The Stonecutter Boy


Jon attributes Anne Briggs as his source for this with the observation, “One of the nice things with the oral tradition is the way stories get whittled down to their simplest forms. This is a small but perfectly formed saucy, little ballad.” This link also mentions a version recorded in 1966 by A.L. Lloyd, the same year that Briggs released it on the LP Bird In The Bush (a collection of traditional erotic songs.) You’ll find her version on Anne Briggs A Collection and the sleeve notes on that push the point that although “Cecil Sharp noted a version but never printed it; perhaps because to polite people of his day, the idea of girls actually enjoying sexual intercourse was offensive. Too good for the working classes?”  I can’t even give you a Mudcat link here as the only ones I can turn up are a debate about whether folk music is sexy  and one about Next Market Day, an entirely different song that makes a more codified reference to the same kind of liaison (well, that’s how I read it). If anyone can add anything, therefore, I’d be grateful. There may be lyrical or title variants that have slipped me by.

The buy links should now work properly. We had some problems with a duplicate track and everything needed to be updated, but I’ve just tested them and they are now OK!

You can buy the digital album now from the following stores:


23 Responses to “The Stonecutter Boy”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by CuckoosNest Antiques, Jon Boden. Jon Boden said: Latest Post: The Stonecutter Boy […]

  2. Adam says:

    Two corrections, if I may: Anne with an ‘e’. And “The Bird in the Bush” is not solely a Briggs album, but features songs sung by A. L. Lloyd (as well as Frankie Armstrong) as well.

  3. Richard Sails says:

    The Bricklayer’s Dream appears in Marrowbones, collected from Daniel Wigg in Hampshire and seems to be basically the same song, different trade and tune.

  4. Richard Sails says:

    Bert Lloyd in Folk Song in England also refers to ‘…lighter brisker pieces of the kind of “The stone-cutter (bricklayer) boy” …’

  5. admin says:

    Adam, thanks Anne corrected (hasty fingers)… As for Bird in the Bush, (another typo corrected) Norman Kennedy is name checked on the CD but not the original LP, which credits Alf Edwards concertina and Dave Swarbrick on fiddle. The CD isn’t available at the moment, so I’m not able to check it further

  6. Ellie May says:

    One of my all time favourites, I sing it when having sing around with Loose Women Morris Dancers. Thankyou Jon, really enjoying this project, keep ’em coming.

  7. Jane Ramsden says:

    Stonecutter’s version of ‘come up and see my etchings’ – hahahaha! Adds a whole new meaning to the expression ‘dreamboat’. You won’t find better innuendo and suggestiveness than in some traditional songs. Very enjoyable!

  8. muzza(s.e.England) says:

    Merry screaming!…young ladies enjoying rumpy pumpy!……I learn something from AFSAD every day!…
    @ Jane…Innuendo…isn’t that an Italian suppository?

  9. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Muzza: Not in my end it isn’t! Posh suggestiveness to you! I have just watched your ‘Come Write Me Down’ video (is that your shower curtain in the background yet again?!) but your latest Les Barker offering is well, Titanic…

    I’m sure it could be set to music hall-style melody. AFSADDERS, I’ve had to post it here. I’ve not stopped laughing! But see Muzza’s covers of some other AFSAD songs as well.

  10. jonathan says:

    @ Jane, thanks for the link

    @Muzza superb.

  11. Linda says:

    Jane , that link led to half hour of Les Barker, Thanks. Just listened to bonus track sung by Fay, don’t miss it .

  12. Diana says:

    A recurring theme – seems that everyone in bygone days could down tools, stop work and enjoy other pastimes!!!

  13. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Diana & Linda: I understand you both have your flower brooches now, so will be able to recognise each other at the forthcoming gig. Yeh!

    @ Phil: Just listened to your version of ‘Crow On The Cradle’ on 52fs (an absolute favourite of mine as covered by Phil Beer) and your cover of Shirley Collins’ ‘Whitsun Dance.’ Very impressed that you made up your own tune to ‘Crow On The Cradle’ at age 11! Ref the Shirley Collins, I’ve just been listening to my first selection of songs by her and the Albion Country Band from ‘No Roses’ this week (as supplied to me by Pierre Walsh off ‘ere – thankee!) Also has ‘Poor Murdered Woman’ on it, which I mentioned on AFSAD recently under ‘Barbara Allen,’ covered by Jackie Oates on her ‘Saturnine’ CD. Everything really is connected to everything else in folk! So I keep returning to your comment, ‘It just works.’

