Folk Song in England: Regional Tour

Each region of England will be celebrated in a series of day-long courses exploring a wealth of traditional folk songs, from ballads to shanties. Folk Song in England will explore the history, development and purpose of folk songs collected in England, led by renowned folklorist Steve Roud.

The courses begin in September 2013 and will be held in Lincoln, Leeds, London, Bury, Gateshead, Bristol, Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Cambridge and Sheffield. In each region there will be a local guest speaker with specific knowledge on each region’s folk song collections. There will also be opportunities to hear rarely played archival recordings of singers from across England, as well as the chance to see archival film. The Folk Song in England courses are aimed at beginners interested in finding out about the history of folk song and the part it played in everyday life in England up to about the 1950s. The course will examine how these songs originated and got passed around communities. It will also look at how songs were constructed and whether they actually reflected real life but no singing is required. Sessions will be informal with plenty of opportunity for discussion and questions.


Frances Watt, The Full English Learning Manager, said: “Folk Song in England is a great opportunity to explore folk song, its history and the part it has played in our lives. For people who know the well-known favourites like ‘Scarborough Fair’ – this is a chance to explore and discover other hidden gems and get an insight into the context and tradition of how folk songs were enjoyed, and why they were collected.”


Steve Roud said: “Folk music continues to fascinate people on a variety of levels, from the singer or enthusiast to the social history researcher, and it is a particularly exciting time for folk song studies as huge amounts of material is becoming newly available in sound and manuscript archives that were previously only accessible to a few. With so much more evidence available we can at last get an overall view of the subject and ask questions which eluded our predecessors, and in particular we can start to understand how ‘folk song’ fitted into the wider musical world of everyday life in the past.”


The course is part of The Full English, an English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) project supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Folk Music Fund and The Folklore Society. The project created the most comprehensive free searchable digital archive in the world and includes a nationwide community and schools learning programme. The Full English digital archive is brimming with songs of battle, of love, of rural life, of disaster and celebration, and all collected from the late 1800s onwards.


Folk Song in England dates are:


Saturday 7 September, 9.30am – 5pm

Steve Roud with Ruairidh Greig

Lincoln Drill Hall, Lincoln | 01522 873894


Saturday 14 September, 9.30am – 5pm

Steve Roud and Steve Gardham

Howard Assembly Room, Leeds | 020 7241 8953


Saturday 21 September, 9.30am – 5pm

Steve Roud with Julia Bishop

British Library, London | 01937 546546


Saturday 12 October, 9.30am – 5pm

Steve Roud with Sue Allan

The Met, Bury | 0161 761 2216


Saturday 19 October, 9.30am – 5pm

Steve Roud with Peter Wood

The Sage Gateshead, Gateshead Quays, Tyne and Wear | 0191 443 4661


Sunday 27 Oct, 9.30am – 5pm

Steve Roud with Martin Graebe

Colston Hall, Bristol | 0117 922 3686


Saturday 2 November, 9.30am – 5pm

Steve Roud with Roy Palmer

mac birmingham, Birmingham | 0121 446 3232


Saturday 16 November, 9.30am – 4pm

Steve Roud with John Howson

The Stables, Milton Keynes | 01908 280800


Saturday 30 November, 9.30am – 5pm

Steve Roud with John Howson

The Gillespie Centre, Cambridge | 020 7241 8953


Saturday 1 February 2014, 9.30am – 5pm

Steve Roud with Julia Bishop

Sheffield University


Tickets for all dates are £10 per person, and this includes lunch and light refreshments throughout the day. For more about The Full English and access to the archive go