Despite the huge social gap between the Victorian middle classes and the rural ‘peasantry’ of England, Reverend John Broadwood’s collection of folk songs from Sussex and Surrey (published in 1843) inspired other Victorians and Edwardians, to cross the social barrier of the day and venture into the rustic homes and inns of England, in search of traditional songs. It heralded an era of song collecting that lasted for over 100 years.
Collectors would note down the words and tunes with pen and paper, but by Edwardian times, wax cylinder recordings could reveal a singer’s vocal style and personality. In the 1950s, young folk song collectors of the ‘2nd folk song revival’, were using tape recorders. Finally, the 21st century, sees our precious folk music heritage in Sussex and the rest of England; digitised and in safe keeping for generations to come.