    @ Muzza: Guessed you must be under the weather. Hope you are soon well enough to put on another YouTube performance, complete with props! When I get the music and words for ‘She Got It Where McDooley Got The Brick,’ we’ll know what props you’ll need for that… other than presumably the brick, of course!

    In my day, you used to get camphorated oil rubbed on yer front and back for a poorly chest – oh-er, Matron! (But some health and safety reg means you can’t buy it anymore, in case it does for your kiddlies!) In your day, I suppose it was Wintergreen… wasn’t that what the Victorians used? Hahahahahahaha!

  14. Diana says:

    Ooh Jane what an insult to poor Old Muzza. Victorian!! I ask you – poor dear. I hope you have nothing to say detrimental to “Deep Heat Rub” which has worked wonders for my back. I must say that it was a surprise usually very old remedies seldom work. Yes we both have our roses now so I must send a message to Linda telling her where we might meet on November 18th. Getting nearer now.

  15. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Diana: I do have sthg detrimental to say about any and every heat-generating back or joint rub! We peeps with sensitive atopic skin cannot use any of them without ending up as a burning lobster! It’s worse agony than whatever it was supposed to be treating, and you still have that as well! Last time I used Deep Heat on my shoulder, many years ago, I ended up stood in a cold shower for literally hours – hard to wash off! T’was a case of ‘Aye, there’s the rub!’ I can only use cooling creams/gels, specialist topical analgesic creams or take pills. Are there no (Victorian) workhouses?!! *Sighs*

  16. Old Muzza(NW Surrey-UK) says:

    @Jane……..I tried that ‘Deep heat’ once……on me lower back initially…but as I sleep in the nuddy it soon transfered via the sheets to more sensitive parts…made for an eventfull night…(best I’d had for ages)…and don’t rub your eyes for goodness sake! The main part of me ‘mancold’ has gone..just this hacking cough remains but I’m sure I’ll see that off with lashings of goosegrease applied with a sandfaced fletton.

  17. Diana says:

    @Jane: It hasn’t irritated me so have persevered with it. Back has improved cos I am not in such agony as previously.

    @Muzza: What is a “sandfaced fletton” for goodness sake? I have kept “Deep Heat Rub” away from eyes but agree it has rather a strong smell. I can just imagine where it ended up in your case though. Should have worn pyjams.

  18. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Diana: Muzza and I have covered the issue of ‘sandfaced flettons’ on here somewhere – it is a brick – no doubt in a discussion over relative prop merits for a possible Muzzaformance of ‘She Got It Where McDooley Got The Brick!’ Very pleased to know that Linda has got a white flower for her lapel and you the red rose, so both Northern counties properly represented when you meet up at your gig!

    @ Muzza: So glad you are on the mend! When you are fully recovered, I will set you back a week with my singing! I have made 8 practice recordings on my pc to date, all sounding as dull as ditch watter! Hahahahaha!

    Your hot tale (or should that be tail? – I’ll be getting struck off here soon!) reminds me of one from an acquaintance, cooking a romantic meal for his new girlfriend using lots of chilli… I will not go into detail save to say, you could hear her screams throughout the whole house… followed by the sound of copious running cold water…

  19. Diana says:

    @Jane: Oh well shall find out in due course – will await Muzza’s singing or better still yours. The “Sheep Shearing Song” isn’t it? I thought that Linda and I complimented each other with the roses but there will be no battle.

    I laughed at your description of the chilli affair and also thought your tail (tale) amusing. I am not sure though that is where Muzza was feeling the heat.

  20. Old Muzza(N.W.Surrey) says:

    Just shows …….you don’t know what is round the corner July 2012….a month later that year – I had a heart attack…cripes …how the years have flown

  21. OldMuzza(NWSurreyUK) says:

    Cor blimey guvnor….this is quite a rude song…
    .how come nobody told me about that chat up line when I was much much much much much much much younger and had interesting dreams
    (albeit.. helped along by accidental application of deep Heat body rub!)

  22. Jane (MarylandUS) says:

    Catching up on songs from earlier in the year. This was exactly the bit of frivolity I needed today, especially paired with @Muzza’s brilliant recitation. Thanks @Jane Ramsden.

  23. Old Muzza(NW Surrey UK) says:

    This song is sooooo rude….Cecil Sharp will be spinning!!
    Must look up if there are any more stonecutting hint videos on Youtube!

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