The Play of ‘Robin Hod and the Shryff off Notyngham’

This fragment of a genuine medieval Robin Hood play is written on the upper half of a half sheet of paper (8’’x10’’) containing household accounts from East Anglia dated May 1475-August 1475 and is kept at Trinity College, Cambridge, MS.R.2. 64 (fragment)

This verse play of twenty-one lines is possibly founded on the ballad of ‘Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne,’ although in this document, Robin’s opponent is not mentioned. But included for the first time in the outlaw gang, is ‘ffrere Tuck’. The manuscript was once part of the collection of ‘Paston Papers’ and therefore could be the very play mentioned in 1473 in a letter by Sir John Paston, where he described a re-absconding servant hired to play Robin Hood and Saint George, who had ‘goon into Bernysdale.’

The speakers are not identified in the fragmentary text, so any re-construction is conjectural.

Knight: Syr sheryffe, for thy sake,
Robyn Hode wull I take.

Sheriff: I wyll the gyffe golde and fee;
This be-hest thou holde me.
[If you keep this pledge with me]

(The Sheriff leaves and Robin Hood is challenged by the bounty-hunting knight)

Knight: Robyn Hode, ffayre and fre,
Under this lynde shote we.

Robin: With the shot y wyll
Alle thy lustes to full-fyll.

(Robin and the knight fight)

Knight: Have at the pryke!
[I shoot at the target]

Robin: And I cleve the styke.
[And I cleave the wand]

(Robin wins)

Knight: Let us caste [throw] the stone.

Robin: I graunte well, be Seynt John!

(Robin wins again)

Knight: Let us caste the exaltre.

(They toss a wooden axle)

Robin: Have a foot before the!
Syr Knyght, ye have a falle.

(They wrestle and Robin wins)

Knight: And I the, Robyn, qwyte;
[I shall quit you Robin]
Owte on the! I blow myn horne.

Robin: Hit ware better be un-borne: [better not to have been born]
Lat us fight at outtraunce.
[let us fight to the uttermost]
He that fleth, God gyfe hym myschaunce!

(Robin kills the knight)

Robin: Now I have the maystry here,
Off I smyte this sory swyre.
(Robin cuts off the knight’s head)
This knyghtys clothis wolle I were,
And in my hode his hede woll bere.
(Robin disguises himself as the knight)

We are now with two unknown members of Robin’s band of outlaws, probably Little John and Will Scarlet . Outlaw 1 seems to meet Outlaw 2 as he approaches a conflict in the forest between Robin’s men and the Sheriff.

Outlaw 1: Welle mete, felowe myn,
What herst thou of gode Robyn?

Outlaw 2: Robyn Hode and his menye
With the sheryffe takyn be.

Outlaw 1: Sette on foote with gode wyll
And the sheryffe wull we kyll.

(The two outlaws watch the fight going on in the distance)

Outlaw 2: Be-holde wele Frere Tuke*
Howe he dothe his bowe pluke!

*First known mention of Friar Tuck amongst Robin Hood’s outlaw band

(The Sheriff enters with Friar Tuck and the other outlaws as prisoners: he addresses Little John and Scarlet)

Sheriff: Yeld yow, syrs, to the sheryffe,
Or ells shall your bowes clyffe. [be cut]

(Outlaws 1 and 2 surrender to the Sheriff)

Outlaw 1: Now we be bownden alle in same:
Frere Tuke, this is no game.

Sheriff: Come thou forth, thou fals outlawe,
Thou shall be hangyde and y-drawe. [hung and drawn]

Friar Tuck: Now, allas, what shall we doo?
We moste to the prysone goo.

Sheriff: Opyn the gatis faste anon,
And late theis thevys ynne gon. [and let these thieves go inside]

Whistle My Love 45rpm

How about this 'pop pickers!' Elton Hayes singing Whistle My Love on the Decca label at 45rpm. Did you have this in your record collection? What was on the B side?

