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Bartholomew Fair / Room for Company


Ewan MacColl sang Room for Company in 1962 on his Folkways album Broadside Ballads (London: 1600-1700). His album's liner notes commented:

Imprinted at London for E. W.

The ballad was registered by John Trundle under the title of Rome for Company in Bartholomew Faire on 22 October 1614, the year in which Ben Johnson's hilarious play, Bartholomew Fair, was first presented to London theatre-goers. The earliest printed version of the melody is in Playford's Musick's Recreation on the LYRA VIOL (1652).

Seven of the twenty-one verses are given here.

Source: The Pepys Ballads

The Critics Group sang Roome for Companie (at Bartolomew Faire) in 1966 on their Argo album A Merry Progress to London.

Roy Palmer printed Room for Company as the first song in his same-named book Room for Company (Cambridge University Press, 1971). The Singing Tradition (Julie Lloyd, Martyn Briggs, Bob Lapworth, Mick Nash) sang it on the accompanying Topic/Impact album Room for Company.

Canterbury Fair sang Bartholomew Fair on their eponymous 1977 album Canterbury Fair. They noted:

The Fair which began in 1133 on St Bartholomew's Eve, became the most important cloth fair in England. The first charter was granted to Rahere, Henry I's former jester. It was finally wound up in 1855 after much pressure from local London traders. The broadside appears to have been first printed in 1614, the same year as Ben Johnson published his play Bartholomew Fair. The Fair was an annual event, and in 1973 it was re-established to celebrate the 850th birthday of the Priory, and St Bartholomew's Hospital. The song gives a good idea of some of the many and various trades to be found in early England.


Canterbury Fair sing Bartholomew Fair

Chorus (after each verse):
Room for company, here come good fellows,
Room for company, Bartholomew Fair.

Cobblers and broom-men, jailers and loom-men,
    Room for company, Bartholomew Fair.
Botchers and tailors, shipwrights and sailors,
    Room for company, well may they fare.

Paviers, bricklayers, potters and brickmakers,
Pinders and pewterers, plumbers and fruiterers.

Pointers and hosiers, salesmen and clothiers,
Horse coursers, carriers, blacksmiths and farriers.

Colliers and carvers, barbers and weavers,
Sergeants and yeomen, farmers and ploughmen.

Billfolds, felmongers, bellowsmenders, woodmongers,
Pumpmakers, glassmakers, chamberlains and matmakers.

Collarmakers, needlemakers, buttonmakers, fiddlemakers,
Fletchers and bowyers, drawers and sawyers.

Cutpurses, cheaters, bawdy-house door-keepers,
    Room for company, Bartholomew Fair.
Punks, ay, and panderers, and cashier'd commanders,
    Room for company, ill may they fare.