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Origins: Brigg Fair

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BRIGG FAIR


Related threads:
Lyr Here: Joseph Taylor, Unto Brigg Fair (17)
happy? - Aug 5 (Brigg Fair) (6)


GUEST,Nick Dow 21 Aug 21 - 09:30 AM
GUEST,henryp 21 Aug 21 - 07:44 AM
GUEST,JHW 21 Aug 21 - 05:18 AM
GUEST 20 Aug 21 - 04:41 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 20 Aug 21 - 11:09 AM
GUEST,Iains 20 Aug 21 - 07:48 AM
GUEST,Nick Dow 19 Aug 21 - 05:53 PM
GUEST,Iains 19 Aug 21 - 03:44 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 19 Aug 21 - 08:09 AM
GUEST,Iains 19 Aug 21 - 07:53 AM
GUEST,henryp 19 Aug 21 - 07:46 AM
GUEST 19 Aug 21 - 05:43 AM
GUEST,Nick Dow 18 Aug 21 - 06:10 PM
GUEST,Iains 18 Aug 21 - 04:12 PM
GUEST,Iains 18 Aug 21 - 03:56 PM
GUEST,henryp 18 Aug 21 - 02:13 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 18 Aug 21 - 10:36 AM
GUEST,Nick Dow 18 Aug 21 - 10:16 AM
Steve Gardham 18 Aug 21 - 09:24 AM
GUEST,henryp 18 Aug 21 - 04:10 AM
Brian Peters 17 Aug 21 - 06:15 PM
Steve Gardham 17 Aug 21 - 09:41 AM
GUEST,# 17 Aug 21 - 09:20 AM
Brian Peters 17 Aug 21 - 07:44 AM
GUEST,# 16 Aug 21 - 06:38 PM
GUEST,henryp 16 Aug 21 - 06:11 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 16 Aug 21 - 05:43 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 16 Aug 21 - 05:41 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 16 Aug 21 - 05:37 PM
The Sandman 16 Aug 21 - 05:25 PM
GUEST,henryp 16 Aug 21 - 05:09 PM
GUEST,henryp 16 Aug 21 - 04:29 PM
The Sandman 16 Aug 21 - 04:19 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Aug 21 - 04:14 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 16 Aug 21 - 02:33 PM
RTim 16 Aug 21 - 01:01 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 16 Aug 21 - 12:38 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Aug 21 - 12:36 PM
Backwoodsman 16 Aug 21 - 11:12 AM
The Sandman 16 Aug 21 - 10:30 AM
Steve Gardham 16 Aug 21 - 09:42 AM
GUEST,Iains 16 Aug 21 - 09:09 AM
The Sandman 16 Aug 21 - 08:07 AM
GUEST,henryp 16 Aug 21 - 05:29 AM
GUEST,Nick Dow 16 Aug 21 - 05:16 AM
Backwoodsman 16 Aug 21 - 04:50 AM
GUEST 16 Aug 21 - 04:34 AM
GUEST,Nick Dow 16 Aug 21 - 02:57 AM
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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 21 Aug 21 - 09:30 AM

Yes that's just as likely. Still have not heard from them yet by Email. I'll give them a ring next week and see who remembers me.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 21 Aug 21 - 07:44 AM

Very intriguing, Nick. In John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles (1887), Spalding is said to be in a rich agricultural district. It still is. Although the final Flower Parade was held in 2013, the autumn Pumpkin Festival, started in 2002, carries on. And the farms still rely on migrant labour; Cabbage and Broccoli Operatives Location – Spalding, Lincolnshire Rate of pay - £8.91 per Hour Start – ASAP Shift – Day shift available - 12 hour shift

From the internet; Deeping St Nicholas; With the proper drainage of the fens in 1845 a church was built and dedicated to St Nicholas and this gave its name to the village which came into existence in about 1850. The reclaimed land is of exceptional fertility and farming was once the main occupation together with associated trades of saddlery, wheelwrights and cart makers. But as mechanisation came, more and more people had to look for work outside the village in nearby Spalding and Peterborough. Cereals and sugar beet are the main crops, potatoes used to be grown in large quantities and the potato railways were in great use. Horses were used to pull the trucks laden with corn or potatoes. Not far away, the Wisbech & Upwell Tramway opened in 1883 to serve a number of small villages on the West Norfolk/Cambridgeshire border, an area of fertile fenland soil. The area was well known for its top fruit, typically apples, pears and plums as well as strawberries, a staple of the goods traffic on the line until it closed in May 1966.

So I wonder if the Boswell family was returning, via Brigg, to Spalding to pick fruit and vegetables throughout late summer and autumn.

