Abroad For Pleasure


This is more commonly known as the Holmfirth Anthem, but as Jon explains, “This is sung at the Royal during carolling season but I know it originally from Lark Rise to Candleford, which is a slightly different version, perhaps from Derbyshire.” This explains the different title here, as the Albion Band performed it as such. I can’t do better than direct you to Mainly Norfolk to read all you need to know about this song and echo Reinhard’s comment that the Waterson’s version is lovely for its harmonies (although I think Jon does it fair justice here.) Further musings on the origins are to be found here on Mudcat. I also found this interesting.

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39 Responses to “Abroad For Pleasure”

  1. forgefolk says:

    Oh do stop writing ” it’s ” when you mean ” its ” !

  2. Hilary says:

    Oh bravo! I loved this – a superb performance of a splendid song. How I adore ‘the pratty, pratty flowyers’.

  3. SRD says:

    Another fine performance.

    Etymologically speaking; I wonder if the term ‘pratty’ is in any way related to the word pratie as in ‘The Garden where the Praties Grow’?

  4. admin says:

    Sorry for the gramatical errors, hasty fingers and an over reliance on spell checker to pick them up (which it didn’t here.)

  5. Jo Breeze says:

    More about Abroad for Pleasure from the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at the English Folk Dance and Song Society.

    There are 10 records of Abroad for Pleasure in the Library, collected primarily in Yorkshire but also with one collected in Gloucestershire.


    We used the Roud number to cross reference against different titles for the song. When searched on Roud No. 1046, there are again 10 records, but a different 10 – suggesting that the original search brought up some songs from a different song family. It’s also known as Through the Groves, Pratty Flowers, and – of course – the Holmfirth Anthem.


    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 collections.

    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 http://www.efdss.org/front/access-the-library-online/access-the-library-online/115

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

  6. muzza says:

    Now was that Admin Simon or Admin Ben with the hasty fingers?
    This is a great crowd pleaser of a song…….sung many different ways as you have already noted…We sing first line solo then all join in to sing it again….then solo for next lines and all join in and sing last line again.

  7. Phil says:

    Doubt it – ‘pratty’ is just a Yorkshirised ‘pretty’, and I’m fairly sure ‘praties’ are potatoes.

  8. admin says:

    Muzza, I cannot tell it a lie it was me (Simon.) In my defence I’m up over 10,000 words already, so the odd typo is innevitable and I’ll fully admit to not being the best!! I was a permanent member of the ‘must try harder’ club.

  9. Jane Ramsden says:

    Very ‘olmfirth, ‘aworth, ‘ebden Bridge…and short to boot! We don’t waste words in Yorkshire! People are still singing about pratty flowers here as I recently heard the Silsden Singers Community Choir sing a song about them. May not have been this one, but equally unaccompanied – other than by other voices – and lyrical. Nicely rendered, Jon.

  10. Phil says:

    Jon’s in fine voice on this one, btw. (I tried leaving this comment entirely in acronyms earlier on, but it got rejected – is AFSAD filtering out txtspk? O NOES!)

  11. admin says:

    Hi Phil, yes the spam filter hoovered up your message twice. I guess it doesn’t like anything that it can’t recognise as English, regardless of your regular contributions. But, believe me, we need it.

  12. Jo Breeze says:

    As a displaced Yorkshire girl myself, this is a lovely one!

  13. SRD says:

    Apropos Phil’s response;
    I also understood praties to be spuds but they do carry a rather pleasant star shaped flower so I wondered if there might be etymological links there.

  14. Jan Howard says:

    I’d like to propose a vote of thanks to admin’s (i.e administrators) 1. 2 and 3, for the efforts they’re making to support Jon in this project which is bringing such pleasure and interest into my life. It’s a huge commitment with, I assume, no reward other than the sense of doing something worthwhile which might be appreciated by other people. I particularly admire the patience and courtesy of Butterfingers Admin. when responding to criticism.

    I’m not sure if I’ve spelled commitment correctly but if anyone would like to correct me I’ll try to see it as a learning experience. However. I must admit that my feelings are hurt when people expect perfection of me, particularly when I’m doing my best for them. I’ll try to follow Butterfingers Admin’s good example of cheerful patience.


  15. Jan Howard says:

    Oh dear.

    I’ve just noticed that I put a full stop instead of a comma after “however” (2nd paragraph, line 2). I don’t think it’s possible to edit previous comments so please take this as a correction.


  16. admin says:

    Thanks for the vote of confidence Jan. Much as I like to kick myself when I get things wrong, it’s fairly innevitable given the amount of work involved. So, I’m actually quite pleased when people report errors, as I can go back and correct them. Besides it shows people really are reading this stuff.

  17. Jan Howard says:

    As I said, a wonderful example. I ‘ll try to be as courteous, patient and reasonable when reporting errors which, as you say, can be very helpful.
    This is my first try, I think there’s only one “n” in “inevitable”. Not that I mind there being two because it’s quite clear what you mean.
    (I would put a smiley here if I know how to do that.)


  18. admin says:

    Ha! I’ve proved my own point quite successfully – As Bugs Bunny would say “What a maroon.”

