“A North Country Maid”


"A north country maid to London had strayed Although with her nature it did not agree." She laments the home she has left behind, its trees, its fields, its people. She hopes soon to be able to return home

Long description

A maid from northern England (Westmoreland), who has strayed to London, wishes she were home; she sings the praises of the north country and its ways; she vows that she'll not marry until she returns, preferring to wed a north country man. She hopes to return in less than a year. Chorus: "The oak and the ash and the bonny ivy tree/They flourish at home in my own country"


This looks like the source for the "oak and the ash" lines that appear in the choruses of many versions of "Rosemary Lane," "Ambletown," "Bell-Bottom Trousers," and other members of that most tangled of song families, typically with no relevance to those songs' plots. If I had my guess, I'd say the recombinant chorus was grafted onto those songs' common ancestor at some point early in its evolution. - PJS

For the complex relationship between this song, "Ambletown," and "Rosemary Lane" [Laws K43], see the notes to the latter song. - PJS, RBW

This song does not seem to have any "plot relationship" to the other two traditional songs; the common element is simply the chorus ("Oh the oak and the ash and the bonny ivy tree They flourish at home in my own country"). The language of this piece, however, hints at literary origin; indeed, it looks like a typical pastoral. - RBW


  1. Stokoe/Reay, pp. 14-15, "O the Oak, and the Ash, and the Bonny Ivy Tree" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Silber-FSWB, p. 62, "The Oak And The Ash" (1 text)
  4. Roud #1367
  5. BI, LK43B


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1900 (Stokoe/Reay)
Found in: Britain(England(North))