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The false hearted knight

from Jewels by Chris Foster

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I learned 'The False Hearted Knight' (Child ballad number 4) from Jumbo Brightwell who lived just down the road from me in Leiston, Suffolk. I like the way the tune carries the story with its surreal twist of the talking parrot towards the end. Jumbo was a a very fine singer and in the 1930's and 40's he and his father Velvet were regular performers at the Eastbridge Eel's Foot, which in those days was a well known singing pub in East Suffolk. Jumbo can be heard singing 'The False Hearted Knight' on the excellent CD 'Good Order' (Veteran VT140CD). The CD which also has Velvet singing 'The Bold Princess Royal' is a compilation of recordings made by the BBC at the Eel's Foot in 1939 and 1947. The CD was compiled by John Howson, of the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust, as part of a millenium project in the villages of Theberton and Eastbridge.


It's of a false knight he came from the north land
And he came a courting me
He promised to take me down to that north land
And there his bride make me

"Go and fetch me some of your mother's gold
And some of your father's fees
And two of the best horses out of the stable
Where there stand by thirty and three"

Then she's mounted up on her milk white steed
And he on the daple and grey
And away they did ride to the great waterside
Hours before it was day

"Jump off jump off your milk white steed
And deliver it unto me
For six pretty fair maids I've drowndéd in here
And the seventh one you shall be"

"And take off take off that silken gown
And lie it upon yon' stone
For I think it’s too rich and I think it's too rare
To rot all in the salt sea"

"Well if I must take off my silken gown
Then turn your back upon me
For I don't think it's fit that a villain like you
A naked woman should see"

"And stoop you down and cut that briar
That hangs right over the brim
In case it should tangle my golden curls
Or tear my lily white skin"

And then she gave him a push and a hearty push
And she pushed that old false knight in
Cryin' "Lie in there you false hearted knight
Lie in there instead of me
If six pretty fair maids you have drowndéd in here
Well the seventh one has drowndéd thee"

Then she's mounted up on her milk white steed
And she lead the daple and grey
And away she did ride to her father's own house
Two hours before it was day

And the parrot was up in the window high
And he cried aloud and did say
"I'm afraid that some villain he came here last night
And he carried my lady away"

Well her father he was not quite sound asleep
But he never heard what that bird did say
So he cryeth "What waketh my pretty Polly
Two hours before it is day"

"O the old cat was up in the window high
And that cat he would me slay
So loud did I cry that help should be nigh
To drive that old cat away"

"Well done well done my pretty Polly
No tales you will tell upon me
Thy cage shall be made of the bright glittering gold
And the door of white ivory"

© traditional arranged Chris Foster


from Jewels, track released February 1, 2017
Chris Foster vocal


all rights reserved



Chris Foster Reykjavik, Iceland

Chris Foster grew up in the south west of England. A master of his trade, he was recently described as “one of the finest singers and most inventive guitar accompanists of English folk songs, meriting legend status.” Over the past 40 years, he has toured throughout the UK, Europe, Canada and the USA. He has recorded six solo albums as well as working on many collaborative projects. ... more

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