And I remember The Lancashire Drift fondly!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,JHW
Date: 21 Aug 21 - 05:18 AM

In my childhood I went Under the ice in 'Bowes Quarry' so might have been a gonner long since. No trace of that quarry now. Levelled with spoil from 1960s A1 Catterick bypass. (That bypass now bypassed)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Aug 21 - 04:41 PM

As an interesting aside to the opening of pits and quarries the executors of the Vicar of St Marys Binbrook were hauled off to court in 1818 for allowing 4 acres of land to be excavated for road metal, "to wit, divers large holes, pits and excavations, to wit 100 holes of great width for sand and gravel."
Even back then the major gripe was that reinstatement and making good was non existent.
Today the diocese of Lincoln still has 12000 acres of glebeland, mainly arable farmland.


https://books.google.ie/books?pg=PA568&lpg=PA568&dq=chalk+quarries+at+binbrook+lincs&sig=ACfU3U0i_aBo2F_jd4v80InsAciMm_k2zQ&id=2


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 20 Aug 21 - 11:09 AM

Probably! But thanks anyway. Old Gordon Boswell is dead. I'm on to contacting the family to see if our theory is correct.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,Iains
Date: 20 Aug 21 - 07:48 AM

Looking for the pit/s could be problematical as all traces in the area have vanished, and even where shown to exist all surface signs are obliterated. The steepest road leaving the village is the B1203 heading south westerly. The Ordnance Survey 6 inch to 1 mile Old Map (1888-1913)
clearly shows a couple of chalk pits and a marl pit close along the southern side of the road going to Binbrook top. In the village a couple of springs are labeled and a stream resurges on the north of the village flowing northerly

(So as soon as possible he dashed off to the "pit" where he knew they would make camp. Straight up the steep main road to his stand-point, a gate on the right-hand side. This led to a rough cart track on the edge of the field leading to the pit.)

There are a couple of tracks shown on the right. The first barely out of the village goes some distance towards the stream and a couple of fishponds. The next just outside Kirmond Le Mire leads to a hydraulic ram (presumably lifting water to the big house)and a stream. No sign of pits or quarries anywhere in the immediate vicinity of either track though.
However pits were ephemeral if dug for liming fields and the drift cover is variable over the wolds and I believe only the Gipping Till was calcareous - with the rest of the drift/tills the clay would have required 'sweetening' There are numerous circular features that can be seen on the satellite imagery. They could be infilled pits but equally they could be far more ancient features that ploughing has virtually destroyed. This was a far more densely populated landscape prior to the sheep invasion and the mention of a barrow on the map takes the history back several thousand years so residual rounded patterns could mean all things to all men. It would require boots on the ground and even that may not give definitive explanations. If you scroll back in time on the satellite imagery the crop patterns emphasize some of these features but do not explain them.
Apologies for a bit of a ramble but landscape archeology is a bit of a hobby for me.
I think locating the encampment/s is a bit of a challenge too far.

https://www.archiuk.com/cgi-bin/build_nls_historic_map.pl?search_location=,%20Binbrook,%20Lincolnshire&latitude=53.420157&longitude=-0.195756


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 19 Aug 21 - 05:53 PM

Firstly Thank you to our Guest, and to Henry and Iains again for all that typing.
I was aware of the Grainger comment about George Medcalfe and of course thanks to Henry, I'm now aware of Mrs. Hudson's account. I think both accounts are true, which might seem daft until you give it some consideration. I have no doubt our 'young Gypsy' sang the song to Taylor and the assembled camp. I am equally sure that Medcalfe sang it to Taylor as well. I suspect that the conversation may well have been along the lines of 'I heard that song the other night/week/month at 'The Pit' from one of the Gypsy Folk, do you have some words?' 'Well I can only remember two verses.' How many times has this conversation happened in a Folk Club? Medcalfe is not a Gypsy name, not that it matters.
Thanks to Henry again we are now aware the Gypsy Folk stopped in the chalk pits at Binbrook and that Binbrook is 15 miles from Brigg. This means that it was a one, or at the most, two night stop over on the way to the fair. Fifteen miles is nowt in a car, but a good lift by horse and cart. So the picture is now becoming a bit clearer. It means the Gypsy Folk were heading North to Brigg. That narrows it down a lot and one thing immediately occurs to me. I have camped with the the Travellers in Great Ouseburn (North)and Spalding (South) of Binbrook
The Northern Travellers were heading to Boroughbridge, not Brigg, and the Southern Gypsies used to travel to Brigg and/or Appleby back in the day.
I was camping upon the Boswell's ground in Spalding. Mally Boswell (not my wife Mally she had Dolan blood) told me that years ago the families spent the summer on the fruit picking, before heading North to the fairs, then on to wintering grounds.
Mrs. Hudson's interesting story about the 'King' of the Gypsies inviting Joseph Taylor to join them, is also telling an interesting tale in this context. The Boswells are considered to be one of the oldest Romany families to exist in England. There is the 'Book of Boswell, as I am sure you are aware, so the 'King' may well have been a young 'Alger'(Trafalger) Boswell, or possibly his father. The dates seem correct. They were and still are a very proud family.
Yes this may be a flight of fancy, but it fits with the facts as I know them.
It was the Boswells camping at the 'Pit', by a balance of probabilities. I would love to think that Iains and Henry with a bit of help from me have cracked the mystery of which family sang Brigg Fair! However as before my mind is open to other views, and I do tend to get a bit carried away, even at the this late stage.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,Iains
Date: 19 Aug 21 - 03:44 PM

