Ronald Leedham: Parlour Songs

Ronald Leedham was born in 1929 in India. His family moved back to England in 1931after Ronald contracted Polio. Ronald spent some years in Hospital as a young child after contracting Diptheria. When he was six he returned home to Catford for a short while to live with his father, eventually ending up living in ‘homes for crippled children’ run by the Shaftesbury Society, until he was sixteen.

Here Ronald recalls some of the Parlour songs he was taught at school.

  • Ronald Leedham
  • Ronald Leedham


But I love hymn music and another thing we used to learn there, at these concerts, was parlour songs. The old Victorian parlour songs where they stand around the piano and sing to each other? Civilised, very civilised, lovely songs. The Volunteer Organist, do you know it? Do you know 'Turn Herbert’s Face to the Wall, Mother', oh dear. 'The Lady with the Baby', do you know that one?

"A woman was bathing her baby one night, the poor little thing was a pitiful sight, the poor little thing was so weak and so thin, it should have been bathed in a jug.
When she turned round to get the soap from the rack, it wasn’t a moment before she looked back, Oh where is my baby? In anguish she cried, oh where is my child? And the angels replied:
Your baby has gone down the plughole, your baby has gone" – don’t you know the one?"Your baby has gone down the plug, the poor little thing was so weak and so thin, it should have been bathed in a jug".

It went on and on and on like that, and they don’t sing those songs anymore, I used to love them. I used to love them, but that was my formal education at school.

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