The Song of Canvey

Sung by the Dutch to Sir Cornelius Vermuyden

Keith Bonsor with the 19th century manuscript

The 19th century manuscript shown by Keith Bonsor in this picture, was given to his mother, Margaret by Gertrude Brown, daughter of Rev J R Brown.

According to a letter from Getrude to Margaret Bonsor, which is dated 1967, the manuscript was given to her father by the composer C. T. Loveday. It is notated on the front to have been ‘Sung by the Dutch to Cornelius Vermuyden’. The words appear to have been written by C. Ashdown.

Are the words from the 17th century and the music added later? Why did C T Loveday write this music, was it for a play? Does anyone know who CT Loveday or C Ashdoon were? Any comments please add them below.

Keith has given the Archive a copy of the manuscript and we are hoping to get a school to sing it for us so we can get a recording to add to the page.

The words are as follows:

The Canvey Song

Composers signature

Oh! The lands where we were born
From the greedy sea were torn
And the waves behind the dykes do still beset them;
But our eyes with tears were blind
When we left out homes behind
And cannot now in Canvey Isle forget them!

Then Hi! For the land of the windmill and the dyke,
And Ho! For the lowlands low;
Where the men are strong and fearless
And the maidens gay and peerless,
In the land of the lowlands low.
In the land of the lowlands low.

Though our fancy often roams
To the country of our homes,
Yet the sorrow of our exile fast has faded.
To the Netherlands we’re true,
But we find there’s work to do,
And we’ll do it in the land we have invaded!


Where but yesterday the sea
Flung its eager waters, we
Find another home, and hold our merry meeting;
To thy brain and cunning hand
Do we owe our new-won land,
And we lift our cups and voices to thy greeting!


Comments about this page

  • Hello,

    I found this link that provides information about what this song was written for

    The Southend and Westcliff-on-Sea Pageant of 1909.
    Pageant Master: Ashdown, Charles H.
    Master of Music: Mr C.T. Loveday

    “The words and lyrics for the Pageant had been written by accomplished pageant master Charles H. Ashdown.

    Alongside his wife, Ashdown was a meticulous promoter of the accurate representation of local history and the author of a number of historical publications. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Southend and Westcliff-on-Sea Pageant took seriously the presentation of formative episodes in the history of the locality, using sources such as William Camden’s Britannia to inform the narrative.

    The first performance in Chalkwell Park occurred on 19 June 1909, where spectators in their thousands gathered for the spectacle.7 According to the Cambridge Independent Press, Chalkwell provided an ‘admirable setting’ for the scenes. The Pageant opened with a celebration of the beauty of the Essex countryside, where an Essex man, contemplating his surroundings, falls asleep and is transported back in time by the Spirits of the Historical Past of Essex. The episodes which followed were thoughtfully paced, as the audience were taken from the dilemmas of Offa, the early medieval King of Essex, through to the unique and intriguing history of Dutch settlement on Essex’s Canvey Island. “

    By Kate (13/09/2023)
  • Wow Kate thanks for solving the mystery.

    By Janet Penn (13/09/2023)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.