From: https://afolksongaweek.wordpress.com/2020/08/05/week-293-brigg-fair/
Ruairidh Greig
August 5, 2020 at 11:53 am

Thanks Andy. Enjoyed reading that. My cousin, Peter Collinson who is Taylor's Great Great Grandson brought it to my attention. We both knew Marion Hudson well – she was Peter's Grandmother and lived as I did, in Grimsby. Her memoirs are a little "rose-tinted" but still interesting. A couple of notes; the John Taylor recording is on the Peter Kennedy Folktracks cassettte 45-135 (Brigg Fair- Joseph Taylor). I've been wondering if the BBC made a record of Brigg Fair in 1944, was there another song on the B side? It's interesting, with regard to the gipsy story, that Grainger noted that JT learnt the song from George Medcalfe from Moortown, near Caistor. Perhaps he was the gipsy? I'm still looking for a compltet version. Thanks again for the interesting blog.
Reply        

    Andy Turner
    August 5, 2020 at 5:16 pm

    Thanks Ruairidh
    I used to dance with Oyster Morris, and have known Peter since c1976. Had quite forgotten his Taylor lineage until writing these notes.
    I'm sure I will know someone who owns a copy of that Folktracks cassette – will make some approaches.
    And good to know there are still unanswered questions about the song's origin – it would be so boring if we knew all the answers!
(I do not know if this has been previously mentioned - apologies if it has)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 19 Aug 21 - 08:09 AM

Thanks so much! I'll get back when I've had time to read and absorb.
Nick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,Iains
Date: 19 Aug 21 - 07:53 AM

https://epns.nottingham.ac.uk/browse/Lincolnshire/Binbrook/58f86705756ff4cf42466ab8-Chalk+pit


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 19 Aug 21 - 07:46 AM

Joseph Taylor from Lincolnshire, a Biographical Study by Ruairidh Greig

"Joseph Taylor was born at Binbrook in the Lincolnshire Wolds, an area of rolling chalk hills, on the 10th December 1833, second son of James Taylor and Mary Ann Smith of Barnoldby-Le-Beck. James and his elder brother John moved to Binbrook in the 1820s from Fotherby near Louth. Binbrook was an unusual place, an “open” village in an area of “closed” villages where most of the land and property were owned by a single estate. It was for this reason that it was home to the seasonal labour force needed by the large local farms at certain times in the farming year. Elder brother John is listed as a gardener in the 1851 Census. Joseph’s father, James, was noted to be an agricultural labourer. The National School was not opened until 1843 and so it is unlikely that Joseph would have had formal education beyond that which was offered by the local Sunday school.

"One consequence of being an “open” village was that Binbrook had its own hiring fair, the “Stattis” or Statute fair at which local farmers would select their labourers. Joseph’s early working life in the area was as an agricultural labourer. In 1851 he was one of 12 labourers employed by John Fieldsend on his farm at Orford, a hamlet north of Binbrook. At the age of 17, he was already taking an interest in music. According to Mrs Hudson in her unpublished biography, Joseph Taylor would often walk to Grimsby and back, a round trip of about 20 miles, to attend a concert. He was also learning songs from gypsies who used to come and camp in the chalk pits that dotted the landscape:

“One evening when he returned from work, his mother told him that the gypsies had arrived, as they did each year at that time…He had been awaiting their arrival with impatience, since he loved their singing. So as soon as possible he dashed off to the ‘pit’ where he knew they would make camp.” That he was learning songs at this time is confirmed by an anecdote noted by Percy Grainger. When his Joseph Taylor’s mother asked what his new-born brother should be called, he replied: “Christen him Bold William Taylor’, this being the title of the newest addition to his repertoire of ‘ballets’ (as they are called by the rural singers)…and his advice was followed.” His brother William was born in 1853, when Joseph was 19 years old. As I recently discovered, it was also a time in his life when he spent three months in prison, convicted for stealing wheat cake and powder from Binbrook farmer William Croft. The turning point in Joseph Taylor’s life may well have been his marriage in 1856 to Eliza Hill from Huttoft on the Lincolnshire coast, six years older than him. They settled in Ranters’ Row in Binbrook, where their first two children were born. It was in 1863 that the family moved to Saxby All Saints, a pretty little village on the western slope of the Wolds, between Brigg and Barton on Humber."

