Group Songs & Words

This is a collection of the Rusper and Worthing groups final song versions, recorded at St. Mary’s Church, Rusper on Saturday 1st June 2019.


The Delicate Flower 

Composed by Hilaire Belloc

Belloc's only true love song (he wrote other songs about his love for Sussex and love of ale, but this is his only song about a love for a person, and that highly idealised!)

The Derby Ram

Group Performance

Instrumental Version

Lucy Broadwood didn't mind collecting nonsense songs, and none get much more nonsensical than this one about a mighty and infeasibly giant ram. There is a reference in the song to football: up until the 1840's, Debry was famous for its mass-participation football, involving hundreds of players, that was essentially a battle between the lads and young men of two different parts of Derby that lasted all day!

Duke William

Composed by Hilaire Belloc

Belloc loved history and he also liked to make fun of historical characters and events. Here he turns the story of the Norman conquest into a drunken binge at sea, coupled with an unlikely array of female loves.

Ha'nacker Mill

Composed by Hilaire Belloc

Perhaps Belloc's most poignant and wistful song. Ostensibly about the collapse of Halnaker Mill (an enduring landmark of his childhood at Slindon) during a storm, it can also be seen as a premonition. Belloc was soon to lose his wife to illness and his eldest son to war. It is also a lament for a rural England that was soon to pass away, displaced by mechanisation and the movement of population from the country to the towns.

His Hide is Covered with Hair


Is this just a silly animal song with no more purpose than to entertain, or does the refrian, "I thank my God for this at the least, I was born in the West, and not in the East," suggest something more profound?

I've Been To France


Harvests usually ended with plenty of good cheer, including drinking games with songs to accompany them, this being an example of several collected by Lucy Broadwood.

Jolly Woodcutter


A harvest song celebrating the trades and hierarchy of the rural community. During the latter part of a harvest supper, after the consumption of much beer, we can imagine a verse being added for every occupation and station in life represented at the feast.

Loyal Lover

A beautiful and ethereal love song, rich with powerful imagery, drawing on the natural world for inspiration. Collected by Lucy Broadwood.

The Nobelman and The Thresherman

The 1820's and 1830's were a period of much hardship in rural England, with unemployment, low wages and great inequalities of wealth. This song naively imagines a wealthy landowner coming to the assistance of a smallholding 'peasant' farmer and his family. The last verse implies Godly retribution for those wealthy landowners who do not help their poorer neighbours. This version, collected by Lucy Broadwood has a different tune to the one sung by the Copper family at Rottingdean, whose 'Honest Labourer' omits the prospect of divine judgement.

Noel, Noel

Composed by Hilaire Belloc

A short humorous song, showing Belloc at his most pious and most blasphemous too. Nothing, not even his own religion, was beyond his satire.

Oats and Beans

A charming children's song collected by Lucy Broadwood.

On Sussex Hills

Composed by Hilaire Belloc

Belloc's song in praise of all things Sussex - it stands in contention with 'Sussex by the Sea' as the county's 'national anthem.' 

Palagian Heresy 

Composed by Hilaire Belloc

Palagius was a fifth century heretic who claimed that an individual could find their own salvation without divine intervention. Only Belloc could find in this old theological dispute the basis for a comical song!

Rosebuds in June

Lucy's uncle, Rev. John Broadwood noted this song down in 1843. It also appears in one of the early volumes of the Sussex Archaeological Collections where it is described as being 'an ancient song.' It's dreamy quality nicely conjures up a bucolic scene of summer evenings and sensual pleasures.

Turtle Dove

This haunting melody and pantheist lyrics, evoke emotions of loss, love and hope. It may have originated as an early eighteenth century pleasure gardens song. Lucy Broadwood was attracted by temperament to this type of song.

West Sussex Drinking Song

Composed by Hilaire Belloc

Belloc celebrates his favourite West Sussex Inns, even though two of the references - Haselmere and Guildford are actually in Surrey!

The Winged Horse

Composed by Hilaire Belloc

Belloc's most personal song, recalling his failure to become a fellow of his Oxford College, Balliol - "It's ten years ago you turned me out of doors." The fantastical vision of riding on a winged horse allows Belloc to celebrate both his love for England and France and to declaim "the spouting well of joy within" that we may all drink from no matter what trails and tribulations life throws our way.