The Full English

Unlocking hidden treasures of England's cultural heritage

A ground-breaking nationwide digital archive and learning project


“The Full English is possibly the most exciting and significant thing to happen to British folk music in at least a generation… To give everyone the keys to the archive of our common heritage will be an invaluable inspiration to generations of musicians and writers." Lee Hall, playwright and screenwriter (Billy Elliot, Pitman Painters, War Horse)

Discover English folk songs, tunes, dances and customs

The Full English is the biggest project the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) has undertaken since the building of our HQ, Cecil Sharp House, in 1930! It saw us create the largest searchable digital archive of early 20th century English folk arts manuscripts; embark on a national programme of workshops, lectures, creative projects with 18 schools, training and community events in all nine English regions; and the commissioning of new and newly arranged music inspired by the collections, which culminated in a CD release and national tour.

A grant of £585,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £11,000 from the National Folk Music Fund, given in memory of former EFDSS President Ursula Vaughan Williams, and support from The Folklore Society has made it possible for the world to see these riches online and for thousands of people in England to get involved in an array of projects, giving these remarkable materials back to the communities from where they were originally collected.

About 15,000 people were involved in this project in some way or another – from children learning folk songs and dances to music fans seeing the very best artists at one of The Full English live gigs. But the project does not end there; our hope is that this archive will continue to be a valuable resource to people who take an interest in English folk arts, both across the country and the wider world, facilitating deeper research into the rich history of our folk traditions and bringing those forgotten gems of songs into the mouths of those who can once again find pleasure in them.

The Full English is also supported by the English Miscellany Folk Dance Group.


Improving access to The Full English digital archive

The first part of creating The Full English digital archive was to make nineteen manuscript collections, housed in nine repositories in England, Scotland and Australia freely available in a searchable format online. However, as the information on these digital images can very hard to decipher, particularly if you are not a music reader, the second part is to improve access by providing transcriptions of texts and musical notation, as well as midi files so the tunes can be heard. We are currently working to transcribe The Full English collections, to make them accessible.

See who we’re working with


Explore the archive: 12 new collections will be freely available online now
Uncover the treasures of folk

What’s happening near you?


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See what we’ve been up to on the Full English blog


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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