The Boys' And Girls' Cinema Clubs Annual

Regular contributor Neil Vessey has reminded me of an article about Walt Disney’s 'Story of Robin Hood' in ‘The Boys’ And Girls’ Cinema Clubs Annual’ of 1952. For six shillings this was the fifth edition of an annual for youngsters up and down the country who were members of Saturday Morning Clubs such as Grandiers, ABC Minors, Odeon, Empire Rangers and Gaumont Children’s Cinema Club. This was during an era when twenty five million people went to the ‘pictures’ every week!

It was printed by Juvenile Productions Ltd. of London and was packed full of various articles on the latest stream of movies being released for mainly the younger audiences of the time. Films such as Abbot and Costello in ‘Jack and the Beanstalk,’ Roy Rogers and Trigger in ‘The Golden Stallion’ and Disney’s ‘Lambert the Sheepish Lion.’

But also included were sections on new Hollywood blockbusters of that year, including ‘Ivanhoe’ with Elizabeth Taylor and Robert Taylor, ‘The Crimson Pirate’ starring Burt Lancaster and ‘The African Queen’ with Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart. Along with all this are some fascinating behind-the-scenes pieces on how the movies were being made at the time and how The Children’s Film Foundation was formed in 1951.

Pages 8-11 outline Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood with eight stills from the movie including four in colour. But what is interesting, is the inside note from the editor-Robert Moss- on two youngsters who visited Denham Studios during the making of Robin Hood:

"Early one bright summer morning I called for Peter Green, a member of the Odeon Children's Cinema Club, at his home in South Norwood, London, and took him across London to the flat where ABC Minor Lavinia Baily lives. Then the three of us went on to Denham Film Studios, in Buckinghamshire, where we were introduced to Richard Todd, the star of Walt Disney's Robin Hood, and to lovely Joan Rice, the Maid Marian of the film, and other members of the cast.

We spent interesting hours on the set watching scenes in the film being shot and discovering some of the secrets of film making: then Richard Todd, resting between shots, called Peter and Lavinia over and told them the story of the film. Whilst he was doing this, we took a photograph of the three of them - and this is the lovely coloured photograph, you see on the front of this annual.

Wasn’t that exciting? You can guess how thrilled Peter and Lavinia were. Later on, we lunched with members of the cast, who were still in costume, so Peter and Lavinia can really claim to have feasted, not only with Robin Hood and his merry men, but with Prince John, the Sheriff of Nottingham, and all! "

Evelyn Millard as Lady Marian

The postcards above are of the English stage actress Evelyn Millard. She, according to A.E Wilson in his book ‘Edwardian Theatre,’ consumed plays with her grace and decorative beauty.’

We can see Evelyn as Lady Marian in a production with Lewis Waller of ‘Robin Hood’ that was later performed in front of King Edward VII at Windsor Castle in 1906. Below is the excellent full biography of this legendary stage star, reproduced in full and unaltered, courtesy of Don Gillan (Copyright),

"Evelyn Millard was born in Kensington, London on 18th September 1869. She was the daughter of John Millard, a teacher of elocution at the Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Music. She was educated in London, and studied at the Female School of Art, 43 Queen Square, Bloomsbury. However it would be acting, not art that she would make her eventual vocation.

She made her stage debut at the Haymarket Theatre on 25th January, 1891, in a walk-on role in the third act of Henry Jones play "The Dancing Girl". She then moved on to the Theatre Royal, Margate where she came under the tutelage of Sarah Thorne. She appeared on stage there in a number of roles, including most notably 'Julia' in "The Hunchback", 'Hero' in "Much Ado About Nothing", and 'Juliet' in "Romeo and Juliet", later going on tour with Thomas Thorne.

She returned to London in December that year when she was taken on by the Gattis at the Adelphi. Leading man there at the time was William Terris, the father of Ellaline Terris, who would be sensationally murdered by a madman outside the theatre some years later. Her first role at the Adelphi was as 'Constance Cuthbertson' in the drama "The Trumpet Call". She remained at the Adelphi for almost two years appearing in numerous roles and perfecting her acting talents under the Adelphi's leading lady, Mrs Patrick Campbell.

