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Wassail Song (Little Sodbury)

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Performer: Bennett, Isaac
Place Collected: Little Sodbury
Date collected: 1907 (2 Apr)
Collector: Sharp, Cecil
Roud Number: 209

This was the first wassail song that Sharp collected in Gloucestershire, as is shown by his noting of the words “Here’s to Broad and to his right eye, etc” as “Here’s too broad unto his right eye, etc.”  Sharp did not note the associated custom but Richard Chidlaw, researching over 60 years later, noted that “A group of six or seven lads, aged 14-21 would come round to the lawn in front of Little Sodbury Manor.  They brought with them the Horton Bull, which was two men under a papier maché head with a tail going down the back, and they had ribs of beef, a tambourine, a jew’s harp and a mouth organ.  The bull would roar and chase the girls and make them scream.  They had a bowl made of white wood decorated all over with ribbons and garlands of evergreen, from which they would drink.

Mr Hatherall was a spectator at this custom rather than a participant.  Richard Chidlaw still sings the song as he collected it.  It is interesting to note the differences between the 1907 tune and the 1970 tune, the latter having lost some of the decorations.

Note by Gwilym Davies December 2011 from information supplied to Richard Chidlaw and Brian Hayward by retired farmer, Mr Hatherall at Wickwar, July 1970.  Further information on the Horton Bull was supplied to Richard Chidlaw by the following: Mr Jones of Badminton, Mrs Gentry, Mr Lewis of Chipping Sodbury and Mr & Mrs Gingell of Hawkesbury, the sister of “Granny”  Frankcom.