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John Kinnersley Kirby
Bps Stortford 1939-45
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View map showing the public houses mentioned in the poem below

caption

As I rode in from Stansted,
The grass still wet with dew,
The breaking dawn had streaked the sky
with RED, WHITE AND BLUE.

‘Twas very early dawn indeed,
I heard the distant clocks,
And rambling along Rye Street
I came upon a FOX.

I didn’t want to hunt just then,
And much to my relief,
That witty fox soon hid himself
Behind a big WHEATSHEAF.

By now the light was gaining fast,
The day had quite begun,
And presently and straight ahead
I saw the RISING SUN.

A HALF MOON trembled on my left,
When poor old ROBIN HOOD
Cried out that he had lost his maid
And much he feared for good.

I tried to comfort and console
And banish his alarms,
But soon I saw Maid Marian
Clasped in the BRICKLAYERS ARMS.

Up Bells Hill I climbed amid
The silence of the dead,
Then peeped around the corner and
Behold a fine BOAR’S HEAD.

Such fearsome beast should be destroyed,
Of peace of mind their wreckers,
I sought a friend for help, but found
That GEORGE was playing CHEQUERS.

One STAR still held the empty sky
And beckoned me on east,
When on the other side I spied
Another fearsome beast.

‘Gadzooks’ I cried ‘It seems that now
My sword I must rely on’,
But no, a harmless beast it was,
A very old BLACK LION.

The SHADES of night had cleared by now,
I busted in to Hockerill,
A COCK crowed shrill defiance
But I said to him ‘Be still’.

And now a choice confronted me,
A choice of different courses,
But on the right my way was blocked
By a fine COACH AND HORSES.
A WAGGON AND HORSES on the left
Blocking the road I spied,
My only way was straight ahead
So up the hill I plied.

‘Oh for a drink at last’. I said,
‘Yet beer is barred, I know’,
A draught of milk must serve instead
And here’s a fine RED COW.

My thirst I quenched and hurried on
Though folks were still abed,
Till, when I reached the boundary
I twinned my old NAGS HEAD

And headed down the hill once more
And singing as I rode,
I struck the fountain once again
And took the London road.

I heard the screams of trains below,
‘A RAILWAY near’, I cried,
But hurried on and in the road
THREE TUNS I quickly spied.

Just here I smelt a funny smell
A tannery no doubt,
And judging by that TANNERS ARMS
His work he was about.

I crossed the bridge and felt the mist
Rising from the river’s bed,
When looking over a gate I saw
A savage OLD BULL’S HEAD.

‘This is no place for me’, said I,
‘Those horns are sharp as skewers’,
But racing round the bend, I ran
Into some JOLLY BREWERS.

‘Hurrah’, they cried,
‘No goose you’ve won
In our great Christmas draw,
But here’s a SWAN and such a bird
You never saw before’.

The SWAN into the KING’S ARMS flew,
I followed close behind;
`Said I ‘Please give me back my bird
If you will be so kind’.

The king returned the bird to me,
I set him on the ground,
And if you want him, somewhere there
No doubt he can be found.

Now when I came upon the BRIDGE,
A FALCON there I saw
Was plucking at a lovely rose
That lay upon the floor.
I gave him one upon the crown
To teach that wayward elf,
Then left him with his ROSE AND CROWN
To mind his crown himself.

Now back and up the Newtown Road
I rode with spirits gay
Because a wonderous ROYAL OAK
Had tempted me that way.

Beneath its boughs I spread my lunch,
I’d bought a little parcel,
And was content as any king
That lived in any CASTLE.

A maid came up and said to me
‘Kind sir are you a lawyer?’
‘Why no’, I said ‘But who are you?’
She said ‘I am a sawyer’

I gazed upon her arms and hands,
So full of dimpled charms,
And said, ‘My dear you can’t fool me,
Those are no SAWYERS ARMS’.

I left her then and took once more
The road to home and dinner,
A black face watched me from above
As I’m a living sinner.

A traveller told me once that all
The Saracens are dead;
But I’ll be much surprised if that
Is not a SARACEN’S HEAD.

I don’t like that at all `I thought,
Now here I’ll drop my ANCHOR,
For after home and rest and beer
My soul began to hanker.

Visions of turkey,
pudding and GRAPES
Caused my dry mouth to water,
And gallopped off up Potter Street
Much faster than I oughter.
A passer-by said to her friend,
‘I think it going to REINDEER
And if I spoil my lovely hat
It will give me quite a pain dear’.

Her hat was green and blue and red
Unfit for winter weather,
And fastened on the top there waved
A gorgeous PLUME OF FEATHERS.

Well such were my adventures in
Bishop’s Stortford town,
So while I had them in my head,
I thought I would write them down.


Bishop’s Stortford’s Temperance Movement was fairly active by the end of the 19th century, but it was a brave objective in a town employed largely in the malting and brewing industry. Verse nine of the following poem seems to imply that it was written to celebrate the opening of a Temperance meeting place.

From a broad sheet of July 24th 1843

The time it shall come when Stortford shall rise,
And shake off its foul degradation:
Shall break up the temples of drinking and lies,
and assume a more dignified station.

The Maltsters and Brewers may grin if they please
And still make it their prime ale and porter,
But Temperance men can live at their ease,
And when dry get a glass of spring water.

Their trade must go down all over this town,
Of your tin I think they’ve had plenty:
So take up the pledge and put your names down,
And help to keep the Jerry holes empty.

There’s the jolly old PLOUGH where there is often a row
Where the drunkard’s get plenty of knocks:
Though out of the town, it must still come down,
And so must the crafty old FOX.

The ANCHOR must go and old
GEORGE cease to sing,
The STAR cease to shine and the BELL cease to ring,
The SWAN shall be stripp’d of its plumage so gay,
And the ugly BLACK LION shall go roaring away!

The RED LION shall roar, and the OLD COCK shall cry,
The CHEQUERS square off, the BOAR’S HEAD shall die,
The CASTLE surprised in the midst of the fun,

The HALF MOON vanish,
COACH AND HORSES shall run.
The CROWN shall be shorn of its jewels and its gold,
The WHITE HORSE is lamed, and so shall be sold:
The Jerry shops hid in a bundle and sent
To Satan, their master, to get in their rent.

The CHERRY TREE too, with its noisy old crew,
Though it is now so statley and green,
Shall soon go to pot, with the whole drunken lot,
And not a red cherry be seen.

This place that’s now reared by Old Davy, our friend,
Shall long stand to tell the proud story,
How Stortford arose, inspite of her foes,
And came forward with Teetotal Glory!

May old drunkards here, begin to give up their beer,
Moderation to give up her glasses:
The little boys learn to give water a turn
and may Temperance protect our young lasses.

My verses are done, and have caused you some fun,
for you’ve all had a hearty good laugh:
So I bid you adieu, till again I see you yours obediently, Henry Scarfe.

[ BACK TO TOP ]
ALL SAINTS CHURCH STANSTED ROAD COLLINS CROSS LEGIONS WAY WAGGON AND HORSES
CANNONS CLOSE PARSONAGE LANE / CHURCH MANOR EDWARD AND MARGARET DENNY
PARSONAGE ESTATE DUNMOW ROAD BS GOLF CLUB BS FOOTBALL CLUB BRANCH LINE
BROOKE GARDENS THE NAGS HEAD HAYMEADS UNION WORKHOUSE HISTORY OF WORKHOUSES
LIFE IN THE WORKHOUSE HERTS AND ESSEX HOSPITAL STORTFORD HALL HOCKERILL WINDMILL
HOCKERILL ANGLO-EUROPEAN COLLEGE MALTING INDUSTRY INNS AND PUBLIC HOUSES POEM
TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT POEM

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