Folksong from Epsom

2005/02 p6

 

Folksong from Epsom

 

Few folksongs have been recorded from Epsom & Ewell, but there is one which sheds some light on a local industry. It is called the Lavender Song and goes:

 

Come all you young ladies and make no delay –

I gathered my lavender fresh from Mitcham today.

 

Will you buy my sweet blooming lavender? –

There are sixteen dark blue branches a penny.

 

You buy it once, you will buy it twice –

It will make your clothes smell sweet and nice.

 

Now’s the time to scent your clothes and pocket handkerchiefs

And to keep the moths from your clothing.

 

Will you buy my sweet blooming lavender? –

There are sixteen dark blue branches a penny.

 

Some are large and some are small –

Please take them in and show them all –

There are sixteen dark blue branches a penny.

 

The song was recorded in 1951 (Folk-Lore 63/4 (1952–3) p45) from Lily Smith of Epsom – presumably from one of the Gypsy families. Several other versions are known and the Lavender Song is no. 854 in Steve Roud’s catalogue of British folksong, having been recorded by Gypsy singers such as Bill Ellson and Joe Smith. In our area, Jasper Smith of Cox Lane, who died in 2003, sang many traditional songs and made two records back in the 70s.

 

Jeremy Harte