> Martin Carthy > Songs > The Cottage in the Wood

The Cottage in the Wood / Forty Five Miles / It Hails, It Rains

[ Roud 608 ; G/D 5:983 ; TYG 36 ; Ballad Index LLab048 ; Bodleian Roud 608 ; Wiltshire Roud 608 ; trad.]

Martin Carthy sang The Cottage in the Wood on his 1974 album Sweet Wivelsfield. This recording was later included on his anthology The Collection. He commented in the original album's sleeve notes:

I have always thought of The Cottage in the Wood as being a fragment which, if taken one way was The Laird of the Windy Wa (Cold Haily Windy Night [which is on Carthy's Landfall]) but if looked at another way is a totally different kettle of fish. What I did was to take it and combine it with another fragment collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams from one Billy Waggs called The Lady Looked Out or The Proud Pedlar and with the song part of a cante-fable collected from Kate Thompson by Kidson called One Moonlight Night (which incidentally was versified by Kidson's wife and called The Robber Groom). I added a couple of verses, and this is the result.

By the way, the title for Martin Carthy's 1968 LP But Two Came By is from the line “I looked for one but two came by” in verse 13 of this song.

Frank Hinchliffe sang It Hails, It Rains in a recording made by Mike Yates and Ruairidh and Alvina Greig at his home near Sheffield in July 1976. This recording was published 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 and tunes collected by Mike Yates, Up in the North and Down in the South. Mike Yates commented in the latter album's booklet:

The local popularity of this song, which is also known as Forty Long Miles, among numerous other titles, has been comparatively well documented. S.O. Addy, the local folklorist and antiquarian, printed it in his Household Tales and Traditional Remains (1895) and R.A. Gatty, who collected in the area both on his own and with Ralph Vaughan Williams, noted it from the singing of Mrs Duckinfield of Treeton. Frank Kidson also found several versions in Yorkshire, and there are 50 entries in Roud.

Frank's version includes the interesting rhythmic pattern in the last line of each verse which seems to be a consistent characteristic of the song in nearly all its variants. There are five other known sound recordings, but this is the only one available on CD.

George Withers sang Forty Five Miles on the 2004 Veteran anthology of folk songs sung in the West Country, Old Uncle Tom Cobleigh and All. John Howson commented in the liner notes:

This song appears in the Hammond and Gardiner manuscripts as Forty Long Miles, collected from Mrs Gulliver, Combe Florey, Somerset in 1905 and both Sabine Baring-Gould and Cecil Sharp collected versions in the West Country. Peter Kennedy recorded a version in Cornish from Joe Thomas of Constantine entitled Glaw, Kerer, Ergh Ow-Cul Yma. The song was popular all around the country often under the name Cottage by the Wood or Cold, Haily Rainy Night, and there are comparable stories in other countries. Brahms produced a setting of the German version Vergebliches Ständchen and it was utilised by Burns in Oh! Open the Door. George learned his version from Harry Adams.

Coope Boyes & Simpson sang It Hails, It Rains in 2005 on their No Masters CD of songs collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams, George Butterworth and Percy Grainger, Triple Echo.

Rob Williams sang It's Forty Long Miles in 2012 on his album of songs collected by the brothers Henry and Robert Hammond in 1905 from Jane Gulliford of Combe Florey, Outstanding Natural Beauty: Songs from around the Quantock Hills.

Will Noble sang It Hails, It Rains on his 2017 Veteran CD It's Gritstone for Me. Brian Peters and John Howson commented in the album's liner notes:

“This is another one fro Frank Hinchliffe,” says Will. “I added the last verse because, when I sang it as I had learned it, the audience seemed to be waiting for more of an ending.” Again the song, though not a local one, was particular popular in Yorkshire.

Lyrics

Martin Carthy sings The Cottage in the Wood

It's of a cottage in a wood
All underneath a hill he stood,
Of a cottage in the wood
All underneath the hill he stood,
Which I never seen before,
Which I never seen before.

By there come a pedlar man,
Through and through the woods he ran.
By there come the pedlar man,
As through and through the woods he ran.
And he cried all at the door,
And he cried all at the door:

“Oh, it's forty miles I travelled today,
Spied a cottage by the way,
Forty miles I travelled today,
I spied a cottage by the way
Which I never seen before,
Which I never seen before.”

Lady looked out of her window so high,
She saw the pedlar standing by.
Lady looked out of her window so high,
She saw the pedlar standing by.
“Sing your song, you pedlar man,
Your song you lately have begun.”