  19. Brian says:

    The Middle English for “pretty” was “prati” so,yet again,the folk of Yorkshire are pronouncing a word correctly.
    Whilst on the subject of praties,E.Estyn Evans makes this poignant remark in his book-Irish Heritage:”Ireland has received much in recent centuries;here the alien potato was first welcomed; and it was the praty which drove masses of Irishmen back along the route it had itself taken”.

  20. SRD says:

    Further usage with pretty as the meaning:
    “Tywardreath, a praty town, but no market, lyeth a quarter of a mile from the est side of the bay. There is a paroch church and there was a Priory of blak monks, cell sum tyme to a house in Normandy.” from John Leland’s Itinerary published during the reign of Henry VIII,

    and from Bartholomew the herbalist in the 13th century who “refers to the making of linen from the soaking of Flax in water till it is dried and turned in the sun and then bound in ‘praty bundels’ and afterwards ‘knockyd, beten and brayd and carflyd, rodded and gnodded; ribbyd and heklyd, and at the last sponne’” Greenwood.

    But as to potato; Mudcat has reference to a song called Apple Praties and in the Bentley Ballads A Modern Eclogue (no 196) has ”

    I’ll sing next of praytees, the boast of ould Erin,
    What dainty compared wid ’em ‘s worth a red herrin’,
    You may walk from Coleraine to that place they call Hayti,
    Bad luck to the thing you will lind like a praty, “

  21. DownWithPedants says:

    Very restrained of admin not to point out to the semi-literate smartarse commenter that there should not be spaces inside quotation marks or before exclamation marks. And to another commenter that we are not speaking Middle English. A huge raft of spellings of the word once existed but only one survives in Standard English. Perhaps we should go all the way and rebuke the Yorkshire folk for their newfangled “pratty” when it “should” be “pætig” as it was in Anglo-Saxon?

  22. Luins says:

    Sorry, but the Albion Band’s version is still the most enjoyable to listen to, even though it may not be the most authentic. As for “its” – it’s simple: no apostrophe for possessive, yes apostrophe for contraction of “it is”!

  23. John Phipps says:

    I first heard this 30 some years back on the Lark Rise recording. I love the call and response songs. I also liked the Ranter songs lie Jacob’s Well. Not that I would find any in one of my hymnals.

  24. admin says:

    Luins I do know the difference, but in my two or three finger typing I probably default to adding the apostrophe, so it’s a motor reflex failing rather than gramatical – I’m not a very good guitar player either. I mostly spot them (or spell checker does) but not always. Anyway, I’m sure some of you would run the red pen over much of my writing, but I do try…

  25. Linda Champ says:

    There is a related song on TakeSix sung by Mrs Hopkins of Axford, Hampshire entitled ‘Down the Lane as I was Walking’ (H1000/Roud 607) We southerners have ‘pretty’ flowers.
    Gardiner comments that ‘the text appears to be a version of a traditional text from which Perkins got his ‘inspiration’ for the “Holmfirth Anthem” ‘

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

    Cor blimey guvnor…………just re-read the comments……….I hope we now all agree that this is a valuable and enjoyable folksong project rather than a critique on the vagaries of the English language.
    I love this old song….and now I must take me to yon green gardens, where the pratty, pratty flowYers grow…hey ho!

  27. John Biggs says:

    Well said muzza re. the comments.
    Like you, our group love this song, with the responses after each line used to exploit the harmonies to the full.

  28. Jan says:

    Yep, we do it that way too, and we love it and all the harmonies!

  29. Diana says:

    Nothing to add – it has already been covered adequately.

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

    vEST VEST VEST….SOCK SOCK SOCK………..not a comma in sight….just love being reminded of this old song and I’m off to have a few choruses to myself

  31. Diana says:

    I rememeber those words so well Muzza!

  32. Old Muzza(NW Surrey.UK says:

    Hi Diana……….I have the same problem as you when typing the word rememeber!…I really do

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

    I’m still walking abroad for pleasure……well………….not so much abroad as up and down the road a couple of times.

  34. old Muzza (NW Surrey) says:

    Here I am…..still clinging to !he wreckage, still enjoying a daily dose of AFSAD

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

    Here I am….going abroad for pleasure (sounds a bit risqué) a day early….couldn’t resist.
    Well….had to take my mind off my trusted old vacuum blowing up…replaced it today with and almost silent .cheapy’ that sucks so hard I cant push it across the floor!

  36. John Bryson says:

    A year on Muzza – how’s your vacuum doing on it’s first birthday? A lovely song this

  37. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Hi John…….vacuum going well……have used it twice so far….don’t want to wear it out!
    The most recent time was to recover 1kg of Bird seed that decided to fall all over the kitchen floor….the old sucker coped admirably and I was, once more, able to go abroad for pleasure.

  38. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Ha…..good old AFSAD……..reminded me that I HAVE A VACCUM CLEANER….must try and find it among the clutter….haven’t seen it since the bird seed incident.
    That can be my project for the day! (as I sing about the pratty, pratty flowers!

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

    Sneaked in a day early for this one (again) as, just seeing the title sets me off.
    Still haven’t found the vacuum cleaner…to wish it happy birthday….
    no matter anyway as I still can’t see the bally floor for clutter (old blokes-I ask yer!)

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