Bold Sir Rylas


We need to start off with a couple of thank yous for todays offerings. Firstly thanks to Dan Plews for being AFSAD’s first guest singer. Dan is working hard getting ready for a residential songwriting weekend he is running in Milton Keynes next week (click here for more details) so we are grateful that he could find time to meet up with Jon. Secondly big thanks to Ed Cooper who filmed and recorded the jam session. Ed and his partner Sarah are following Bellowhead at the moment collecting footage for a film, so we all look forward to seeing the results of that.

Now to the songs.

Here’s our first video for A Folk Song A Day… It mostly speaks for itself, but there are two songs here, including today’s Bold Sir Rylas. The first extra song is most timely, however, given the news that Nic Jones took to the stage himself at the Sidmouth Folk Festival . So as a complete bonus we have track 1 side 1 from Penguin Eggs, Canadee-i-o. It also answers a recent request for some harmony, so take it away Jon Boden and Dan Plews…

Bold Sir Rylas
Another from Spiers & Boden’s repertoire to be found once more on the Songs CD. Jon offers, “I was very excited when I came across this in a newly purchased copy of Folk Songs Of The Upper Thames. I didn’t think much of the chorus so changed that so that it would fit to the tune Enrico which was apparently Thomas Hardy’s favourite tune. Hardy was a fiddler of some note by all account.” The notes on Songs refer to it being a nicely compressed version of Sir Lionel (also known as Sir Eglamore and The Jovial Hunter and as Child Ballad #18.) It’s another song that seems to have a fairly confused history and there are similar songs that go back to Henry VIII and possibly before. I’ve found this that gives some indication of the age…

“Sir Eglamore, a hero of fourteenth-century French lais, came to England in the metrical ballad Sir Eglamore of Artois, in which the knight battles giants and wild boars for his beloved. He experienced resurgence in popularity at the start of the 1600s and Sir Eglamore And The Dragon (and parodies thereof) continued to appear in broadsides and songbooks into the eighteenth century. Child grouped Sir Eglamore with the Sir Lionel ballads (Child #18), a mostly-farcical collection which runs to heroes rescuing treed maidens from wild boars and their ilk. (Modern fantasy cliches notwithstanding, period songs rarely featured dragons: Wild boars were much scarier.) Our earliest written version of Sir Eglamore And The Dragon appears in Samuel Rowlands’s 1615 The Melancholie Knight. The author suggests an earlier source, writing “The history unto you shall appeare/Even by myselfe verbatim set downe heere:” [italics in the original], but he does not name his source. The song remained remarkably stable, eventually appearing in Pills To Purge Melancholy (D’Urfey, 1719/20) with only minor changes.”

I’ve copied that from a much longer article about Francis Child and Ballads in general, which may go into a general links section or glossary if I ever get the time to do it. Anyway if that’s not enough for you this Mudcat has more on the subject of Boars.

Bonus song: Canadee-i-o


31 Responses to “Bold Sir Rylas”

  1. John says:

    A wonderful way to start the morning for me. Everything about the video is excellent – the performances of the songs and the filming. I’m a great fan of both these songs and especially the version of Canadee-i-o that Nic Jones does on Penguin Eggs. but this is brilliant too. Many thanks.

  2. Simon Dewsbury says:

    I was thinking about Canadee-i-o about 5 minutes before I looked at this! Thinking the guitar playing on it by Nic Jones was probably my favourite piece of guitar playing of all time.

    and now this…. it’s absolutely brilliant, quite different and absolutely compelling. Taking on some big beasts at the moment and doing very well.

  3. Craig Willis says:

    Brilliant, simply brilliant. Bold Sir Rylas is one of my favourites!

  4. Phil says:

    Never heard Bold Sir Rylas before, but I’m quite tempted to learn it immediately. Terrific stuff.

  5. muzza says:

    Blown away by the video………excellent…….not too sure Dan appreciated the close-ups with beads of sweat gathering! excellent sound in the outdoor location.
    Rather than extreme close-ups…..all us parasites like to see the singer + chords/fingering of the instrument.

  6. Shelley says:

    What a treat! Love the video, and such a great setting too.

    Bold Sir Rylas is a favourite of mine – lots of joining-in bits!

