Hearth and Home / Census 1911 - Holly D. Johnston

HollyDJWriting for those who go before- by Holly D Johnston

Some events in history lend themselves to the written page, the spoken word, the sung story.  Songwriters and Storysingers seek these out and the world of folk music opens wide to make a home for these historic moments wrapped in melody.  Big events are captured and celebrated in crowd roaring, heart warming, tear jerking song.  How often then, do we know about the big, national mover shakers without knowing about the local, cliff face people who made changes right here where we live

‘Hearth and Home’ is about the local women of Ipswich who were brought together by Constance Andrews in 1911 to boycott the national census and make peaceful protest against so many people not having the vote.  On the night of 2nd April 1911 women gathered in an upstairs room of the building in Ipswich now known as Arlingtons.  They sang songs, told stories and rallied each other whilst driving home their point: ‘We do not count neither shall we be counted’; ‘There are no persons here only women’.  

The fight was not only fought by women.  Fearing that the protest would be disbanded, the husbands, sons and supportive men stood guard so that these women could complete their night of boycott.  Subsequently both men and women refused to be counted by a system that they were not fully a part of. 

In London women famously marched around Trafalgar Square, hid in non-residential buildings and even in a cupboard in the Houses of Parliament. Big cities have their big names; we in Ipswich have our passionate, strong and fearless Great-Grandparents who refused to be counted so that we in turn could be.  Our right to vote is built on the back of those who had no such right and fought ceaselessly to get it.  They ‘held our place in the line’, ‘raised their voices’ and changed everything.  And so this is a song for the women (and men) who went before, with thanks and a promise that we will continue to be counted.


For more information on local remembrance and events about  Women’s votes visit: https://womensvoiceswomensvotes.wordpress.com/

Hearth and Home/ Census 1911.

The moon rises high, the beds are all bare.  Gone are the women whose heads would lay there.

Out walking the streets of the square; Anywhere but the Hearth and home, on your census form.

A small place in Suffolk, in Ipswich port town, lived Constance Andrews. A Warrior renowned.

And she gathered them all to be found; Anywhere but the Hearth and home, on your census form.

They held our place in the line.  They fought the battles that echo through time.

Now every cross that we sign, we sign in their name.

Hold up the banner and sing.  They raised their voices to change everything.

Together we stand and together we cry; Count is in, count us in.

No persons here only women. Can you number the value of free living?

We strike out our names for the right just the same as you.

The old records office; a first storey room. Valiant in courage these women platoon.

With their husbands stood guard at the door, while they fight for the hearth and home...

With a census form!


They held our place in the line.  They fought the battles that echo through time.

Now every cross that we sign, we sign in their name.

Hold up the banner and sing.  They raised their voices to change everything.

Together we stand and together we cry; Count is in, count us in.

The moon rises high, the beds are all bare.

Gone are the women whose heads once laid there.


Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/hollydjohnstonmusic/hearth-and-home-census-boycott-1911

For more story songs from Holly D Johnston visit: www.hollydjohnston.co.uk

Maddy Prior


FOLK legends Steeleye Span are in a celebratory mood as they are about to set off on a 20-date UK tour to commemorate their 50th Anniversary!
Many members have come and gone, but vocalist Maddy Prior is still there, as she was back in 1969.

Speaking at her home, Maddy, expresses an unusual emotion about the milestone.“Surprise more than anything,” she says. “Nobody sets off intending to last 50 years.”

Steeleye Span 2019 50th Anniversary Year smlThe band originally followed a strict ‘folk’ sound in their early years with the distinctive vocal frontline of Maddy and the late Tim Hart, until a change of management saw some changes in the style and appeal of the band. Violinist Peter Knight and guitarist Bob Johnson joined, both filling out the vocal sound and supplying great song-writing and arranging skills.

The band signed to Chrysalis Records and enjoyed their first hit during the Christmas of 1973 with Gaudete.

 As the band were now heading in a more mainstream direction, Nigel Pegrum was brought in as a drummer and the ‘Now We Are Six’ album was released. The album was produced by Chrysalis label-mate Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull and featured David Bowie on Alto Sax on To Know Him Is To Love Him.

 The band had another cameo appearance on the next album ‘Commoners Crown’ as Peter Sellers played ukulele on the track New York Girls.

Read more: Maddy Prior

The Lowestoft Longshoremen

The Lowestoft Longshoremen were formed about 10 years ago when a group of like-minded individuals joined together, once a week, to indulge in their passion for ‘songs of the sea’.

The aim of the group, at that time, was to enjoy each other’s company and make occasional performances at local public houses.

As the years rolled by, members came and went and they now have only 2 of the original group, one of whom left for some years, before recently returning to the fold.

Read more: The Lowestoft Longshoremen

Alan Bearman - all round folk enthusiast

Interview by Simon Haines
Unless you are a folk performer, you may not have heard of Alan Bearman, but he has been involved in the English folk scene for over 40 years, starting as a folk club organiser, moving on to being heavily involved in organising the Sidmouth Folk Festival. He is currently Artistic and Marketing Director of the festival, now in its 65th year, as well as running Alan Bearman Music (ABM), an agency representing major artists on the folk, roots and acoustic music scene. He is also one of the few holders of the EFDSS Gold Badge, awarded for services to English folk music. Alan has famiy connections with the area and is a regular at Folk East Festival and at pub sessions in our area.  Here is my recent interview with Alan.

Could I start by asking you about your connections with Suffolk? Were your family from this part of the world?
My family were from Essex, but moved to Leiston in Suffolk in the early 1970s as I was leaving for Teacher Training College in North London. I spent many weekends and school holidays in Leiston through to the late 1980’s. Some of that time coincided with Taffy Thomas and Magic Lantern being very active in the area so we got quite involved with them and went to sessions and events around the area. We have been regular visitors to the area ever since and always expected to return permanently at some point.

Would you say the folk scene in the area is special in any way? Is it different from any other rural area?
It’s hard to compare with other rural areas as Suffolk and London are the main areas that I’ve been familiar with. Suffolk’s sessions have always seemed special to me and it was listening to the likes of Oscar Woods, The Ling Family and Percy Webb that deepened my interest in traditional music. For years, it seemed to me that despite the rich traditions and great sessions there was a severe lack of concert and club activity with honourable exceptions like The Everyman. That has changed dramatically in the last few years, largely through the impact of Folk East.

Read more: Alan Bearman - all round folk enthusiast

Playing together workshop - Norwich, 13 April 2019

by Jill Parson

Since Suffolk Folk ‘morphed’ into mardles.org in 2017 the idea of putting on events in East Anglia was always near the top of the agenda for the steering committee. Enter Vintage Squeeze! a group of enthusiastic melodeon players based in Norwich who will travel almost anywhere  to reach a workshop that would help them improve their mastery of the instrument.

Through a mutual contact, the idea was raised that as a first venture into organising a folk-related event putting on a day of melodeon workshops in Norwich would be a good place to start. It was! And it was a good collaboration too.

The melodeon players themselves decided on the format and level of the day. They researched and found a brilliant venue in St Luke’s Church, Norwich and did a great job of spreading the word in the local area.

In the meanwhile, mardles.org were getting on with publicity material, sourcing the course tutors - the wonderful Mary Humphreys and Anahata - and setting up a system for handling tickets sales, advertising and general ‘official’ things that are always associated with putting on a public event.

Read more: Playing together workshop - Norwich, 13 April 2019

Suffolk Folk

Norfolk Folk Association