The Drunken Butcher of Tideswell

He drank till the summer sun went down and the stars began to shine

And his greasy noddle was dazed and addled with the nut brown ale and wine

Get fromThe Drunken Butcher of Tideswell - The Dark Peak and The White

From ‘The Ballads and Songs of Derbyshire’, 1867. Bold Robin, the Butcher of Tideswell, rides for Whaley Bridge to sell a cow hide, but is stopped on the way at Chapel-en-le-Frith by his friends the Smith, the Parson, and the Pardoner. They drink together at The Rose of Lancaster, before the Butcher, "...dazed and addled", mounts his horse and sets off home. But on his way, he is frightened out of his wits as a foul phantom chases him across a moonlit Tideswell Moor. Is it a terrible ghost, or just the drunken Butchers own shadow, as his wife believes?

A view over the moors

Words Trad/William Bennett

Oh, list to me, ye yeomen all,
Who live in dale or down!
My song is of a butcher tall,
Who lived in Tiddeswall town.
In bluff King Harry’s merry days,
He slew both sheep aud kine;
And drank his fill of nut brown ale,
In lack of good red wine.

Beside the church this butcher lived,
Close to its gray old walls;
And envied not, when trade was good,
The Baron in his halls.
No carking cares disturbed his rest,
When off to bed he slunk;
And oft he snored for ten good hours ,
Because he got so drunk.

One only sorrow quelled his heart,
As well it might quell mine--
The fear of sprites and grisly ghosts,
Which dance in the pale moonshine;
Or wander in the cold Churchyard
Among the dismal tombs,
Where hemlock blossoms in the day,
By night the nightshade blooms.

It chanced upon a summer’s day,
When heather bells were blowing,
Bold Robin crossed o’er Tideswell Moor,
And heard the heath-cock crowing;
Well mounted on his forest nag,
He freely rode and fast;
Nor drew a rein, till Sparrow Pit,
And Paislow Moss were past.

Then slowly down the hill he came,
To the Chappelle en le frith,
Where, at The Rose Of Lancaster,
He found his friend the smith;
The Parson, and the Pardoner too,
There took their morning draught;
And when they spied a Brother near,
They all came out and laughed.

"Now draw thy rein, thou jolly butcher;
"How far hast thou to ride?"
"To Waylee-Bridge, to Simon the Tanner,
"To sell this good cow-hide."
"Thou shalt not go one foot ayont,
’Till thou light and sup with me;
And when thou’st emptied my measure of liquer,
I’ll have a measure wi’ thee!"

"Oh no, oh no, thou drouthy smith!
I cannot tarry to-day:
The Wife, she gave me a charge to keep;
And I durst not say her nay."
"What likes o’ that," said the Parson then,
"If thou’st sworn, thou’st ne’er to rue:
Thou may’st keep thy pledge, and drink thy stoup,
As an honest man e’en may do."

"Oh no, oh no, thou jolly Parson!
I cannot tarry, I say;
I was drunk last night, and if I tarry,
I’se be drunk again to-day."
"What likes, what likes," cried the Pardoner then,
"Why tellest thou that to me?
Thou may’st e’en get thee drunk this blessed night;
And well shrived for both thou shalt be."

Then down got the Butcher from his horse,
I wot full fain was he;
And he drank ’till the summer sun was set,
In that jolly company:
He drank ’till the summer sun went down,
And the stars began to shine;
And his greasy noddle was dazed and addle,
With the nut brown ale and wine.

Then up arose those four mad fellows,
And joining hand in hand,
They danced around the hostel floor,
And sung, tho they scarce could stand.
"We’ve aye been drunk on yester night,
And drunk the night before;
And sae we’re drunk again to-night,
If we never get drunk any more."

Bold Robin the Butcher was bored and away;
And a drunkern wight was he;
For sometimes his blood-red eyes saw double;
And then he could scantly see.
The forest trees seemed to featly dance,
As he rode so swift along;
And the forest trees, to his wildered sense,
Resang the jovial song.

Then up he sped over Paislow Moss,
And down by the Chamber Knowle:
And there he was scared into mortal fear
By the hooting of a barn owl:
And on he rode by the Forest Wall,
Where the deer browsed silently;
And up the Slack, ’till, on Tiddeswall Moor,
His horse stood fair and free.

Just then the moon, from behind the rack,
Burst out into open view;
And on the sward and purple heath
Broad light and shadow threw;
And there the Butcher, whose heart beat quick,
With fear of Gramarye,
Fast by his side, as he did ride,
A foul phantom did espy.

