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At the heart of English folk

Library and archive

The essential folk resource

"The most important concentration of material on traditional song, dance and music in the country."
A Dictionary of English Folklore

The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (VWML) is England’s national folk music and dance archive, an essential resource for anybody interested in the folk arts. Founded in 1930 as the Cecil Sharp Library and housing Cecil Sharp’s personal book collection (which helped lay the foundations of the modern folk revival), it is now a multi-media library of distinction, containing books, pamphlets, periodicals, press cuttings, broadsides, paintings, photographs, slides, artefacts, records, reel-to-reel tapes, phonograph cylinders, videos, cine films, compact discs, audio cassettes and more.

It is a comprehensive collection, containing the largest number of manuscripts in England and providing an insight into history and regional variations. 

The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) is the library’s custodian. The Library is housed at the Society’s HQ, Cecil Sharp House.

The Library was given an excellence award by the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres (IAML) in 2010 and designated status by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) in 2011.

Entry is free.

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Supporters include

RVW Trust
National Folk Music Fund



National Youth Folk Ensemble

National Youth Folk Ensemble


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