The Driving of The Deer

Lord Peverel stood on the Lordis Seat, and an angry man was he

For he heard the sound of a hunters horn slow winding up the lee...

Get fromThe Driving of the Deer - The Dark Peak and The White

William Peverel, Norman Lord of Peverel Castle in Castleton, stands on Lord's Seat, a peak on the ridge between Edale and Rushup Edge. He hears the sound of a horn, and realises that someone is illegally hunting his deer across the forestry land.

The Driving of the Deer

On discovering it is his enemies, the Saxons who live by permission at Bowden (by Chapel-en-le-Frith), he sends Sir Payne Peverel to order them to stop hunting, and pledge allegiance to the Peverels. The Saxon Lord refuses, and when the Saxons wave their weapons in the air, Lord Peverel can see he is outmatched on this occasion.

The story ends without further conflict, but Lord Peverel vows to “...right this wrong someday”.

Background

The Driving of the Deer comes from ‘The Songs and Ballads of Derbyshire’, published in 1867 by Llewellynn Jewitt. I stumbled across the song when looking for music from my Edale home; I searched on the internet for songs from Derbyshire, and found this Ballad book uploaded to Google Books by the University of California. It was the first time I had heard of the book, and I was amazed to think that the version I was using was in America!

The words to The Driving of the Deer were written by Mr. William Bennett, (who also wrote ‘The King of The Peak’ in 1823). In the ballad, he imagines a meeting of the Norman Lord Peverel and the Saxon lords, in an area known as The Royal Forest of The Peak.

William Peverel is widely believed to have been the illegitimate son of William the Conqueror. He built the first Peveril Castle in Castleton, which later passed to his son, who is referred to as William Peverel the younger. The Driving of The Deer tells a story of William Peverel the younger, also known as William Peverel III (William Peverel II was his brother, but died at a young age).

The Peverels were in charge of The Royal Forest of The Peak. “The Forest” was not necessarily a heavily wooded area, but instead meant that this was designated as royal hunting ground, and everything within it legally belonged to the King. The Royal Forest of the Peak was divided into three wards, Campana, Longdendale and Hopedale, and these three areas met together at one point, Edale Cross. In Bennett’s ballad, Peverel stands on Lord’s Seat, a peak along the ridge of the south western side of Edale valley and not far from Edale Cross. Peverel would have been able to see the three wards from this spot, and Bennett himself wrote that the view from this place...

“...is magnificent; perhaps one of the finest in north Derbyshire, as from it’s summit you may see the pennine chain of Cheshire, Derbyshire, and Staffordshire, with many of the lovely valleys which lie among the hills. Westward you look down upon the valley of Chapel-en-le-Frith, the eastern part of which contains the ancient manor of Bowden”.

(Bennett, 1867, p230 as published in ‘The Songs and Ballads of Derbyshire’)

When Lord Peverel hears the Saxons hunting on his land, he is determined to hold them to 'forest law', a set of rules established by William the Conqueror to protect the animals and land of the Royal Forests. Punishment for breaking the law could be harsh, and according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, William I “...laid a law upon it, that whoever slew hart or hind should be blinded”. In this ballad, Lord Peverel threatens to hang the Saxon Lord who hunts on his land. He sends Sir Payne Peverel to order the Saxons to stop their hunting, and come to pledge alligence to him. The Saxon Lord refuses, and when he and his company wave their weapons in the air, Lord Peverel can see that he is outmatched. He leaves the hill, vowing that one day he’ll punish the neighbouring Saxons for this “...day of sport”.

This is where I have ended my retelling of the story, but in his original ballad, Bennett goes on to explain that William Peverel never did have his revenge; he writes that Peverel was involved in the death of Ranulph Earl of Chester, and had to flee the country. It is through this, and the reference of Sir Bruno the Saxon Lord to “...Good King Harry”, that we can establish which Peverel is featured in the song, and in which time period, the rein of Henry I (son of William the Conqueror, and third on the throne since the Norman invasion of 1066 after William I and William II).

