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> Martyn Wyndham-Read > Songs > The Noble Foxhunting

Dido, Bendigo / The Noble Foxhunting

[ Roud 584 ; TYG 76 ; Ballad Index Br3218 ; Bodleian Roud 584 ; trad.]

George Townshend sang 'Twas Early One Morning (Dido, Spendago) in recordings made by Brian Matthews and Ken Stubbs in 1960. They were published in 2000 and 2012 on Townshend's Musical Tradition anthology Come, Hand to Me the Glass. The booklet notes commented:

There is one American version of this song, but all the 14 others listed by Roud are English—and, unusually, are spread though the length and breadth of the land, from Cumberland to Cornwall. George's is the only one from Sussex. It's possible that he may have added it to his repertoire from a nonlocal source—a book perhaps—since he clearly had an attachment to hunting songs.

The Watersons sang Dido, Bendigo in 1966 on their eponymous second album, The Watersons. Like all but one tracks from this LP, it was re-released in 1994 on the CD Early Days. It was also reissued in 2003 on The Definitive Collection and on the Topic 4CD sampler The Acoustic Folk Box. A live recording from 1990 at the Folk Festival Sidmouth was published in 2004.

A.L. Lloyd commented in the original album's sleeve notes:

A stirring old hunting song known all over England from Cumberland to Cornwall. George Townshend of Sussex sings a particularly fine version but the tune is more or less constant wherever it is found and, though the name of the sporting duke may vary, the list of hounds stays much the same. Country people must have loved to roll the grandiloquent syllables of names like Dido and Bendigo around their mouths.

Sabine Baring-Gould took the words and melody from a man named James Oliver and printed it in his Songs of the West under the title The Duke's Hunt. He says: “This is a mere cento from a long ballad, entitled The Fox Chase, narrating a hunt by Villiers, second duke of Buckingham, in the reign of Charles II. It is in the Roxburghe Collection and was printed by W. Oury, circa 1650.” The song has had a long life and still flourishes.

Martyn Wyndham-Read sang The Noble Foxhunting in 1977 on the Broadside album English Sporting Ballads.

Keith Kendrick sang Dido, Bendigo on the BBC Radio Ballad The Horn of the Hunter, which was first broadcast on March 13, 2006.

Andy Turner learned Dido Bendigo from Mike Waterson on The Watersons. He sang it as the April 29, 2016 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.

Compare to this the Kipper Family's version called Dido, Fido on their first album, Since Time Immoral.

Lyrics

The Watersons sing Dido, Bendigo Andy Turner sings Dido, Bendigo

As I was a-walking one morning last Autumn,
I've overheard some noble foxhunting
Between some noblemen and the Duke of Wellington
So early before the day was dawning.

Now as I was a-walking one morning last Autumn,
I overheard some noble foxhunting,
'Twas between two gentlemen and the Duke of Wellington
So early just as the day was dawning.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
There was Dido, Bendigo, Gentry he was there-o;
Traveller he never looked behind him.
There was Countess, Rover, Bonnie Lass and Jover:
These were the hounds that could find him.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
There was Dido, Bendigo, Gentry he was there-o;
Traveller he never looked behind him.
There was Countess, Rover, Bonnie Lass and Jover:
These were the hounds that could find him.

Well the first fox being young and his trials just beginning,
He's made straight away for his cover.
He's run up yon highest hill and gone down yon lowest gill,
Thinking that he'd find his freedom there forever.

Now the first fox being young and his trials just beginning,
His cause was to make for the river.
Well this fox he has jumped in but an hound has followed him:
It was Traveller destroyed his life forever.

Well the next fox being old and his trials fast a-dawning,
He's made straight away for the river.
Well the fox he has jumped in but an hound jumped after him;
It was Traveller who strided him for ever.

Now the next fox being old and his trials fast a-dawning,
He's made straight away for his cover.
He's run up yon highest hill and run down yon lowest gill,
Thinking that he'd find his freedom there forever.

Well they've run across the plain but they've soon returned again,
The fox nor the hounds never failing.
It's been just twelve months today since I heard the squire say,
“Hark forward then my brave hounds forever!”

Well they've run across the plain but they've soon returned again,
With the fox nor the hound never failing.
It's been just twelve months today since I heard the squire say,
“Hark forward then my brave hounds forever!”

Acknowledgements

Transcribed by Garry Gillard using a generic version at the Digital Tradition / Mudcat Café.