The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

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Monday, October 02, 2006

The Naked Ladies of the Melford Disaster

A singular episode in Melford history is stated in the “Ipswich Journal” August 1794. Three young ladies, one famous for intellectual gifts, desired to bathe in the river. They rose at 4 a.m. and walked to a remote spot and stripped off naked. They were however followed by a blacksmith who did not reveal himself until the ladies were bathing, their confusion and distress may be imagined. He stole their clothes but after an hour’s agony they were enabled to obtain some, in which they returned to Melford.

The occasion was marked by the following ballad

When twas talk’d with disdain Among the profane That the Ladies go there naked

The Melford Disaster

A new Ballad to the tune of “Tom of Bedlam"

All in the Land of Suffolk
At Melford at the unwary
On the side of a bank
Was played such a prank
By’s Devil yclep’d Vagary

To look about thee, Bury
(Thy Ladies are so charming)
I’d have thee begin
For the Father of Sin
Get’s a taste that’s quite alarming

On Melford’s reputation
For scandal we did take it
When twas talk’d with disdain
Among the profane
That the Ladies go there naked

Twas early in the morning
Just as the Sun was peeping
Three daughters of Eve
Got up without leave
To a farmer’s to creep in

Nor look ye, were thy Niads
Nor mind ye, were they Graces
For the Women of old
By Ovid were told
Wash’d nothing but their faces

Long time in Nature’s buff-suits
Not much oppressed with blushes
Now in and Now out
They paddled about
Like ducks among the rushes

Nor did ye dream, ye fair ones
When taking such a frolic
That the sweet West wind
Tho’ it blew fo kind
Could give a maid the cholic

While thus in sportive humour
They flounced about-God bless them
That villain, Old Nick
Was playing a trick
On purpose to distress em

Three things as soft as pillows
With stays and caps together
This cunning old wag
Put his in a bag
And flew away like a feather

Cloaks petticoats and kerchiefs
On Satan’s back suspended
With stockings and shoes
And eke furbelows
Clean out of sight ascended

I’d sing the sequel solemn
Did Modesty allow it
But a dock leaf vest
Is but ill exprest
By Painter or by Poet

Let Coventry no longer
For sights like these be reckoned
For, Melford, thy fame
Has got thee a name
Of Coventry the second


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