Widdicombe Fair ~

WiddicombeFairCoverTom Pearse, Tom Pearse, lend me your grey mare

All along, down along, out along lee

For I want to go to Widdicombe Fair

With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney

Peter Day, Daniel, Whiddon, Harry Hawk

Old uncle Tom Cobleigh and all,

Old uncle Tome Cobleigh and all.

• Listen to the song by the King's SIngers at Albert Hall

• View SLIDESHOW from 1898 Widdicombe Fair book

• Watch 1947 BBC/PATHE News Reels of Widdicombe Fair

The lyrics of Devon's best known folk song tell a simple enough story - seven men and a grey mare set off for Widecombe Fair, but before completing their journey the old horse collapses from exhaustion because of carrying too many men along the way.

Delve deeper though and the history of the song becomes a little more muddled. Is this world famous ditty really steeped in Devon history and are the central characters based on real people?

Research carried out by the Widecombe and District Local History Group suggests that Tom Cobley and his friends were real people - probably from mid-Devon.

Most of the characters featured in the song had names which can be traced to families working in the Sticklepath and Spreyton area in the early 1800s.

"I'm convinced the characters were real people," explained history group member Tony Beard. BBC