Tracks about Sussex

Listed below are the songs about Sussex events that have made Touchstone unique in Folk Rock, our own songs written about Sussex historical events…

Away to France – (Album CD One the rum 1995)

One of our most popular recorded and live tracks about the plight of the rural workers who looked for adventure and release from the routine of working on the land in Sussex farms, inspired by Bob Copper’s writings. The diary entry of one worker read ‘Tomorrow I am going to the war in France’ and like so many, this was the last entry.

The night the snow came down – (First released 1991 – latterly on CD ‘Winebarrel Jigtarrel 2000)

Off our 1st album of the same name, the moving story of Fanny Boakes who as a small child survived the UK’s largest ever snow avalanche in 1836 at Christmas. This song was inspired by the dramatic painting in the Anne of Cleeves Museum in Lewes which featured on the album cover. It has been our favourite encore at gigs for years and has had extensive radio play. Also re-recorded on the 2000 album ‘Winebarrel Jigtarrel’

Sea of Providence – (CD Album of the same name 2006)

The moving and dramatic story of the 1747 wreck at Birling Gap of the ship ‘La Nympha Americana’ recently captured by the British from Spain at Cadiz, and the merciless plunder of it’s cargo of quicksilver and other high value cargoes..

One the rum – (CD album of the same name 1995)

Another favourite live and album track, taking a light hearted view of the famous ancient sheep counting rhyme ‘one the rum, two the, cau the rum, coo the rum, sin the rum, san the rum, Winebarrel Jigtarrel, tarriddle, den = 20 and so it goes.

Mad Jack – (Album Cassette ‘The night the snow came down 1991)

A tune composed by Mark dedicated to the eccentric MP for the Heathfield in Victorian times who famously built ‘follies’ all over the area, and travelled back from London with a coach full of musical instruments as a gift for the local church musicians.

The Poacher – (CD Album ‘Sea of providence’ 2006)

This song was inspired by a Channel 4 series some years ago which depicted the demise of the country estates, and Mark had the idea that one of our local estates ‘Abbots Leigh’ in Wivelsfield might have seen some activity related to the song matter.

Calamity at Wivelsfield – (CD Album ‘One the rum’ 1995)

In December 1899 in thick fog a boat train from Newhaven smashed into a Pullman train from Brighton outside Wivelsfield Station, worlds End. Carriages were de-railed causing death and many injuries. Fire broke out hampering rescue attempts. However, some survivors did manage to board a replacement train to continue their travels into London. The words to this song were adapted from a poem written by one of the train guards, and originally published in a 1930’s book of Sussex disasters researched by Mark & Bonnie.

No more heroes – (One the rum CD 1995 & Winebarrel Jigtarrel 2000)

We are paying attention here to the poor souls who fell prey to the ruthless Press Gangs along the Sussex coast and telling a little of the life they had to endure whilst on board ship.

Again, two versions are recorded by the band 1995, and 2000.

Man to man – (One the rum CD 1995 / 2006- re-release)

Sussex has been the home of many a Smuggler and many stories and songs have arisen from these. Here we paint a picture of the night time activities to bring contraband ashore. ‘Tis likely the smugglers of the day did not pay heed to the Sussex saying “Smuggler’s Gold doa’nt Wear” meaning, ‘ill gotten cash doesn’t last!! ‘ Man to man was inspired by stories of the smuggling exploits of the gangs who operated along the Romney Marshes to


Onion Pie – (CD ‘Winebarrel Jigtarrel’ 2000)

In 1852 William French a farm worker from Gunn Hill near Chiddingly died suddenly. The community became suspicious and inquires made resulting in his wife Sarah facing trial for his murder. Details revealed that Sarah had baked an onion pie laced with Arsenic intending to kill her husband as she had fallen in love with another. The court convicted Sarah and a Guilty verdict brought  about her fate. She was the last woman the Sussex to be hanged for her crime. Two versions of the song exist on both the 1st cassette album, and latterly the ‘Winebarrel Jigtarrel CD) and always remains a popular live number, especially when we play at the 6 Bells Chiddingly.

We won’t go down

Essentially a song about the sorry state of the British nation going into recession. It is also dedicated to the ‘Cock Inn’ in Wivelsfield Green which closed in 2008. The village had lost its pub and Mark along with friends helped to get it opened again. It is now very successful.

Listen to this as yet unreleased track, played live at Crawley Folk Festival