> Eliza Carthy > Songs > Sheffield Park / Polly Bishop’s Slip Jig / Sir Roger de Coverley

In Sheffield Park


[ Roud 860 ; VWML GG/1/5/274 ; Bodleian Roud 860 ; GlosTrad Roud 860 ; Wiltshire 844 ; DT SHEFPARK ; trad.]

Ben Butcher sang In Sheffield Park in a recording made by Bob Copper between September 1954 and November 1957 on the 1977 Topic album of country singers from Hampshire and Sussex, Songs and Southern Breezes and on the 2012 Topic anthology of ballads sung by British and Irish traditional singers, Good People, Take Warning (The Voice of the People Series Volume 23).

Bob Copper also collected In Sheffield Park in about 1954 from Enos White in Axford, Hampshire, see Chapter 13, pp. 108-113, of his book Songs and Southern Breezes for the details; and the appendix for these words. Bob Copper tells us that Enos White pronounced it “Sherfield”.

Frank Hinchliffe sang In Sheffield Park in a recording made by Mike Yates in 1976. This was released a year later on his Topic album In Sheffield Park: Traditional Songs From South Yorkshire and in 2001 on the Musical Traditions anthology of songs from the Mike Yates Collection, Up in the North and Down in the South. Mike Yates commented in the latter’s booklet:

The Park district of Sheffield lies just to the east of the city centre and it is to this area that Frank had always understood the song to refer, although there is also a place called Sheffield Park in Sussex, and it must be said that this is the only example from the north of England in Roud’s 81 entries. But Frank said that the song was well-known in his area, and Ford of Chesterfield printed it on a broadside together with The White Cockade which Frank also knew. It was also printed as The Unfortunate Maid of Sheffield in Holroyd’s Collection of Yorkshire Ballads ed. C. Forshaw (1892). It certainly dates from before 1832, when it was listed in the catalogue of songs printed by the Catnach Press.

Muckram Wakes sang In Sheffield Park, “from Frank Hinchliffe of Sheffield”, in 1980 on their album Warbles, Jangles and Reeds.

Eliza Carthy and The Kings of Calicutt (Andi Wells, Barnaby Stradling, Saul Rose and Maclaine Colston) sang and played Sheffield Park and the tunes Polly Bishop’s Slip Jig and Sir Roger de Coverley in 1997 on their eponymous album Eliza Carthy and The Kings of Calicutt. The album’s sleeve notes commented:

This lass’s employer certainly had more love for her than the man she died for. Everyone’s love for Barn’s bass line lasted right through the first tune.

This video shows Eliza Carthy and The Kings of Calicutt, then still with Nancy Kerr, at the Albert Hole, Bristol, on 20 December 1995:

Joanne Acty sang In Sheffield Park in 1998 on Magpie Lane’s Beautiful Jo CD Jack-in-the-Green. They noted:

Recorded by Bob Copper from Enos White at Axford, Hampshire, in the 1950s.

Pete Castle sang In Sheffield Park on his 2006 CD Poor Old Horse. He noted:

This song is fairly widespread in the south of England. Sheffield Park is a ‘stately home’ on the Kent/Sussex border. Fittingly the Copper Family have a version but I found this somewhere else.

Matt Quinn and George Sansome sang Sheffield Park in 2023 as the title track of their duo album Sheffield Park. Matt Quinn noted:

Collected by George Gardiner in 1907 from Moses Blake in Lyndhurst, Hampshire [VWML GG/1/5/274] , and subsequently published in the EFDSS publication The Wanton Seed.

Cooper and Toller sang Sheffield Park on their 2023 album A Number of Work. They noted:

Roud 860. Sheffield Park is one of those implausible songs in which someone actually dies of a broken heart. We love the 5/4 tune. Our version is based on one collected by Cecil Sharp from William Carpenter in the workhouse at Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire. Sharp visited Herefordshire in September 1921 and collected 39 songs and 13 fiddle tunes from 10 workhouse residents. The song also turns up in various southern counties including Sussex, which is where Sheffield Park actually is.


Enos White sings In Sheffield Park

In Sheffield Park where I did dwell
A brisk young lad I loved him well.
He courted me my heart to gain;
He’s gone and left me full of pain.

I went upstairs to make the bed,
And laid me down and nothing said,
My mistress came and to me said,
“What is the matter with you, my maid?”

“O little dove, what does you know
What pain and sorrow I undergo,
Just lay your hand on my left breast,
My fainting heart can take no rest.”

My mistress turned away with speed;
“Some help, some help is what you need.”
“No help, no help, no help, I say
My William stole my heart away.”

We’ll gather green grass all for her bed
And a flowery pillow for her head,
And the leaves that’s blowing from tree to tree
Shall be the coverlet over she.

Eliza Carthy sings Sheffield Park

In Sheffield Park oh there did dwell
A brisk young lad and I loved him well.
He courted me my heart to gain;
He has gone and left me full of pain.

I went upstairs to make my bed,
I laid me down and nothing said.
My mistress came to me and said,
“Oh what’s the matter with you, my maid?”

“O mistress, mistress, you little know
The pain and sorrow I undergo.
But place your hand on my left breast:
My panting heart can take no rest.

“Oh take a letter to him with speed
And give it to him so he can read.
And bring an answer without delay,
For he has stolen my heart away.”

She took the letter immediately,
He read it over while she stood by.
And then he did this letter burn
Which caused her to grieve and mourn.

“Oh how can she think how fond I be
That I could love no-one but she?
Man was not made to love one alone,
So I take delight to hear her mourn!”

She then returned immediately
And found her maid as cold as clay.
“O wicked man how cruel thou art
For the taking of my own maid’s heart.

I’ll pull the grass for her silent bed
And a flowery pillow for her head,
And the leaves that blow from tree to tree
They shall be coverlets over she.

In Sheffield Park oh there did dwell
A brisk young lad and I loved him well.
He courted me my heart to gain;
He has gone and left me full of pain.


Garry Gillard got a start with Eliza’s words from Ron Clarke; many thanks. He notes:

The words are collated from Dorset and Essex versions. The tune is from Puddletown, Dorset. This tune is unusual, in that it is written in 5/4 timing.

This stanza in Ron Clarke’s version is not sung by Eliza. It comes after the first verse:

There is an alehouse in this town
Where my love goes and sits him down
And takes a strange girl on his knee
And tells her what he don’t tell me


Transcribed by Garry Gillard. Thanks for help with hard bits to Kira White.