The Elizabethan Session

One week - eight artists. New music inspired by the Elizabethan Age

The Elizabethan Session 2 Must Credit Elly Lucas900

Working closely with our friends at the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) we've commissioned eight leading folk musicians to create new work inspired by the Elizabethan age, culminating in 2 performances, a CD release and a special set at Folk by the Oak 2014.


The Elizabethan Session Album

Now available to purchase! Available on Special Edition Gatefold Vinyl or CD.

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NEWS! Celtic Connection gig

The Elizabethan Session performed their full set at Celtic Connections on 18 January - visit the Celtic Connections website for more details. 



View the live performances at the Elizabethan Session YouTube channel.



"If you only buy one folk album this year, make it this one."
Clive Davis, The Times *****
Read the gig review here


"This was an evening of unexpected songs...I look forward to the album" 
Robin Denselow, The Guardian **** 
Read the review here


"A bold triumph of imagination and musicianship”
Martin Chilton, The Telegraph
Read the review here


"An album of highlights...A fine artefact of an inspired project."
Nick Churchill, Fatea Magazine
Read the review here


"A fine exploration of a pivotal time in English history by some of the best musicians around."
Spiral Earth
Read the review here


“… mightily impressive and engaging… one of the folk albums of the year.”

R2 Magazine ****


“An experiment in musical collaboration – with an incredible result”

Maverick *****


About the Project

The Artists

Martin Simpson, Nancy Kerr, Folk by the Oak patron Jim Moray, Bella Hardy, John Smith, Hannah James, Rachel Newton and early music specialist Emily Askew came together to create new music that has a resonance and relevance to the era.


The Retreat

This ‘who’s who’ of the British folk scene lived and worked together at a rural retreat in Herefordshire from 14th March 2014. The Elizabethan Session used material and history, stories, myths, characters and legends relating to the 16th century period and the artists drew inspiration from the role that Hatfield House, home of Folk by the Oak, played in the Queen’s life. Legend has it that Elizabeth was told of her ascension to the throne underneath the large oak tree in the grounds where Folk by the Oak is now held each July.

The Elizabethan historian Ian Mortimer, who has appeared extensively on BBC One, Two and Four and BBC Radio, visited the artists to give them additional insight into the era, and his candlelit talk at the beginning of the week was hugely inspirational to the creative process. 


The Gigs

The 8 artists premiered the results at The Old Palace at Hatfield House on March 20th. Rarely used as a music venue, the Palace is known to be the childhood home of Elizabeth and later where she convened her first Council of State. This was a rare opportunity to enjoy music inspired by this age in a setting of such relevance and beauty. This was followed by a further concert at Cecil Sharp House, the London home of EFDSS, on March 22nd

The gigs and the music produced during the project have received glowing reviews across the board.  


The Album

The artists then returned on the Sunday to record a live CD at the Old Palace itself. The CD was launched at Folk by the Oak on 20 July 2014, where the artists came together once more for a final set as part of the festival.

The album is now on general release -

CLICK HERE to order your copy



The Elizabethan Session is funded by Folk by the Oak and EFDSS, with support from Arts Council England and the PRS for Music Foundation.


Project contact: 


Twitter  Follow the project on Twitter @elizabethansess


FBTO Logo With Leaves No Datesmall Visit the festival website


Group photo by Elly Lucas


“Since the first Folk by the Oak in 2008 we have been wanting to pay tribute to our beautiful venue that’s so awash with history. To do this through the music of these great artists will be a real thrill.”

Adam Slough, Director, Folk by the Oak

“The Elizabethan Session will be central to our Artists’ Development Programme in 2014, providing EFDSS with the opportunity to work with an amazing group of artists, develop our partnership with Folk by the Oak, and challenge the pre-conceptions of folk music amongst audiences.”

Katy Spicer, Chief Executive of EFDSS

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The Artists

(click on an artist for more info)

The Gigs

The Elizabethan Session gigs were:

Thursday 20 March 2014
The Old Palace, Hatfield House, Hatfield, Herts AL9 5NQ

Saturday 22 March 2014
Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regent's Park Road, London NW1 7AY