the Pipe and Tabor compendium

the Pipe and Tabor compendium

essays on the three-hole pipe

England: history of the pipe and tabor

Victorian Literature (1870 - 1900)


The pipe and tabor were known throughout Victorian times. Many newspapers had
literature or poetry columns. Sometimes advertisements were placed in newspapers
advertising amusements to take place locally.


18701870 part of poemGlossop Record - Saturday 19 February 1870 Verse II
1872 poem entitled 'The Sewing Machine' 1872 poemCounty Advertiser & Herald for Staffordshire and Worcestershire - Saturday 15 June 1872

In a Special Entertainment called 'A Comical Ballet Extraordinary', with a pipe and tabor, was performed at Crystal Palace
Great Stage as advertised in 'Bell's Life in London and Sporting Chronicle' - Saturday 13 April 1872

1872 description of a painting featuring two wandering minstrels: 1872Daily News (London) - Thursday 31 October 1872
1873 story ‘Lost Heir of Lynwood’ 1873Essex Newsman - Saturday 14 June 1873

1874 ‘To a Dejected One’

1874Barnsley Independent - Saturday 05 September 1874

1875 poem ‘King’s Delight’1875Thanet Advertiser - Saturday 14 August 1875
1877 political satire: 1877Truth - Thursday 06 September 1877

1878 poem 'Sweet Peace'

1878 poemWilts and Gloucestershire Standard - Saturday 27 July 1878

1878 poem 'Old Knowles Has Flit'1878Preston Chronicle - Saturday 28 September 1878
1878 song 'The Barrel Organ' 1878Truth - Thursday 17 October 1878  
1879 poem 1879The Referee - Sunday 29 June 1879
1879 story - ‘The Red House in Blank Street by Geo.Manville Fenn’1879Pateley Bridge & Nidderdale Herald - Saturday 27 December 1879

1880 a poem about peace:

1880 poem about peaceHartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Tuesday 21 September 1880

1880 - ‘Merrie Men of Sherwood Forest’ an operetta composed by W H Birch

“We’ll dance we’ll sing to the pipe and tabor
We’ll sing and dance neath the trysting tree”

Derbyshire Courier - Saturday 17 April 1880


1880 Congregational Schools Concert, St Helens; the first part
of the concert consisted of the ‘May Queen’ written in 1858.1880Runcorn Examiner - Saturday 18 December 1880


1881 Gilbert and Sullivan operetta Patience:

‘Once more enters the graceful procession,
to the sound of the pipe and tabor’

Daily Telegraph & Courier (London) - Monday 25 April 1881

1881 poem 1881Woolwich Gazette - Saturday 13 August 1881

1882 Gilbert, Iolanthe, first night

"I'm very much pained to refuse,
But I'll stick to my pipes and my tabors;
I can spell all the words that I use,
And my grammar's as good as my neighbours".

1883 Poem 'Strawberry Time' in Poems of the household /
by Margaret E Sangster1883

1884 poem 'The Roll-Call of the Ages'1884Justice - Saturday 02 August 1884
1884,Twelth Night was performed at the Lyceum Theatre, London, 1884reported in The Stage - Friday 11 July 1884
1884 poem ‘The Cry of the Girls’1884 Isle of Wight Observer - Saturday 04 October 1884
18841884Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News - Saturday 06 December 1884
1884 poem 1884Western Daily Press - Wednesday 24 December 1884 1885 Comic sketches by Mr Corney Grain called ‘Election Notes’
at St Georges Hall1885London Evening Standard - Friday 13 November 1885

In 1885, 'Cries of London, A History', the following is reported:

 "Holloway cheese-cakes" was once one of the London cries; they were sold by a man on horseback; and in
"A Drum's Entertainment," a Comedy, I600, in a random song, the festive character of this district is denoted:

"Skip it and trip it nimbly, nimbly,
Tickle it, tickle it, lustily,
Strike up the tabor for the wenches favour,
Tickle it, tickle it, lustily.
Let us be seene on Hygate-Greene,
To dance for the honour of Holloway.
Since we are come hither, let's spare for no leather,
To dance for the honour of Holloway."

1885 A Carol for Christmas1885Leicester Journal - Friday 25 December 1885

pipe and tabor used as a metaphor

1844 ‘Young Englandism’ a political essay

1844Liverpool Albion - Monday 17 June 1844

1886 in a review of the play ' Bric a Brac':

1886 quote1

1886 quote 2

1886 poem: 1886Civil & Military Gazette (Lahore, Pakistan) - Monday 26 April 1886
1886 story: 1886North Devon Journal - Thursday 10 June 1886

1887 poem ‘The Roll Call of the Ages’1887St. Christopher Gazette - Friday 04 March 1887
Saint Kitts, Saint Kitts and Nevis

1887 poem 'Cavalier Lyrics' by  J.W. Ebsworth
“Voila Ma Vie"

To him who mildest toil seems play
Since well he loves his labour
Life gives continual holiday
While Time plays pipe and tabor ...”