Joseph Taylor was born in Binbrook and lived there until 1863. Binbrook lies in the rolling chalk hills of the Lincolnshire Wolds. The gypsies would "camp in the chalk pits that dotted the landscape". And there is a record of a field in Binbrook called Chalk Pit, but there would have been other pits or banks where chalk was dug out.

The gypsies arrived "as they did each year at that time." This may have coincided with a local event, harvest, perhaps, or the "Stattis" fair. Brigg is fifteen miles away; it's possible that the gypsies were making their way to or from Brigg Fair.

[Glanford] Brigg was founded as a crossing over the River Ancholme, whose straight channel was built in 1635. In 1889, Brigg was included in the North Riding of the administrative county of Lincolnshire, Parts of Lindsey. The five Low Villages - below the Wolds - lie between Brigg and the Humber; Warlaby, Bonby, Saxby All Saints, Horkstow and South Ferriby. Joseph Taylor and his family moved to Saxby in 1863. In 1880, at the age of 15, his son Joseph drowned in the River Ancholme within sight of the village. The song Horkstow Grange describes how John Bowlin and Steeleye Span fell out one market day, and was sung by George Gouldthorpe of Barrow-on-Humber to Percy Grainger at Brigg in 1906. And South Ferriby offers a mooring for Amy Houson of the Humber Keel and Sloop Preservation Society.

Not long ago, we called at Uncle Henry's Farm Shop and Cafe at Grayingham Grange, near Kirton Lindsey, ten miles south of Brigg. As children, we often visited Henry Wright who lived there, and who really was my Uncle Henry.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Aug 21 - 05:43 AM

Hi Nick, you have piqued my interest on this search!
1851 in the Yorkshire wolds would put this at the start of the heyday of victorian high farming.The transition from sheepwalks to intensive arable production had been largely completed between 1842 and 1853(https://www.jstor.org/stable/40274732)As the wolds around Binbrook are chalk surface water is likely nonexistant much of the year, the permeability allows it to seep underground rapidly(This creates blow wells in Barton and around the source of the Barrow Haven Feeder) In sheep country the solution would be the creation of dewponds by puddling clay with straw.
To the north of Binbrook is an old RAF base indicating the land is flat. To the south east one of the roads is labelled a hill,indicating high ground,, as is the land to the south. The map referenced in a previous post indicates a pit/quarry to the south of the village. The satellite photos show no dewponds and no quarries. There is patterning in the soil to indicate the removal of some field boundaries. It has to be bourne in mind though that dewponds in an arable area are largely obsolete and modern machinery can totally transform a landscape in hours. Any quarry would likely have been infilled to aid large modern machinery and this is prime agricultural land, the satellite photos show very little that is not farmed. The odd patches of woodland are largely left because to get modern machines in wedge shaped corners is simply not worth the aggro.
The map of 1886 is largely the same as today - a few field boundaries removed and a track running sw ploughed over, although satellite imagery clearly shows the route.
Brigg is 18.5 miles away by road.
My thoughts are that to camp outside Binbrook for the fair at Brigg is quite a slog, but not impossible. The time period being considered was one of striking agricultural change that transformed many landscapes.
I cannot find evidence of dewponds anywhere but although sheep require little water, they cannot meet their needs entirely from grazing, especially during a drought.Cattle raising was also important. Therefore water sources must have existed at some point. The village of Binbrook obviously had a water supply and chalk streams exist - I just cannot make them out in this area.They could have been piped years ago or simply may not exist in this area and the village may have relied on a spring.
It does not take you much further forward I am afraid. If I was going to have a stab at a location I would go for one of the patches of woodland. Another source of info https://geographical.co.uk/uk/aonb/item/769-the-lincolnshire-wolds
http://www.lglg.co.uk/history/history-of-gypsies-in-lincolnshire.html
https://www.lincswolds.org.uk/chalk-streams/lincolnshire-chalk-streams/lincs-chalk-streams

Finally when I used to attend auctions in Brigg each Thursday there were at least two gypsy families always in attendance and others frequently camped on the auction site. I have not been there for a few years, but if still around they may have a longstanding connection with the area and provide a source of info.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 18 Aug 21 - 06:10 PM

