Background notes on this dramatic and gory ballad, suitable for Key Stages 2 and 3, by Mary Humphreys. The song lends itself to a much deeper exploration of the social history of mediaeval to modern times.
Superstitions around witchcraft and links to mediaeval leprosy laws can all be topics for discussion. In addition, the reasons for the incarceration of Yarrow Gill (the singer) in Ely Union could develop into investigation into the rise of workhouses and Poor Law Unions. The demise of the workhouses after World War 2 owing to the setting up of the Welfare State can also be investigated.
You can download the teaching pack, including notation and lyric sheets, on the PDF tab.
You can download an audio recording of Mary singing False Lamkin on the audio tab.
Singer, musician, and song researcher
Mary, a graduate of the University of Manchester, taught in schools in Greater Manchester and Yorkshire for many years. She now works as a freelance workshop leader and has recently been working in several Cambridge primary schools as part of the Full English Project and with the Enid Porter Project.
Mary's main focus for research is songs and tunes from East Anglia, specialising in Cambridgeshire and its near neighbours. She has written an award-winning book on Cambridgeshire folksongs collected in the last century.
Mary has worked on several schools' projects initiated by EFDSS, Cambridgeshire County Council, East Anglian Traditional Music Trust and Suffolk Folk. She also leads children's workshops at festivals.
Note that these links take you to the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library website which holds the full archival details of the material. Material on the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library website is not censored or expurgated and may contain material considered offensive by modern standards.