Uprose the fell of his head, uprose
The hood which his head did shroud;
And all his teeth did chatter and girn,
And he cried both long and loud;
And his horse’s flank with his spur he struck,
As he never had struck before;
And away he galloped, with might and main,
Across the barren moor.

But ever as fast as the butcher rode,
The Ghost did grimly glide,
Now down on the earth before his horse,
Then fast his rein beside:
O’er stock and rock, and stone and pit,
O’er hill and dale and down
’Till Robin the Butcher gained his door-stone,
In Tiddesswall’s good old town.

"Oh, what thee ails, thou drunken butcher?"
Said his Wife, as he sank down;
"And what thee ails, thou drunken butcher?"
Cried one-half of the Town.
"I have seen a Ghost, it hath raced my horse,
For three good miles and more;
And it vanished within the Churchyard wall,
As I sank down at the door."

"Beshrew thy heart, for a drunkern beast!"
Cried his Wife, as she held him there;
"Beshrew thy heart, for a drunkern beast,
And a coward, with heart of hare.
No Ghost hath raced thy horse to-night,
Nor evened his wit with thine:
That Ghost was thy shadow, thou drunken wretch!
I would the Ghost were mine."

Words Trad/William Bennett. Tune by Bella Hardy

Come listen to me, you yeomen all, who live in dale or down
My song is of a butcher tall who lived in Tideswell town
Beside the church this butcher bode, and when off to bed he slunk
He often slept for ten good hours because he got so drunk

One only sorrow quelled his heart, as well it might quell mine;
The fear of wights and grisly ghosts which dance in the pale moonshine,
That wander lost in the cold churchyard among the dismal tombs,
Where hemlock blossoms in the day, and in darkness nightshade blooms

It chanced upon a summer’s day when the heather bells were blowing,
Bold Robin crossed o’er Tideswell Moor and heard the heath-cock crowing
Well mounted on his forest nag he freely rode and fast
Nor drew a rein ’till Sparrow Pit and Paislow Moss were past

Then slowly down the hill he came, to Chapel-en-le-Frith
Where, at The Rose Of Lancaster he met his friend the smith.
The parson and the pardoner too all took their morning draught
And when they spied a brother near, they all came out and laughed.

"Come draw your rein, you butcher bold, how far have you to ride"
"To Simon the Tanner at Whaley Bridge to sell this good cow hide."
"You shall not go one foot ayont, till you stop and sup with me,
And when I’ve drank my liquer up, I’ll have a drink with thee!"

"Oh no, oh no, you drouthy smith, I can no longer stay.
The wife, she gave me a charge to keep and I dare not tell her nay."
Cried the Pardoner then "What likes! What likes! Why tell you this to me?!
You may be drunk this blessed night, and shrived for both you’ll be."

So down got the butcher from his horse, I wot, full willing was he
And he drank till the summer sun was set in that jolly company
He drank till the summer sun went down and the stars began to shine
And his greasy noddle was dazed and addled with the nut brown ale and wine.

Then up arose these four mad men, and joining hand in hand
They danced around the hostel floor and sung though they scarce could stand.
Then Bold Robin mounted on his horse, and a drunkern wight was he,
And off he rode by the forest wall, where the deer browse silently.

Then up the Slack, on Tideswell Moor broad light and shadow threw
As the silver moon from behind the clouds burst out to open view
And there this man, whose heart beat quick, gave out a dreadful howl
For fast by his side, he there espied, a monstrous phantom foul

Uprose the fell of it’s head, uprise the hood which it’s head did shroud
And all it’s teeth did chatter and grin as it cried both long and loud
The butcher struck his horse with his spur as he never had struck before
And away he rode with might and main across that barren moor

But ever as fast as the butcher rode, the ghost did grimly glide
Now down on the earth beside his horse, then fast at his rein side
O’er stock and rock and stone and pit, o’er hill and dale and down
Till the butcher gained his door stone there in Tideswell’s good old town

"Oh, what thee ails, my drunken butcher?" said his wife as he sank down
"Oh, what thee ails, you drunken butcher?" cried half of Tideswell town
"I have seen a ghost, it raced my horse for three good miles and more
And it vanished within the churchyard wall as I sank down at this door"

"Beshrew your heart, you’re a drunken beast" cried his wife as she held him there
"Beshrew your heart, you’re a drunken beast and a coward with the heart of a hare!
No ghost has raced you home tonight, nor matched it’s wit with thine,
That ghost was your shadow, you drunken wretch, and I wish that ghost was mine"

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