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At the heart of English folk


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.


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



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



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



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



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



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



Princess Margaret becomes President of EFDSS.



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



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



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).



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



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.



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


National Youth Folk Ensemble

National Youth Folk Ensemble


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