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Ground for the Floor

[ Roud 1269 ; Master title: Ground for the Floor ; Ballad Index RcGftF , RcGftFl2 ; VWML RoudFS/S147043 , GG/1/14/847 , GG/1/2/16 ; Bodleian Roud 1269 ; Wiltshire 812 ; trad.]

Lucy E. Broadwood and J.A. Fuller Maitland printed a version of Ground for the Floor that was collected in from Mrs Slingsby of Skipton, Yotkshire [VWML RoudFS/S147043] in their 1883 book English County Songs.

George Gardiner collected the tune and verse 1 of Ground for the Floor from James Dyer, Portsmouth Workhouse, Hampshire, in August 1907 [VWML GG/1/14/847] and the rest of the text from W. Rundle of St Merryn, Cornwall, in May 1905 [VWML GG/1/2/16] . Frank Purslow printed this version in his 1974 book The Foggy Dew.

George Maynard sang Ground for the Floor in The Cherry Tree, Copthorne, Sussex, on 4 February 1956. This recording was included with the title The Sun Being Set in 1976 on Maynard’s Topic album Ye Subjects of England: Traditional Songs From Sussex, A different recording from the same performance was included as Ground for the Floor in 1998 on the Topic anthology There Is a Man Upon the Farm (The Voice of the People Volume 20). Mike Yates commented in the first album’s sleeve notes:

Several of Pop’s other songs belonged to the “rustic-idyll” class, and suggest an urban, rather than rural origin. The Weaver’s Daughter was described as “once popular” by Alfred Williams who noted it once in the Thames Valley some time prior to the Great War. Other collectors appear to have ignored the piece. The same cannot be said, however, for The Sun Being Set, or Ground for the Floor to use its better known title, versions of which appear in most of the major collections.

Nick Dow sang The Sun Being Set on his 2018 album of unaccompanied traditional folk songs, Far and Wide. He noted:

Pop Maynard’s version of Ground for the Floor. Listening to the unedited recording by Ken Stubbs, George Maynard introduces the song as one from his father. Musical Traditions have put out a complete collection of Pop Maynard’s songs and it is well worth the owning.

Our cottage out upon the Boulsworth moors is not as idyllic as that in the song, the shepherds by our front door have quad bikes for a start! However while I was recording the renovations were being completed, and I think I sing the line “at night to my cottage again” with special feeling as we were living with my daughter and waiting to go home.

I have found this set of words referred to as The Contented Horticologist. I think I prefer the title given here.


George Gardiner collected Ground for the Floor

I’ve lived in a wood for a number of years,
With my dog and my gun I drives away all cares.
I’ve a neat little cottage and the roof it is secure,
If you look down below you’ll find ground for the floor,
Ground for the floor, ground for the floor,
If you look down below you’ll find ground for the floor.

Oh, my cottage is surrounded with briars and thorns,
And so sweet are the notes of the birds in the morn.
I’ve a guinea in my pocket and three-score more in store,
I’m as happy as those that have thousands or more,
Thousands or more, thousands or more,
I’m as happy as those that have thousands or more.

Oh, my bed’s made of straw for my limbs to repose,
As for myself I have one suit of clothes.
It’s made up of ticking and is stitch’d up secure,
I’m as happy as those that have broadcloth in store,
Broadcloth in store, broadcloth in store,
I’m as happy as those that have broadcloth in store.

Oh, grate I have none for my fire’s on the ground,
Chairs I have none for my friends to sit down.
But a three-legged stool is the chiefest of my store,
I’m as happy as those that have fine furniture,
Fine furniture, fine furniture,
I’m as happy as those that have fine furniture.

In my cottage I will live for the rest of my days.
With a wife that I love and I’ll live at my ease.
In my riches I’ll take pleasure and bestow on the poor,
For what is the use of riches in store,
Riches in store, riches in store,
For what is the use of riches in store?

George Maynard sings Ground for the Floor

Spoken: I’ll try one what my father used to sing. He learnt it off his grandfather.

The sun being set and my work it is done.
One more of my days I have spent.
𝄆 Through the meadows to my cottage I trippèd along
And I set myself down with content. 𝄇

My cottage with woodbine are deckèd all round.
I’ve just only green at my door.
𝄆 Where in it there’s no trouble nor care to be found.
Oh, I’ve nothing but ground for my floor. 𝄇

My bed’s made of flock and my sheets they’re home-spun.
No trouble ever enters my breast.
𝄆 At night when I’m weary, I lay myself down
And so sweetly I there take my rest. 𝄇

Like a lark in the morning I rise to my work.
There is nothing perplexing my mind.
𝄆 If a lamb goes astray, I’ll so carefully look.
If I’ll seek, I am sure for to find. 𝄇

My pipe’s made of straw. For an minute I play,
While the lambkins leap over the plain.
𝄆 I am blessed with content. How my time slips away,
And at night to my cottage again. 𝄇

No thoughts about riches never entered my breast.
Nor none of their honours I desire.
𝄆 For the chiefest of my studies in earning of my bread
And proud title I never could admire. 𝄇

Spoken: That’s all I know of it.