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At the heart of English folk
Plains of Waterloo

Songs of Waterloo: a callout

Thursday 18 June 2015 marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. As with many such landmark historical events, the battle was widely recorded in a whole host of songs and ballads, particularly on broadsides.

To mark the occasion, we’re inviting you to record yourself singing your favourite Waterloo ballad. Simply film yourself singing your song of choice, upload it to Youtube and send a link to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Your contributions will appear on our website on 18 June.

Here we are singing a couple of ballads to get the ball rolling…

This is a version of the Plains of Waterloo which I learnt from June Tabor’s album Airs and Graces. It’s one of the first folk album I ever bought, and remains one of my favourites to this day. June Tabor states in the liner notes that the song is from Ontario, and it appears to match that which was published in Traditional Singers and Songs from Ontario / collected and edited by Edith Fowke, 1965. The song was collected from O.J. Abbot, in 1957.  Whilst this song is not part of my gigging repertoire, I like to occasionally sing it at singarounds.


I learned this song from Jon Boden's A Folk Song A Day project. This version seems to be most closely related to one collected by Cecil Sharp in Worcestershire in 1909; George Gardiner also collected a version with similar words in Hampshire in 1906, but with a rather different tune. The lyrics are incredibly smug, but good fun to sing nonetheless.



National Youth Folk Ensemble

National Youth Folk Ensemble


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