  7. Hilary says:

    Loved this! Wonderful video – so atmospheric ….! I’m with Shelley – Bold Sir Rylas is a great one for joiners-in. Canadee-io – what a fabulous performance. Didn’t know it – glad to have found it here.

  8. Jane Ramsden says:

    Oh, yes! This was a treat. Thank you, Dan, for joining in. Not heard of you before, but will look out now! A high price put on that spotted pig… methinks a touch of Yorkshire thrift in there somewhere! I did not know either song and greatly enjoyed your natural yet professional performances. Thanks, guys!

  9. N J Gardner says:

    Kate & I thought this was great!

  10. Jo Breeze says:

    More about Bold Sir Rylas from the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at the English Folk Dance and Song Society.

    There are 4 records of Bold Sir Rylas in the Library, having been collected by Alfred Williams from the singing of Daniel Morgan from Braydon Wood in Wiltshire.

    We used the Roud number to cross reference against different titles for the song. When searched on Roud No. 29, this rises to an impressive 122 records; it also goes by the titles ‘Sir Lionel’, ‘Bangum and the Boar’, ‘Brangywell’, ‘Dilly-Dove’, ‘The Jovial Hunter of Bromsgrove’, ‘Old Bangham’ and more.

    If you wish to see more detail on each record, change the ‘output’ to ‘record’ and press ‘submit query’.

    There are no records of the song in the Take 6 archive.

    We use the Roud index and the Take 6 online collections in the search for information on Jon’s selections.

    For more information, or to carry out your own search for songs, please visit

    If you need any help accessing the library online or have any questions, please contact the VWML on 020 7485 2206 or

  11. Alan Rosevear says:

    With this jaunty tune it’s impossible to make the deaths of the boar and the witch wife anything but merry. The video in the wood is a great extra. I had not heard this tale before so thanks for the inspirational performance which has helped teach my tongue to negotiate this gallop.

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

    Gotta say it again…… much more impact to see the performers……

    That struck me again tonight as I watched Katherine Tickell at the proms… was so much more enjoyable than the audio version a couple of weeks ago.
    I MUST venture out into the woods for my Youtube efforts before that cold and wet winter sets in!

  13. Linda says:

    Had a really good day and this has rounded it of nicely. The setting for the video seemed to suit Bold Sir Rylas really well.

  14. Jane Ramsden says:

    I like ‘boar songs,’ of course, because of the Bradford Boar:

    In the early 14th century a boar was said to haunt Cliffe Wood. A reward was offered for anyone who killed the animal. John Northrop Manningham saw the animal drinking from a well, took aim with his bow and arrow and killed the boar. To prove his feat, he cut out the tongue of the boar and went off to claim his reward.

    Another man saw the dead boar and decided to profit from the kill. He cut off the head and made his way to the court to claim the prize. Arriving before Manningham, he offered the boar’s head to the court. However, he was unable to offer an explanation as to why the tongue was missing. John Manningham turned up and showed the tongue, claiming the reward of a piece of land, which today is called Horton (where Hunt Yard is, where the slain boar was taken). A condition was that Manningham and his heirs were to blow three blasts on a horn every St Martin’s Day: upon the blowing of the horn, he was to wait on John of Gaunt and his heirs and conduct them safely to Pontefract Castle, a service granted to the Manor of Bradford & then conferred on John Northrop Manningham.

    The Bradford Boar features on the city’s coat of arms and is, I believe, the only boar in heraldry to feature without its tongue.

    But it’s not the only Boar story! On a visit to Bishop Auckland Castle (still the seat of the Bishop of Durham) I was amazed to find the Leg-end of Pollard’s Brawn below:


    Legend has it that at some time in the middle ages Bishop Auckland was the haunt of a huge, ferocious brawn (or boar). Many attempts had been made to kill the beast, but all had failed, so the Bishop of Durham offered an unspecified reward for anyone who could do so.

    Richard Pollard, a skilled but poor young knight, rose to the challenge and began to study the behaviour of the brawn, which is supposed to have been as large as a cow. Arming himself with several spears, Pollard killed the beast after a long and bl@@dy struggle. He then proudly cut off the brawn’s tongue and placed it in his pocket as a souvenir.

