Our Library

Halsway Manor Library contains a unique collection of material on music and dance in general and folk music and folklore in particular. It is a valuable resource for anyone interested in the folk arts of the United Kingdom, especially folk arts from the South West of England. The library holds over 10,000 items including the music and book collection of folk song collector Peter Kennedy, the archives of Somerset folklorist Ruth Tongue and the mid-19th century William Winter manuscript of songs and tunes from the Quantocks.

Anyone is most welcome to use the library. A library catalogue is available and will soon be searchable online. Contact the librarian to make an enquiry or arrange a visit.

Email:  library@halswaymanor.org.uk

Phone: 01984 618274

Percy Grainger’s collection of ethnographic wax cylinders

The British Library has made available online around 350 English folk songs recorded by composer Percy Grainger in different regions of England between 1906 and 1909. Further details can be found here.

 The Ballad of Shirley Collins. A film by Tim Plester and Rob Curry


Image result for The Ballad Of Shirley Collins | Film by Tim Plester & Rob Curry

One of the most important English singers of 20th century traditional song, Shirley Collins and her sister Dolly stood at the epicentre of the folk music revival from the 1950s through to the 1970’s. Directors Rob Curry and Tim Plester have created a poetic response to the life-and-times of this totemic musical figure. Four years in the making, and co produced by Fifth Column Films and Burning Bridges, The Ballad of Shirley Collins is the fascinating first release from Fire Films – available to you exclusively through the Lush Player. A captivating study of heritage, posterity and the true ancestral melodies of the people, this heartwarming film revolves around Shirley’s tragic loss of her voice and struggle back to the limelight. And ultimately, it suggests that in these turbulent and increasingly untethered times, we may just need Shirley Collins and all she represents more than ever. The DVD and soundtrack will be released in March, and you can pre-order them now: http://www.firerecords.com/product/the-ballad-of-shirley-collins/ Shirley’s new autobiography, All in the Downs, is also out this year and available for pre-order: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/all-downs

Album of The Month

This collection of songs reflects the significant part that magic has played in our culture. They connect with myths and folktales that take us back to the distant past; but they also represent a living and evolving tradition. The magic of these songs still exerts power over us today. They are a striking demonstration of the breadth and variety of magic – from the brutal revenge of The Brown Girl through the bizarre transformations of The Two Magicians, to the haunting mysticism of The Bells of Paradise. The world of these songs is not just of humans but of animals – seals, serpents, hares, horses and even mackerel. A world of anger, cruelty, love, fear and courage. A world of brilliant colours – scarlet, green, purple. Of silver wands, velvet mantles and tinkling bells. A world of moonlight, blood and the roaring of the sea.

Tune of the Month

Belshazzar’s Feast – Lonesome Scenes of Winter (WildGoose Records, 2009)


Book of the Month

From Cecil Sharp to the String Band and beyond, Rob Young gives a fascinating, enjoyable account of British folk’s eccentrics.  Here is an Electric Eden Spotify playlist featuring: Peter Bellamy, Traffic, Bert Jansch, Fairport Convention, Archie Fisher, Bread, Love and Dreams, Bill Fay, Tudor Lodge, Comus, Meic Stevens, Sweeney’s Men, Tim Hart, Maddy Prior, Dr Strangely Strange, Albion Country Band, Roger Nicholson, Bridget St John, John Martyn, Richard Thompson, Steeleye Span, Unicorn, Fairport Convention, Trees, Fotheringay, Mike Cooper, Sheila Mcdonald, Spirogyra, Shirley Collins, Pentangle, The Incredible String Band, Nick Drake.



New Books for Sale

William Winter’s Quantocks Tune Book + CD  ed. Geoff Woolfe £18

Country dance and popular tunes from the manuscript of Somerset fiddler and shoemaker, c.1850.

Teaching Children Country Dancing + CD by Pete Hendy £16

Designed to help people who would like to introduce country dancing to children of all ages but aren’t sure where to start. Descriptions of 25 dances and an accompanying CD of music by The Downfielders.


In Xanadu…A Companion to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Kubla Khan 

by Justin Shepherd £5

This richly illustrated introduction to ‘Kubla Khan’ is published by the Friends of Coleridge to mark the bicentenary of the publication in 1816 of a work which has since become one of the great myths of English literature.