Yarmouth Town


I know I’m not giving much away when I say that this is one of 11 cuts to make Hedonism, due with us on October 4th. Jon once again refers to the Norfolk maestro, “Bellamy’s sublime live album Won’t You Go My Way ended ‘Last one so make the most of it…’ So it seems a good way to end August (is that the end of summer technically btw?)” As to the summer question my vote would be the equinox, although arguably, meteorologically it seemed to finish when the schools broke up as far as most of the UK is concerned. Speaking of schools, as a parent (formerly concerned now mostly immune), I had to include this link for the sheer inappropriateness of it. I hasten to add, the fault probably lies with the researcher for the article rather than the ‘former voice of Madeline the ragdoll from Bagpuss,’ or at least I hope so!! Mainly Norfolk as always has the Bellamy angle covered.  Mudcat is dubious about the age and provenance of this song. Bellamy’s original notes were brief and simply refer to this and Fakenham Fair as “…straight forward good-time songs,” going on to claim they were “…both learned from Peter Bullen from Norwich who had them from his grandfather.” I see no reason to doubt this and the somewhat explicit nature may have put some of the collectors off documenting the song elsewhere, mind you that hasn’t stopped others making it to print. Still, either way, it naturally makes classic Bellowhead material for Jon to draw on here. Finally, I’ll add that trawling to the bottom one of the Mudat threads I found that the town motto of Yarmouth, Maine, is “Our latchstring always out.” The mind boggles! Perhaps you can add to this.

You can buy the August digital album now from all good download stores:



22 Responses to “Yarmouth Town”

  1. John says:

    Very good Jon. I had been hoping that you would do this song…and I also look forward to another version on the next Bellowhead album. I first heard Yarmouth Town (probably in 1965) sung by a local singer at the Jacquard Folk Club in Norwich. If memory serves, it was performed there quite regularly around this time. I subsequently forgot about the song until many years later when I discovered Peter Bellamy’s recording on the ‘Wake the Vaulted Echoes’ compilation and all those memories of the 1960s came flooding back.

    On a pedantic note, the article on the BBC Norfolk link surely refers to Sam Larner not Sam Long….and Lowestoft is in Suffolk, not Norfolk.

  2. SRD says:

    If summer starts and finishes at the equinoxes presumably Winter does the same which begs the question; what happened to Spring and Autumn?

    I’m not sure about the inappropriateness of the article, maybe I’m missing something, my interest in folk music was kindled by the ‘Singing Together’ programmes that the BBC put out for schools, certainly the songs were carefully chosen and bowdlerised but the tunes were there and, as I grew into my teens, discovering that the songs could be rude gave them an attraction that any amount of pop music lacked (R&B excepted).

    The simple explanation of “Our latchstring always out.” is that the latch on the doors was on the inside and could be operated from the outside by pulling on a string that dangled through a hole in the door. If, as a householder, you didn’t want visitors to ‘come right in’ you pulled the string back through the hole thus preventing unannounced ingress. “Our latchstring always out.” simply means that they were hospitable people who were always ready for visitors. If one sees other connotations maybe one has been spending too much time amongst the ‘ruder’ lyrics of the tradition. 😉

  3. admin says:

    Fair points, SRD, although I think it was the upfront nature of this one that sparked the prurient train of thought, fuelled by the Mudcat thread where the Yarmoth, Maine motto was was revealed. I am probably old enough to rise above the FNAR! factor but couldn’t help myself. I guess it’s a reaction to all the murder elsewhere! As for the equinoxes, I’ve always known them as spring and autumn and I’d have autumn as Sept-Nov and winter as Dec-Feb, with March marked by the first budding of the trees as the start of spring. Mind you, with climate change and some subtle (or not so) shifts in the prevailing weather systems who knows?!?

  4. edith lewis says:

    Been away to Saltburn and Whitby festivals so just listened to Nostradamus right through to Yarmouth Town. What a feast!!!! Great songs and wonderful singing.

  5. Jane Ramsden says:

    Not prurient at all. Just warm and funny. And yes, it does make a change from murder and mayhem, women not supposed to be enjoying themselves as much as the men do, morals leading to murder when it’s obvious they have been doing. Wearing nothing but a string when she let him in had me laughing out loud! Great fun, and must be so to sing. Well sung, Jon!

