to “sing in the May”, so we started with Sumer Is Icumen In and Hal-an-Tow and then went on to sing about Country life, Downland trees and Sussex creatures, including Magpies, Bees and Larks. After a short interval at 9 o’clock, we had a go at Searching for Lambs just because the tune is so beautiful. We all agreed that it should be sung with the men singing the protagonist’s verses and the women singing the responses from the maid who from home had strayed.

In the second half we enjoyed singing Good morning Lords and Ladies it is the first of May, Pleasant and Delightful, Ale Glorious Ale and The Nightingale, before turning our attentions to rural tradesmen such as turnip hoers, brisk young ploughboys and farriers. We finished up singing Thousands or More at which the ladies commented that the men were “wallowing” in the refrain. So this prompted a quick chorus of The Hippopotamus Song in which we could wallow to our heart’s content!

Hope to see you all at the Chichester Inn on Thursday 17th May when once again we will have fun singing the old and not so old songs that connect us with our beautiful county of Sussex!

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 4th April 2018

Our April session attracted a goodly crowd of songsters. With enjoyment and future performances in mind, and with Emily’s patient guidance, we worked on a couple of the songs we are still learning (The Bee Boy’s Song and Lark in the Morning), and then two more also on the setlist designed for the Butser Farm event in May (Hal an Tow, with Alan doing an excellent solo on the verses, and the May Day Carol). After the break we returned to more familiar material and sang our way through most of the songs planned for use at the Weald and Downland Museum’s Spring event on 15th April (Old Adam, Green Grow the Laurel, Ebernoe Horn Fair, The Brisk Young Ploughboy, The Farmer’s Toast and Rosebuds in June). Just for us we finished with Rolling Home, a song not from the South Downs but now beloved by many, to conclude our sessions. We look forward to welcoming the merry month of May and all comers again at our next sing at Ye Olde House at Home on 2nd May. See you there!

Saturday, 24 March 2018

SDFS at the Weald & Downland Living Museum, Sunday 15th April 2018

Update 8th April 2018: The set lists have been added below. Emily will be leading us with announcements by Mike. Entry for Singers will be by name on the list at 'The Gateway' / Museum Shop. Final date to be included on the list is 11th April.
This will be the first in a series of Rural Life Weekends, focusing on how people of the past would have lived at this time of the year.

This is a new departure for us with the Museum, to be phased between other site activities, with shorter song sets, but more of them during the day. If it proves successful then we may participate in further events of this nature.

These will commence at 11.00am, 12.30pm and 2.00pm with the possibility of 3.30pm if weather conditions and numbers of visitors on the day make it worthwhile. Performances will be around the Market Square or indoors adjacent if the weather is variable.

The songs will be from our usual cannon for this time of year. Final details will be posted as they become available.

Please email John on southdownsfolksingers@gmail.com if you are volunteering for the event.

Further information on the organiser's website.

Song Set 1:
  1. West Sussex Drinking Song (E)
  2. The Magpie (C)
  3. The Nightingale (A)
  4. Hard Times Of Old England (F)
  5. Green Grow The Laurel (A)
  6. Fathom The Bowl (D)
Song Set 2:
  1. Country Life (Eb)
  2. A Smuggler’s Song (C#)
  3. Pleasant & Delightful (G)
  4. Brisk Young Ploughboy (C)
  5. Rosebuds In June (B)
  6. The Turnip Hoer (C)
Song Set 3:
  1. Twanky Dillo (G)
  2. Oak, Ash & Thorn (E)
  3. Rolling In The Dew (F)
  4. On Sussex Hills (A)
  5. Ebernoe Horn Fair (G)
  6. Jim The Carter Lad (B)
Song Set 4:
  1. The Farmer’s Toast (A)
  2. Old Adam (E)
  3. Rosebuds In June (B)
  4. Thousands Or More (A)
  5. Life Of A Man (B)
  6. Sussex By The Sea (A)
  7. Jolly Good Song

Local Group Report – Lewes – Tuesday 20th March 2018

The John Harvey Tavern still had their heating set for a frosty night so fourteen of us roasted as we toasted the songs in our repertoire, starting with Fathom The Bowl, Green Grow The Laurel and Hard Times of Old England. We then worked through three recent additions, Brighton Camp, The Bee Boy’s Song and The Brave Eleven to fit the words into tunes before enjoying the lyrics of Old Adam. After a break it was time to tackle Lark In The Morning and Searching For Lambs, and Brisk Young Ploughboy with harmonies. We also sang Hal an Tow even though none of us will be singing at Butser. The evening wound down with The Turnip Hoer and finally Thousands Or More.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

New Songs from Lewes

Update 24th March 2018: There has been a revision to the words in the first verse of Brighton Camp. The link below has been updated to the new file which is dated "24th March 2018".
As requested by our Lewes group, below are links to download pdf files for two songs: Brighton Camp (which is also one of the Secret Shore songs) and Caburn Hill, a song written by Lewes group singer David T.

