Old Pendle

A friend lent me a tape of a singer named Roger Westbrook. I had never heard of him, but liked him after listening to him. He said this song was originally written by the two Lambert brothers to an Edwardian tune. Brian Osborne, of the group called “The Taverner”, wrote the tune that I sing here, and also added a verse.

Pendle Hill is a famous hill in the north of England. My mum told me that there is a book titled The Pendle Hill Witches; Pendle was the place where they gathered.

Gordon Bok – cellamba; Nick Apollonio – guitar & vocal


Old Pendle, old Pendle, thou standest alone.
Twixt Burnley and Clitheroe, and Whalley and Colne,
Where Hodder and Ribble’s fair waters do meet
With Barley and Downham content at thy feet.

Old Pendle, old Pendle, majestic, sublime,
Thy praises shall ring till the end of all time.
Thee beauty eternal, thy banner unfurled,
That dearest and grandest old hill in the world.


When witches do fly on a cold winter’s night,
We won’t tell a soul and we’ll bolt the door tight.
We’ll sit around the fire and keep ourselves warm,
Until once again we can walk in your arms.


Old Pendle, old Pendle, by moorland and fell.
In glory and loveliness, ever to dwell
Through life’s fateful journeys, where e’er we may be,
We’ll pause in our labours and oft think of thee.



14 Responses to Old Pendle

  1. Hi Cliff, How are you doing? Hopefully well. I’ve been looking for the tunes for “The German Clockwinder”. I’ve seen the words and the chords, but no tunes. You may eventually remember me, an old Swiss Mariners Daniel. I’m trying to play a few Mariners Tunes with the accordeon. Could you help me? If so, pls send a pdf-file to the above mailaddress. Thank you in advance. In the Spirit Daniel

    • Joseph says:

      Hello Daniel. This is Joseph – I handle Cliff’s website for him. Tomorrow I’ll put together a file for you of The German Clockwinder and send it along. Let me know if there are any other songs or tunes you might like.


  2. The original song was written by the Lambert Brothers who owned Lamberts’ Timber Yard in Burnley. The verse written by Brian Osborne of The Taverners (a Blackpool group) is the 3rd verse. Roger was part of a folk group called The Pendlefolk and the song was recorded on their first LP released in 1970. He later went on to record a number of solo albums, and was still performing until a few years ago.

  3. There are two great books on the subject – The Lancashire Witches – by William Harrison Ainsworth which is factual, and also – Mist Over Pendle by Robert Neill which is a fictional account.

  4. The Witches of Pendle hill was a 1968? bbc booklet for schools, in conjunction with radio for schools?
    We did a production of this which we called Mist on Kinder Scout – a song from that book.
    There is a listing on google for the Witches of Pendle Hill song which I have in print.
    It start ” We crouch on pendle hill, when all the moors are still…….”

    Great part of my of my love for drama at school and can still play it on the recorder today!

  5. Michael Ormond says:

    The Taverners from Blackpool recorded an album in Manchester in May 1968. The folk club organised a coach for regular customers to attend. The album is called A’round with the Taverners. Old Pendle is on the album and the sleeve notes say that Milton Allen the East Lancashire poet wrote it as poem, and that Brian Osborne discovered it and wrote the tune and an extra verse.

  6. Mike Green says:

    Many memories of the mid 1960’s – I had a folk club in Eccles, we started at the Cross Keys and went of to The Duke Of York; there was a great folk following emanating from the MSG and the Taveners, The Spinners, The Pendle Folk, Mike Harding, Big John McAtee, Rosie Hardman, Bob Axford, Pete Ryder and many more went around the Manchester (and further afield) circuit. I remember first picking up Old Pendle from a gig with the Taveners (I was with the Free Folk at the time) at a Pub somewhere in the depths of Lancashire, and still sing it to this day.

  7. Derek Kenyon says:

    A lovely song l first heard in the Lake District in the 70s. Years later l started playing the guitar and only remembered the chores and tune so l researched the song and learnt it.
    I’ve sung it ever since.
    😊😊Derek Kenyon

  8. Mr. James Lord says:

    Great folk song – being a Lancastrian – heard this around the folk clubs which we visited on a regular basis.
    Listened to Roger Westbrook, The Taverners, Houghton Weavers, etc singing this song.
    Now trying to locate a vinyl album in good condition with this song on the album.
    Can anyone help?

    • Joseph says:

      Hello James. Does it need to be on vinyl or will a digital file do? The digital I can send to you immediately but the vinyl I’ll need to see if Cliff still has any of his LPs tucked away.


  9. Henry Peacock says:

    The female singers from our choir in Burnley had a concert in Colne on International Women’s Day. They asked me to write a verse for the occasion;

    Pendle, old Pendle, you’ve seen it before
    The hardship of labour, the horror of war
    We’ll work with our sisters, sunrise to nightfall
    To build a new world that is fit for us all.

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