W3C Mardale Hunt Songs   SONGS

Joe Bowman
Joe Bowman

 

The 
		  Clapper 
		  Bridge, 
		  Mardale
The Clapper Bridge, Mardale

 

Mardale, roof of Dun Bull Hotel in foreground
Mardale, roof of Dun Bull Hotel in foreground

 

Ruins	
		  of 
		  Brackenthwaite 
		  Farm, 
		  Mardale
Ruins of Brackenthwaite Farm, Mardale

 

Goosemire Farm
Goosemire Farm & Riggendale

From 
		  Howe 
		  looking 
		  towards 
		  the 
		  Dun 
		  Bull
From Howe looking towards the Dun Bull

 

Dun Bull Hotel
Dun Bull Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shepherds' Meet
Shepherds' Meet at Mardale

 

 

Issac	
		  Cookson, 
		  Mardale 
		  shepherd
Issac Cookson, Mardale shepherd

 

 

Shepherds' Meet outside Dun Bull Hotel
Shepherds' Meet outside the Dun Bull Hotel 1908

 

Mardale is a valley situated on the Eastern Side of Lakeland. Like many other places it had a yearly Shepherds' Meet, where strayed sheep would be identified by their "lug marks and smits" and returned. Farmers and dalesmen for miles around would meet to exchange news and gossip. This Shepherds' Meet was very old and centred on The Dun Bull Hotel of some 14 bedrooms which became the unofficial "base" for the hunting with the Ullswater Foxhounds which accompanied the meet, and the evening's sing song which followed. The dalesmen also (apparently) had horse racing on the top of the nearby High Street range of mountains at some point in the history of the meet, no doubt racing the small, sure footed fell ponies, which still roam the nearby fells.

My two great uncles were regular attenders in the years preceeding the flooding, walking over the fells from Ambleside for the hunting and staying for as long as there was somewhere to sleep or their money ran out, before starting the long walk home. No doubt happy but lighter in pocket and probably with a blinding headache, it was that sort of do!

In 1929 an Act of Parliament allowed Manchester Corporation to dam the valley and flood it, in order to improve the water supply to Manchester. Houses, farms, the church, everything was demolished, the valley flooded and the population moved.

Today the ruins of the buildings lie under some 70 feet of water (except in a drought when they are revealed - see Mardale Hunt for more pix), but the songs sung live on and three are reproduced here.

Written by Winston Scott and first sung around 1904, this is the best known of the three songs.

 

The Mardale Hunt

The morn is here, awake, my lads
Away, away
The hounds are giving mouth, my lads
Away, my lads, away
The Mardale Hunt is out today
Joe Bowman strong shall lead the way
Who ne'er has led his hunt stray
Away, my lads, away.

Our Bowman is a huntsman rare
Away, away
His Tally-ho's beyond compare
Away, my lads, away
We always find him just the same
At Grasmere Sports you'll hear his name
His Mardale Hunts will live in fame
Away, my lads, away.

The Mardale pack is on the trail
Away, away
The fox is heading thro' the dale
Away, my lads, away
Hound Miller's on the scent, I'm told
So fast it lads thro' frost and cold
Away, my lads, away
The mountain breeze is pure as gold
Away, my lads, away.

On Branstree Fell the fox is seen
Away, away
The hounds are off, the scent is keen
Away, my lads, away
The music sweet to dalesman's ear
When hounds give mouth so loud and clear
So off my lads and lend a cheer
Away, my lads, away.

The air is keen, our hearts are light
Away, away
We scale with glee the frowning height
Away, my lads, away
The fox has slipped and made his cave
So in we send the terrier brave
The fox will bolt his brush to save
Away, my lads, away.

Our terrier Frail will win or die
Away, away
So too will Wallow Crag, say I
Away, my lads, away
On Roman fell in mountain cave
We lost alas, a terrier brave
For good old Frisk we failed to save
Away, my lads, away.

Who'd weary with a sport like this
Away, away
Or who a Mardale Hunt would miss
Away, my lads, away
Our hardy fellsmen, hunters born
Will rally to the huntsman's horn
Nor heeded be by rain or storm
Away, my lads, away.

Who'd hunt the fox with spur and rein
Away, away
To have a mount we'd all disdain
Away, my lads, away
We love our hill, our tarns, our fells
We ken our moors, our rocks and dells
We love our hounds, we love our sells
Away, my lads, away.

When darkness comes to Mardale, hie
Away, away
For who the 'Dun Bull' dares decry
Away, my lads, away
Hal Usher kind will find a bed
To rest our limbs and lay our head
We're welcomed, housed, and warmed and fed
Away, my lads, away.

