The Bellringing

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The Bellringing (Roud 1515[1]) was collected by The Revd Sabine Baring-Gould, the Squire and Parson of nearby Lew Trenchard, in January 1890 from William George Kerswell of Two Bridges and also from James Down, a blacksmith, of nearby Broadwoodwidger. It is published in his book "Songs of the West"[2] and he wrote "When sung by the old farmer over a great fire in the kitchens, his clear, robust voice imitating the bells produced an indescribable charm".

It is about a bell ringing contest in Devon. The villages of Northlew and Ashwater are in West Devon, near the border with Cornwall.

Lyrics[3]:
One day in October, neither drunken nor sober,
O'er Broadbury Down I was mending my way,
When I heard of some ringing, some dancing and singing.
I'll always remember that jubilee day.

Chorus:
'Twas in Ashwater town, the bells they did sound,
They rang for a belt and a hat laced with gold.
And the men of Northlew rang so steady and true
That there never were better in Devon I hold.

'Twas misunderstood, for the men of Broadwood
Rang a peel on the tenor should never have been.
But the men of Northlew rang so steady and true,
A difficult matter to beat them I ween.

Chorus:
'Twas in Callington town, the bells they did sound, etc.

Those of Broadwood being naughty, then said to our party,
We'll ring you a challenge again in a round.
We'll give you the chance in St. Stephen's by Launceston;
The prize to the winner a note of five pound.

Chorus:
'Twas in Callington town, the bells they did sound, etc.

So the match it went on, at good Callington,
And the bells they rang out o'er the valley below.
And the old and young people, the hale and the feeble,
They came out to hear the sweet bell music flow.

Chorus:
'Twas in Callington town, the bells they did sound, etc.

Those of Broadwood once more were obliged to give o'er,
They were beaten completely again in a round.
But the men of Northlew rang so steady and true;
No better than they in the West can be found.

Chorus:
'Twas in Ashwater town then in Callington Town, etc.

External links

References

  1. Vaughan Williams Memorial Library - Roud 1515
  2. Songs of the West by S Baring-Gould, H Fleetwood Sheppard and FW Bussell
  3. Mainly Norfolk - The Bellringing