Lyrics: Brighton Camp
Caburn Hill
Scores: Caburn Hill 2 Parts
Caburn Hill Tune 1
Caburn Hill Tune 2

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Local Group Report – Chichester – Thursday 15th March 2018

We were all in very good voice at our monthly group meeting on Thursday evening. Fifteen singers came along to sing a dozen stirring folk songs in the music room of the Chichester Inn in West Street, Chichester. Facing each other around a collection of tables we warmed up by singing a lusty version of Twanky Dillow followed by a more sensitive rendition of The Constant Lovers. These were followed by Stormy Winds and Searching for Lambs, two songs from our Shepherding Suite. In preparation for the Beltane Festival event at Butser Iron Age Farm on Saturday 5th May we sang Hal-an-Tow and Sumer Is Icumen In, this latter a very ancient song composed in the Wessex dialect of Middle English. We sang this as a round but it sounded even more effective when half the group backed up the others by singing “Sing Cuckoo!” throughout as a rhythmic counterpoint to the melody.

After a break to chat and re-fill our glasses we sang Wassail the Silver Apple, but we all agreed that we need to find some slightly better harmonies for the choruses. We then practised the lovely Lark in the Morning and Kipling’s Bee Boy’s Song and followed these with two jolly May songs: Good morning Lords and Ladies it is the first of May and the May Day Carol. After this there was time for just two more songs, so we sang the West Sussex Drinking Song and finished up in time honoured tradition by singing John Tams’ Rolling Home. It was a pleasant evening of pastime and good company. If you like singing, you ought to join us for our next local group sing on Thursday 19th April at the Chichester Inn. You will be made most welcome!

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 7th March 2018

After greetings, updates and orders at the bar, our latest gathering at Ye Olde House at Home opened with some familiar choices to loosen up our voices and tune our ears in readiness for some ‘new’ songs. We started with some requests: Pleasant and Delightful, Jim the Carter Lad and Sussex by the Sea, then resumed work begun at last month’s session on The Bee Boy’s Song. A pause from our learning for more requests gave another two old favourites an airing: Rolling in the Dew and Ebernoe Horn Fair. Emily then sang through Searching for Lambs, another new one for us to hear and try – which we did after a break to top up glasses and conversations. The Lark in the Morning was next on the ‘new’ list. The proposal made last month to use the chorus at the beginning, after two verses and to close the song was confirmed and went well in practice. Another request: Hard Times of Old England concluded our songs for the evening, with just enough time left for Dave to revive the spring-time mood with a couple of rounds: Sumer is A’comin In and Hal-an-Tow. These were fun to try, even if the olde English was not completely mastered by us all! More next time!

Local Group Report – Lewes – Tuesday 20th February 2018

Fourteen is a good number for a cold winter’s evening in our room at The John Harvey Tavern. We were pleased to see Trish and Jan, our most recent recruits, who are picking up the repertoire quickly. We started with Pleasant and Delightful and Country Life, and then worked on the two tunes of Dave’s Caburn Hill until we were happy with the arrangement to present to the rest of the SDFS. On Sussex Hills and Littlehampton Collier Lads concluded the first session and we refilled our glasses and talked about the successful evening at Mac’s Folk Club in Alfriston and finally got to present Tina with a Thank You book token for all the work she puts into preparing the songs for our sessions.

We have made a good start learning The Bee Boy’s Song, Hares On The Mountain and Song Of The Sussex Downsman and also Brighton Camp which is another song we would like to be considered for the SDFS performance list, especially at Bateman’s with its reference to soldiers.

Malcolm has also written a song called Compassion, with reference to homelessness in Brighton, for which Tina will write down the music so that we can learn it too. Then back to the sea shore with They Won’t Let Us Go to Sea Any More, Drink Me Brave Boys and finishing with Thousands Or More.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Two New Songs

Here are two new songs that we may soon be using in our performances.

