Sweet Blooming Lavender
DESCRIPTION: Street cry: "Won't you buy my sweet blooming lavender? There are sixteen blue branches a penny, all in full bloom." The singer tells how the plant is fresh, and how it will benefit the wearer
EARLIEST DATE: c.1880 (Broadwood/Maitland-EnglishCountySongs)
KEYWORDS: nonballad commerce
FOUND IN: Britain(England(Lond,South))
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Broadwood/Maitland-EnglishCountySongs, p. 105, "(Will you buy my sweet lavender?)"; Broadwood/Maitland-EnglishCountySongs, p. 105, "(Sixteen bunches a penny)" (2 texts, 4 tunes)
Kennedy-FolksongsOfBritainAndIreland 356, "Sweet Blooming Lavender" (1 text, 1 tune)
ADDITIONAL: Walter de la Mare, _Come Hither_, revised edition, 1928; notes to #153, ("Or the Streete cryes all about") (1 fragment of this, plus an assortment of other street cries)
Bill Ellson, "Will You Buy My Sweet Blooming Lavender?" (on Voice11)
cf. "Lavender Girl" (theme)
NOTES [137 words]: Kennedy-FolksongsOfBritainAndIreland notes that his informant, Florrie Penfold, knew several street cries but preferred this because it is "more of a song." Which indeed it is, and so is included.
Kennedy lists a number of collected versions of this piece. I doubt that all are actually the same song, but they are doubtless all lavender street calls.
In addition to its color and scent, lavender is reputed to be a sleep aid and perhaps an antidepressant; according to Ruth Binney, Nature's Way: lore, legend, fact and fiction, David and Charles, 2006, p. 117, "Lavender (Lavendula) is another soothing herb, described as 'a comfort to the brain' by the 16th-century herbalist William Turner."
Lavender supposedly acquired its scent because the Virgin Mary hung the baby Jesus's clothing on it to dry (Binney, p. 123). - RBW
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