Bella Hardy make folk’s aristocracy party like it’s 1599 in country retreat

Bella Hardy organises country retreat to create music inspired by the Elizabethan age

Arts Correspondent

Bella Hardy is one of the hottest properties in folk music, winning the industry’s top solo award last month. But her next project is eccentric even by the genre’s standards: repairing to a country idyll for a week with seven other musicians to create music inspired by the Elizabethan era.

The folk retreat will draw on everything from history, myth and culture to controversies and rumours from the 16th century – with help from a noted historian – to come up with a series of new songs. It all culminates in a performance at a folk festival in the shadow of an oak tree under which Elizabeth I is believed to have been sitting when she was informed she would be queen.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Hardy said. “I love studying ancient stories and folklore and rewriting that, so this project jumped right out at me. I have a general knowledge of the Elizabethans, partly through Shakespeare, television and, of course, Blackadder. But not much more than that.”

The music will be modern, rather than Elizabethan. “It’s not about writing early music,” Hardy said. “It’s using that period as a starting point. Write a madrigal if you want, but it can be anything inspired by the period.”

The week-long retreat, dubbed the Elizabethan Session, was the brainchild of Adam Slough, the director of the Folk by the Oak festival, in collaboration with the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS). He hopes that between 14 and 20 songs will be written. Folk by the Oak has been running at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire since 2008, and this year artists include Richard Thompson and Beth Orton. The Elizabethan Session musicians will also play their last gig together at the festival in July.

“It’s held in such a beautiful location, called the Queen Elizabeth Oak Field,” Mr Slough said. “The place is so linked with history and folk music is so interwoven with history that this project seemed a great idea.”.

The week-long retreat, dubbed the Elizabethan Session, will be taking place at Hatfield House where Elizabeth I found out she was going to be queen The week-long retreat, dubbed the Elizabethan Session, will be taking place at Hatfield House where Elizabeth I found out she was going to be queen (Getty Images)
The EFDSS also ran a project with music inspired by Cecil Sharp, the father of the folklore revival in England, while the Shrewsbury Folk Festival celebrated its most famous son with the Darwin Song Project in 2009. Mr Slough said the Elizabethan Session involved “eight musicians who have been carefully selected, and hopefully that can produce some magic”.

The “who’s who” of the British folk scene includes folk royalty Martin Simpson, described as “one of the finest acoustic and slide-guitar players in the world”, and Nancy Kerr.

Hardy said: “I have no idea what it’ll be like spending a week doing this. I don’t know if there will be a cooking  rota or what. It’s hard to tell until we sit down and get chatting. I do know everyone individually, and they’re lovely. I don’t anticipate any dramas.”

Other performers include Jim Moray, who burst on to the scene a decade ago at the age of 21 with an album recorded in his student  bedroom, as well as accordionist Hannah James and Emily Askew, who plays instruments including the vielle, a medieval fiddle. They will be advised by the historian Ian Mortimer, who wrote The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England.

Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Arts and Entertainment
TV
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England