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)

The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) and its partners present the world’s largest online collection of English folk manuscripts.

Freely explore 80,000 pages of traditional songs, dances, tunes and customs from the golden age of folk music collecting, within the manuscripts of nineteen of England’s most important late Victorian and Edwardian folk collectors, including Ralph Vaughan Williams, Percy Grainger, Lucy Broadwood and Cecil Sharp.

The Full English digital archive delivers the true ‘voice of the people’ through a variety of material ranging from full songs to fragments of melodies, invaluable for researchers, performers, composers and many more. It is rich in social, family and local history, and provides a snapshot of England’s cultural heritage through voices rarely published and heard before.

The Full English Extra will see the collections of Mary Neal, suffragette, radical arts practitioner and founder of the Esperance Girls Club, and folk dance educator Daisy Caroline Daking added to the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library online archive, alongside its collection of 19th century broadside ballads and songsters.

EFDSS will work with three national museums – the Museum of English Rural Life at the University of Reading, the National Coal Mining Museum for England near Wakefield in Yorkshire and the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London – combining folk arts and museum education to provide powerful new learning experiences for schools.


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

Read the latest
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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