Thank you Henry and Iains. Since you have taken all this trouble I will tell you what I can read so far.
Firstly we know the date that Joseph Taylor heard Brigg Fair. It was on or about the 5th of August, as the song says. The Travellers were camped for Brigg Fair, as explained above by Mrs. Hudson.
Secondly we know that the 'Pit' was their traditional camping ground, and it must have been suitable to push willow spars into the ground for the ridge tents, and also had good grazing and a ready water supply. This was not only for 'domestic' use but to water the horses, of which there would have been many, all for sale at the fair, and to soak the wheels of the carts or drays, in hot weather. Shrinkage is the enemy of cart wheels, and the term 'cutting and Shutting' comes from wheelwrights cutting down shrunken wheels.
Thirdly there must have been a source of food. Local wildlife but also shops within horse driving distance Likewise there must have been civilisation for hawking the usual items. (That's another thread!)
Fourthly we can estimate the year for the singing of Brigg Fair. Joseph Taylor was working but still living at home with his mother. With his birth in 1833 we can estimate the year 1851/2.
Fifthly We know the song was sung by a younger Gypsy to the 'Maria Marten' tune. The Red Barn Murder had taken place some thirty years previously, and the Lazarus tune may have been adapted for the song, in the late 1830s or early forties. Steve Gardham would know more.
In the sixth place we know that the song was also sung by John Deere who may have learned from Taylor.
Finally the song mentions the 5th of August, which is fair day, has a well known tune, and the two verses may have been a local composition.
So we are left with the balance of probabilities.
For my money either our 'Young Gypsy' or person of his acquaintance, may have composed the song especially for fair day. Perhaps there were more verses. Joseph Taylor sat round the fire, was likely to remember a song sung by a Gypsy closer to his own age.
The well known words have been reconstructed by Grainger, with verses from 'Low Down in the Broom'.
In conclusion it would be wonderful to pinpoint which family of Gypsies sang the song. So if the excellent Henry and Iains can pin point a 'Pit' with the required facilities mentioned, I will make a few phone calls to Gypsy Folk of my acquaintance and see what memories linger. We might strike lucky.
I think I have been fairly logical here but my mind is wide open to other views.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,Iains
Date: 18 Aug 21 - 04:12 PM

I forgot the obvious.

https://glnp.org.uk/images/uploads/services/geodiversity-strategy/building-stones-web.pdf


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,Iains
Date: 18 Aug 21 - 03:56 PM

Pits in north Lincolnshire could cover multiple possibilities.
Clay pits were hand dug for tile and brick but this was pretty much confined to the Humber bank.(The resulting lakes can be seen either side of the Humber bridge on google earth.) The last one closed about 30 years ago on the Humber bank but I believe Sandtoft is still operating in Goxhill.
There are major excavations in the Chalk for cement making, again on the Humber bank at south Ferriby.
The early iron industry obtained ore from pits initially, before underground mining started in earnest, and was accompanied by a huge opencast mine at winterton(since filled in as waste cells with a gas gathering system and generating capacity of a couple of megawatts. The source of the iron was the lower lias and I believe this is a little to the west of brigg, but without a map I cannot be sure. Small furnaces have been found north of scunthorpe dating to Roman times.
Other pits were dug for road metal and the presence of Phosphate nodules may well have led to their extraction via pits for agricultural use.
A bit more info on pits in the link where it is stated that pit was synonymous with quarry. This makes far more sense for camping. The quarry at North Cave just over the Humber Bridge could have held many people if camping. This one also was lost to landfill.

https://www.ldwa.org.uk/ldp/downloads/OpencastWay.pdf


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 18 Aug 21 - 02:13 PM

http://epns.nottingham.ac.uk/browse/Lincolnshire/Binbrook/58f86705756ff4cf42466ab8-Chalk+pit

Survey of English Place-Names Historical Forms 1820 Tur Etymology Chalk pit 1820

Brief record of a chalk pit in Binbrook in 1820, including a location plan. Binbrook lies in the Lincolnshire Wolds, so there may well have been more than one.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 18 Aug 21 - 10:36 AM

It could be Gravel Pit Hill near Brigg. Might make sense as there could have been work there. I believe the above account, please don't get me wrong, but the more information that can be found the more chance we can have of understanding the origin of the song and which family of Gypsies sang it. So thank you Henry for posting it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 18 Aug 21 - 10:16 AM

Very interesting. I wonder where 'The pit' was. In those days c.1850, the Gypsy Folk would have been in tents not wagons, and would by necessity camp near to running water. They would also need grazing for the horses. I'll try and do a bit or research.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 Aug 21 - 09:24 AM

Wow! That's a great testimony.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 18 Aug 21 - 04:10 AM

From Joseph Taylor from Lincolnshire, a Biographical Study By Ruairidh Greig

Joseph Taylor was born at Binbrook [15 miles south-east of Brigg] in the Lincolnshire Wolds, an area of rolling chalk hills, on the 10th December 1833. The National School was not opened until 1843 and so it is unlikely that Joseph would have had formal education beyond that which was offered by the local Sunday school. One consequence of being an “open” village was that Binbrook had its own hiring fair, the “Stattis” or Statute fair at which local farmers would select their labourers. Joseph’s early working life in the area was as an agricultural labourer. In 1851 he was one of 12 labourers employed by John Fieldsend on his farm at Orford, a hamlet north of Binbrook. At the age of 17, he was already taking an interest in music. According to Mrs Hudson in her unpublished biography, Joseph Taylor would often walk to Grimsby and back, a round trip of about 20 miles, to attend a concert.

