Secret garden and carved stone dancers at the English Folk Dance and Song Society
Cecil Sharp House is a live folk music and dance venue, contains England’s national collection of folk music and dance (in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library) and is home to the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS). It is named after the avid collector of folk music and dance, Cecil James Sharp (1859-1924).
I’d popped into Cecil Sharp House to find out dates for the Autumn Morris Dancing classes – as you do – and found these six lively dancing figures carved into the doorway arch. They are based on an old stained glass window from Bentley, Staffordshire, now in the V&A collection.*
The date given shows that these were carved by Gordon Herickx, a sculptor and stonemason from Birmingham. The date shown – 1951 – indicates these were done towards the end of his relatively short life (1900 – 53).
There are four carved panels on another civic building – Barber Institute of the Arts – in Birmingham called The Symbols of the Arts, that also show Herickx’s skills as a stonemason. He had a solo show of his sculpture in London in 1953, but died in his sleep the following night.
If you walk along the side of Cecil Sharp House past the car park, you enter a beautiful little walled garden with a lawn, flower beds and apple trees.
It’s curious that you don’t enter the Grade II listed building from this side, as the two curving stone staircases look a little more impressive than the municipal looking entrance where the carvings are.
The fact that the garden is tucked away works in its favour though, as it feels like quite a secret little green space. The signs on the gates indicate it is open the same hours as the building.
* Info from ‘The Building of Cecil Sharp House‘ booklet available from CSH.