Bruton Town

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Background Information

The song is a version of the story Isabella and the Pot of Basil, made famous by Boccaccio in 'The Decameron', but the ballad obviously draws on popular tradition since then. It is also known as 'The Bramble Briar', 'The Jealous Brothers' and 'The Merchant's Daughter' and can be found in "100 English songs", edited by Cecil Sharp who collected it in 1904.

This solo performance by Sandy Denny was recorded by Geoff Griffin for the BBC 1 In Concert program.


In Bruton Town there lived a noble man
He had two sons and a daughter fair
By night and day they were contriving
For to fill their sister's heart with care

One night one night our restless young girl
One brother rose up from his bed
He heard the servant court their sister
Oh he heard they had a mind to wed

Oh when he rose the very next morning
Went searching for the servant-man
And when he found him this young man he murdered
Oh left him lying in the briars around

Oh she went to bed a-crying and lamenting
And thinking of her own true love
And as she slept she dreamt that she saw him
a-lying in the countryside all covered with gore and blood

Oh brothers, brothers why do you whisper
And what's become of this servant man?
Oh we lost him when we were a-contending
We lost him were he won't ever be found

Oh she early rose the very next morning
And searched the countryside around
And there she saw her own dear jewel
A-lying in the briars where he'd been found

Three days and nights she'd lie by him
She thought her heart it would break with woe
When a cruel hunger came upon her
And in despair to her home she did go

Oh sister, sister why do you whisper
And won't you tell us where you've been
Stand off, stand off you bloody butchers
My love and I you have all slain

Sandy Denny
January 1986 (UK)
16 March 1972
  • Paris Theatre, London
Universal Island Records Ltd.
Warlock Music Ltd.