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Old Pendle

[ Roud - ; Mudcat 90086 ; Milton Allen, Brian Osborne]

Old Pendle is printed in Milton Allan’ book Songs of the Pendle Country, Book Number 1 (Colne, Lancashire: Joshua Duckworth, 1945).

The Pendlefolk sang Old Pendle in 1970 on their eponymous Folk Heritage album The Pendlefolk. This track was included in 2022 on the anthology of Folk Heritage recordings, Before the Day Is Done.

The Taverners’s band member Brian Osborne sang Old Pendle in 1976 on his Traditional Sound album Ae Fond Kiss. He noted:

Pendle Hill has for years been a favourite beauty spot in the Lancashire countryside. It is not surprising that, many years ago, two brothers—Milton and Allen Lambert, writing under the pen name of ‘Milton Lambert’—produced a song called Old Pendle. In 1959, I discovered the words, added a verse and wrote a tune—not knowing that one already existed. The song in its new form became very popular and is now sung as a standard in many schools throughout the county.

The Taverners Songbook (1973) added:

[…] two brothers Milton and Allen Lambert, writing under the pen name of Milton Allen, wrote a song called Old Pendle. Some fifteen years ago Brian [Osborne] discovered the words, added a verse, and wrote the music, unknowing that music already existed. The song became very popular, and then we were accused of ‘stealing’ the song. Eventually with the aid of newspaper articles, and some lengthy correspondence with an old friend of the Lamberts, we managed to piece the story together. The episode came to a happy end when we received word from one of the Lamberts saying he was delighted with Brian’s song.

Tickawinda sang Old Pendle, with a verse order of 1, 4, 3, 2, on their 1979 album Rosemary Lane.


Brian Osborne sings Old Pendle

Old Pendle, old Pendle, thou standest alone,
Twixt Burnley and Clitheroe, Whalley and Colne.
Where Hodder and Ribble’s fair waters meet,
With Barley and Downham content at thy feet.

Old Pendle, old Pendle, majestic, sublime,
Thy praises shall ring till the end of all time.
In beauty eternal, thy banner unfurled,
Thou art dearest and grandest old hill in the world.

When witches fly out on a cold winter’s night,
We won’t tell a soul, and we’ll bolt the door tight.
We’ll sit round the fire, and we’ll keep ourselves warm
Until once again we can walk on your arms.

Old Pendle, old Pendle, by moorland and fell,
In glory and loveliness ever to dwell.
Through life’s fateful journey, where e’re we may be
We’ll pause in our labours and oft think of thee.

(repeat first verse)