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Thursday, 19 September 2019

Local Group Report – Lewes – Tuesday 17th September 2019

Fifteen singers were at The John Harvey Tavern including our resident comedian Peter B who decided to visit us from Shoreham Beach prior to our first foray into Stanmer Park for Apple Day.

After a warm-up with West Sussex Drinking Song and Oak, Ash and Thorn, we sang through Tommie, the apple scrumping song which is sung to the tune we know as Fathom the Bowl. In the first line of the second verse we have added an “Oh!” – Those rosy-cheeked apples, oh they seemed to be – which is easier to sing. The Bee Boy’s Song, Ha’nacker Mill, Hares On The Mountain, Brisk Young Ploughboy, Sussex Wedding Song and all three verses of The Song of The Sussex Downsman completed our first half.

Tina made sure that we started on some of our winter songs: Fields Lie Silent, Seasons Turn (the Sylvia Watts song), Christmas Now is Drawing Near, the Coppers’ Christmas Song as well as the “reindeer” Yoik – Ole Leloila which will feature at the Bognor Big Sing. And there was time to run through Pleasant and Delightful, East Sussex Drinking Song and Thousands or More before 10 o’clock. Then Ray treated us to one of his poems, Season’s Turn Around – a humorous glimpse of facing the dark days of winter and its festivities!

Wednesday, 18 September 2019


Use this link to download a pdf file containing the words for Tommie. We first sang Tommie at our monthly Worthing session on 4th September 2019 and it appears in the set list for our performance this month (September 2019) at the Southdowns Folk Festival.

“South Downs Folk Singers” – AGM Notice

It’s that time of year again…

Our AGM will be on Wednesday 2nd October 2019 at our Worthing venue “Ye Olde House at Home” . It will start promptly at 7.00pm to precede our usual singing session there from 8.00pm.

At the meeting the Committee Minutes file, the Constitution and the Accounts will be available to view and we will hold the annual elections for the Committee.

If you’re interested in joining the Committee or standing for election to a Committee role, please contact me as soon as possible via the SDFS email address ( with your name and, if available, the names of the singers proposing and seconding you as a candidate.

Also, if you have any SDFS related issues or ideas you would like to raise for discussion at the meeting (or have represented on your behalf if you cannot attend) please let me know in advance and they can be added to the Agenda, or they can be raised under Any Other Business on the night (as far as time allows).

Hope to see you there – Henny (Chairperson)

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 4th September 2019

Our September sing began with the West Sussex Drinking Song before proceeding with a menu catering for the various events we have planned this month. We sang the Sussex Wedding Song, Ha'acker Mill, the Brisk Young Ploughboy and Hares on the Mountain. The last of these was structured to have the men sing both the first and the second lines of the first and second verses before the women sang the third response line and all joined in with the chorus. From the third verse the women joined the men on the second 'echo' line, with the men singing more softly, then in the final verse the men added their voices to the women's in the last response line as well as in the chorus (which was repeated to conclude the song). All three verses of the Song of the Sussex Downsman were achieved before a much-needed break for refreshment. The Bee Boy's Song began our second half, followed by a rerun of the Downsman’s third verse. We took a diversion when Emily aired for us a song about apples, Tommies, discovered by Amaryllis and sung to the tune of Fathom the Bowl. Follow Me 'Ome came next and then the East Sussex Drinking Song, with the verses sung by its author Adrian and the rest of us supporting the chorus. To conclude we sang the 'Big Sing' songs again, Ole Leloila and Sing You Now After Me, before wending our way home. N.B. the evening also included a reminder that our next meeting in October will start early (7.00pm) to accommodate the business of our AGM. More details will appear on this site soon.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

SDFS at Brighton Apple Day 2019

Update 20th September 2019: Set list revisions: Jolly Good Song has been added to the first set and Tommie has been added to the second set. To get the words for Tommie see this post.
Update 15th September 2019: A message from John - "Today (14/09/19) all those Singers who have to date volunteered to sing on the day have been sent instructions and a permit for free parking at the event. Any Singers who subsequently volunteer this week for the event will be provided with this facility when I reply to their emails."
Update 5th September 2019: Set lists and times have been added at the end of this post.
Stanmer Park (near Falmer)
Sunday 22nd September 2019

The Brighton Permaculture Trust's Festival helps fill this traditional theme for us this year, albeit straight after Bognor.

