Subscribe to our Newsletter

Rosemary Lane

Back to browse page
Performer: Hedges, William
Place Collected: Chipping Campden
Date collected: 1909 (14 Aug)
Collector: Sharp, Cecil
Roud Number: 269

On the surface this is a simple tale of seduction and unwanted pregnancy, but the rendition of it depends on context. Earlier versions are known as “Rosemary Lane” and versions carrying this title tend to be more wistful whilst other versions, often with the title “When I was a Servant Girl” are more robust and roared out in many a rugby club or by members of the armed forces. Mr Innes’ version is definitely in the latter category, whilst Mr Hedges’ version, although we don’t have the complete words, is liable to be the slower, more wistful and contemplative version, from the feminine point of view. Both variants have been widely collected on both sides of the Atlantic. The earliest the song can be dated is the early 19th century.


Notes by Gwilym Davies 28 March 2015