From A Folk Song A Week by Andy Turner;

And here’s Mrs Hudson’s account of how Joseph Taylor learned “that song”

The manner in which Grandpa learnt the song is a fascinating story. One evening when he returned from work, his mother told him that the gipsies had arrived, as they did each year at that time. The same thing would be happening to other tribes around North Lincolnshire as Brigg was annual meeting point where they gathered to exchange news and have jollifications – they still do. He had been awaiting their arrival with impatience, since he loved their singing. So as soon as possible he dashed off to the “pit” where he knew they would make camp. Straight up the steep main road to his stand-point, a gate on the right-hand side. This led to a rough cart track on the edge of the field leading to the pit. The next night he went again, but being braver, this time he went along the track to the second gate which was the entrance to the pit. Now he could see the camp and its occupants.

The following night he perched there again, little thinking what the consequences would be, not only to him but to all lovers of Folk Music. As soon as he was settled on top of the gate, he saw the leader of the group coming towards him. At first he thought he was going to be sent away, but no! the man was smiling and obviously not hostile. When he reached the gate he said “Young man, you like our singing.” It was a statement not a question. The gipsies had obviously been aware of him the previous evenings. He had been on trial and passed the test. Music is a wonderful leveller and in no condescending manner but with dignity, the lad was invited to join the revels. He was led into the camp by the “King” and received as an honoured guest. He was seated beside the King, in the circle around the camp fire, on which the evening meal was cooking. Song followed song and in later years he sang them to his grandchildren.

The song, Brigg Fair, was sung by one of the young gipsies and obviously came from the heart.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: Brian Peters
Date: 17 Aug 21 - 06:15 PM

Quite right, Steve. Grainger notated an ornament on the first word of verses 1 and 2 and nothing else that I can make out by way of decoration - he doesn't seem to mark the bleats. On 'Brigg Fair' there are more ornaments, though they differ from one version to another (Grainger recorded it several times and notated four of them, or so it seems from a quick glance), so 'fifth' and 'fair' are often decorated but sometimes not, while 'glee' is always decorated but not in the exact same way. Interestingly, his son John did something different again, rather less effortlessly.

Thanks # for those kind words.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Aug 21 - 09:41 AM

Yes, wonderful stuff, but there actually isn't a great deal of decoration. What there is is a combination of tremelo which comes with the high register, and the fairly common affectation among some country singers of the extra syllables, i.e., Bodld for bold etc. I'd love to see a study on this. It would be very worthwhile. Ruairidh where are you?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,#
Date: 17 Aug 21 - 09:20 AM

A little off topic here, Brian, but I was just listening to your rendition of The Wild Rover (a song I've never cared for), and it's beautiful. (It was your performance from 2016 in Australia.) Anyway, this is just a brief note to say thank you.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: Brian Peters
Date: 17 Aug 21 - 07:44 AM

Always good to hear that track again, #. Lovely ornament on the very first note - I doubt he picked that up from Gervase Elwes!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,#
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 06:38 PM

I don't know if the following has been posted. If so then just ignore it.

Rufford Park Poachers - Joseph Taylor (1908)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4f6pXtZ2EEA


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 06:11 PM

We'll have to establish that there were previous folk song competitions and that Joseph Taylor took part.

From Joseph Taylor from Lincolnshire, a Biographical Study by Ruairidh Greig;

Saxby All Saints was a musical village. In addition to the church choir in which Joseph Taylor sang, the village had a choral society, which, for many years took part in local competitions. His children, James, John, Annie and Mary Ann were all singers. So when Gervase Elwes, a nationally known tenor, his wife Winifred and her brother Everard Fielding wanted to gather support for the first North Lincolnshire Music Festival in 1900, Saxby was an obvious point of call. The organisers initially cycled round the area training village choirs and then acquired a motor-bike, behind which Lady Winifred was towed on her push-bike.

