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The Full English: available now

The world’s biggest free digital archive of English traditional folk music and dance tunes

“The Full English is possibly the most exciting and significant thing to happen to British folk music in at least a generation… To give everyone the keys to the archive of our common heritage will be an invaluable inspiration to generations of musicians and writers."
Lee Hall, playwright and screenwriter (Billy Elliot, Pitman Painters, War Horse)

The Full English is the biggest project the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) has undertaken since the building of our HQ, Cecil Sharp House, in 1930! Created in partnership with leading academic institutions, The Full English is an English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) project that brings together 12 major manuscript collections for the first time in the most comprehensive free searchable digital archive of English folk songs, tunes, dances and customs in the world.

In a marriage between tradition and new media, more than 58,400 items from some of the country’s most important folk music collections – including manuscripts, notes and letters – from seven major archives, have been conserved, catalogued and digitized, before being uploaded to a central digital archive.

You can now browse through the manuscript collections of Harry Albino, Lucy Broadwood, Clive Carey, Percy Grainger, Maud Karpeles, Frank Kidson, Thomas Fairman Ordish, Frank Sidgwick, Cecil Sharp, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Alfred Williams and Mary Leather – from anywhere in the world, online. Also incorporated will be the collections included in the Take 6 project.


Breathing life into the collections

As well as creating the largest searchable digital archive of early 20th century English folk arts, through The Full English project we will also deliver a national programme of workshops, lectures, training and community events in all nine English regions. We have also commissioned a new music and arrangements inspired by the collections, that will result in a UK-tour and CD release.
Find out more about The Full English learning programme

A grant of £585,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £11,000 from the National Folk Music Fund, whose funding is given in memory of Ursula Vaughan Williams, and support from The Folklore Society has made The Full English possible.


Improving access to The Full English digital archive

The first part of The Full English project was to make these images available, in a format that is searchable. However, as the information on these images can very hard to decipher, particularly if you are not a music reader, the second part is to improve access by providing transcriptions of texts and musical notation, as well as midi files so the tunes can be heard.


A word of caution

None of The Full English materials have been censored. The contents do not reflect the opinions and views held by the English Folk Dance and Song Society, or any of The Full English partner organisations.



Search The Full English collections
Browse The Full English collections 



Find out more about the collectors
Find out more about The Full English learning programme
Find out more about Take 6



The images of the materials in The Full English digital archive on the VWML website are licensed from the repositories which house the original collections. Permission to reproduce any of these of these images for anything other than private study must be sought in the first instance from the holding repository. Details of these repositories can be found here


The Full English archive partners

Clare College, Cambridge
The British Library
The Folklore Society Library and Archive, University College London
The Grainger Museum, University of Melbourne
The Mitchell Library, Glasgow
Vaughan Williams Memorial Library
Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre

Our archive partners immediately saw the value of this kind of co-operative venture and were enthusiastically supportive. Without them, The Full English project would not have got off the ground and we extend to them our heartfelt thanks.

The Baring-Gould folk song collection appears as part of The Full English thanks to Wren Music who donated the entire digitised and catalogued collection to EFDSS as part of the Devon Tradition project.