> Tony Rose > Songs > Jockie to the Fair / Bridgwater Fair

Bridgwater Fair

[ Roud 1571 ; Ballad Index ShH76 ; Wiltshire 380 ; trad.]

Tony Rose recorded Jockie to the Fair and Bridgwater Fair in 1971 for his second album, Under the Greenwood Tree. He noted:

Jockie to the Fair is just a snatch of the familiar Headington Morris tune. Here I have used it as a lead into Bridgwater Fair—one of many such local fair songs which abound all over England. This one seems to have been neglected by the folk revival, but its simple melody lends itself well to the flute organ [played by Dolly Collins].

Tom & Barbara Brown sang Bridgwater Fair in 2005 on their WildGoose CD Tide of Change. This track was also included in 2007 on their WildGoose album West Country Night Out. They noted:

Bridgwater is in Somerset and the St Matthew’s Fair is held for four days in the last week of September, having held its charter since 1249. The song was collected by the eminent folk-song scholar Cecil Sharp from Bill Bailey of Cannington, Somerset, in 1906 and from Henry Tidball of Wedmore, Somerset, in 1907.

Jon Loomes sang Bridgewater Fair on his 2005 Fellside CD Fearful Symmetry. He noted:

There’s trouble over Bridgewater. The fair has been running since medieval times, and I gather still happens every year. According to this damning canzonet, it attracts all the wrong sort of people; wine merchants, harlots and folk musicians. How they manage to underwrite it for insurance I’ll never know.

The New Scorpion Band sang Bridgwater Fair in 2008 on their CD Master Marenghi’s Music Machine. They noted:

This fairground song was a big favourite in the South West, and was often altered to fit local events and celebrations. Following this tradition we have borrowed the famous Bridgwater version, added a few extra verses from Cyril Tawney’s Truro Agricultural Show and devised a new ending and a tastefully restrained musical accompaniment involving the whole fair. We have taken the title of this album from one of the verses in this song, which mentions the manufacturer of the mighty fairground organ seen at so many of these fairs. Bridgwater Fair dates back to 1249, and takes place in the last week of September. The famous carnival, the biggest in the West Country can be seen in early November. Roll up, roll up!


Tony Rose sings Bridgwater Fair

All you who roam, both young and old,
Come listen to my story bold.
For miles around, from far and near
They come to see the rigs of the fair.

Chorus (after each verse):
Oh master John, do you beware,
And don’t you go kissing the girls at Bridgwater Fair.

The lads and lasses they come through
From Stowey, Stogursey and Cannington too;
That farmer from Fiddington, true as my life,
He’s come to the fair to look for a wife.

There’s Tom and Jack, they look so gay,
With Sal and Kit they haste away,
To shout and laugh and have a spree
And dance and sing right merrily.

There’s Carroty Kit, so jolly and fat
With her big flippety floppety hat,
A hole in her stocking as big as a crown
And the hoops of her skirt hanging down to the ground.

The jovial ploughboys all serene,
They dance the maidens on the green.
Says John to Mary, “Don’t you know
We won’t go home till morning, oh.”

It’s up with the fiddle and off with the dance,
The lads and lassies gaily prance,
And when it’s time to go away,
They swear to meet again next day.


Garry Gillard transcribed the lyrics based on the text from Tide of Change.