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Lyr Req: The Manchester Cornstalk

04 Jan 02 - 03:52 PM (#621089)
Subject: Manchester cornstalk
From: phil h

Cann't find the lyrics to "The Manchester cornstalk" on the DT. Can anyone out there help? Phil

04 Jan 02 - 04:12 PM (#621104)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Manchester cornstalk
From: Sorcha

It's listed at Suzanne's site, but the lyrics aren't up yet. Click! She is a Mudcatter--perhaps you could PM her and see if she has them. She has a lot of the ones she has not posted. They usually are not posted because she hasn't had time to check them.

04 Jan 02 - 04:32 PM (#621117)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Manchester cornstalk
From: phil h

Thank's Sorcha, I'd seen the reference on Susanne's site. We have a recording by Ruth's dad (Bill Price) but she hoped someone could save her the trouble of transcribing them! Phil

04 Jan 02 - 06:55 PM (#621228)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Manchester cornstalk
From: Susanne (skw)

Yes, I've got Bill Price's LP, 'I Sing As I Please', made by the German label Autogram in 1978. I believe he died not long after, quite unexpectedly, or we'd have had more recordings.

The lyrics are on the songsheet and I will transcribe them this weekend. I can't check them though, my record player is on strike. (Autogram's transcriptions are notoriously unreliable.) For now, here are Bill's own notes:

[1978:] A hunt song from the Holme Valley Beagles. I got this version from the singing of Rosa Barnes of Rothwell near Leeds. (Notes Bill Price, 'I Sing As I Please')

05 Jan 02 - 12:25 AM (#621381)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Manchester cornstalk
From: Sorcha

Thank you Susanne. I was hoping you would check in here. Thanks.

05 Jan 02 - 03:25 AM (#621417)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Manchester cornstalk
From: GUEST,Lani Herrmann

This appears to be identical to "The Christmas Goose" which ran in English Folk Dance and Song several years ago, attributed to Arthur Howard of the same Holme Valley Beagles. What else did you want? -- Aloha, Lani

05 Jan 02 - 04:33 AM (#621424)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Manchester cornstalk
From: nutty

The Christmas Goose lyrics are here

click here

05 Jan 02 - 09:09 AM (#621465)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Manchester cornstalk
From: phil h

Thanks everyone. The Christmas Goose words are very similar to the ones Bill Price sang. Derek Elliot sang the song at a session at New Year in Whitby, he called it 'The Manchester cornstalk' & also attributed it to the 'Home Valley beagles'. Susanne, yes Bill Price died in 1980, He made one previous LP in 1972 "The fine old Yorkshire gentleman" FHR038. Phil

05 Jan 02 - 01:39 PM (#621547)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Manchester cornstalk
From: Malcolm Douglas

Further to Lani's comments, Arthur Howard's set of The Christmas Goose, transcribed by Ian Russell, appeared in English Dance and Song, vol.43, no.4, Christmas 1981.  Dr. Russell added:

"Arthur is regularly called upon to perform this favourite during the hunt supper that follows the Boxing Day Meet of the Holme Valley Beagles.  This delightful tale of the cocksure commercial traveller who gets his come-uppance at the hands of the crafty chambermaid has an almost contemporary feel with its references to mild cigar, public, and bar.  Roy Palmer notes that gay Luthero in the first verse is almost certainly gay Lothario, a character from a play by Rowe entitled The Fair Penitent.  The combination of a deft turn of phrase and a beautiful, lingering chorus helps to explain the song's immense popularity in Arthur's district, the Pennines near to Holmfirth.  (A related song that shares the same motif of the change is Alfred Scannell's  The Brisk Young Butcher, see Marrowbones)."

The Brisk Young Butcher text in the DT was transcribed from a Revival performance, and no traditional source is named; one of the two tunes given, though, (XMASGOO2.1.MID) is precisely that noted by Hammond from George Hatherill of Bath, Somerset, in 1906 and printed with Alfred Scannell's text (Mere Workhouse, Dorset, 1905) in Frank Purslow's Marrowbones (EFDSS 1965).  I can't place the other tune offhand, and have no idea whether the DT text is a collation, a deliberate modification, or a traditional text from another source.  The song was widely published on broadsides, most often as The Leicester Chambermaid, and turns up under all sorts of other names.  Several broadside copies can be seen at  Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads,  amongst which:

The Leicester chambermaid  Printed between 1813 and 1838 by J. Catnach, 2, Monmouth-court, 7 Dials [London]. Sold by W. Marshall, Lawrence Hill, Bristol.

