Thursday 12 April 2018

King of Rome

I very nearly back-heeled Carrington Triangle last night; it was a foul evening, but I closed the front door behind me, turned the collar up on my coat and strode out. And I'm so glad I did.
I knew there was something about Julie when she walked in the room about ten minutes or so into the session. She sang a couple of songs including The King of Rome from Dave Sudbury's enchanting book, and I knew I had to ask her to join our choir. She has an an absolutely fabulous voice, and I was bowled over right from the off.
During the interval I introduced myself and found out we share a real passion for making bread - Julie runs a community bakery - and actively promotes the connection between singing and baking. Please take a look at her blog Eat Bake Sing - you'll be amazed at what she gets up to. She also invited me to one of her workshops, so can't wait till we organise that.

King of Rome was a pigeon, owned by a Mr. C. H. Hudson, who won a race from Italy to England in 1913. He flew, bless him, all the way from Rome to Derby, a distance of 1,001 miles. No surprise that only 62 of the 1,200 released birds made it back to Blighty. The little fella lived to a ripe old age and died in 1958. He's subsequently had a radio play written about him, and been immortalised in print and song.

Here are two quite different versions of the song. The first, sung unaccompanied by Lucy Ward, is how you'll probably hear it in most folk clubs:

The Unthanks (I have rather a soft spot for the Unthank sisters), on the other hand, give it the full brass treatment courtesy of the Brighouse & Rastrick Band. Excellent versions both.

Not forgetting little Poppy-May


  1. Great story and lovely music. Thank you.

  2. It was the first time I'd heard it too Gram.
    There can be something very special about someone singing in a small room with no microphone - you can shove yer concert halls and arenas; keep it simple, keep it real.

  3. Thanks for your kind words John. You know what is quite cool that I found out from my Dad ...Brook Street in Derby, as mentioned in the song where he kept his pigeons, is where my Nanna was born in 1914 - her Dad had a sweet shop there!!

    1. You're very welcome Julie. The Triangle needs more singers like you and Rosie & Em.
      If you and your nanna are Derby girls, then King of Rome is obviously a song you were destined to sing!
      Keep in touch, won't you?