[Updated 18th March 2020]
Welcome to version 2 of the Sabrinaflu Folk Magazine, promoting folk music, song and dance, especially but not exclusively along the course of the river Severn (hence Sabrinaflu). The original site was set up by Felicity Burke in 1997, and was the basis for the blog version set up by David Harley in 2014, with pages from the original site replicated as more-or-less static pages on this site.
Blog articles have, historically, been used as a newsfeed and to flag changes to the more static pages, new features and so on, but for reasons of health, age and so on, maintenance of the blog as a living resource will now be discontinued, so it’s unlikely that there will be new articles/pages/features; a number of obsolete features are being removed; and changes to the remaining pages will happen rarely, if at all. There is, however, a Sabrinaflu Facebook Group where the Sabrinaflu team and group members post regularly.
This is Sabrina, the nymph who gives her name to the River Severn (or the goddess of the Severn in Brythonic mythology) and has little to do with the 50s/60s starlet of the same name or any teenage witches. Here she’s seen sitting in a pool in The Dingle at the Quarry Park, Shrewsbury. She is in the process of sticking her finger in her ear before singing an agricultural ballad, probably from the repertoire of Fred Jordan.
As Felicity Burke explains, ‘on old maps the River Severn is called Sabrina flumen – flu for short.’
The word Sabrina probably pre-dates the mythology and its meaning is indeterminate (it may simply have meant a river), but developed into ‘Hafren’ (the Welsh name for the Severn) and ‘Severn’ while also developing a backstory to account for the name. So Wikipedia tells us, at any rate.
There are several versions of the story of Sabrina, generally deriving from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae (at least, as far as I can tell without actually having read it):
- The version on Chris Witts’ River Severn Tales site
- Another version tells how three water spirits met on the slopes of Plynlimon, and became the Ystwth, the Wye and the Severn. Sabrina, of course, becoming the Severn.
- My favourite, the version by Liam Rogers on the White Dragon site, which covers all those versions.
And the last of those versions takes us to the reason that the illustration currently used as the header for this site shows Ludlow castle, even though the Severn doesn’t pass through Ludlow. (The Teme and the Corve do.) The story of Sabrina is told in Milton’s Comus (as quoted in the White Dragon account), and Milton’s masque was first presented at Ludlow castle at Michaelmas 1634.
19th January 2016