Newcastle Courant - Friday 24 June 1887

1887 ‘Talkers Compared to Musical Instruments’1887Northern Weekly Gazette - Saturday 25 June 1887
1888 ‘A Play Upon Local Surnames'1888Lowestoft Journal - Saturday 17 March 1888
1887 At Maidstone Assizes:1887Gloucester Citizen - Wednesday 26 October 1887
18881888Gloucester Citizen - Thursday 01 March 1888 ‘Topic of the Day’
1889 comment on an Address to the Bloomsbury Rifles:1889Gloucester Citizen - Monday 18 February 1889
1889 Newspaper review of the life of Rossini, Italian composer: 1889Gloucester Journal - Saturday 07 September 1889
1889 Book review: 1889Gloucester Journal - Saturday 23 November 1889
1895 ‘Topics of the Day’1895Gloucester Citizen - Thursday 28 March 1895
1888 story ‘The Outlaws of Tunstall Forest’ 1888Hampshire Telegraph - Saturday 16 June 1888
1888 story 'For Faith and Freedom'1888Illustrated London News - Saturday 21 July 1888
1889 Chough Musical Society concert: 1889Sporting Life - Tuesday 22 January 1889
1890 story ‘Reviews and Magazines for April – King and Minister a Midnight Conversation’1890Home News for India, China and the Colonies - Friday 04 April 1890
1890 ‘Robin Hood or the Merry Men of Sherwood Forest’ presented by Grasmere Choral Society:1890Lakes Herald - Friday 04 April 1890
1891 Enfield Musical Society's concert included 'The May Queen':1891Middlesex Gazette - Saturday 11 April 1891

1891 poem for May 1st:

chorus1891 poemReynolds's Newspaper - Sunday 03 May 1891

18911891 poemYork Herald - Friday 06 March 1891
1891 ‘Special Double Acrostic’1891The Queen - Saturday 02 May 1891 1891 Christmas newspaper criticism:1891Empire News & The Umpire - Sunday 13 December 1891
1892 Henry VIII at the Lyceum Theatre1892Hendon & Finchley Times - Friday 19 February 1892
1892 Advertisement: ‘London’ by Walter Besant1892Truth - Thursday 15 September 1892
1892 ‘Original Sayings of Children’1892Newcastle Chronicle - Saturday 17 September 1892
1892 story regarding 16th century church: 1892Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Tuesday 18 October 1892
1895 review of ‘Much Ado about Nothing performed by the Athenaeum Club ‘ London 1895Norwood News - Saturday 18 May 1895
1895 ‘Happy Arcadia written by W S Gilbert’ at St George's Hall 1895The Stage - Thursday 18 July 1895
1895 poem ‘The Farmer’s Family’ 1895East Anglian Daily Times - Wednesday 16 October 1895
1896 poem in the newspaper after a discussion regarding amateur/professional sportspeople: 1896 poem
1896 ‘The Birmingham Trilby’ 1896Truth - Thursday 16 April 1896
1896 story 1896Southern Reporter - Thursday 16 July 1896
1896 commentary on politics: ‘The Congress’1896Clarion - Saturday 08 August 1896

1896 political poem 1896Globe - Monday 03 August 1896

1896 Christmas poem ‘Christmas Carillons’ 1896Leeds Times - Saturday 12 December 1896
1897 ‘Song for Labour Day’1897Justice - Saturday 01 May 1897
1897 ‘The I.L.P.’1897Hull Daily News - Thursday 11 February 1897

1897 The Tempest at Steinway Hall, London
‘The tabor and pipes were also employed.’

The Stage - Thursday 10 June 1897

1897London Evening Standard - Saturday 05 June 1897


'Pipe and tabor' were sometimes used as titles to romantic poetry, tunes and songs:

The Merry Pipe and Tabor, by A Lee, pub 1826

1835 Batchelar's Pipe and Tabor; A Choice Collection of Rural Songs

1838 With Pipe and Tabor: Junior Classroom Plays

White Magic a two-act comic opera at the Haymarket Theatre, reviewed in the Illustrated London News - Saturday 20 March 1852:
“The chorus ‘Let pipe and tabor’ with its double subjects, is ingenious and effective...”