Sir Payne Peverel is referred to in Bennett’s ballad as Lord Peverel’s frère, his brother, and some historians indeed believe that William Peverel the elder had a son called Payne, who fought in the crusades. William Peverel the elder also had a half brother called Payne Peverel, who was the child of his mother and Ranulph Peverel. Ranulph was William Peverel’s stepfather, and it is from here that the Peverels of the Peak get their name.

by Mr. William Bennett
Published in ‘The Ballads & Songs of Derbyshire’, 1867, edited by Llewellynn Jewitt.

Lord Peverel stood on the Lordis seat,
And an angry man was he;
For he heard the sound of a hunter’s horn
Slow winding up the lea.
He look’d to north, he look’d to south,
And east and west look’d he;
And "Holy Cross!" the fierce Norman cried,
"Who hunts in my country?

Belike they think the Peverel dead,
Or far from forest walk;
Woe worth their hunting, they shall find
Abroad is still the Hawk."
Again he looked where Helldon Hill
Joins with Konying’s Dale;
And then once more the bugle blast
Came swelling along the gale.

"Mount, mount and ride!" the baron cried,
"The sound comes o’er the Edge,
By Perry dale, or Gautriss side,
My knightly spurs I pledge.
These outlaws who now drive my deer,
Shall sooth our quarry be;
And he who reaches first the hounds
Shall win a guerdon free."

Each knight and squire soon sat in selle,
And urged his horse to speed,
And Peverel, first among the rout,
Proved his horse good at need.
Adown the slope, along the flat,
Against the hill they ride,
Nor pull a rein ’till every steed
Stands fast on Gautriss side.

"Hold hard! They’re here." the Peverel said,
And upward held his hand,
While all his meany kept behind,
Awaiting their lord’s command;
And westward, on the Bolt-edge Moor,
Beyond the rocky height,
Both hounds and hunters, men and horse,
And deer were all in sight.

Said then the baron, "Who are these
Who fear not Peverel’s sword
Nor forest laws." Outspoke a squire,
"Of Bowdon he’s the lord;
Sir Bruno, hight, a Franklin brave,
One of the Saxon swine
Who feasts each day on fat fed beef,
And guzzles ale, not wine.

"What stirs the sodden headed knave
To make his pastime here?"
Cried Peverel, "and thus dare to brave
Him whom the King doth fear?
Ride down the villains, horse and man;
Would we were armed to-day,
No Saxon chine should bear its head
Forth from the bloody fray."

Up spoke his frere, Payne Peverel, then,
Of Whittington lord was he,
And said, "fair Sir, for ruth and grace
This slaughter may not be.
The Saxon’s lands are widely spread,
And he holds them in capite,
And claims three days with hawk and hound
To wind his bugle free."

"Beshrew his horn, and beshrew his heart,
In my forest he may not ride;
If he kills a deer, by the conqueror’s bow
By forest law he shall bide.
Ride on, Sir Payne, and tell the churl
He must cease his hunting cheer,
And come to the knee of his suzerain lord
Awaiting his presence here.


Ride with him, sirs, some two or three,
And bring him hither straight:
’Twere best for him to come at once
Than cause his lord to wait.
There are trees in the forest strong enow
To bear the madman’s corse,
And he shall hang on the highest bough
If hither he comes perforce."

Sir Payne rode swiftly cross the dale,
Followed by gentles three,
Nor stayed his horse ’till he had reached
The hunter’s company:
And then he siad, "Fair sirs, ye ride
And drive our deer as free
As if this land were all you own
And not in forestry.

Lord Peverel yonder waits your ease,
To know how this may be;
Since he is lord of the forest wide,
And will not trespass see.
He bids you, as your suzerain lord,
Forthwith to come to his knee,
And as his liegeman humbly stand,
And answer him truthfully."

"No man of his," cried the Franklin, "then
Am I, as he knows full well,
Though within the bounds of his forest walk
It likes me sooth to dwell.
My manor of Bowdon, I hold in chief
From good King harry I trow;
And to him alone will I homage pay
And make my fealty vow."

"Beware, Sir Franklin," cried Sir Payne,
"Beware how thou play the fool!
To brave the ire of thy suzerain lord
Will lead to direful dule.
Come on with me, and make thy peace,
Better do that than worse;
He’ll hang thee on the forest tree
If we take the hence perforce."

