Porter, Lily


Collection date: Apr 1906

Area: Somerset - Bridgwater Town

Lily Porter of Bridgwater (1894-1969): age 11, 2 singing games 14 Apr 1906: Lily was the 6th child of singer Elizabeth Porter. Lily was baptised on 12/10/1894 at Holy Trinity Bridgwater, daughter of Walter Porter, brick labourer of West Street. Lily grew up as immediate neighbour of singer Jack Barnard. Whether Sharp bumped into her or Jack recommended Lily is not known. Lily was only 11 at the time and sang just two ‘singing games’ tunes for Sharp – ‘Jenny Lengle’ (FW955) and ‘Three Dukes came riding’ (FT889). Sharp returned for 10 more singing games (FT1322-1331) in April 1907.

Coming just 3 days after Sharp’s first experience of singing games with Alice Snow in Somerton, these were the first examples of singing games that Sharp actually credited to children. He already knew about singing games through the work of Alice Bertha Gomme (Traditional Games of England, Scotland and Ireland in 2 vols 1894 and 1898). Gomme’s monumental work presented 800 different songs, collected nationwide through 76 correspondents but for some reason, Somerset was poorly represented. So, wherever Sharp went from then on, he would ask for children’s contributions and he collected 90 songs/games over 4 years from the following locations in Somerset* – 10 more from Lily and friends at Bridgwater (Apr ’07), then samples from Shepton Mallet, Over Stowey, Stockland Bristol, East Harptree, Enmore, Puriton, Brent Knoll, Cheddar, Axbridge, Closworth, Mark, East Coker, Clutton, Fiddington, Combe Florey, Crowcombe, Withycombe and Glastonbury. He then co-published with Alice Gomme 5 sets of singing games for the Novello School Song books 1909-1912. In 1910 Sharp adjudicated at the mid-Somerset Music Festival at Bath, which featured a ‘singing games’ class (Western Daily Press 13/4/1910).

Lily Porter was thus an important inspiration for Sharp. Lily married Albert Came, master mariner on 25/12/1913 at Holy Trinity church. She probably died June qr 1969 age 74 ref 7c 828.

*He collected a further 89 singing games from other counties

For a full appreciation of Lady Alice Gomme's work see Georgina Boyes article 'A Proper Limitation' (Musical Traditions MT074 2001) http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/gomme.htm

Books by Author David Sutcliffe

Cecil Sharp and the Quest for Folk Song and Dance

A new biography of Cecil Sharp, written by David Sutcliffe

£20.00 + p&p

The Keys of Heaven - The Life of Revd Charles Marson

This is the first biography of the Revd Charles Marson.

£6.00 + p&p