Coles, Mrs Grace

Singer

Collection date: Jan 1906

Area: Somerset - Bridgwater Surrounds


Mrs Grace Coles of Enmore (1856-1939): age 50, 4 songs (FT789-92) on 17 Jan 1906: Mrs Coles had a penchant for accumulative songs – songs where the singer has to remember a string of phrases. The first song she sang to Sharp was the ‘Tree in the Wood’, sometimes called ‘The Everlasting Circle’ (FT790). The egg was in the nest, the nest was on the branch, the branch was on the limb, the limb was on the tree, the tree was in the wood etc. Sharp published the song in FSS4 (using William Tucker’s tune from Ashcott) but he mentions Mrs Coles’ version. The song was reproduced in Novello’s School Songs (set 2) and was then sung by new generations of children.

Next Grace Coles sang ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’. The earliest printed version of this song was 1780. In Somerset Sharp collected 10 versions of the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’, which had not yet been standardised. The version that we sing today was published by Frederic Austin in 1909, so we all (in theory) know the ‘correct’ order of swans and lords etc.

Grace was baptised Grace Poole at Stogursey on 28/10/1856, youngest child of James Poole, carpenter and his wife Susannah. In 1871 she was a domestic servant for the schoolmaster in the village. In June qr 1879 (ref 5c 596) she married George Coles, a stone mason. They had 3 sons and as a family lived for at least 10 years next door to Jim Gray and his family in Enmore (1901 ref RG13/2281 f7 p6). Grace Coles probably died Sept qr 1939 aged 82 (ref 5c 382).

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