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The Garden Gate

[ Roud 418 ; Master title: The Garden Gate ; G/D 5:981 ; Henry H770 ; Ballad Index E078 ; Bodleian Roud 418 ; Mudcat 172431 ; trad.]

Lucy E. Broadwood, J.A. Fuller Maitland: English County Songs Steve Roud, Julia Bishop: The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs Gale Huntington: Sam Henry’s Songs of the People

George Townshend of Lewes, Sussex, sang The Garden Gate to Tony Wales on 24 March 1957 and to Brian Matthews on 7 February 1960. The latter recording was included in 2000 on his Musical Traditions anthology Come, Hand to Me the Glass. Brian Matthews and Rod Stradling noted in the album’s booklet:

A song which, while once quite popular, failed to last into the era of sound recording. Roud has 41 instances—many from Scotland (ten in Geig-Duncan alone), but only five from England, of which two are from Sussex - the extraordinary Henry Burstow of Horsham being the other. George’s is the only known sound recording.


George Townshend sings The Garden Gate

The day’s far spent, the moon shone bright, the village clock struck eight,
Young Mary paced in great delight unto the garden gate,
But what was there to make her sad - the gate was there, but not the lad,
Which made poor Mary to sigh and say
"Was there ever a poor girl so sad as I?"

She traced the garden here and there, ’til the village clock struck nine,
Which made poor Mary to sigh and say "Thou shan’t, thou shan’t be mine.
For you promised to meet me at the gate at eight,
You never shall keep me nor make me wait,
For I’ll let all such creatures see that they never shall make such a fool of me."

She traced the garden here and there, ’til the village clock stuck ten,
Young William caught her in his arms, never to part again,
For he had been to buy the ring that day, and he had been such a long, long way,
How could young Mary so cruelly prove
As to vanish from the lad she so dearly loved?

The very next morn the sun did shine, to the church they went straightway,
And all the village bells did ring upon that wedding day,
Now it’s in a little cot by the riverside where William and Mary they both reside,
She blesses the hour that she did wait
For her absent swain at the garden gate.