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Collaborations and Projects related to Lucy Broadwood

In 2004 I collaborated with Mike Bosworth to produce two shows at the Electric Theatre, Guildford. The first of these "Travel the Country Round"
was an examination in words and music of the friendship, work and lives of two Victorian folksong collectors, Lucy Broadwood and the Rev Sabine Baring-Gould. The second "A Story I will tell to You" was a further delve into the work of the two collectors, but this time with some focus on four of the singers that they collected from - Henry Burstow, Emily Joiner, Robert Hard and James Parsons.
                                                                                        Mike Bosworth and Irene Shettle photographed at the Electric
Theatre 21/11/2004

These shows proved to be quite successful, and as a result of them I was invited to give a talk to the local Guildford Institute of the University of Surrey on the life and work of Lucy Broadwood in November 2005. The talk incorporated a number of illustrative unaccompanied songs - which seemed to be a bit of a novelty to the members of the Institute. It certainly seemed to be enjoyed by them, and as a result I obtained several other invitations to give the talk elsewhere, most notably in Dorking and Newdigate - both places which Lucy was very familiar with, as were some of her source singers. (The talk at Newdigate was given within sight of both the pub and the church which Henry Burstow, singer, bellringer and cobbler was strongly associated with, and also within a short distance of Lyne House, Lucy's home from 1864 to 1893. Several of the current residents of the House turned up to the talk!). Since then the talk has been given airings at local history societies, for retirement associations, a senior citizens' church event, and at Sidmouth and Whitby Folk Weeks in 2008, the year in which the 150th anniversary of Lucy's birth occurred, and most recently for the Traditional Song Forum (a national organisation of individuals interested in traditional song research and performance) . In each case, if at all possible, I have attempted to tailor the talk to the group of people/location in which it has been given.

Poster produced by the Guildford Institute to advertise the talk
on 15/11/2005

As a result of a chance meeting with Ralph Jordan in December 2006, and a subsequent chat about my hopes to try and get the talk launched in various places in an attempt to
publicise Lucy's life, I eventually found myself the slightly surprised recipient of a suggestion that the talk should be converted into a show with instrumental backing. Following discussions on the format it should take, I embarked on a collaboration with him, and we worked on songs and accompaniments, and even a couple of duet concertina duets (since by then I had started to learn to play the Maccann duet). The content of the show was based to some extent on the pre-existing talk, which then bore the same name - "Listen and You Shall Hear",( the talk has now been amended and bears the title " The Lost Lady Found") and uses extracts from Lucy's diaries, her correspondence and various published works. Much of this has been gleaned from enjoyable hours spent researching at the Surrey History Centre in Woking, Surrey. Ralph provided great accompaniments on Maccann duet, bouzouki and guitar (not to mention providing unexpected interjections which always kept me and the audience on our toes and amused). For me, as singer and narrator, it was a great pleasure to have the opportunity to work with a talented musician of his calibre.
Irene Shettle and Ralph Jordan
                                                                                                                                                 (Photo taken by Vida Warren)

The show received its first public performance in September 2008 at the Surrey History Centre in Woking, the home of the papers of both John Broadwood and Sons (Piano Manufacturers) and the Broadwood family. Lucy Broadwood's diaries, correspondence and many personal papers are held there. The audience was notable in that most of them were not folk club attenders, many  being people who normally carried out research at the centre. It was rewarding to hear interested comments about the music content and about Lucy herself. Following our performance there we received a very complimentary letter from Julian Pooley, the team leader of the Heritage Team.

must write to thank you properly for such a splendid evening’s entertainment on 11 September. Your concert of words and music celebrating the life and achievements of Lucy Broadwood was a huge success and greatly enjoyed by everyone who attended. It was clearly based on thorough research through her wonderful diaries, letters and writings and will, I am sure, continue to be very popular with audiences interested in learning more about her life, network of friendships and the importance of the Broadwood family for the history of music.

English folk song is, I think, an important historical source in its own right: it captures the spirit of country life in a way that "ordinary" documentary evidence rarely can ....... (The work of ) Lucy and her fellow collectors had,as you know an important impact on English music. Your lively and inspirational concert with Ralph was a fitting  tribute to their achievement".

Surrey History Centre 

In the next two years we went on to perform the show for very varied organisations
,including the Royal Oak,Lewes and Black Diamond,Birmingham clubs, the Traditions Festival in Preston, Haddenham Folk Day, Bradfield Traditional Music Weekend,the English Country Music Weekend, and a fundraising event in Guildford at which we helped to raise more than £600 for a local music organisation, and the show has also had an airing as a solo performance using unaccompanied song in 2011.

Since then the talk "Lucy Broadwood: The Lost Lady Found?" has been given to audiences at a number of local history societies in Surrey, for the Traditional Song Forum in Woking at the Surrey History Centre in early 2011, in Guildford to mark International Women's Day in March 2012, in Dorking as the opening event for the Heritage Open Days weekend in September 2012, and for Broadstairs Folk Week in August 2013, as part of their running theme of women in music. Further performances of the talk were given in Surrey at the end of the year and early 2014.

In July 2014 I presented a new talk on Lucy Broadwood, "Singers, Songs and Reminiscences" which focuses on her own singing, singers she knew and associated with, and songs that she collected and wrote, to the English Country Music Weekend in Winster, Derbyshire.

Amongst various projects since then I was very pleased to be able to participate in the Whitby Folk Week 50th anniversary celebrations in 2015, where, apart from performing at various events during the week, I was able to give another one of my talks on Lucy's life and work.

In July 2017 I was part of a group of performers who gave a concert in Rusper Church in order to raise funds for the restoration and upkeep of Lucy Broadwood's grave in Rusper Church which had become sadly neglected. Alongside Martyn Wyndham- Read and Iris Bishop, Moira Craig and Carolyn Robson, the Broadwood Morris Men and Dick Streeter , I helped to raise £750 for the cause.

In 2018, I prepared and delivered a new talk on Lucy Broadwood, and the inspirational talk which she gave to what is now the Royal Musical Association in 1905, which inspired Percy Grainger to start his own collecting of folksongs, for the Bradfield Traditional Music Festival, and later in the year was invited to give a 5 minute talk on Lucy and her relationships with other composers and collectors at the turn of the 20th century as part of a show about the collectors she had worked with which was presented by the group The Collectors in Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire.

I am now returning to my research with enthusiasm this year, and preparing a fourth talk for presentation in the near future , and I look forward to both presenting it
some time this year, while at the same time having a potential further talk which has been on the back burner for several years now.

In July 2019 I presented a new talk "The Carol, the Carter and the Collectors" at the Bradfield Traditional Music Weekend, the result of some research into the singer Henry Garman, who sang to Vaughan Williams in 1903, and provided the tune which we now sing the carol "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem" to in the UK. There is a Broadwood link in that he had also sung the tune, nearly 40 years previously to the Rev John Broadwood. It traces the history of the carol, and also takes a look at the collectors and , in particular, at the life of Henry, an agricultural labourer from Surrey and a singer who appears to have been much appreciated. The talk will also be given in November at the Surrey History Centre in Woking, Surrey where some of the material used was obtained from.