In the Festivals before 1905, the Taylor family competed in a number of sections. For example, in 1904 John won the Tenor Solo section with the song “Come Ye Children”, and Annie and Mary Ann, with Miss Ashton, came second in the Female Voice Trio with “Queen of Fresh Flowers”. The Saxby choir came first in the Hymn and Chant sections that year. Winifred Elwes gives the credit for introducing the folksong section in the 1905 Festival to Percy Grainger and her brother Everard, “who had become infected by Mr Cecil Sharpe’s (sic) enthusiasm”. According to Marion Hudson, her grandfather had to be persuaded to enter:

“No compliment had any affect and Grandpa was adamant - he wasn’t a public singer, he only sang because he wished to. Lady Elwes and her brother cycled from Brigg many times and at last, to please her, much against his inclination, he at long last consented.”


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 05:43 PM

Sorry about the small G for Gypsy above, I mistyped, I'm ashamed of myself!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 05:41 PM

Just checked Yes it's on. Friday 17th of September. A word to the wise, don't get stuck in the mud, it will cost a small fortune to be towed out. Park locally and walk if you can. Lee Gap is the real deal, like Appleby was in the 1950's.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 05:37 PM

If its on this year it's the first week end in September. It's was in Mays Lane Barnet. I believe the date was altered a while ago and then reinstated. If you are interested in a Yorkshire Fair, Lee Gap at West Ardsley is the one. It's a small old fashioned fair, with no stalls selling jeans or plastic rubbish. It's all gypsy orientated and there are some fine wagons its usually on twice a year in August and September. Usually the 17th of September. If it's on Steve I could meet you there.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 05:25 PM

yes, but that does not mean that Taylor did not develop his style to win previous competitions, also we do not know whether Kidson was not influenced by perfomance as well, despite what the yorkshire post said about the rules, it is difficult not to be influenced by good perfomance and judge purely on the song


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 05:09 PM

https://lincolnshirefolksongs.wordpress.com/north-lincolnshire-musical-competition-1905/

The Yorkshire Post from 12th April 1905 states:

‘A good deal of interest was taken in the folk song competition. The Prizes were offered for the best unpublished old Lincolnshire folk song or plough song and marks were allotted for the excellence of the song rather than its actual performance. Four competitors turned up and between them sang about ten songs, all of them genuine folk songs.'

Percy Grainger had arrived at the competition on the first day and had performed in a concert that afternoon. He attended the folk song competition which was being held at The Corn Exchange in Brigg, and was being judged by Frank Kidson. The Corn Exchange was demolished in 1995.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 04:29 PM

https://lincolnshirefolksongs.wordpress.com/north-lincolnshire-musical-competition-1905/

In 1905, Gervase and Lady Winifride Elwes were living in the Manor House at Brigg, North Lincolnshire. A few years earlier in 1900, Lady Winifride Elwes had founded the North Lincolnshire Musical Competition, it was to become and annual event and in 1905 a folk song class was added to the competition for the first time. It was Grainger’s enthusiasm for folk song that had led the competition committee to include the class at the event.

The folk song competition was reported as a novel but interesting feature.

Wikipedia; Gervase Henry Cary-Elwes, DL (15 November 1866 – 12 January 1921), better known as Gervase Elwes, was an English tenor of great distinction, who exercised a powerful influence over the development of English music from the early 1900s up until his death in 1921 due to a railroad accident in Boston at the height of his career. On 12 January 1921, Elwes was killed in a horrific accident at Back Bay railway station in Boston, Massachusetts, in the midst of a high-profile recital tour of the United States at the height of his powers. Elwes and his wife had alighted on the platform when the singer attempted to return to the conductor an overcoat that had fallen off the train. He leaned over too far and was hit by the train, falling between the moving carriages and the platform. He died of his injuries a few hours later. He was 54 years old. A week after the event, Edward Elgar wrote to Percy Hull, 'my personal loss is greater than I can bear to think upon, but this is nothing – or I must call it so – compared to the general artistic loss – a gap impossible to fill – in the musical world.'


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 04:19 PM

Callaghan the worst labour prime minster ever imo


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 04:14 PM

Nick,
My eldest lad lives in Barnet. When is the horse fair?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 02:33 PM

Yes Tim sorry. On twice a year May and October. It's where I collected a number of songs, even if I can't spell it correctly.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: RTim
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 01:01 PM

Nick Dow - I assume by "Stowe" you mean - Stow on the Wold..??