In 1894, her reputation growing rapidly, Evelyn went on tour with George Alexander - appearing as 'Rosamund' in "Sowing the Wind", 'Dulcie' in "The Masqueraders" and 'Paula' in "The Second Mrs Tanqueray". Returning to London she continued in the latter role at the St James's theatre, and stayed on at that theatre in a succession of other roles - including creating the role of 'Cecily Cardew' in the first ever performance of Oscar Wilde's wonderfully witty comedy "The Importance of Being Earnest" which premiered on February 14th, 1895. In September that year she appeared before Queen Victoria playing the role of 'Blanche Ferriby' in a command performance of "Liberty Hall" at Balmoral, after which she continued in this role opening at the St James's.

From January 1896, she made a great success as 'The Princess Flavia' in the premiere production of "The Prisoner of Zenda", and thereby firmly established herself, if she was not already, as a recognised box-office star. In 1897 she left the St James's to join Beerbohm Tree's company, playing at Her Majesty's Theatre and on tour in several roles. Her greatest success in Tree's company being as 'Portia' in a revival of "Julius Caesar" opening in January 1898.

She had by now come to the attention of Charles Frohman, the great American theatrical manager, who then secured her services as leading lady at the Duke of York's Theatre where he had just taken over the lease. For the next three years she would be his main attraction. Among the roles she played there were 'Lady Ursula Barrington' in the comedy "The Adventure of Lady Ursula", and the title role in Jerome K. Jerome's "Miss Hobbs", both of which ran for over 200 performances, and 'Cho-Cho-San' in the British premiere of the original David Belasco "Madame Butterfly". The latter production was seen by Giacomo Puccini, who used the play as the basis for his famous opera of the same name.

In 1900 she was married to Robert Porter Coulter, and shortly thereafter took a little over a years absence from the stage during which time she gave birth to a daughter. Ursula, who would herself become an actress, was born on 20th September, 1901. Evelyn returned to the stage and the St James's in March 1902 to play 'Francesca' in the tragedy "Paolo and Francesca", and over the next few years was rarely absent from the West End stage as her career continued to blossom. She played opposite many of the best male actors of that era, particularly Lewis Waller with whom she gave many of her best performances, and appeared in many of the best classical and modern parts. There were also further command performances in November 1904, and November 1906, both times at Windsor Castle before King Edward. On the first occasion she appeared as 'Lady Mary Carlyle' in "Monsieur Beaucaire" opposite Lewis Waller, and on the second 'Lady Marian' in "Robin Hood".

In 1908 she created her own highly successful company playing at various London venues as well as on tour. Her repertory in this period included the title role in "The Adventure of Lady Ursula" in which she had made an early success, Ophelia in "Hamlet", "Madame Butterfly", 'Edith Dombey' in "Dombey and Son", 'Olivia' in "Twelfth Night", 'Queen Elizabeth' in "Drake", 'Agnes' in "David Copperfield", and others.

Then, like so many other stars of her era, her career was effectively ended by the outbreak of the Great War. Her last major role was as 'Agnes Wickfield' in "David Copperfield" at His Majesty's Theatre in December 1914, although she did make a breif reappearance to play 'Calpurnia' in the Sheakespearean Tercentenary performance of "Julius Caesar" in May 1916.

In a professional career lasting some twenty-three years she was constantly in work, only rarely appearing outside of London and unlike most other top performers never undertaking a foreign tour. A woman of great beauty and considerable acting talent she was much loved by the theatre going public and always a sure box-office attraction. Following her retirement she continued to live in London at Abingdon Court. She passed away on 9th March, 1941, aged 70.”
Don Gillan

Don Gillan’s web site is well worth a visit and can be found at

Tales Of The Riverbank

Neil has recently sent me another fascinating picture from the making of Walt Disney’s live-action film The Story of Robin Hood. This time an official still, showing the filming of the scene in which Robin Hood (Richard Todd) climbes up the riverbank to escape from the Sheriff and his men. Two arrows then thud dangerously into the ground around him (above).

