Anyhow, the song is about a man. Tom Pearse.
This is Tom.
And here are the friends who ask to borrow Tom's old grey mare: Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney, Peter Davy, Dan'l Whiddon, Harry Hawke, old Uncle Tom Cobley and all, old Uncle Tom Cobley and all.
Anyhow, the men borrow the mare to go to Widdecombe Fair, and off they all ride.
The Grey Mare was never heard of again.
Have a listen to Burl Ives singing the song.
Here's a radio play.
And here's info on the real Widecombe Fair.
Look out for the book - it's a ripper. I defy you not to get the song stuck in your head once you've heard it a few times as well. It is easy to see why it is one of England's most favouritest folk songs.
Christine Price tells us in the book that Uncle Tom Cobbleigh was a real person, living and dying two hundred years ago not far from Widecombe-on-the-moor in Devonshire. In those days, apparently, the fair was a big thing, happening, as it is now, in September each year.
Many had to travel to Widecombe over the moor - wild and lonely country, the haunt of goblins, ghosts and fairies. Even today, strange things can happen on the moor, especially on stormy nights, as anyone can tell from the story of WIDDECOMBE FAIR!