Surrey History Centre

Chris and Emily are visiting the Surrey History Centre at Dorking on Wednesday 17th April to research the Lucy Broadwood archive. If anyone would like to join us they would be very welcome. All potential researchers need to bring proof of identity and address with them. You can find out more about the centre, including opening times at
Please feel free to visit the archive whenever you have a free day, but please let Chris know you are going so he can suggest material for you to research (otherwise people might duplicate the work of others). Mail him at

Researching Lucy Broadwood

Surrey History Centre at Woking have many of Lucy Broadwood’s papers including all her diaries. Would you like to have a go doing some research on these? If so please email Chris at

This is the the Surrey History Centre link on Lucy Broadwood –

To whet your appetite, here are a three of extracts that Chris has found from searching information online.

Cecil Sharp

Today Cecil Sharp is regarded as the ‘Father of English Folk Song.’ Yet this was not really the case: Lucy Broadwood, Kate Lee and others were recording folk songs ‘in the field’ many years before Cecil Sharp. When Sharp did join the Folk Song Society he caused some dissension within the committee and upset some members who felt he was a bit of a one-man band who couldn’t work collectively. Lucy Broadwood said of Sharp: “He puffed and boomed and shoved and ousted, and used the Press to advertise himself.”

Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould

Another folk song collector who Lucy did have a good opinion of was the Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould, a Devon clergyman who collected songs in his parish and Devon generally. She visited him in Devon and joined her host on a folk song collecting tour of the county. They also corresponded regularly. In one letter, written in 1892, Baring-Gould suggested that it would be a good idea to record some Navy songs, but anticipating Lucy enthusiasm for the task, cautioned: “I can understand the [sailors] being shy of singing to a lady, they think they are being laughed at, or else are simply shy as they would not be before a man, moreover they want grog [navy ration of watered-down rum] to unlock their hearts and refresh their memories and a lady can hardly stand grog for them.” It was not always easy being a female folk song collector in Victorian England!

Mary Venables

Mary Venables was a close friend of Lucy and probably knew her better than anyone. Mary appreciated all Lucy’s many talents and her restless determination to do many many tasks to the upmost of her ability. As well as being secretary of the Folk Song Society, she was also a leading light in the Purcell Society and the People’s Entertainment Society. Lucy traveled extensively, read widely on world religion and took a great interest in politics. Yet Mary detected a melancholy in her friend that “came from the depths of her nature which often appeared to be struggling against sadness and pessimism.” In this she had much in common with Hilaire Belloc.