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Wiltshire Community History

Wiltshire Folk Songs.Introduction

Many of the songs listed here are drawn from the manuscripts held by the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre as 'WSRO: 2598/36 Packets 1 - 6 - Wiltshire: Williams, A: MS collection'.

Alfred Williams, a foundry worker in the Swindon works of the Great Western Railway collected many songs in the early part of the Twentieth Century in and around the area he called the Upper Thames.

The approach followed in noting the songs collected by Alfred Williams has been to reveal the geographical scope of his collecting and to identify songs sung by singers who lived in Wiltshire, a county sadly under represented in collections of traditional songs.

In identifying a song as a 'Wiltshire' song the approach adopted draws on an aspect of Alfred Williams' annotations to the songs he collected. He sometimes says, for example, 'I obtained the copy at Bampton. I also heard it at Highworth.' The second singer is not identified, nor is a separate text given. So in addition to songs that are clearly recorded as being collected in a Wiltshire locality, there are also included those songs where indirect references as in the example above are given.

In addition to the songs collected by Alfred Williams the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library was the source for the songs collected in Wiltshire by G B Gardiner, the Hammond brothers, Cecil Sharp and Ralph Vaughan-Williams. Only the text noted in the original sources is reproduced. Thus many songs from these collectors are fragmentary.

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