"Take me you can’t while I have thews,
And these have bows and spears,"
Cried the brave Franklin. "Threaten him
Who the Lord Peverel fears.
We’ve broke no forest law to-day;
Our hunting here’s my right;
And only ye can force me hence
If strongest in the fight.,"

Each hunter then upraised his spear,
Or twanged his good yew bow,
While cloth yard shafts from every sheaf
Glinted a threatening shew.
And back Payne Peverel reined his horse,
And, as he rode away,
Cried, "Fare ye well, this day of sport
Will breed a bloody day."

Well was it for the Saxons then
The Normans rode unarmed,
Or they would not have left that field
And homeward gone unharmed.
Lord Peverel viewed their bows and spears,
And marked their strong array,
And grimly smiled, and softly said,
"We’ll right this wrong some day."

But e’er that day, for fearful crime,
The Peverel fled the land,
And lost his pride of place, and eke
His lordship and command.
For Ranulph Earl of Chester’s death,
By him most foully wrought,
He fled fair England’s realm for aye,
And other regions sought.

Where, so ‘tis write, a monk he turned,
And penance dreed so sore,
That all the holy brotherhood
Quailed at the pains he bore.
And yet the haughty Norman blood
No sign of dolour showed;
But bore all stoutly to the last,
And died beneath the rood.

So Heaven receive his soul at last,
He was a warrior brave;
And Pope and priest were joined in mass
His guilty soul to save.
For Holy Church and Kingly Crown
He was ever champion true;
For chivalry and ladies’ grace
Chivaler foial et preux.

Words by Mr. William Bennett (c.1820), tune by Bella Hardy.

Lord Peverel stood on the Lordis Seat,
And an angry man was he
For he heard the sound of a hunter’s horn
Slow winding up the lea
He look’d to north, he look’d to south,
East and west looked he
“Oh Holy Cross” the Norman cried,
“Who hunts in my country?”

“Belike they think the Peverel dead,
Or far from forest walk.
Woe worth their hunting, they shall find
Abroad is still the Hawk”
Again he looked where Helldon Hill
Joins with the Konying’s Dale
And then once more the bugle blast
Came swelling along the gale.

“Mount, mount and ride” the baron cried
“The sound come’s o’er the lea,
These outlaws, who now drive my deer
Shall soon our quarry be"
All down the slope, along the flat
Against the hill they ride,
Non pull the rein till every steed
Stands fast at Gautriss side.

“Hold hard! They’re here” the Peverel said
And upward held his hand
While all his many kept behind
To wait their Lords command
And westwards, on the Bolt-edge Moor
Beyond the rocky height,
Both hounds and hunters, men and horse,
And deer were all in sight.

Who are these who break forest law?
Who fear not Peverel’s sword?
Up spoke Sir Payne Peverel, and said
“Of Bowdon he’s the Lord,
Sir Bruno, hight, a Franklin brave
One of the Saxon swine
Who feast each day on fat fed beef
And guzzle ale not wine”

“Beshrew his horn and beshrew his heart,
This land he may not ride.
If he kills a deer, by the conquerors bow
By forest law he’ll bide.”
“Ride on, Sir Payne, and tell the churl
to cease his hunting cheer,
And come before his surzerain lord
Who waits his presence here”

Sir Payne rode swiftly across the dale
followed by his gentle’s three,
Nor stayed his horse ’till he had reached
The hunters company.
And then he said “Fair sirs, you ride
And drive our deer as free,
As if this land were all your own
And not in forestry”

Sir Franklin cried “I’m not his man,
And Peverel knows full well,
Though within the bounds of his forest walk
It likes me sooth to dwell.”
“My manor of Bowden I hold in chief
For good king Harry’s might
And you can only force me hence
If strongest in the fight”

Each Saxon then upraised his spear
Or twanged his good yew bow
And the Normans who rode out unarmed
Couldn’t match this threatening show
Lord Peverel viewed their bows and spears
And marked their strong array,
And so grim he smiled, and softly said
“We’ll right this wrong someday”

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The Driving of the Deer - The Dark Peak and The White

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