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Wiltshire Community History

Wiltshire History Questions Search Results

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Question Date :

Monday 4th July 2011 10:07

Question:
I've heard that on election night, the victorious candidate for the Salisbury City constituency has to sing a traditional Wiltshire song. Is this true and if so what is it?

Answer:
Yes it is true: our MP Robert Key has continued the tradition of singing the song “The vly be on the turmut” from the balcony of the White Hart Hotel in St John's Street, Salisbury, on taking and retaining his seat in Parliament. This is the marching song of the Wiltshire Regiment, and its words are as follows:-

T'were on a jolly zummer's day, the twenty-fust of May,
Jhn Scruggins took his turmut hoe, with this he trudged away,
Now some volkes they loike haymakin', and some they vancies mowin'
But of all the jobs as Oi loike best, gi'e Oi the turmut 'oein'.

Chorus:

The vly, the vly -
The vly be on the turmut,
'Tis all me eye,
For Oi to try,
To keep vlies off them turmuts.

The fust place as Oi went to wurk; it were wi' Varmer Gower,
Who vowed and swore as how Oi were ' - a virst class turmut 'oer';
The second place Oi went to wurk, they paid Oi by the job,
If Oi'd a-knowed a little more, Oi'd sooner bin in quod.

Chorus:

The vly, the vly -
The vly be on the turmut,
'Tis all me eye,
For Oi to try,
To keep vlies off them turmuts.

The last place as Oi went to wurk, they zent ver Oi a-mowin',
Oi zent wurd back, Oi'd zunner get the zack, than gi'e up turmut 'oein'.
Now all you jolly varmer chaps, what boides at 'ome zo warm,
Oi'll now conclude my ditty wi'e a-wishin' you no 'arm.

Chorus:

The vly, the vly -
The vly be on the turmut,
'Tis all me eye,
For Oi to try,
To keep vlies off them turmuts.

According to the BBC's website, 'The vly be on the turmut' is the song of the 4th (TA) Battalion of the Regiment, but Tom Gibson quotes it as being the song of the entire regiment. There are numerous versions of the song, as shown by a Google search on "vly be on the turmut" and "fly be on the turmut". The chorus is a reference to problems encountered keeping turnip beetles away. The song appeared in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire: the latter provenance for this song is evident in "The Turmut Hower", printed in J. Arthur Gibbs' 'A Cotswold Village' from the opening lines "I be a turmut hower, / Vram Gloucestershire I came; / My parents be hard-working folk, / Giles Wapshaw be my name.". Gibbs' book can be consulted on-line through the good offices of the Gutenberg project.

The one thing which no website seems to give is the music, which is contained in Gibson's 'The Wiltshire Regiment', Don Cross's 'Salisbury: a history and celebration' and in Sir Granville Bantock's compilation '100 songs of England for high voice'. The BBC Music Library Song Catalogue includes seven editions of the three county versions.

Bibliography:
BBC Music Library: Song catalogue, IV, titles M-Z (British Broadcasting Corporation, 1966), p. 1102, 'Turmut-hoeing'.

Cross, D.A.E.: Salisbury: a history and celebration of the city (Teffont: Frith Book Co. for Ottakar's, 2004. - isbn 1 90493 884 2), p. 80.

Gibbs, J.A.: A Cotswold village (1918; reproduced as Gutenberg Project e-book #11160)

Gibson, T.: The Wiltshire Regiment (Leo Cooper, 1969), pp. 141-143.

"The vly be on the turmut" and "the fly be on the turmut" (Google searches, 24/7/2006)

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