05 Jan 02 - 07:20 PM (#621701)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Manchester cornstalk
From: Harry Basnett

You're a thorough chap, Malcolm....well done!


06 Jan 02 - 07:03 AM (#622080)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Manchester cornstalk

Will Noble (from the Holme Valley Tradition) also recorded a fine version of the Christmas Goose (Veteran Tapes VT124 In That Beautiful Dale), and according to the notes there although Arthur Howard was 'the most influential' of the local singers on Will, he first heard the Christmas Goose from Arthur's elder brother James Howard.


06 Jan 02 - 05:56 PM (#622332)
From: Susanne (skw)


And it's all around the green fields so early in the morn
The merry merry huntsman blows his silver bugled horn

It's of a pub in Manchester where "Cornstalk" was the sign
A public where commercial travellers used to sit and dine
One Christmas eve a traveller, as oft had been his use
Called in to spend his holiday and choose his Christmas goose

He drunk his pint of sherry wine, he smoked his mild cigar
He chatted with the customers and the people at the bar
There was no thought of wickedness e'er entered in his head
Until the chambermaid appeared to light him up to bed

And then he grew so amorous he squeezed her on the stair
He kissed her by the chamber door before he said his prayers
He gave to her a guinea to prevent her being vexed
And then he blew the candle out, you'll have to guess the rest

Next morn this good Luther discharged his little bill
He tipped the boots and tossed the landlord for a parting gill
Where he went to afterwards 'tis not for me to say
Suffice he called to pluck his goose again next Christmas day

Yes, Christmas time came round again, it filled his heart with glee
He'd tramped around from town to town and strange sights did he see
Till he ended up in Manchester and put up for the night
At the "Cornstalk" which twelve months before had found him such delight

He walked into the coffee room as jolly as could be
Where lots of customers like himself were waiting there for tea
He ordered of the very best the landlord could produce
Then he called the waiter back again, says, "Don't forget me goose!"

Right speedily a tray was brought with eatables galore
And by the selfsame chambermaid he'd woofed* twelve months before
Nothing loth he raised the cloth 'neath which the food was piled
Instead of the goose she'd brought to him a big fat bumping child

And as he gazed astonishedly, "What can this mean?" says he
"Come sit you down and calm yourself, I'll tell you, sir" says she
"Last Christmas eve you generous were, nay, do not look so strange
You gave to me a guinea; well, I've brought you back the change"

* misprint for 'wooed'?

This is what Bill Price sings, according to the songsheet. Can anyone explain to me what made this a hunt song?

06 Jan 02 - 05:56 PM (#622333)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Manchester cornstalk
From: folkmonster

Derek Eliot attributes his hunting version to Andrew Rogers of the Pennine Foxhounds.See sleevnotes under 'yorkshire relish' at my website

06 Jan 02 - 06:08 PM (#622343)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Manchester cornstalk
From: Susanne (skw)

Make that my website :-)

06 Jan 02 - 06:19 PM (#622347)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Manchester cornstalk
From: nutty

These songs don't need to have anything to do with hunting Susanne ...... there was a tradition of singing in the evenings after the hunt or at hunt suppers that perpetuated these songs in such a way that they became associated with a particular hunt. These hunt suppers still feature particular songs (often sung by particular singers) and are printed in booklet form to support a particular hunt eg. Holme Valley

06 Jan 02 - 07:30 PM (#622403)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Manchester cornstalk
From: phil h

Thanks again everyone. Susanne, on listening to the record I think Bill sings 'whooped' in the penultimate verse. I don't know what happened to the songsheet from my LP, I'll have to ask Wendy (Bills widdow) if she has one I can coppy. -- Phil

06 Jan 02 - 09:26 PM (#622467)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Manchester cornstalk
From: Malcolm Douglas

The word is usually kissed, which Bruce Olson has pointed out many times is a euphemism for something very specific; woofed or whooped will mean exactly the same, and has the advantage of sounding more amusing when sung.

07 Jan 02 - 06:47 PM (#622958)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Manchester cornstalk
From: Susanne (skw)

Phil, if you let me have your address I'll be happy to send you a copy of the songsheet. EMail me at skw at

08 Jan 02 - 04:12 PM (#623613)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Manchester cornstalk
From: Wyrd Sister

Late arrival to this thread_ Will Noble usually sings this at the Royal (of carols fame) in the singing bit after Sue the organist has left - which she does at 2.00 on the dot.