We will be singing two sets, appropriately in the Orchard alternately with 'Whispering Woods' and probably others.

Fourteen singers so far have volunteered for the day.

Tina has kindly volunteered to lead us so a spirited rendition, as at Firle, can be looked forward to.

Dress as Bognor sans the nautical theme.

Additional volunteers for the day please contact John C. at

Organiser's website: general information   |   directions   |   poster download (pdf file)
NB Read the directions web page carefully and be aware that official parking for the general public is £10 per car. If you have put your name down to sing at this event, you will be sent further information about parking.

We have two time slots for singing, 12.45pm to 1.20pm and 3.10pm to 3.50pm.

Set 1 – 12.45pm to 1.20pm
  1. Country Life
  2. On Sussex Hills
  3. The Bee Boy's Song
  4. The Nightingale
  5. Rosebuds In June
  6. Twanky Dillo
  7. Ha’nacker Mill
  8. West Sussex Drinking Song
  9. Sussex Wedding Song
  10. Ale, Glorious Ale
  11. Jolly Good Song

Set 2 – 3.10pm to 3.50pm
  1. Pleasant & Delightful
  2. Oak, Ash & Thorn
  3. A Smuggler's Song
  4. Tommie
  5. The Magpie
  6. Hares On The Mountain
  7. Song Of The Sussex Downsman (three verses)
  8. East Sussex Drinking Song
  9. Brisk Young Ploughboy
  10. Thousands Or More
  11. Jolly Good Song

SDFS & SSS at Southdowns Folk Festival 2019

Update 17th September 2019: The set list has been added below. The song Tommie was sung at the last Worthing session and the words for this will be appearing here soon in a separate post.
Bognor Regis
Saturday 21st September 2019

Everything crossed that we don't have a repeat of last year's comprehensive precipitation all day, good weather really brings out the public like last weekend at Arundel and Littlehampton, and Arundel is choka this weekend in this heat! [editor's note: for this to make sense, you need to know this was written on 25th August]

Nevertheless SDFS will be filling the 12.10-12.50pm slot at the RAFA Club in Waterloo Square so no problem there. Please be there by 11.50am to arrange ourselves. Twentythree singers signed up to date.

Those singers who are also SSS will be singing at London Road Precinct South (Arcade end) 1.30-2.15pm. See the SSS website for details.

So either choose your relevant Singer theme or just come in casual greens and blues of various hues.

At around 4pm (time to be confirmed) several of the choirs taking part during the day (including SDFS and SSS) will gather at London Road Precinct South to participate in the 'Big Sing' with one song each, and then together under Emily's direction sing  the catch 'Sing You Now After Me' and the Finnish reindeer welcoming song 'Ole Leloila' in 'rounds' format.

Please wear your SDFS lanyards.

Additional volunteers for the day please contact John C. at

Further details of all Festival events are on the organiser's website.

Set List
  1. West Sussex Drinking Song [E]
  2. The Bee Boy’s Song [G]
  3. Oak, Ash & Thorn [E]
  4. Tommie (Fathom the Bowl tune) [Eb]
  5. On Sussex Hills [A]
  6. Pleasant & Delightful [A]
  7. Hares on the Mountain [Ab]
  8. Hard Times of Old England [F]
  9. The Magpie [B]
  10. Ale, Glorious Ale [E]
  11. A Smuggler’s Song [C#]
  12. The Turnip Hoer [B]
  13. Jolly Good Song [C]

SDFS at Fernhurst Furnace Weekend 2019

Update 12th September 2019: Information about what to wear has been revised, also the number of singers who have so far signed up.
Sunday 15th September 2019

By popular demand we will be singing on the Sunday this year in the manner of 'wandering minstrels' as last year, singing songs relevant to various activities and locations on the day. There is nothing happening in the Arena during lunch time from 12.45pm so arrive around midday to liaise with Alan and Dave, and Carla in the Furnace Tent.

