Lucy Broadwood

Alabaster plaque memorial to Lucy Broadwood (Detail)
Designed by Thomas Clapperton and hung in Rusper Church

(Photograph copyright : Irene Shettle

Lucy Etheldred Broadwood was born in Melrose, Scotland on August 9th, 1858. The youngest of the 9 surviving children of Julianna Maria and Henry Fowler Broadwood, she was a member of a wealthy upper middle class family, whose money and estates were derived from their world renowned London -based piano manufacturing business. For much of her childhood, and early adulthood up to her thirties she lived on the family’s estate at Lyne,in Surrey, until her father’s death in 1893. Following this she lived at a succession of London addresses until her death on a visit to relatives in Dropmore, Kent in August 1929.

She was to become one of the foremost folksong collectors of the late 19th and early 20th centuries - a lynchpin of the collecting movement around which many of the important collectors of the day revolved, and from whom they received advice, information and support. She was a talented classically trained singer, composer and poet, and provided inspiration and assistance to many composers of the 20th century English classical school of music, such as Ralph Vaughan Williams, Percy Grainger and Gustav Holst.

Following in the footsteps of her uncle, the Rev John Broadwood,who had published the ground breaking work "Old English Songs.." privately in 1847, Lucy was responsible with H F Birch Reynardson for the republication of the work as "Sussex Songs" in 1889. That particular collection included a number of songs which Lucy had collected herself.

Following the publication of the inspirational work  English County Songs ,which she co-edited with J.Fuller Maitland, in 1893, she became a founder member of the Folk-Song Society five years later, and was to become in turn Secretary, editor of the Society’s Journal for many years, and finally, shortly before her death, President of the Society. Her work was to influence both the world of the folksong collector in her day, and that of composers of the English school.