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At the heart of English folk

Music of the Sea: a season of rousing, traditional maritime folk music events

To celebrate the opening Nelson, Navy, Nation – a new National Maritime Museum (NMM) permanent gallery that tells the story of the Royal Navy and the British people between 1688–1815 on Trafalgar Day, 21 October 2013 – the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) the National Maritime Museum (NMM) have co-curated Music of the Sea.

The season was co-curated in collaboration between NMM staff, led by Andrea Cunningham, Head of Informal Learning & Access, and James Davey, Curator of Naval History, with EFDSS staff, Malcolm Taylor, Library Director and Rachel Elliott, Education Director. Scholar Roy Palmer, helped to inform the selection of songs, and Neil Pearson, EFDSS Artist Development and Programming Manager, the artists.’


Music of the Sea

A key aim of the Nelson, Navy, Nation gallery is to tell the story of life at sea. Music played a central part in life at sea, providing not only entertainment and contributing to the health and morale of seamen but also providing rhythm and cohesion to the everyday tasks of sailors and fishermen. This section of the gallery houses a recreation of a mess table, with a replica fiddle allowing visitors to select and play modern recordings of authentic eighteenth-century songs and ballads. Malcolm Taylor, Director of EFDSS’ library and archive, the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (VWML), and scholar Roy Palmer helped to inform the song selections that include ‘The Jolly Sailor’s Description of a Man-of-War’, ‘Spanish Ladies’, ‘A New Sea Song’ and ‘Heart of Oak’. These songs will help create an experiential environment that captures the reality of life at sea, within the gallery.

Music of the Sea is a complimentary season of rousing, traditional maritime music events, co-curated by EFDSS and the National Maritime Museum, taking place at the National Maritime Museum between October and December. Featuring performances, family singing and dancing workshops, musical gallery tours, lectures and talks, we look forward to see you there!
Find out what’s on


What’s on

Bold Nelson’s Praise
romenade performance with the New Scorpion Band
Monday 21 October (Tragalgar Day)
Celebrate Trafalgar day and the public opening of the new Nelson, Navy, Nation gallery with promenade performances from the New Scorpion Band.
More info

We’ll Rant and We’ll Roar!
A m
usical gallery tour
Thursday 21 November and Thursday 5 December
6 - 7pm | 7.30 - 8.30pm
This unique musical experience will take you on a journey through the newly opened Nelson, Navy, Nation gallery with live performances bringing history to life. Featuring singers Maz O’Connor and Gavin Davenport, Malcolm Taylor, Director of EFDSS’ library and archive, the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (VWML) and NMM curator James Davey.
£12 | NMM Members £10
More info
21 November: 6 - 7pm | 7.30 - 8.30pm
5 December: 6 - 7pm | 7.30 - 8.30pm

Long Haul: A History of the Sea Shanty
Musical lecture with music historian Roy Palmer and shanty crew Kimber’s Men
Thursday 31 October, 7 - 8pm
Celebrate one of our greatest ‘unsung’ maritime traditions with maritime music historian Roy Palmer and shanty crew Kimber’s Men.
£10 | NMM Members £8
More info

Women and the Sea
Fishwives Ensemble and Cecil Sharp House Choir
Thursday 28 November, 6.30 - 7.30pm
An atmospheric evening of unaccompanied singing with a poignant repertoire of songs giving voice to women’s experience of the sea.
Free (booking essential)
More info

Drunken Sailor: History, Music and Rum
Musical talk with musician Jim Causley, curator James Davey,  former Royal Navy Officer Roger Paine
Thursday 12 December, 6.30 - 8pm
Hoorah for Jack Tar! Meet the many faces of the British sailor in a heady evening of song, rum and history.
£15 | NMM Member £13
More info

Sea Songs
Monday 28 October
10.30am, 11.30am, 1.30pm and 2.30pm
Maritime family singing workshops with musician and workshop leader Ed Hicks. Suitable for 5 + years.
Free (tickets available on the day)
More info
10.30am | 11.30am | 1.30pm | 2.30pm

Dancing Sailor
Friday 1 November
10.30am, 11.30am, 2pm and 3pm
Maritime family dance workshops with dancer and workshop leader Kerry Fletcher. Suitable for 5 + years.
Free (tickets available on the day)
More info
10.30am | 11.30am | 2pm | 3pm  



Call the National Maritime Museum box office on 020 8312 6608 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Nelson, Navy, Nation

Nelson, Navy, Nation brings together over 250 objects from the Museum’s unrivalled collections, including exceptional works of art such as Devis’s Death of Nelson and William Hogarth’s Captain Lord George Graham in his Cabin; little known treasures like Gabriel Bray’s shipboard watercolours; and iconic items such as Nelson’s uniform from the Battle of Trafalgar.
Find out more about the new gallery


National Youth Folk Ensemble

National Youth Folk Ensemble


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