Cupid's Garden / The Lover's Meeting
“Cuper's Gardens were an 18th century tea garden (a smaller version of pleasure gardens) on the south side of the River Thames in Lambeth, London, looking over to Somerset House near where Waterloo Bridge is located (centred around what is now the north end of Waterloo Road).
“The gardens opened in the 1680s and were named after the original proprietor, Abraham Boydell Cuper, the gardener of the Earl of Arundel. They were also known as Cupid's Gardens. A long landing stage in the river known as Cuper's Bridge acted as a popular entrance for the gardens.
“In 1736, an orchestra was included among the attractions. It also became known for its firework displays. However, it lost its license in 1753 due to the loose morals of its visitors.” [Wikipedia]
This song from the repertoire of the Copper Family is printed in The Copper Family Song Book. Bob and Ron Copper sang Cupid's Garden in 1963 on their EFDSS LP Traditional Songs from Rottingdean; which was reissued in 2001 on the Topic CD Come Write Me Down: Early Recordings of the Copper Family of Rottingdean. Another generation, John and Lynne Copper, sang in in 1987 on the EFDSS LP Coppersongs: A Living Tradition. And Mark Barratt and Tom Copper from the most recent Copper Family generation sang it in 2008 on the Young Coppers's CD Passing Out.
Tony Engle and Peta Webb sang Cupid's Garden in 1971 on Oak's Topic album Welcome to Our Fair, Derek, Dorothy and Nadine Elliott sang it in 1976 on their LP Yorkshire Relish, and Mick Ryan & Pete Harris sang it in 2006 on their WildGoose CD The Island of Apples. All three groups credit the Copper Family as their source.
Lynne Heraud and Pat Turner sang Cupid's Garden in 2004 on their WildGoose CD The Moon Shines Bright. They noted:
A joyful song from the much-loved Copper family from Rottingdean in Sussex.
Tim Radford sang Cupid's Garden on his 2005 CD Home from Home. He noted:
The text here is as published by Frank Purslow in his book The Foggy Dew, collected from Mrs. King of Lyndhurst, Hampshire by Gardiner and then augmented with a Catnach broadside. However, I first heard the song from the seminal band “Oak” in the early 1970s, so I am sure my tune relates more closely to that. A version also exists in the Copper Family collection. Cupid's Garden is believed to be a corruption of Cuper's Garden, a 17th century Thames-side pleasure garden in London.
Jane and Amanda Threlfall sang Cupid's Garden on their 2007 CD Revisited. They noted:
From the singing of the Copper family of Peacehaven, Sussex. Sabine Baring-Gould mentions two different songs on this subject. The version sung here comes from William Chappell's Popular Music of the Olden Time (1858-59), in which he states that “the three most popular songs amongst the servant maids at the present time are Seeds of Love, Early One Morning and Cupid's Garden”. The title is thought to refer to Cuper's Gardens, once a celebrated place of amusement on the south side of the Thames, eclipsed into closure in 1753 by the opening of the ‘new’ Vauxhall Gardens.
Jon Boden sang Cupid's Garden as the 14 February 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day.
Andy Turner sang Cupid's Garden as the 17 January 2015 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.
The Copper Family sings Cupid's Garden
'Twas down in Cupid's Garden I wandered for to view
The sweet and lovely flowers that in the garden grew,
And one it was sweet jasmin, the lily, pink and rose;
They are the finest flowers that in the garden grow.
I had not been in the garden but scarcely half an hour,
When I beheld two maidens, sat under a shady bower,
And one it was sweet Nancy, so beautiful and fair,
The other was a virgin and did the laurels wear.
I boldly stepped up to them and unto them did say,
“Are you engaged to any young man, come tell to me, I pray?”
“No, I'm not engaged to any young man, I solemnly declare;
I mean to stay a virgin and still the laurels wear.”
So, hand in hand together, this loving couple went;
To view the secrets of her heart was the sailor's full intent,
Or whether she would slight him while he to the wars did go.
Her answer was, “Not I, my love, for I love a sailor bold.”
It's down in Portsmouth Harbour, there's a ship lies waiting there;
Tomorrow to the seas I'll go, let the wind blow high or fair.
And, if I should live to return again, how happy I should be
With you, my love, my own true love, sitting smiling on my knee.
Tim Radford sings Cupid's Garden
'Twas down in Cupid's Garden for pleasure I did go
To view the finest flowers that in the garden grow
The first it was the jas'amin, the lily pink and rose
These are the finest flowers 𝄆 that in the garden grow. 𝄇
I had not been in the garden but a quarter of an hour
Before I spied two damsels sitting in a leafy bower.
The one was lovely Nancy, so beautiful and fair,
The other was a virgin 𝄆 and did the laurel wear. 𝄇
I boldly stepped up to her to hear what she did say,
“Are you engage to any young man come tell to me I pray?”
“I am not engaged to any young man I solemnly declare,
For I mean to stay a virgin 𝄆 and still the laurel wear. 𝄇”
I said unto this pretty maid, “ I'd have you change your mind,
'Tis wrong that such a maid as you should banish all mankind.”
But lovely Nancy standing by these words to me did say,
“Come leave her to her folly 𝄆 and let us go away.” 𝄇
Then hand in hand together this loving couple went
All for to know this fair maids mind it was his sole intent
Whether he would slighted be when he to sea did go
But she answered him, “Oh no my love, 𝄆 I love my sailor bold.” 𝄇
When this fair maid had told to him the secrets of her mind
The jolly sailor jumped for joy to hear speak so kind,
Saying, “I am blest forever, how happy I shall be,
If I may have my own true love 𝄆 sit smiling on my knee.” 𝄇
It's down in Plymouth Harbour our ship lies waiting there
And I must go to the sea my love whenever the wind blows fair
And if my love could go with me how happy I should be
If I could have my own true love 𝄆 sit smiling on my knee. 𝄇
So far you well dear Nancy since from you I must go
Where many stormy winds do rise and bitter blasts do blow
And when I do return again married to you I will be
I'll make myself contented and 𝄆 and go no more to sea. 𝄇