Folk and Traditional Song Lyrics:
Battle of Astings

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The Battle of 'Astings

The Battle of 'Astings

 I'll tell of the Battle of 'astings,
   as 'appened in days long gone by,
 When Duke William became t' King of England
   and 'arold got shot in the eye.

 'Twere this way: one day in October
   The Duke, who were always a toff,
 And  'aving no battles on at the moment,
   'ad given all 'is lads t' day off.

 They'd all took some boats t' go fishing,
   When some chap in t' Conqueror's ear,
 Says, "Eh, let's go an put t' breeze up t' Saxons."
   Said Bill, "Bugger me, That's a good idea."

 Then turning around to his sodjers,
   He lifted his great Norman voice,
 Said, " 'ands up who's going to England,"
   What were swank, as they 'adn't no choice.

 So they set sail about teatime,
   And t' sea were so calm and so still
 'at quarter to ten the next morning
They arrived at a place called Bexill.

 When 'arold 'ad saw that they'd landed,
   'e came up with venom and hate,
 Saying, "If tha's come for regatta,
   Tha's come 'ere a fortnight too late."

 But William arose cool and haughty,
   And said, "Give us none of your cheek,
 And you'd best have your throne reupholstered,
   I'll be wanting to use it next week."

When 'arold heard this here defiance
  With rage, he turned purple and blue,
And shouted some rude words in Saxon
  To which William answered <sound effect> "And you!"
It were a beautiful day for a battle,
  The Normans set off with a will,
 And when they'd all duly assembled,
   They tossed for the top of the 'ill.

King  'arold, 'e won the advantage,
   On t' 'illtop 'e took up 'is stand,
 With 'is knaves and 'is cads all around 'im,
   On 'is 'orse, with 'is 'awk in 'is 'and.

Now, the Normans had nowt in their favour,
  Their chance for a victory were small,
For t' slope of t' field were agin' 'em
  And t' wind in their faces, and all.

The kickoff was sharp at 2:30,
   And as soon as the whistle 'ad went
 Both sides started bashing each other,
   Till the swineherds could 'ear 'em in Kent.

The Saxons 'ad best line of forwards,
   Well armed with buckler and sword,
 But t' Normans 'ad best combination,
   So when 'alftime come neither 'ad scored.

 Then t' Duke called 'is cohorts together,
   And said, "Let's pretend that we're beat,
 And when we get Saxons on level,
   We can cut off their means of retreat."

 So they ran and the Saxons ran after,
   Just exactly as William 'ad planned,
 Leaving 'arold alone on the 'illtop,
   On 'is 'orse, with 'is 'awk in 'is 'and.

 When William 'ad saw what 'ad 'appened,
   'is bow and an arrow 'e drew,
 'E went straight up to 'arold and shot 'im,
   --'E were offside, but what could they do?

 Then Normans turned round with a fury,
   And gave back both parry and thrust,
 Till battle were all over bar shouting,
   And you couldn't see Saxons for dust.

 And after the battle were over,
   There, sitting so stately and grand,
 Was 'arold, with eyeful of arrow,
   On 'is 'orse, with 'is 'awk in 'is 'and.

Recorded by Stanley Holloway on Fivepenny Pieces
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