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The Folkestone Murder

[ Roud 897 ; Ballad Index K320 ; trad.]

George Spicer sang The Folkestone Murder in a recording made by Peter Kennedy at the Cherry Tree, Copthorne, Sussex, on February 4, 1956, that was included in 2012 on the Topic anthology of songs by Southern English traditional singers, You Never Heard So Sweet (The Voice of the People Series Volume 21). Another recording made by Brian Matthews at the Oak Tree, Ardingley on November 12, 1959 was included in 2001 on the Musical Traditions anthology Just Another Saturday Night: Songs from Country Pubs. And he sang The Folkestone Murder at home in Selsfield, West Hoathly, Sussex in a recording made by Mike Yates in 1972-74. This was included in 1974 on his Topic album Blackberry Fold: Traditional Songs and Ballads.

Charlie Bridger sang The Folkestone Murder in a recording made by Mike Yates at Stoney-in-Oxney, Kent in 1984. This was published on a Veteran tape in 1987-95 and in 2005 on the Veteran CD It Was on a Market Day—One: English Traditional Folk Singers. Mike Yates commented:

The Folkestone Murder is based on an event that occurred in 1856/57. Dedea Redanies, born in Belgrade in the 1830s, came to England and enlisted into the British Swiss Legion, then stationed at Dover castle. He began courting a young girl called Caroline Back, whose father worked as a dredger in Dover harbour. Redanies was apparently of a jealous nature and he accused Caroline of flirting with a sergeant in his unit. On 3rd August the couple took a walk to Shorncliffe Camp, accompanied by Caroline's sister Maria, and Redanies killed both girls at Steddy's Hole, some five miles from Dover. Redanies attempted to escape, but was captured the next day at a farm near Canterbury, after unsuccessfully trying to take his own life. He was hanged at Maidstone Prison on New Year's Day, 1857. Almost all of the collected versions of the song have come from either Kent or Sussex, although a couple of versions have turned up in Labrador and Newfoundland.

Andy Turner learned The Folkestone Murder from George Spicer's album and sang it as the September 17, 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.

Lyrics

George Spicer sings The Folkestone Murder

Kind friends come pay attention and listen to my song
It is about a murder, it won't detain you long
'Twas near the town of Folkestone this shocking deed was done
Maria and sweet Caroline were murdered by Switzerland John.

He came unto their parents' house at nine o'clock one night
But little did poor Caroline think he owed her any spite.
“Will you walk with me, dear Caroline?” the murderer did say,
And she agreed to accompany him to Shorncliffe Camp next day.

Said the mother to the daughter, “You'd better stay at home.
It is not fit for you to go with that young man alone.
You'd better take your sister to go along with you,
Then I have no objection, dear daughter, you may go.”

Early next morning, before the break of day
Maria and sweet Caroline from Dover town did stray.
But before they reached to Folkestone the villain drew a knife,
Maria and sweet Caroline he took away their lives.

Down on the ground the sisters fell, all in their blooming years
For mercy cried, “We're innocent”, their eyes were filled with tears.
He plunged the knife into their breasts, their lovely breasts so deep,
He robb'd them of their own sweet lives and left them there to sleep.

Three times he kissed their pale cold cheeks as they lay on the ground,
He took the capes from off their backs, for on him they were found.
He said, “Farewell dear Caroline, your blood my hands have stained.
No more on earth shall I see you ,but in heaven we'll meet again.”

Early next morning their bodies they were found
At a lonely spot called Steady Hall, a-bleeding on the ground.
And if ever you go unto that spot, these letters you will find
Cut deeply in the grass so green: Maria and Caroline.

When the news it reached their parents' ears, they cried, “What shall we do?
Maria has been murdered, and lovely Caroline too”
They pulled and tore their old grey hair, in sorrow and in shame
And tears they rolled in torrents from their poor aged cheeks.

This murderer has been taken, his companions to him deny
And he is sent to Maidstone and is condemned to die
He said, “Farewell” to all his friends, “In this world I am alone
And have to die for murder, far from my native home.”

“The dismal bell is tolling, the scaffold I must prepare
I trust in heaven my soul shall rest and meet dear Caroline there.
Now all young man take warning from this sad fate of mine
To the memory of Maria Back and lovely Caroline.”

Charlie Bridger sings The Folkestone Murder

All people pay attention and listen to my song.
I’ll tell you of a murder, it won’t detain you long.
It was near the town of Folkestone, this shocking deed was done.
Maria and sweet Caroline were murdered by Switzerland John.

He went unto their father’s house at nine o’clock one night,
And little did poor Caroline think he owed her any spite.
“Will you take a walk, dear Caroline, along with me?” cried he
And she agreed to accompany him to Shoreham cliff next day.

Her mother said “Dear daughter, you’d better stay at home,
For I do not think that it’s safe for you to go with that man alone
You had better take your sister, along with you to run”.
“Dear mother, I’ve no objection. Dear sister, you may come.”

So early in the morning, before the break of day,
Maria and sweet Caroline from Dover they did stray.
But before they reached at Folkestone, the villain he drew his knife.
Maria and sweet Caroline, he took away their life.

Down on the ground the sisters fell just in their blooming youth,
“For mercy!” cried the innocents, their eyes were filled with tears.
He plunged the dagger in their breasts, their lovely breasts so deep.
He robbed them of their own sweet life and left them there to sleep.

He kissed their pale lips as they lay on the ground.
He took their capes from off their backs and on him they were found.
He said, “Farewell, sweet Caroline, your blood my hands has stained,
No more on earth shall I see you but in heaven we’ll meet again.”

At seven o’clock next morning, the bodies they were found
In a lonely spot near Folkestone, lay bleeding on the ground.
And if you go unto that spot, these letters you will find
Cut deeply into the soft green turf—Maria and Caroline.

When the prisoner he was taken, his own life he tried to take,
But he was taken to Maidstone jail and there condemned to die.
He said “Farewell to all my friends in this world I’m left alone.
I’m doomed to die for murder far from my native home.

“Hark the solemn bell is tolling, for the scaffold I must prepare.
I hope that in heaven my soul may rest and meet Maria there.
Now all young men take warning and beware of this fate of mine,
And all young women think of Maria and lovely Caroline.”