Babes in the Wood



  • An old story found in a ballad (16th century) and also in a crude melodrama, printed in 1601 and attributed on the title page to Rob Yarington.

    The story goes that the master of Wayland Hall in Norfolk diedleaving a young son and daughter in the care of his wife's brother;both were provided with money, but if the children died first the unclewas to inherit. After a year or so the uncle hired two villains tomurder the babes; in the event, one relented and killed the other ina fight, leaving the children in a wood. They died during the night and robins covered them over with leaves.

    A version of the story in which the birds' ministrations save the children's lives provides the basis of the pantomime Babes in the Wood.The show often incorporates elements of the Robin Hood story.