Tag Archives: Rosalind Northcote


Poly-Olbion Cover Page

Poly-Olbion Cover Page

It’s been a quiet few months on the blog site but now the book is completed and back from the printers it is time to get back to some more regular blogging here ….. and there is a backlog of poems to catch up on!

I have a selection of new pieces related to the river Teign, starting with one that has its origins back in 1598 – Poly-Olbion.  Written by Michael Drayton, it was otherwise known as “A chorographicall description of all the tracts, rivers, mountaines, forests, and other parts of this renowned isle of Great Britaine and is an extraordinary poetic journey through the landscape, history, traditions and customs of early modern England and Wales.

It is written as a series of 30 ‘Songs’ in alexandrine couplets totalling 15000 lines.  No I am not going to reproduce the whole of it, only the section of 10 lines relating to the river Teign (or ‘Ting’ as it’s described in the Song).  You’ll also see a reference to the river Lemon which flows into the Teign at Newton Abbot.

Poly-Albion – extract

‘Ting (whose banks were blest
By her beloved nymph dear Leman) which addrest,
And fully with herself determined before
To sing the Danish spoils committed on her shore,
When hither from the east they came in mighty swarms,
Nor could their native earth contain their numerous arms,
Their surcrease grew so great, as forced them at last
To seek another soil, as bees do when they cast;
And by their impious pride how hard she was bested,
When all the country swam with blood of Saxons shed.’

The above extract has been taken from:  Devon, its Moorlands, Streams and Coasts by Rosalind Northcote.

For more information check out:

Poly-Olbion …..
Michael Drayton …..


The Devonshire Boys Courage

Galleons from Beachy Head before the sacking of Teignmouth

Galleons from Beachy Head before the sacking of Teignmouth

At the beginning of April I was excited to have discovered a poem “Upon Tingmouth” from 1690 describing the plunder of Teignmouth by ships from the French fleet.

It turns out that that event was also recorded in a ballad called “The Devonshire Boys’ Courage” which was sung to a tune called ‘Liggan Water’, a title referring to an Irish stream.  (From ‘Devon. Its moorland stream and coasts’ by Lady Rosalind Northcote, 1908).

The ballad formed part of the collection of ‘Roxburghe Ballads’.

The Devonshire Boys Courage

Brave Devonshire Boys made haste away
When news did come from Tinmouth-bay,
The French were landed in that town
And Treacherously had burnt it down.

Whento the Town they did draw near,
The French did straightways disappear;
Because that they had then beat down
And basely burnt poor Tinmouth-town.

On Haldon-Hill they did design
To draw their men up in a line;
But Devonshire Boys did make them run;
When once they did discharge a Gun.

Brave Blew coat Boys did watch them so,
They to no other place dare go;
For if they had returned again
I’m sure the Frenchmen had been slain.


Let Monsieur then do what he can,
We’ll still Reign Masters o’er the Main
Old England’s Right upon the Sea
In spight of France maintain’d shall be.

No Seaman fears to lose his Blood,
To justifie a Cause so good;
To fight the French, who have begun
With burning down poor Tinmouth-town.

The Cornish Lads will lend a hand,
And Devonshire Boys will with them Band,
To pull the pride of Monsieur down,
Who basely burn’d poor Tinmouth-town.

Want to know more?  Check out:

Roxburghe Ballads …..
Upon Tingmouth …..
The French and Teignmouth …..