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At the heart of English folk

History

Our story: a brief history

The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) have been around for a while – some 115 years in fact – but our mission has remained the same since the very beginning: to preserve and promote the best of folk. Back in 1898, the Folk-Song Society was founded with the aim of saving and celebrating England’s traditional folk songs. Following a merger with the English Folk Dance Society (EFDS) in 1932, our remit expanded to include the wider folk arts – and today we continue to bring folk to new audiences across the country, as evidenced by The Full English – our most ambitious learning and participation programme to date.

There have been many remarkable achievements and developments along the way. Below is a quick recap of some of our major milestones.

1898

Folk Song Society (FSS) founded, bringing together existing researchers Sabine Baring-Gould, Lucy Broadwood and Frank Kidson.

 

1903

Cecil Sharp collects his first folk songs in Somerset. The composer Ralph Vaughan Williams starts collecting folk songs.

 

1911

English Folk Dance Society (EFDS) founded with a collection of Morris, sword and country dances.

 

1930

Cecil Sharp House, the first dedicated folk arts centre in the UK, opens as a memorial to Cecil Sharp, following his death in 1924.

 

1932

EFDS and FSS merge to form the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS).

 

1935

EFDSS hosts the world’s first International Folk Dance Festival in London.

 

1960

Princess Margaret becomes President of EFDSS.

 

1967

National Folk Week launches, with more than 1,000 events nationwide.

 

1998

EFDSS celebrates its centenary with the release of the album A Century of Song.

 

2007

The Heritage Lottery Fund supports Take 6, which sees the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library digitise six major manuscript collections (Janet Heatley Blunt, George Butterworth, Francis Collinson, George Gardiner, Anne Gilchrist and Henry Hammond).

 

2009

EFDSS becomes an Arts Council England Regularly Funded Organisation (and in 2012 a National Portfolio Organisation).

 

2012

The Heritage Lottery Fund, National Folk Music Fund and Folklore Society support The Full English, to create the world’s biggest online portal of English folk music, song and dance manuscripts – as well as a national programme of workshops, lectures, training and community events.

 

2013

EFDSS undertakes the largest capital spend on Cecil Sharp House since 1951 with the installation of a lift to make the building fully accessible.

 

The Full English

The Full English

Unlocking hidden treasure of England’s cultural heritage. The Full English is the world’s largest free digital archive English folk songs, tunes, dances and customs. Containing more than 58,400 items from 12 of the country’s most important early 20th century folk music collections, you can delve into wherever you are in the world.

 

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Shape the Future: support Cecil Sharp House. Please consider making a contribution today. Any gift, large or small, really will make a difference.