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Step and Fetch Her

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Alternative title: Up the Middle, Down the Middle

Source: Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (VWML), Maud Karpeles, no. 4988
Performer: Smith, Charles
Place Collected: Mitcheldean
Date collected: 1928
Collector: Karpeles, Maud

Charles Smith gave Cecil Sharp the first two verses of As Joseph was a –Walking on 10 April 1911 in Coates. Sharp also noted a further two verses of this song from Charles’ sister Mrs E. E. Rort of 2, Branksome Villas, Anyards Road, Cobham, Surrey. Charles Smith also sang him the Bonny Bunch of Roses O, Botany Bay and the Roving Journeyman. On 19 June 1927 while he was living at Gloucester Road, Mitcheldean, Charles Smith heard a lecture by Maud Karpeles about Cecil Sharp’s collecting and wrote to her about his meeting with Cecil Sharp (see below). He said that he had been the leader of a Mumming Team at Daglingworth and knew a lot of old songs and dances including ‘two fine old set dances as we used to call them in the old days, the Bonnets of Blue and To Nutting we Will Go my Boys.’ Charles Smith then played Bonnets of Blue, Double Leap Through, Haste To The Wedding and Step and Fetch Her to Maud Karpeles on 5 April 1928 at Mitcheldean.


Maud Karpeles noted the following instructions for dancing Step and Fetch Her:

(Duple minor set)

A1 & 2    Forward and back twice.
B        Lead down the middle and back.
C        Swing and change.

The words of the tune were:

Up the middle, down the middle
Up the middle, pretty little dear.

Charles Smith talked about his meeting with Sharp in a letter written to Maud Karpeles in 1927:

“(Sharp) was staying with Mrs Swanick the Thatched Cottage Coats near that Town. Mr Swanick is the Justice of the Peace at Cirencester, and I was then a Postman at a village called Daglingworth and I was the leader of a Mumming team at the Village and Mrs Swanick got to know it through a Mrs Gimson at Sapperton and those two ladies came to see me to ask me if I would tell them all about the Mumming and I ?intended to cycle to Mrs Swanick’s House the next day. And there I met the Dear old Gentleman Mr Sharp and I found it was him that wanted the Gloucestershire Mumming acting. He was pleased to see me and he wrote down all about the Mumming and I sang some songs as well.

I remember he gave me 2/6 and I had my dinner and a bottle of nice beer in the kitchen. Some time after Mrs Swanick started a Mumming team and a Morris dancing Team at Coats and the(y) invited me to come to the Concert and gave me and my son free tickets. I thought you may be interested to hear this. I am now 65 years of age and am a Naval and Post-Office Pensioner. I happen to know a lot of old songs and Old Dances some that I never hear played now. Here are two fine old set dances as we used to call them in the old days, the Bonnets of Blue and To Nutting we Will Go my Boys. I know several others tunes but I can’t remember the proper names of them.

Please excuse my bad writing and spelling as I am self taught I was driving Oxen at Plough years before the School Board Act came out on the Cotswolds and never had but very little school”

(Notes by Carol Davies with thanks to Diana Crane and Hugh Tarran)