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The Brookland Road

[words Rudyard Kipling, music Peter Bellamy; notes on Brookland Road at the Kipling Society]

The Brookland Road is a poem from Rudyard Kipling’s book Rewards and Fairies. Peter Bellamy sang it in 1970 on his first album of songs set to Kipling’s poems, Oak, Ash & Thorn. He noted:

The Brookland Road, together with another poem with a ghostly flavour, The Way Through the Woods, is presented with Marklake Witches, a story concerning the activities of a Sussex witchmaster, Jerry Gamm. The first line of The Little Black Horse suggested the melody.

As the original album wasn’t available anymore, Peter Bellamy re-recorded this and other songs with the help of Nigel Schofield, probably in the mid-1980s. The new version was finally included on the Fellside compilation Mr Bellamy, Mr Kipling & the Tradition.

Bram Taylor sang The Brookland Road in 1984 on his Fellside album Bide a While, crediting the tune to anon. He noted:

How many of us chaps have been absolutely besotted by a member of the fair sex? Loads I should think. The chap here is suffering just that experience and she thinks he is thick! Following his dutiful education he goes out along the Brookland Road in search of his lady but alas never finds her.

Ian Woods and Charley Yarwood sang Brookland Road in 1984 on their Traditional Sound album Hooks & Nets. Charley Yarwood noted:

In the time between the writing of this poem and Bram Taylor giving it to me as a song (attributed to ‘trad.” on his own cassette!), the words have changed somewhat. Rightly or wrongly I have not corrected the text. Dave Totterdell first recorded the song, stating the tune to be traditional. However, he now thinks this is not the case but the trail has long gone cold. Any claimants?

This video shows Olivia Chaney performing Peter Bellamy’s setting of The Brookland Road at the Purcell Rooms in May 2010. Olivia sang this song on Folk Police’s Peter Bellamy tribute album Oak, Ash & Thorn which was released in January 2011.


The Brookland Road

I was very well pleased with what I knowed,
And I reckoned myself no fool—
Till I met with a maid on the Brookland Road
That turned me back to school.

Singing, low down—low down!
Where the liddle green lanterns shine—
Oh! maids, I have done with ’ee all but one,
And she can never be mine!

’Twas right in the midst of a hot June night,
With thunder duntin’ round,
And I seed her face by the fairy light
That beats from off the ground.

She only smiled and she never spoke,
She smiled and went away;
But when she’d gone my heart was broke,
And my wits was clean astray.

Oh! Stop your ringing and let me be—
Let be, O Brookland bells!
You’ll ring Old Goodman out of the sea,
Before I wed one else!

Old Goodman’s farm is rank sea sand,
And was this thousand year;
But it shall turn to rich plough land
Before I change my dear!

Oh! Fairfield Church is water-bound
From Autumn to the Spring;
But it shall turn to high hill ground
Before my bells do ring!

Oh! leave me walk on the Brookland Road,
In thunder and warm rain—
Oh! leave me look where my love goed
And p’raps I’ll see her again!

Singing, low down—low down!
Where the liddle green lanterns shine—
Oh! maids, I’ve done with ’ee all but one,
And she can never be mine!