The Sussex Drinking Song  words Hilaire Belloc

Any song regarding Sussex is close to my heart being Sussex born and bred, not necessarily strong in the arm, but thick in the head !!  I felt that the marriage of the Irish tune The West Awakes and Hilaire Belloc’s words cemented the song. My thanks go to Chris Hare for his continuing enthusiasm for all things to do with Sussex. The photos are of the Downs, Steyning, and of course Shirley Collins and Bob Copper  who are the essence of Sussex.  Martyn

Sussex born and bred

Strong in the arm

Thick in the head. 

Hilaire Belloc found great comfort in the traditions of the country people of Sussex – his adopted county. As a boy he lived and grew up in Slindon, as a family man he lived at Kingsland at Shipley from 1905 until his death in 1953. Although he knew he could never be one of them, Belloc revered, and was greatly moved by the simple gathering of agricultural workers in village pubs, supping good ale and singing good songs. He neither patronised nor romanticised them – he took them as they were and was thankful to be away from the pretentious indulgences of the literary salons of London and Paris. He was, to an extent, a man outside of time. 

These are great website to go to on the subject and

The Sussex Drinking Song,  words Hilaire Belloc

Tune The West’s Awake, Irish song.

On Sussex Downs where I was bred In rains when autumn lanes are red

Where Arun tumbles in his bed and gusty gales go by

On branches bare on Burton Glen And Bury Hill’s a whitening then

I drink strong ale with gentlemen which no one can deny deny 

Which no one can deny deny.

In cold November off I go and turn my back against the snow 

And watch the wind where ‘ere it blow because my heart is high

Till I settle me down in Steyning to sing of the girls I’ve met in my wandering

And all I mean to do in Spring which no one can deny deny 

Which no one can deny deny. 

‘Though times be hard and fortunes tough the ways be foul and the weather rough

We are of stout South Country stuff who can not have strong ale enough 

From Crowborough Top to Ditchling Down from Hurstpierpoint to Arundel Town 

The girls are fine the ale is brown which no one can deny deny

Which no one can deny deny.