Vaughan Williams and pipe
Vaughan Williams and pipe

Useful Information

letters to Gustav Holst

Letter to Holst

Vaughan Williams letters on-line

If you are familiar with Hugh Cobbe’s Letters of Ralph Vaughan Williams 1895–1958, you will understand the gargantuan nature of the task, especially after seeing examples of VW’s virtually illegible handwriting! Now all RVW’s extant correspondence is being published on-line. The work goes far beyond the published book – a lot of the work was done before the publication so that there were 3,288 letters to select from for the publication. However, quite a few letters have come to light since then so that the current total is 4,358. The editors of the project are now Katharine Hogg and Colin Coleman. Hugh Cobbe OBE is formerly Head of Music Collections at the British Library and editor of Letters of Ralph Vaughan Williams 1895–1958 and Chairman of the RVW Trust, of the National Folk Music Fund, a former chairman of the Gerald Coke Handel Foundation, and a Past President of the Royal Musical Association. Visit the website: http://vaughanwilliams.uk/letters-table

Down Ampney (‘Birthplace’)

All Saints Down Ampney

All Saints Church

Ralph Vaughan Williams was born at the Old Vicarage in Down Ampney, