George Attrill

George Attrill (18871964) lived all his life in a cottage in woodland just outside Fittleworth. It had been his mother’s cottage. Inside were shelves of home made remedies and a goodly quantity of his home made wine. He worked as a road-mender, hedger and ditcher for the West Sussex County Council. He was renowned locally as a poacher as well as a singer. Many of his songs came to him from another famed singer in that area, John Johnson.

Bob Copper was the first to collect songs from him in 1954 and then he was recorded by Tony Wales, Mike Yates and probably others. All had tales of the vivid memories of their encounters with this remarkable character. Tony Wales asked him if he could supply a list of all the songs that he knew; George said that he could not do that but he could name all the pubs in Brighton! However, it has been established that he had a repertory of over seventy songs. He also played Father Christmas in the Fittleworth Mumming Play.

George was also a member of the Fittleworth Rifle club and a good shot – which probably helped with the poaching (though through the need for silence in this occupation he had devised him own pump-action shot gun for pheasants which he disguised as a walking stick.) A keen sportsman, he played cricket, football, bowls and quoits. He was also “Father Christmas” in the Fittleworth Tipteerers Play.

The description of George found in Chapter eight of Bob Copper’s book Songs & Southern Breezes is as entertaining an introduction to any singer as you will find anywhere.

DISCOGRAPHY

Various Artists “Songs & Southern Breezes ” Topic 12T317 (1973)

Recorded by Bob Copper

Epsom Races

Various Artists ” Rolling In The Dew ” Folktrax Cassette FTX 427

Recorded by Bob Copper

Poison In A Glass of Wine

The Nutting Girl

Various Artists – Songs & Music of the Sussex Weald – Folktape FTA 102

Recorded by Tony Wales

The Nightingale

All Jolly Fellows that Follow the Plough

Various Artists ” You Never Heard so Sweet “- Topic TSCD 673

Recorded by Bob Copper

The Broken Down Gentleman (Epsom Races)

Various Artists ” I Wish There were No Prisons” Musical Traditions MTCD372

(Vic Smith 2016)

HEY JOHN BARLEYCORN

John Barleycorn is a hero bold

George Attrill of Sussex, by Tony Wales

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Profile of George Attrill by Vic Smith

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NUTTING GIRL, THE

Come all you brisk young fellows come listen to my song

LAD IN THE SCOTCH BRIGADE

On the banks of the Clyde stood a lad and a lassie

RUMPSY ADDITY

Oh once I courted a pretty maid, I courted her right well

SONG OF THE THRUSH

Far away out in the wilds of Australia

[TALKING ABOUT ADDER FAT]

[TALKING ABOUT SING-SONGS]

IF I WAS A BLACKBIRD

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