In winter Mardale's dree and drear
Away, away
But 'tis not so if Hunt is here
Away, my lads, away
We trencher well, we trencher long
We meet in dance, we meet in song
For days are short, and nights are long
Away, my lads, away

We're lads from East and lads from West
Away, away
And North and South, but all the best
Away, my lads, away
With Auld Lang Syne and Old John Peel
With foaming glass and nimble heel
We'll drink to all a health and wealth
Away, my lads, away

Winston Scott

* * * * * * *

Mardale Meet Hunting Song

Now some take to singing and some take to cards
While others recite rash rhymes of the bards
Old Joe and his cronies oft meet in the snug
Where they drink, spin their yarns, and give Molly a hug
Then all take to washing down supper with ale
And toasting long life to the maids of Mardale

Dark and wild grows the night, and louder the din
Till you'd think that the Devil had taken the Inn
With laughter and song, and calling for more
Confused and combined in one glorious uproar
Each neighbour, a brother, a companion and friend
What a pity this jollification must end.

As the flush of the dawn illumines the sky
The roar of the revellers is starting to die
A dozen, contented, sleep under a table
While a few go to bed-when they find they are able
Old Joe ever talking, unsteady, yet steadfast
Plays cards with the heroes and sits up for breakfast.

When breakfast is over, old Joe with a smile
Goes off to the church in gay hunting style
And holds up his head like one of the best
As he walks up the aisle with the horn in his vest
The parson looks pleased, and blurts out 'What Ho'
For the parson-God bless him-is fond of old Joe.

The service now ended-all slip from the pews
And gather round Joe under Mardale's old yews
Where they laugh at his fun as he spins them a tale
For they're all very proud to have Joe in the dale
The parson all smiles giving our hero a dig
Sets him back to the Inn as far as the brig.

The day being fine and the hunters alive
The landlord takes Joe and his pals for a drive
By the shores of the lake to the castle o'er the ford
Described by old Joe as 'The house of the Lord'
'Tis a castle where dwells a prince of all sport
For Lowther's gay Earl is the very best sort.

They swing through the gates past the lodge with a roar
And drive for an hour before finding the door
Joe hammers it hard till it flies open wide
And remarks to the flunkey 'Keep his Lordship inside'
Then they roll through the park where the bold blustering Kaiser
After hunting one day gave old Joe a fiver.

They return by the long lonesome road in the night
By the church the yews creak and give Joseph a fright
The fire glows as they dine on roast duck and green peas
And the breath of the mountains deeply moans in the trees
Then they drink till their eyes grow as heavy as lead
Wish each other good-night and go early to bed.

So here's to old Joe and his rattling pack
May we meet them next year when we hope to come back
For of north-country hunters destined for fame
Here's another like Peel, but Bowman's his name
For in life and in death where're hunting abounds
His spirit will ever go after the hounds

When death has o'erta'en us and we are laid low
'Neath the green waving grasses, in spite of the foe
Should we hear the horn calling we'll whisper 'Hurray'
And dream of the hunting we had in our day
So here's to all hunters now under the sod
For the life of a hunter's the life of a god

Dr W S Eaton, of Ennerdale

* * * * * * *

Mardale Hunt Lament

Come listen to me and let the roof ring
It's a song of the chase I'm going to sing
Of Joe Bowman the huntsman, hearty and hale
Of his famous pack the hounds of Mardale.

Chorus:
Tally Ho, Tally Ho, Tally Ho with a ring
Let the wilds of old Mardale with Tally Ho ring
For hunting and song just try Mardale meet
You'll be lucky my lads to get home on your feet.

Come join the glad chorus and off with a swing
Let the wilds of old Mardale with Tally Ho ring
The flowers of the forest are withered and gone
Old Joe's on the mountains so boys follow on
Tha' the storm sweeps the mountains and thunder resounds
Joe Bowman despite them will follow his hounds.

We're on Reynard's track with the hounds in full cry
O'er hill and o'er dale away up to the sky
Past the bold beetling crags of the mist and the storm
Where Reynard seeks earth, bark away 'tis the horn
Joe Bowman is calling, draw deeper your breath
Let every good hunter be in at the death

Hark to the wail of that loud Tally Ho
Bold Reynard has given his brush to the foe
No longer he'll roam those green mountain glens
Nor steal off a night with the farmer's fat hens
The Rover is dead and the chase is now o'er
So let us return to the Dun Bull once more

We return to the inn as the shades of night face
The landlord and Molly are there in the hall
The rafters re-echo with loud hunting lays
And Mardale's old inn is all in ablaze
Young farmers, old shepherds, keen hunters, drink deep
Tonight we have met Mardale's revels to keep

Dark and wild grows the night and louder the din
'Til you think that the devil has taken the inn
With laughter and song and calling for more
Confused and combined in one glorious uproar
Each neighbour, a brother, a companion and friend
What a pity this jolly occasion must end

So here's to auld Joe and his Ullswater Pack
May we meet him next year when we hope to be back
For of north country huntsmen honoured in fame
Is another like Peel but Joe Bowman is his name
For in life and in death where hunting abounds
His spirit will ever go on with his hounds

When death has overtaken and we are laid low
'Neath the green waving grasses in spite of the foe
Should we hear the horn calling we'll whisper "Hooray"
And we'll dream of the hunting we had in our day
So here's to all hunters now under the sod
For the life of a hunter's the life of a god.

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