Hudleston Collection

Ref: MS 383

Title: Hudleston Collection

Scope: A large collection of material collected by Nigel and Mary Hudleston reflecting their interest in folk songs, calendar customs, folklore and traditional drama and dance, including sound recordings, notes, newspaper cuttings, photographs, cine film and colour slides.

Dates: 1816-2003
Level: Fonds
Extent: 50 boxes
Name of creator: Nigel and Mary Hudleston

Administrative / biographical history:
Nigel and Mary Hudleston collected original recordings of folk songs from Yorkshire and Ireland in the 1950s and 1960s: Songs of the Ridings – a collection of Yorkshire folk songs – was published in 2001 after Mary Hudleston’s death. It is for their interest in Yorkshire songs that the Hudlestons are best known, and newspaper articles and a BBC Radio 4 programme have concentrated on this aspect of their work. However, the Hudleston Collection contains not just their field recordings and notes, but also newspaper cuttings, cine film, photographs, and almost 4,000 colour slides recording folklore, calendar customs, and traditional drama and dance. The Collection also includes 37 pottery figures depicting characters from folklore and calendar custom commissioned by the Hudlestons and created by Monica Devey.
Nigel Hudleston was born in 1915 into a landowning family and spent his childhood at Rillington, near Malton in North Yorkshire. He graduated with a B.A. from Trinity College Cambridge and inherited Cayton Hall, at South Stainley near Harrogate, in 1943. He moved in during the 1960s, after he married Mary (Robinson), the daughter of a Wharfedale farmer. Nigel Hudleston died in December 2006 at the age of 91.
In the 1940s, Mary Robinson (born in 1918) had set up a project to collect folk songs while she was working as an infant school teacher in Bradford. Nigel Hudleston was taken on as a male chaperon for her visits to record folk singers in pubs. For over 20 years, the couple travelled throughout Yorkshire and beyond, recording local folk songs and singers, but also collecting material relating to many other local customs and activities. Mary Hudleston died in 1986.
The collection was donated to the National Centre for English Cultural Tradition at the University of Sheffield in 2001, and transferred to the Special Collections Department in the University Library in 2008.

  • Source: Donated in 2001
  • System of arrangement: By category
  • Subjects: Folk songs, English – England – Yorkshire; Folklore -- England; Folklore -- Ireland
  • Names: Hudleston, N.A.; Hudleston, Mary; Devey, Monica
  • Conditions of access: Available to all researchers, by appointment
  • Restrictions: None
  • Copyright: University of Sheffield and according to document
  • Finding aids: Listed