26 September 2021


 A look back at recordings I made over my career.

Part 4: BEDFORDSHIRE FOLK SONGS cassette for Luton Museum 1981.

Pete Castle, Sue Castle, Bill Prince, Margery ‘Mum’ Johnstone.

Since 1975, when we moved to Luton, I had been doing a lot of research into Bedfordshire folk songs. The Wardown Park Museum were very helpful and keen. In the end I found well over 100 songs—songs about Bedfordshire, songs unique to Bedfordshire and versions of well known songs which happened to be collected in Bedfordshire etc. I recorded them all for the museum and, apparently, the tapes are still there somewhere… but they don’t know where! They then funded this cassette album which they sold in the museum shop and I took round to gigs. It proved very popular.


Sue often sang with me, Bill was running a folk club in Bedford and had some local songs and Mum Johnson (pictured below) was a genuine traditional singer who learned many of her songs from her granny when she was a little girl. She was about 80 when I recorded her but still fit and singing well. Her big thing was to sing Good Morning Lords & Ladies at the maypole at Ickwell Green at sunrise every May Day.



John Barleycorn (Pete)

The Duke of Bedford (Pete)

Good Morning Lords & Ladies (Mum)

Buckworth May Song (Mum)

The Plaitman of Bedfordshire (Pete)

Jolly Herring (Pete, Sue, Bill)

The Young Squire of Denes (Bill)

An Original Song (Pete)

A Doctors Life (Pete)

Garners Gay (Pete and Sue)

Hinwick May Song (Pete)

The Lace Merchant and the Farmer (Pete); Come All You Bold Bachelors (Sue);  The Deserted Lover (Sue); Watercresses (Pete); The Kempston Poachers (Bill); Thomas Crawley (Pete); Johnny My Own True Love (Mum); The Maid’s Lament (Mum); Peggy Walker (Pete); Valentines Chant (Pete, Sue, Bill)

I am amazed at how many of those have stuck in my repertoire. 5 of them are on my You Tube channel but 3 are more recent renditions. I recommend Mum Johnstone singing her two May songs and talking about May Day in the early years of the 20th century at


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