Tavistock Goosey Fair

Melody -

from Devonshire

'Tis just a month come Friday next,
Bill Champernowne and me,
Us went across old Dartymoor
The Goosey Fair to see.
Us made usselves right vitty,
Us shaved and grazed our hair,
And off us goes in our Zunday clothes
Behind Bill's old grey mare.
Us smelt the zage and onion
'Alf a mile from Whitchurch Down,
And didn't us 'ave a blow out
When us put up in the town,
And there us met Ned Hannaford,
Jan Steer and Nicky Square,
I think that all the world must be
At Tavistock Goosey Fair.
And its oh, and where be a-going,
And what be a-doing of there,
Heave down your prong and stamp along,
To Tavistock Goosey Fair.
2. Us went to see the 'osses
And the 'effers and the yaws,
Us went on all them roundabouts
And into all the shows,
And then it started raining
And blowing in our face,
So off us goes down to the Rose
To 'ave a dish of tay.
And then us had a sing song
And the folks kept dropping in,
And what with one an' t'other,
Well, us had a drop of gin,
And what with one an' t'other,
Us didn't seem to care,
Whether us was to Bellever Tor
Or Tavistock Goosey Fair.

3. 'Twere raining streams and dark as pitch
When us trotted 'ome that night,
An' when us got past Merrivale Bridge,
Our mare, 'er took a fright,
Says I to Bill, "Be careful,
You'll 'ave us in them drains,"
Says 'e to me, "Cor bugger," says 'e,
"Why 'aven't you got the reins,"
Just then the mare ran slap against
A whacking gurt big stone,
'Er kicked the trap to flibbits
And 'er trotted off alone,
And when it come to reckoning,
'Tweren't no use standing there,
Us 'ad to traipse 'ome thirteen mile
From Tavistock Goosey Fair.

The great antiquity of some of these customs is illustrated in this song, which are known to have been in use as long ago as 1470. Queen Elizabeth was dining on goose on Michaelmas Day when she received the news of the defeat of the Spanish Armada. The custom probably owes its origin to the fact that geese are plentiful at Michaelmas. It was sometimes a present from tenants to their landlord.

When the tenants come to pay their quarter's rent,
They bring some fowl at Midsummer a dish of fish in Lent,
At Christmas a capon, at Michaelmas a goose,
And somewhat else at New Year's tide,
For fear their lease flie loose"

There is a popular saying:

"If you eat goose on Michaelmas day you
will never want money all the year round."

"Who eats goose on Michael's Day
Shan't money lack his debts to pay."

The custom is still kept up at the Tavistock Goose Fair, which is held on the first Wednesday in October.

| Song Index | Home Page |