  6. Lenora Rose says:

    If summer starts and finishes at the equinoxes presumably Winter does the same which begs the question; what happened to Spring and Autumn?

    Solstices. Summer runs June 21 to September 21-22, followed by Autumn from Equinox to Winter Solstice (Dec 21). And so on.

    Not that it much resembles the actual running of the seasons, especially here in mid-prairie north America; where Summer lasts usually to at least the end of September and sometimes further before becoming truly obviously autumn, but winter has usually started by November. (First snow is often in October, but it melts away; first snow to stay is usually by mid-November, though I’ve seen it hold off to mid-December)

    I rather like having a cheerful song once in a while, amidst the murder and doleful ghosts of so many folk songs.

  7. kamama says:

    Love the song! So cheeky! I found myself humming the tune all day 🙂 Thanks, Jon!

  8. Jan says:

    Having as I do a predilection for saucy songs, this was already on my ‘to learn’ list – having heard Jon’s version, I will now definitely have to get on with it – once I’ve mastered The Yorkshire Couple which came to my attention a few days ago!

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

    Oh Jan…………I will be so disappointed if you failed to watch the “Yorkshire Couple” on

  10. Jan says:

    Of course I did, and I hope your grandparents are not spinning in their graves!

    That, of course, led to me spending an inordinate amount of time watching morris men in the pub. Damn, sidetracked again.

    Incidentally, I noticed a while ago your post explaining why you are muzza(s.e.England), so I’ll just say I’m in south Lincolnshire now although a Yorkshire lass originally, so not a true Yellowbelly.

    P.S. Just off back to YouTube to carry on getting to grips with the tune!

  11. Jan says:

    Did watch it, I mean! And enjoyed it. Past my bedtime, obviously.

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

    Huzzah Jan…………..that’s thee and me -John in Canada and Jane R in Yorkshire…I love to know where you all are (Oh and Admin Simon has lived everywhere…bit of a nomad!)….Blimey is that the time….Happy September everybody.

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

    I wonder if there is a complementary equivalent from the female point of view where the fella is up at the window with a string attached to a sensitive part of his anatomy.

  14. Jane Ramsden says:

    @ Muzza: You’re winding me up, aren’t ye? You mean his finger, don’t you?

    Tie A String Around Your Finger

    While I’m gone (while I’m gone)
    You say your love will stay so strong
    & you like the day we meet
    Tie a string around your finger so you won’t forget
    No no, don’t you forget it now

    You said (said), darlin’, you would remember the thrill of my kiss
    & the thrill of my lonely arms you’ll always miss
    So tie a string around your finger so you won’t forget
    Don’t you dare forget it

    While I’m gone I’ll miss you, I know
    But my lonely lonely heart will never never stray
    For I’ll always keep you for our devoted love
    Come what may, my love will never fade away

    You know (you know) it won’t be easy to always stay true
    No, it’s no easy thing to do
    But remember how much, how much I love you
    & tie a string around your finger (tie a string)
    & please don’t forget me (round your finger)
    Just tie a string around your finger
    …& fade

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  17. Diana says:

    Great song and as I have said before – Yarmouth in Maine has the motto “Our latchstring always out”. Appropriate!

  18. Diana says:

    It is the lst of September, now where is that dratted “Prentice Boy”?

  19. Yes I don’t think that strangely Fakenham Fair and Yarmouth town collected elsewhere ~ so brings into doubt trad credentials of both ~ someone clearly wrote them sometime !

  20. Linda says:

    Lovely set by Spiers and Boden on Folk on Foot 3 with the news that their back together new CD planned and festivals and tour for 2021 light at the end of the tunnel hopefull

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

    I wonder how many true loves there are wandering around missing a finger as the string restricted circulation!
    Ref Jan comment 31 Aug2011….I note that I have acquired airs & graces and moved on from plain old ‘muzza s.e.England…..(old blokes-I ask yer!)
    Hey……Autumn starts tomorrow according to the weather men and last chance to see the super blue moon tonight around 9:20pm…next one is 2037…and I don’t think I’ll be around for that one1

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