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About us

Library and archive

The essential folk resource

Free entry

"The most important concentration of material on traditional song, dance and music in the country."
A Dictionary of English Folklore

The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (VWML) is England’s national folk music and dance archive, an essential resource for anybody interested in the folk arts. Founded in 1930 as the Cecil Sharp Library and housing Cecil Sharp’s personal book collection (which helped lay the foundations of the modern folk revival), it is now a multi-media library of distinction, containing books, pamphlets, periodicals, press cuttings, broadsides, paintings, photographs, slides, artefacts, records, reel-to-reel tapes, phonograph cylinders, videos, cine films, compact discs, audio cassettes and more.

It is a comprehensive collection, containing the largest number of manuscripts in England and providing an insight into history and regional variations. Explore the catalogue of printed literature

Major projects from the past decade include Take 6, a searchable database of manuscript archives from several of the most prominent folk song collectors, and The Full English, a learning programme involving the world’s biggest digital archive of English folklore, song and dance manuscripts. Both projects were supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund Heritage Lottery Funding.

The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) is the library’s custodian. The Library is housed at the Society’s HQ, Cecil Sharp House.

The Library was given an excellence award by the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres (IAML) in 2010 and designated status by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) in 2011.


Opening hours

Covid-secure opening on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 11am to 4pm.

To ensure that we follow social distancing guidelines, the number of concurrent readers is limited. We are operating a booking system: if you wish to visit, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can book a place for a whole day, or a half day, either 11am–1.15pm or 1.45pm–4pm. Please book no later than 5pm on the day before your visit.



Vaughan Williams Memorial Library 
Cecil Sharp House
2 Regent's Park Road 
London, NW1 7AY

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

+44 (0)20 7485 2206 ext. 233



RVW Trust
National Folk Music Fund


Explore the Library’s collections 

Search the Library’s indexes 

Browse the Library’s catalogue