Twenty-nine singers have signed up so far including Alan, Anne, David and Sue.

As the weather is forecast to be clement all day, those Singers who have suitable 'rustic' type garb are welcome to come dressed up in same, but if you haven't just come as usual in any comfortable blues and greens you have plus a lanyard if you have one.

Alan and David will be leading again, using the set lists below.

Additional volunteers for the day please contact John C. at

More information on the Fernhurst Furnace website here and here.

Set 1
  1. Country Life
  2. Ale, Glorious Ale
  3. The Brisk Young Ploughboy
  4. The Bee Boy's Song
  5. Follow Me 'Ome (if enough men)
  6. The Magpie (if enough women)
  7. The Woodcutter's Song
  8. West Sussex Drinking Song

Set 2
  1. Twanky Dillo
  2. Thousands or More
  3. The Turnip Hoer (if enough men)
  4. Song of the Sussex Downsman
  5. Rosebuds in June
  6. On Sussex Hills
  7. Oak, Ash and Thorn
  8. Pleasant and Delightful

In addtion we may sing relevant songs by various displays e.g. Twanky Dillo by the blacksmith.

Songs for the Big Sing 2019

Use this link to download a pdf file containing words for two of the songs we will be singing together at the Big Sing in Bognor (part of the Southdowns Folk Festival) on Saturday 21st September 2019.

Ole leloila

Ole leloila
Ole leloila
Ole leloila
Ole le loi le loila

Sing You Now After Me

Sing you now after me,
And as I sing sing ye,
So shall we well agree,
Five parts in unity,
Ding dong, ding dong, ding dong, ding dong, bell!

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Local Group Report – Lewes – Tuesday 20th August 2019

Thirteen singers gathered in The John Harvey Tavern despite so many regulars being on holiday, but we were joined by Guy and Zoe and her Spaniel “Genie”, who was absolute magic and had no objection to us barking out 17 songs.

As usual, Tina had prepared well and led us through a mixture of songs starting with one of our oldest, Rosebuds in June, then The Nightingale, Ale, Glorious Ale and Oh, Good Ale, three newish ones Searching for Lambs, The Turtle Dove and The Lark in the Morning. We introduced Zoe and Guy to Hilaire Belloc with one of his more sombre songs – Ha’nacker Mill. It is a long time since we aired Old Adam and Three Maidens and Tina didn’t want us to forget our WW1 repertoire so chose Home Lads Home and Ladies go Dancing. At the Bognor Southdowns Folk Festival we shall be joining other choirs for The Big Sing, so we had a go at the Ole leloila Yoik of the Reindeer herders and the Elizabethan round, Sing You After Me. That just left us to practice the two parts to Caburn Hill and The East Sussex Drinking Song, both penned by our members Dave T and Adrian F. We finished the evening with Thousands Or More and are looking forward to the Apple Day in Stanmer Park and singing the Bee Boy’s Song and The Hares on the Mountain especially for Cat’s nearly three year old son, Rhion!

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Local Group Report – Chichester – Thursday 15th August 2019

On Thursday night ten of us met at the Chichester Inn to sing a song or two of our lovely Sussex folk songs.  It took us a while to get going as there was a lot of chatting, but we eventually made our way through the set list for our slot at Arundel Festival on Saturday.  Chris read out a funny story he had come across in an 1846 Worcestershire newspaper item, involving a fight over a dog.  We then invited requests for songs and sang Green Grows the Laurel and then Turtle Dove which we had learned at the Belloc, Broadwood and Beyond workshops.  Sharon and Julie sang a slightly different version of Turtle Dove which they had also learned recently. As with many a folk song, it had a different title (Ten Thousand Miles), a different tune and slightly different words!  After Stephen sang a funny ‘folk’ song from the ’50s we tried a couple of sea shanties, but got a bit muddled with Mingulay Boat Song.   We did better with John  Kanaka!