Oxford Ramble

Speed the Plough



A Taste of Ale

Six for Gold

Knock at the Knocker, Ring at the Bell

The Robber Bird

Three Quarter Time

The 25th



Printed Sources

Ralph Vaughan Williams and A.L. Lloyd (ed.), The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs


John Barleycorn (Shepherd Hayden)

Oxford Ramble track 6

The classic version of a classic English folk song. Collected by  Cecil Sharp in 1909 from Shepherd Hayden at Bampton in Oxfordshire.

This version of the song was included in the Penguin Book of English Folk Songs and has been widely recorded by revival artists including Mike Waterson, Martin Carthy and Chris Wood.

Another, completely different version of the song, also collected in Bampton, was included in the New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs. Steve Roud's notes to the song say The notes to this song in the New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs say "It was perhaps inevitable that this song would attract the ritual-origins theorists who claimed that it was all to do with corn spirits and resurrection, but it is now generally agreed that such notions were romantic wishful thinking and there is no evidence either for the theories themselves or for this song to be anything other than a clever allegory". So there.

We recorded a Devon version of 'John Barleycorn' on our later CD, A Taste of Ale.

Watch Video
John Barleycorn
Sung by Andy Turner and Ian Giles, Holywell Music Room, 3rd May 1993.