Widdecombe Fair Music Poster Image

Widdecombe Fair



An authentic but dark collection of folk songs.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Real life situations, some dark with emotional intensity, reflecting life in old England, including poverty, killing animals, death.


References to hanging, drowning, death, ghosts, the devil.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that these traditional ballads, work songs, and sea shanties are soulful and have educational value, but the content is not entirely appropriate for very young children and the spare folk arrangements and overall similarity in the songs may lack appeal for older children wanting a more varied, contemporary sound. Overall, it's dark and mournful -- not upbeat.

User reviews

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

David Jones is one of England's foremost traditional singers. On WIDDECOMBE FAIRE he plays concertina and is joined by Bill Shute on guitar and banjo. Shute has recorded for Sesame Street and appeared on A Prairie Home Companion. The CD is simply arranged -- Jones' distinctive voice a cappella or accompanied by acoustic instrumentation.

Is it any good?


The intent of the album is "traditional songs for all ages." Many of the 18 selections are wrought with hardship -- Molly Malone dying of fever, someone about to be hanged, sailors drowning, a brother becoming a robber to help his poor family. Also included are counting and alphabet songs that claim to be merry but aren't lighthearted.

Long ago, folk songs served to help people chronicle events and come to terms with emotions. This CD, in an educational context today, might initiate historical discussions and questions about the ever-present darker side of human existence. The album has won a Parents' Choice Gold award and deserves acclaim for its authenticity, a musical treasure of long ago. If you're looking for a song for Halloween, the title track with lyrics about a dying mare, groans, and rattling bones would do the trick.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how people use songs to preserve stories and ease difficult times.

Music details

Artists:Bill Shute, David Jones
Release date:October 21, 2003
Label:Festival Five Records
Genre:Children's Music
Parental advisory:No
Edited version available:No

This review of Widdecombe Fair was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.