    Pollard was exhausted from his pursuit and fell asleep with the dead creature by his side. A little later, a man was passing by and noticed the sleeping knight and his quarry. Remembering the Bishop’s promise of a prize, & without waking Pollard, he quickly made off with the carcass. When Pollard awoke, he was horrified to see the brawn had been taken, but guessed what had happened and quickly made his way to Auckland Palace, to see the Bishop of Durham.

    Arriving at the palace, Pollard found he was too late, learning that someone had already presented the Bishop with the brawn and received an ample sum of money in reward. Pollard nevertheless gained entry to the palace, and claimed that he was the one who had slain the brawn. When Pollard showed the Bishop the brawn’s tongue, the carcass was examined and the young knight’s claims were proved to be true.

    The Bishop told Pollard that as a reward he could have all the lands he could ride around, in the time it took him to finish his meal. Wasting no time Pollard set off, accompanied by one of the Bishop’s servants, but astonishingly returned to the palace only a few minutes later. The Bishop was surprised that Pollard had taken so little time, but learned that the reason was simple, Pollard had ridden around Auckland palace itself! Of course, the Bishop could not possibly give Pollard his palace and its grounds, but was impressed with the young knight’s clever thinking, so instead presented him with some of the most fertile lands in the Auckland area. These lands became known as Pollard’s lands.

    Now I am wondering just how many other ‘Bradford’ Boars there are!

  15. Diana says:

    This is my all-time favourite folk song. If it was on a 78 rmp record it would be worn out by now.

  16. Linda says:

    @Diana Amazon ,just type in Bellowhead .

  17. Diana says:

    Thanks Linda – actually ordered from Propermusic. Thought I was never going to get on here – I kept getting the site not available.

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

    Great to see the video yet agin………….like somebody selecting a book from a great libraryand reading to you every day

  19. Linda says:

    Glad you got youtube link Muzza have sent you an email…

    This song is going to be annoying for a few days ….but hey we can cope with that…

  20. Diana says:

    One of my favourites. Hi MUzza and LInda. Here again.

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

    All together now
    Down in the grove where the wild flowers grow
    and the green leaves fall all around

  22. John Bryson says:

    Where has the last 12 months gone? Just back from Cropredy festival, where the name ‘Jon Boden’ featured in a positive way among my seven-strong group.

    As an aside, this was a staple of the Spiers and Boden set. John Spiers is working with Peter Knight (former Steeleye Span fiddler/vocals) and I saw Peter on Friday with his Gigspanner Big Band at Cropredy, and I thoroughly enjoyed their set.

    Anyway, back to this, and there are some super songs so far in August, great to hear them again.

  23. Linda says:

    Re John’s message 2017 where have the last 4 years gone! Hope Diana’s humming along……..

  24. John Bryson says:


    I agree! Should have been at Cropredy today but the festival cancelled for the second year, understandably in my opinion. Great stuff from Jon

  25. OldMuzza (NWSurrey UK) says:

    WEY HEY…Linda and John….so you are both still lurking!

  26. Linda says:

    Still lurking

  27. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    HiLindy Lou…yep me toooo…..still lurkin’……..
    Blimey….that Jane and her lurid tales of boars in Bradford….how the heck will I sleep at night!

  28. Jane Ramsden says:

    Hello Linda! Hello Muzza!

    Why, you’ll sleep the sleep of the just, won’t you, Mikey-Mike? I’ll not bore you with tales of giant hogs!

    And no cat tails from this Bradfud bore! Lol.

  29. Linda says:

    Muzza have left links on Cruel Knife hope they work for you

  30. Old Muzzza (NWSurrey-UK) says:

    Lindy Lou…you are sooo cheeky…assuming that I would look a day ahead!.
    Yup.. thanks for the Paul Sartin Tribute link…I had already got that far but then came up against the log in block….. and all that sort of thing puts me in a bit of a spin…My Facebook account was inadvertently blocked 2 years ago and I have never been able to reopen ..despite following all instructions
    (same with ITVx) don’t have any success there either despite their instructions,
    Sooo regrettably. Will have to give Paul a miss! (old blokes-I ask yer)

  31. Linda says:

    OK Muzza try this Google FolkScape Live cllck on link when there page comes up should be a picture of Paul in the top right corner click on arrow and hopefully it will play without registering

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