Somerset Sisters in Song: Cecil Sharp’s Women Folk Singers

14 January – 19 August


Gypsy singer Betsy Holland (1890 – 1960). Image courtesy of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, English Folk Dance and Song Society

Cecil Sharp, a London-based music teacher, began collecting Somerset folk songs in August 1903. Sharp collected from 358 named individuals and then published five volumes of Folk Songs from Somerset between 1904 and 1909.

Uniquely among collectors of the period, Sharp photographed his singers. His portraits of women are evocative and memorable, offering glimpses into a lost world of handmade clothing, shawls, pinafores, hats and homes.

The exhibition tells the story of the Somerset women who provided Sharp with hundreds of folk songs. It includes a selection of photographs provided by the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, English Folk Dance and Song Society.

Somerset Sisters in Sing was produced in partnership with Yvette Staelens, folk singer and Senior Teaching Fellow, Bournemouth University.

The exhibition is in the Hammet Room.


Open 14 January – 19 August

Associated events

Talk and Tea – Somerset Folk Songs

Friday 10 February at 2.30 pm

With Yvette Staelens as part of the Somerset Sisters in Song exhibition. Followed by tea and cake.

£5, booking advised.

 Blow Away the Morning Dew: A Springtime Singing Workshop

Saturday 4 March, 10 am to 1 pm

Come and sing lost Somerset folk songs with Yvette Staelens. Discover beautiful melodies, folk poetry and the music of the people.

All abilities welcome – no need to read music.

£18, booking required online with Ticketsource or call 01823 255088.