1858 at a concert in Dublin, Republic of Ireland:1858 song

1872 "We'll dance, we'll sing to the Pipe and Tabor", from Robin Hood

Pipe and Tabor, a polka, by Dufresne, 1875

1877 during ‘May Day Celebration at Knutsford’the song ‘Come Sound the Merry Tabor’ was sung by children

'Tabor Melodies' a book of Canadian poetry, published in Toronto 1878

Song  ‘The Pipe and Tabor1889

the New York Times 1892, a notice under literary notes: "a volume of poems
by W. J. Henderson under the title of " Pipe and Tabor. ...will soon be published"

1893 ‘New Music The Leadenhall Press – Seven Songs to Sing’
“Very funny and humorous are the words of ‘The Pipe and Tabor’ composed by J L Roeckel 1893Birmingham Daily Post - Monday 14 August 1893

Grace B Stuart (born c.1854-?) wrote: 'With Pipe and Tabor' in 1897
1897Sheffield Independent - Friday 21 May 18971897Perthshire Advertiser - Friday 28 May 1897

Sound the Pipe and Tabor by Karel Beudl, 1899

Pipe and Tabor by Barri (organ music)

Sound Up the Pipe and Tabor, Peppercorn 1904 for choir

Pipe and Tabor by Roger Quilter, a piano solo, 1923



The pipe and tabor were often used to recall the romance of the past in images and the written word:

1827 part of a poem:

1827 poem

18341834 romantic song

1834 The birds are all singing - a Duet (Upton)

"He Sweetly, sweetly, the birds are all singing
She - Merrily, Merrily, the bells are all ringing
While the pipe and tabor in harmony play,
He - For Edward and Phillis are married today."

1840's story 1840's story  
1842, Robert Browning: 'Dramatic Lyrics' 


"Who thinks Hugues wrote for the deaf,
Proved a mere mountain in labour?
Better submit; try again; what's the clef?
'Faith, 'tis no trifle for pipe and for tabor---
Four flats, the minor in F."

1844 Political report:

1844 quote


"leafless trees, has a music of its own — a music that sets the spirit within us dancing, 
as surely as the sound of pipe and tabor.


"But rude hands rent the vail in twain, 
And rushing in, a motley crew
Profaned the sacred, golden fane,
And as the orgies louder grew,
The footstep of the past withdrew.
And festive rites beneath the moon
Were held, and like to concords sweet,
The pipe and tabor played in tune,
And round and round the jewelled feet
Of dancing girls the marbles beat;"

'Judith and other poems' Castle Bulding


"Ring, ring, village bells,
Cheerily, cheerily!
In their best
All are dressed,
Hastening to the green.
Merrily, merrily !
Sound the pipe and tabor,
Twinkling feet
Measures beat,
Garlands crown the queen".


Dorset County Chronicle - Thursday 19 March 1863 reporting on the Prince of Wales wedding celebrations in a Dorset village:

pipe and tabor would have matched the dark rafters better [than the fiddle and tambourine that were actually there] .....”

1887 song: 1887Buckingham Express - Saturday 08 October 1887
1888 Said to come from Poor Robin’s Almanac of 1695 – ‘So Now is come our Joyful Feast’1888Denton and Haughton Examiner - Saturday 22 December 1888
1889 Floral Fete at the Albert Hall, London 1889

Henry VIII at the Lyceum Theatre as reported in the Hendon & Finchley Times - Friday 19 February 1892
Mr Irving has arranged that “a band of fantastically attired Mummers, with pipe and tabor, press through the throng”

1898 At Dalys Theatre, London : 'A Greek Slave A Musical Comedy in Two Acts'

"Opening Chorus:  ...                    Though delaying
                          From our labour,
                                We must soon awake,
                     Touching, playing,
                          Pipe and tabor,
                                For our master's sake."

1905 Dorset, Sherborne Pageant:
“ a rustic musician, perched on a barrel, keeps time with pipe and tabor to the old English melody
sung by a Dramatic Chorus in Lincoln green”

1907 in a play 'The Parish Clerk' (1907) Ditchfield, P. H. wrote:

“Robert Smyth ... accusing the vicar of being a companion of tipplers and fooling away his time
with pipe and tabor, and finally bringing an accusation against him, on account of which the poor
man was cited before the High Commission Court. The charge came to nothing”

In a newspaper report ‘Notes of the Week’, the reporter opines, of morris dancing:

"a pipe and tabor should be used for making ther music in order that the picture of
old-world merriment might be complete in every detail"


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