“For me Mum and Dad are fast asleep,
Brothers have gone to mind the sheep.
Mum and Dad are fast asleep,
Brothers have gone to mind the sheep
And I dare not let you in,
And I dare not let you in.”

“Oh, but it rains, it flows, it hails and snows,
And I am wet all through my clothes.
Oh, it rains, it flows, it hails, it snows,
And I am wet all through my clothes
And I pray you let me in,
And I pray you let me in.”

“For me and my pack is worth twenty pound,
All in silver and gold to find.
For me and my pack is worth twenty pound,
All in silver and gold to find.
Freely I would give it to thee
All to lie one night with thee.”

And he has sworn by his hair of red
He would have her maidenhead.
He has sworn by his hair of red
That he would have her maidenhead.
And he cried all at the door,
And he cried all at the door.

“Oh, but it rains, it flows, it hails, it snows,
And I am wet all through my clothes.
Oh it rains, it flows, it hails, it snows,
And I am wet all through my clothes.
And I pray you let me in,
I pray you let me in.”

“No, kind sir, that never can be,
There's nobody in the house by me.
No, kind sir, that never can be,
There's nobody in the house by me.
And I dare not let you in,
I dare not let you in.”

“You must read my riddle and read it right
If you would lie with me this night.
You must read my riddle and read it right
If you would lie with me this night.
Riddle me reet and riddle me right,
Where was I on Saturday night?”

“If water was my prison to be
I would swim for liberty.
If water was my prison to be
I would swim for liberty.
So what was the boat you built for me
Down the woods and under a tree?”

“For one moonlit night as I sat high
I looked for one, but two came by.
For one moonlit night as I sat high
I looked for one, but two came by.
The boughs did bend, the leaves did shake
To see the hole that the fox did make.”

The pedlar cursed, the pedlar swore,
So loudly beat all at the door.
The pedlar cursed, the pedlar swore,
So loudly beat all at the door.
“Get you gone, you pedlar man,
For I know you and where you're from.”

And she has looked out of her window so high,
She's spied her brothers come riding by.
She looked out of her window so high,
She's spied her brothers come riding by.
“Get you gone, you pedlar man,
For I know you and where you're from.”

Seven brothers came to the door,
So loudly they the horn did blow.
Seven brothers came to the door,
So loudly they the horn did blow.
Down on his knees the pedlar fall
For mercy he did shout and bawl.

“Oh, it's all night long your grave I made,
All day long in wait I laid.
All night long your grave I made,
And all day long in wait I laid.”
The lady laughed, the lady sang,
As through the woods the pedlar ran.

Around his heels the hounds they ran,
As round his head the bullets rang.
Round his heels the hounds they ran,
As round his head the bullets rang.
The boughs did bend, the leaves did shake,
To hear the cries that the fox did make.

Frank Hinchliffe sings It Rains, It Hails

It hails, it rains, it snows and blows,
And I am wet through all me clothes.
So I pray thee love, let me in,
So I pray thee love let me in.

To let you in, that cannot be,
There's no-one in this house but me.
So I dare not let you in,
So I dare not let you in.

Me dad and mam, they're fast asleep,
Me brother is up, but he's with the sheep.
So I dare not let thee in,
So I dare not let thee in.

He turned him round, and whether to go,
When sweet affections she did show.
Oh come, and I'll let you in,
Oh come, and I'll let you in.

They spent that night in sweet content,
And the very next morning to church they went.
And he made her his charming bride,
And he made her his charming bride.

George Withers sings Forty Five Miles

Oh forty-five miles I've travelled today,
I saw a fine cottage beside the highway,
That I never saw before, oh before,
That I never saw before.

I boldly stepped up and I knocked at the door,
And a pretty young lassie skipped over the floor,
And I never saw her before, oh before,
And I never saw her before.

I said, “Love it hails, it rains and it snows,
And I be wet through all my clothes.
And I pray you open the door, oh the door,
And I pray you open the door.”

“Oh no, oh no, that never can be,
For no one should dwell in this house but me.
And I dare not open the door, oh the door,
And I dare not open the door.

Well I turned myself round with miles to go,
And the storm grew dark and the rain did blow.
But she called me back again, again,
She called me back again.

“Take off they wet clothes love and put on some dry,
And hop into bed here along with I.
And merry we will be, we will be,
And merry we will be.”

That night we spent in sweet content,
And the very next day to the church we went,
And I made her my lawful bride, oh my bride,
And I made her my lawful bride.

So all you young fellows who ever you be,
Kiss all the pretty maidens that ever you see,
And they'll call you back again and again,
And they'll call you back again.

Acknowledgements

Transcribed from the singing of Martin Carthy by Garry Gillard.