The Bee-Boy’s Song Download pdf file

The Lark in the Morning Download pdf file

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 7th February 2018

We welcomed two new singers to this month’s gathering. They did well joining in as we ran through of all the songs due to be used at the “Worthing Seed Swap” event the following Saturday. With this event and the damp chill of the February evening outside in mind, we sang of a Country Life, of wood and woodcutters, farmers and ploughboys, frozen gardeners, carters and compost making (the Worthing alternative to “turmut growing”) – as well as of magpies and Sussex hills. The songs and mood continued Pleasant and Delightful and left us with energy and time not only for Thousands or More to complete the song set before the break, but also for trying two new songs afterwards. These were presented by Dave and Alan from our Chichester group. With Alan we sang through the lovely Lark in the Morning, and with Dave the Bee-Boy’s Song by Rudyard Kipling. Dave suggested that if we adopt this song for performance it could be a good ‘sister’ song for The Magpie. Thank you again to Emily for leading the session with what voice she could spare – we wish her well and look forward to hearing her in full voice again the next time we meet at “Ye Olde House at Home” on 7th March.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Local Group Report – Chichester – Thursday 15th February 2018

It was wonderful to see so many singers arrive at the Chichester Inn to join us for our monthly sing. We were twenty in all, plus two very well behaved dogs – Buster and Stanley! Some of our newer members are now returning regularly and their contribution to our sessions is very much appreciated. Dave began by explaining that, because our next official performance as a choir will be at the Beltane Festival at Butser Iron Age Farm on Saturday 5th May, we might think about learning and singing songs that connect us with the traditions of England’s ancient May Day celebrations. So with this in mind we warmed our voices by singing Oak Ash & Thorn and followed this with Country Life. We then had a go at Hal-an-Tow, not a Sussex song I know, but not too overtly Cornish either. The line: “Take not the scorn to wear the horn” reminded us that we ought next to sing the Ebernoe Horn Fair Song with its references to wearing “the finest horns that you ever did behold!” After this Dave introduced Wassail the Silver Apple, a short but powerful choral piece, which was very positively received. Sue C and Stephen A were able to lead this one as they have already sung it at Petersfield. We then sang The Magpie, which has become one of our favourite songs and then revisited Alan’s jolly version of The Lark in the Morning and sang Kipling’s The Bee Boy’s Song. After an interval to buy another drink and socialise for 20 minutes, we started to learn the very beautiful traditional song Searching for Lambs and then introduced two more May songs. Dave got us all singing “Good morning Lords and Ladies it is the first of May” which has a very upbeat tune, and Chris was able to teach us his version of the Oxfordshire May Day Carol. Both songs treat the theme of taking a garland or a branch of may (hawthorn blossom) around to people’s homes in return for a cup of the dairy maid’s best cream! Reflecting on the ancient belief that bathing in the morning dew at sunrise on May Day will make even the plainest girl more beautiful, we concluded a jolly evening by singing Rolling in the Dew. Our thanks to everyone who attended; our next group sing will be on Thursday 15th March at 8.00 pm at the Chichester Inn in West Street, Chichester. Come and join us there!

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

The SDFS “Wassail” 20th January 2018

Our “Wassail” winter social, held in January, was well supported by singers and their companions meeting to share and enjoy both the entertainment and the food and drinks they had brought with them. We had a good evening, made even cosier by getting the heating to stay on – which is more than we managed last year! Many thanks to all for coming, and extra thanks to those who contributed songs, music, stories and poems, splendid! Thanks must also go to those behind the scenes who helped with the setting up, kitchen tasks and clearing up at the end. Not, of course, forgetting Margo for her efforts throughout, from organising the tickets and entertainments to locking up and taking back the hall key at the end! Thank you Margo. It’s absolutely true to say – we couldn’t have done it, or enjoyed it, without you ALL!

Emily was there with us on Saturday and we gave her a gift from all the singers to thank her for everything she does for the SDFS. She has sent this message to everyone:

Thanks so much to all of you for your generous gifts to me, I am surprised and delighted and honoured!
It is of course a complete delight to be a part of the SDFS, it goes from strength to strength and I am always in the privileged position of standing in front of you all and being bathed in the wonderful, rich sound you all make.
May this next year bring many more songs and opportunities to sing and share them.
Thanks again you lovely people,
Emily X

You’re very welcome Emily.
Henny

(P.S. Lost property – If anyone who brought food on Saturday is missing a pyrex pie dish – just let us know. It was left behind at the hall but is now in our safekeeping.)