As we can see (below) the arrows were actualy fired by two expert archers (James Hemmings and George Brown) brought in by the Second Unit Director, Alex Bryce; who can be seen sitting just below the camera.

For those few seconds of film, a ‘riverbank,’ was constructed out of wood and covered in artificial greenery, alongside the River Colne in the grounds of Denham Studios. Sitting in the chair, wearing the hat, overseeing it all, can be seen the producer of the movie, Perce Pearce.

Thanks Neil!

Patrick Barr

Patrick Barr (1908-1985) is shown above in a still from the 30 minute film Murder At The Grange. Patrick played the part of Inspector John Morley in this British B Movie thriller, which was also known in the UK as Murder At The Festival.

The film was released in December 1952 - the same year he played the part of King Richard I in Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood. Later, Patrick re-created his role as Richard the Lionheart, in the much loved classic TV series The Adventures of Robin Hood.

Disneyland High Fidelity Record

This is the original Disneyland High Fidelity LP soundtrack from the motion picture The Story of Robin Hood DQ-1249. The dramatic sleeve was printed in the U.S.A and is © 1963. On the back of the LP are five stills from the film.
The first shows Richard Todd as Robin sending a signal arrow to his men. Next we see Friar Tuck, Robin Hood and Little John, three companions in defence of righteousness and good King Richards name. The third picture shows Friar Tuck as he, becomes the unhappy beast of burden for the fun loving Robin Hood. A dramatic still from the fight scene on the bridge, between Little John and Robin is described as a rousing jousting match with the giant stranger (Little John) who will not let him pass. And lastly a publicity still, showing Robin and the lovely Maid Marian, described as being well rewarded for their services to the king.
Included below is the impressive detailed description of the album given by the seller.

"Long before Walt Disney Productions released its 1973 animated all-animal re-telling of the English classic Robin Hood, Walt Disney had already personally told the tale as a live-action feature film.

The Story Of Robin Hood was filmed on location in England, and released theatrically in 1952. A stellar cast was assembled: dashing Richard Todd was Robin Hood, lovely Joan Rice portrayed Maid Marion, James Robertson Justice appeared as Little John, and, in an early screen role, Peter Finch played the evil Sheriff of Nottingham. This British record, released in 1963, features all of these stars and more in dramatic and musical excerpts from the soundtrack of the motion picture. The adventurous tale is narrated by voice veteran Dal McKennon (narrator of the 1967 Disneyland Storyteller Record of The Jungle Book and well-known to guests of Disneyland in California as the voice telling you to "hang onto your hats and glasses" on the "wildest ride in the wilderness," Big Thunder Mountain Railroad).

Balladeer Elton Hayes, the film's Alan-a-Dale, sings the Eddie Pola - George Wyle song Riddle De Diddle De Day as well as Come Sing Low, Come Sing High and The Ballad of Robin Hood, which he co-wrote with screenplay author Lawrence Edward Watkin (the writer behind Darby O'Gill and the Little People and the Mickey Mouse Club serial Spin and Marty)."

Classic Comics Robin Hood #7

This image of a short-haired, clean-shaven 'Richard Todd' type Robin Hood, comes from what is commonly known as the 'Golden Age' of comics.

Robin Hood was published in December 1942 as the 7th edition of Albert Lewis Kanter's Classic Comics, later to be known as Classics Illustrated. It was drawn and inked by Lewis Zansky.

This long series, created in October 1941, featured adaptions of thirty-four literary novels including Robinson Crusoe, The Three Musketeers, Moby Dick and Ivanhoe. They were originally printed by Elliot Publishing Co but after the fourth issue in 1942 Kanter formed the Gilberton Company, Inc. Publication of the series finished in 1971.