Bridget of Brimley

And now to another song but written a hundred years later. I’m returning to Thomas Aggett, the ‘Railway Poet’ from Teignmouth. Brimley now is all a developed residential area of Teignmouth but in Aggett’s time would have been largely farmland, with Brimley brook formerly being a feeder for the River Tame which once flowed into the centre of Teignmouth forming a marshy confluence with the Teign.

It is an interesting example of customs of the time which might otherwise have disappeared from memory if they hadn’t been recorded in rhyme, whether that be poetry or song.

To quote from his book ‘Vagabond Verses’:

“The kind of grass here alluded to is the Perennial rye-grass, locally known as ‘Eaver’ which Devonshire maidens are wont to pluck to ascertain of what trade their future husbands will be. Starting from the top ear they chant the following:- ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, Richman, Poorman, Beggarman, Thief’ – repeating (if necessary) until the last ear is touched wherein resides the oracle. Children in play in the meadows have a similar custom; when in doubt as to the passage of time they take a grass and say – ‘Does my mother want me? Yes – no – yes – no’ and so on.”

Bridget of Brimley

(Thomas Aggett)

Now Sweetheart be good,
And don’t be contrary,
Pray put on your hood
And lock up the dairy,
Together we’ll roam,
Ay, trip it so trimly
Through the meadows and home,
Come, Bridget of Brimley.

Here’s a grass, tell our lot,
You witch, read it steadily;
“We love” – “we love not” –
“We love” – ay so readily.
But throw now I pray
Light where I see dimly
The hour and the day
Bright Bridget of Brimley.

Want to know more?  Check out:

Thomas Aggett …..


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