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GUEST,Jim Carroll Origins: Widecombe Fair (13) RE: Origins: Widecombe Fair 12 Sep 07


Barbara
Here is note to Cademon series version:
This song is well known through the Devonshire version, Widdecombe Fair, the one which Baring-Gould published in 1895, but in fact many other variants exist. According to Baring-Gould the original Uncle Tom Cobleigh lived at Spreyton in a house near Yeoford Junction at the end of the eighteenth century. He also thought that the names in the chorus all belonged to Sticklepath. These two places on the edge of Dartmoor are within a few miles of where Bill Westaway recorded his version. In fact Bill told us how Baring-Gould took down his father's words and then put a tune to it.

"Mr. Baring-Gould was a parson down Lew Trenchard on the borders of Cornwall and he got Widdecombe Fair from my father in Mr. J. D. Prickman's, the Solicitor at Okehampton. He and my father were wonderful great friends and Mr. Prickman send up his coachman to father that he was to come in to Okehampton as he wanted to see him very particular . . . The day after, father went in. He had a good time, they fed him well and paid him very well he was given a drop or two, you know, and got a bit merry and on to get father singing. Well that's what Baring Gould wanted, you see, for father to sing Widdecombe Fair while he took it in, in shorthand writing or in notes, you know - And all he done was put a new tune to it."
Bill Westaway (a) was 87 when he made this recording outside his house in Belstone. He said of himself that" he had been "blacksmith, stonebreaker, hedge-cutter, everything bar a parson I".
George Maynard (b), born at Smallfield, Surrey in 1872 lived, most of his life, around Copthorne until his death in 1962. 'Pop' learned most of his songs from members of his own family who were all well-known and locally respected singers.
Jim Carroll


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