The Ballad of Yorkley Court

 

Until the fruits are owned by all the land itself by none

 

At Yorkley court a disused colliery where root and branch have reclaimed industry

Where free miners once dug the ground and Warren James the fences downed 

And the river Severn wound it’s way down to the sea

There a band of dreamers did resolve to reawake Winstanley’s dream of old

They built their homes from tin and wood and worked the wasteland best they could

And staked their claim on common good and no mans legal code

 

Until the fruits are owned by all, the land itself by none

 

But then a local magnate posed a hitch, owning lands as far as Severn Bridge

And his Jag of polished chrome and tailored suit from Saville row

With Yorkley court he hoped to grow his lordly acreage

With lawyer and with land agent in pay and knowledge of which laws this case would sway

He’d made his wealth from forest land as half the Dean passed through his hands

Had moneyed friends at his command to make things go his way

 

Until the fruits are owned by all, the land itself by none

 

Despite the fact no legal claim was found to bring Yorkley under these mens bounds

The bailiffs came at break of day with hired goons within their pay

But Yorkley folk resolved to stay to stand and fight their ground

The hired men and troopers they were drove from off the farm and back onto the road

The dreamers then they blocked the gates with trucks to form a stalemate

And then both sides resolved to wait to see what would unfold

 

Until the fruits are owned by all, the land itself by none

 

 Next day a crony meeting it was called under pretense the discord to resolve

The law and gentry took their seats, agent, magnate, the police

While woman, man and child of Yorkley stood out in the cold

And next this case will come before the courts and there we’ll see if justice can be bought

And so all you who’ll take a stand come spread these words like grains of sand

And keep within your hearts and hands the dream of Yorkley court

 

Until the fruits are owned by all, the land itself by none

 

Since Will the bastard landed on this shore or British flags to foreign lands was bore

The gentry’s claim upon the land is but the weapons in their hands

The police are the cudgel and the club is all their law

And so the struggle ever carries on through Dean, Culloden back to Bannockburn

For till we’ve downed each fence and wall then ne’er on earth will freedom rule

Until the fruits are owned by all, the land itself by none

Humphrey Lloyd/Sid Goldsmith

A modern day version of the Diggers story. A group of land workers moved onto a 180 acre farm in the forest of Dean when the ownership was in dispute and set about creating an intentional community growing food and championing sustainable farming practices. This song was written after the first eviction attempt which was unsuccessful. Sadly, and unjustly, they were later evicted from the farm.

Humphrey Lloyd is a great songwriter, flute player and food grower based in Bristol and he sang an early version of the song to Sid while they were harvesting salad together. Sid made some edits to the lyric and extended the existing melody, then a tune that Jimmy was playing on the banjo 'Jerusalem Ridge' had exactly the epic, cinematic feel that we wanted to portray so we wove it into the song.

A short history of Yorkley court community farm can be found here.