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 12:38 PM

I think all of the Chartered Fairs were Horse fairs. There were fairs scattered all over the country as you rightly say. There is one little known survival still active in Fulham on the Broadway. It's now a general auction with a few horses, but it attracts the Gypsy Folk. A chartered fair can only be abolished by act of parliament. My wife visited Topcliffe fair (Yorkshire) in the 1940's and remembers being put to bed in the old Bowtop and hearing the dealing men and horses outside all around her. The worlds best lullaby when your a five year old Gypsy girl. Topcliffe fair was abolished in the 1970's by James Callaghan. He proposed the motion backed up by an advertisement in would you believe the London Evening Standard! Of course they all get that in Yorkshire don't they? When there was no objections the fair was abolished. Loads of others went in a similar fashion. Latterly The Boswell family discovered that should a horse or animal be driven over the ground on fair day, the fair can not be abolished, and so we are hanging on to Stowe, Appleby, Lee Gap, Seamer, Priddy and Barnet. How long for I can not say.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 12:36 PM

I think your comment might well have hit the nail on the head, Dick!
I'd certainly like Ruairidh's comment on that one. I'm no expert on JT, like Nick just an admirer. I'm pretty sure he had sung in choirs etc. and possibly even had vocal training at some point.

I can comment on his register. Any male who was used to singing in public performance pre technology era was used to using a high register for projection. This was commented on by university students in Germany during WWI who were recording foreign speakers and singers who were prisoners of war.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 11:12 AM

”I suggest you take your insulting behaviour below the line and out of this discussion.”

Nothing insulting in my post, you had quoted verbatim from Wikipedia, and I simply clarified something which you had omitted - either by accident or deliberately - from your post.

In order to avoid your delicate sensibilities being disturbed in future, I suggest you follow standard etiquette and acknowledge the source of your verbatim quotes.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 10:30 AM

taylors style might be because he sang in competitions? if adjuicators were giving marks for decorative ornamentation


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 09:42 AM

Ian,
Can't see any insulting behaviour anywhere. Has it been removed by a mud-elf?

Regarding horse fairs there must have been hundreds of them around the country prior to motorised transport. I believe I read somewhere that there were almost as many horses in the country at one time as there were humans. Makes sense!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,Iains
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 09:09 AM

As I make no claim to being an encylopedia I would have thought it quite obvious I was getting the information from somewhere else, despite living within a couple of miles of Brigg for some years. Clearly my link as guest above(04:34) makes clear it is someone else's work, as is much of the factual content referred to by other posters on this thread
I suggest you take your insulting behaviour below the line and out of this discussion.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 08:07 AM

Nick is it possible that Taylors style was also influenced by being a competition singer , were marks given for ornamentation? I know that CCE has influenced styles more recently because of their high marks for ornamentation, could this be an influence in Taylors case, as well as possible gypsy influence.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 05:29 AM

In 2021 Appleby Horse Fair was postponed from Thursday 3rd to Sunday 6th June to Thursday 12th to Sunday 15th August to comply with government covid restrictions. Vans will now be preparing to make their way home across the north of England.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 05:16 AM

Thank you so much for that Guest. It answers a lot of questions but raises a few more, not all relevant to this thread.
As a follow on to the Appleby fair comment, I rather think it's like a big car boot sale compared to the past. The real dealers work out at Fell End or at Lee Gap. Still worth a visit though. Which would you like all over you and your car dust or mud! Welcome to the horse fairs.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 04:50 AM

”I would take issue with the statement that it's the second largest fair, that title would go to Stowe Horse fair.”

Nick, Iains was quoting direct from Wikipedia (although, typically of him, he didn’t make it clear that his post was ‘lifted’ from another source). It’s here…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigg_Fair


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 04:34 AM

A bit of background.
https://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/42959/3/30_GreigJT_Biography.pdf


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 02:57 AM

I would take issue with the statement that it's the second largest fair, that title would go to Stowe Horse fair. Not that it matters of course. The interesting fact is that it is a charter fair and run by Travellers. This gives more credence to the 'Gypsy' origin of Taylor's source for 'Brigg Fair', and explains the unique verse. It also helps to explain the 'Maria Marten' tune which seems to be used extensively for different songs by Travellers to this day. It is also interesting to note that the second verse seems to be from 'Low down in the Broom'. That tune is also within the 'Lazarus' tune family, albeit one of the most inventive variants. None of this detracts from Taylor's rendition of the song, or his superlative performance. A highly ornamented style is unusual in English Traditional singing, and I have often speculated upon Taylor's vocal influences. Gypsy folk again? Who knows.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Aug 21 - 06:12 PM

Just goes to underline the art of the traditional singer that he or she can reinvent a tune to suit an entirely different song and mood.
quote nick dow
not just the tradtional singer, but also it would seem the revival singer of tradtional songs


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Subject: RE: Origins: Brigg Fair
From: GUEST,Iains
Date: 15 Aug 21 - 05:05 PM

The Fair is an annual event held in the English market town of Brigg, North Lincolnshire, on every 5 August since 1205. It was primarily an event at which horses were bought and sold. While it is still held today, it is a shadow of its former self, The annual Fair is organised by the travelling community and it is the second largest horse fair in the country after Appleby.


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