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At the heart of English folk

History

Our story: a brief history

The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) was founded in 1932 to preserve, promote and develop the English folk arts, and specifically song, tune and dance.  The organisation was created by the merger of the Folk-Song Society (founded 1898) and the English Folk Dance Society (founded 1911).

 

Here is a quick recap of some of our major milestones.

1898

Folk-Song Society (FSS) founded to collect and preserve folk songs and tunes primarily from Britain and Ireland.  Its membership included existing researchers Sabine Baring-Gould, Lucy Broadwood and Frank Kidson and many other researchers, academics and musicians.

 

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 to both collect folk dance including Morris, sword and country dances, and to publish and teach them.

 

1930

Cecil Sharp House, the first dedicated folk arts centre in the UK, opens in Camden, London, 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). Ralph Vaughan Williams becomes President.

 

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

The centenary of the Folk-Song Society is marked 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).

 

2008

Shirley Collins becomes President and Eliza Carthy Vice-President.

 

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.

 

2015

EFDSS mark 800 years of democracy from the signing of Magna Carta with a music commission entitled Sweet Liberties, presented in partnership with the Houses of Parliament and Folk by the Oak Festival.

 

2016

EFDSS wins the Life Time Achievement Award from Folk Alliance International and Music Teacher Magazine’s Best Digital Resource for its educational resource bank.

 A major restoration and refurbishment of Kennedy Hall, including the Ivon Hitchens’ mural, is undertaken funded by Arts Council England, Foyle Foundation and individual giving and legacies.  

 

National Youth Folk Ensemble

National Youth Folk Ensemble

 

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There's never been a better time to donate to EFDSS - between now and 2019 your donation will be matched by Arts Council England!