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Traditional Song

for individual singers, see List of traditional singers from Kent

We know of relatively few traditional songs and singers from Kent, certainly in comparison with the neighbouring county of Sussex. This is quite probably simply because collectors have not spent much time in the county. Of the early twentieth century collectors, Cecil Sharp made only three brief visits to Kent - in July 1908 he visited Trottiscliffe to note down children's games and singing games at the village primary school; in September of the same year he noted a dozen songs from four singers (principally James Beale) in the Hamstreet area, on the edge of Romney Marsh; and he returned to Hamstreet in May 1911 to note down carols from Mr Beale's daughter Alice Harden. Ralph Vaughan Williams collected a handful of songs from a Mr and Mrs Truell at Perry Street, Northfleet, in December 1904; Percy Grainger recorded a song from Samuel Holdstock of Wittersham in 1908; and George Jekyll, Marion Arkwright and Anne Gilchrist also collected a few songs in Kent.

The largest collection of songs sung in Kent is probably that made in the 1940s by Francis Collinson. In the 1950s Peter Kennedy recorded a few singers in the county, including Albert Beale and Charlie Scamp (step-brother of Phoebe Smith, who was herself born at Faversham). More recently Mike Yates has recorded Kentish singers including Jack Goodban, Charlie Bridger and George Spicer (a singer resident in Sussex for over half his life, but who born at Little Chart, and learned many of his songs as a young man in Kent).

Mike Yates is just one of several collectors to have recorded songs from gypsy singers who lived in or travelled through the county - Jasper Smith, Chris Willett and Joe Jones to mention just a few. Simon Evans in particular has spent much time with Kentish travellers, filming step-dancing, and recording singers such as Ambrose Cooper.

Bibliography - Song

  • George Frampton, In search of Cecil Sharp: the Folk Song Society in Kent, Bygone Kent, January 1998

Traditional Customs

Biddenden Dole


Bibliography - Customs

  • Fran & Geoff Doel, Folklore of Kent, The History Press, 2009. ISBN-13: 978-0752426280
  • Fran & Geoff Doel, A Kent Christmas, Sutton Publishing Ltd, 1990. ISBN: 0862997674
  • Fran & Geoff Doel, Mumming, Howling and Hoodening: Midwinter Rituals in Sussex, Kent and Surrey, Meresborough Books, 1992. ISBN: 0948193743
  • George Frampton, Discordant Comicals: the Hooden Horse of East Kent, (Ozaru Books, 2018. ISBN: 978-0-9931587-7-3)
  • George Frampton, A Kentish Muse: Essays on Musical Tradition from the Pages of Folk in Kent, (Tonbridge: The Author, 1998)
  • George Frampton, A Second Kentish Muse: More Essays on Musical Tradition in Kent, (Tonbridge: The Author, 1998)