Friday, 19 January 2018

Local Group Report – Chichester – Thursday 18th January 2018

Seventeen of our most stalwart singers braved the dark and cold to come out to the Chichester Inn on Thursday night to enjoy yet another lively evening of drinks and songs. After wishing everyone a Happy New Year, we set about singing the songs for the “Worthing Sow & Grow” event scheduled for Saturday 10th February 2018. Amaryllis has chosen some cracking songs for this. We warmed up singing: Oak, Ash & Thorn and Pleasant and Delightful and then sang The Magpie, Brisk Young Ploughboy, On Sussex Hills, The Turnip Hoer, Country Life, Poor Froze-out Gardeners and The Woodcutter’s Song before stopping for a break and a bit more socialising. In the second half we had a go at Barbara Shaw’s Worthing Grower and sang Jim the Carter Lad and the Farmer’s Toast before tackling a couple of new songs. Alan introduced us to his traditional Sussex version of The Lark in the Morning and was very successful in getting us to master this unfamiliar new melody. Dave then went on to present two more Kipling songs. The first one Rolling Down to Rio was sung to Peter Bellamy’s tune (not the Sir Edward German one!) The second was The Bee Boy’s Song which was very positively received and, with its echoes of old country lore, deserves to be learnt as a companion piece to The Magpie. Alan and Dave were delighted and not a little embarrassed to be presented with a lovely bottle of wine each from the Singers in recognition of their efforts in running the Chichester Group sessions over the past year. And Julie T was also given some chocolates for keeping us all regularly informed through emails and twitter. Thank you everyone, but we all enjoy doing what we do! Time was quickly running out so we sang a rousing version of Thousands or More before we set off for home. Our next group sing will be on Thursday 15th February at the Chichester Inn in West Street, Chichester. We hope to see lots of you there!

Local Group Report – Lewes – Tuesday 16th January 2018

New Year but Old Songs. Tina started us singing with Ale, Glorious Ale and The Farmer’s Toast, Poor Froze Out Gardeners, Where Stormy Winds Do Blow, before Apple Wassail, Sugar Wassail and Wassail Wassail. Then it was time to turn to spring with The Nightingale and Magpie (we still can’t find the harmony in the fifth line of the chorus!) We spent some time on Seasons Turn and were not too sure why some of the words have been changed, but stuck to the original as written by Sylvia Watts because a small group of us will be going to The Star at Alfriston on 13th February to sing two short sets at Mac’s Folk Club and we want unity in the ranks! That is why we sang The Woodcutter’s Song and Ha’nacker Mill too.

We did well with a few pub customers making a point of walking through to our snug and listening appreciatively and a couple who were visiting from Lincolnshire joining in singing with us.

After a refill break we had a surprisingly good run through Littlehampton Collier Lads and The Brave Eleven without Geoff and John who attended Secret Shore Workshops and also Dave’s seven-verse song titled Caburn Hill, together with harmonies. We finished with Thousands or More.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Transition Town Worthing Sow & Grow, Saturday, 10th February 2018

Update 4th February: Use this link to download the organiser's programme for this event. Please note the revised times for singing, as given in the programme.
Seed Swap & Spring Fair

We hope you have had a great festive season and are now contemplating losing some calories by rummaging in your undergrowth, harvesting your turmuts and manuring your plots.

What better way to prepare for this than to support the above event with some of our songs.

The performance area will be in/on the Foyer/stairs as last year, for two short sets at 1.45pm 1.30pm & 2.55pm (please be there by 1.15pm) which we are advised will avoid clashes with the opening speeches and the raffle at the end. Any changes to this arrangement will be posted here, as will the full programme when received. Make sure you wrap up against the cold.

If you do not want to pay the £2 entrance fee, please email me by the 4th February so your name can be added to the list on the door.

First Set:
  1. Oak, Ash & Thorn
  2. Pleasant & Delightful
  3. The Magpie
  4. Brisk Young Ploughboy
  5. On Sussex Hills
  6. The Turnip Hoer
Barbara has provided us with some alternative verses to The Turnip Hoer, download here.

Second Set:
  1. Country Life
  2. The Woodcutter's Song
  3. Poor Froze-out Gardeners
  4. Thousands or More
  5. Jim the Carter Lad
  6. The Farmer's Toast

John C.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 3rd January 2018

For the first Worthing meeting of the new year 35 SDFSingers gathered, still in festive mood, to sing a mix of seasonal songs – all sung with pleasure, some just for fun and others in preparation for our Wassail social on 20th January and our first public performance of the year at the Worthing Seed Swap on 10th February. We started with the Falmer Carol, including the extra verses David in our Chichester group has discovered. These were written by the Coppers and we have their permission to use them (if attributed). They make the carol considerably longer and richer, and we look forward to singing them again next Christmas. With the Seed Swap in mind we sang The Turmut Hoers and Poor Froze Gardeners before returning to the festive season with The Twelve Sheep of Christmas, a variation written by one of our singers, Hannah, and much enjoyed. The fun continued with The Three Moles, a song created by another of our singers, Gordon, in the Chichester group in honour of the pub where they used to meet in Selham. After a break we bridged the seasons with the Woodcutters Song, Oak, Ash and Thorn, and The Farmer’s Toast, before going back to a carol when Emily introduced and taught us a verse from Remember O Thou Man. This had been performed by Keith at the Chichester group’s ‘sing-around’ before Christmas, and it’s another one to try again next Christmas. Country Life, then Sugar Wassail and Apple Wassail followed, and we finished our evening with The Holly Bears a Berry. Happy New Year!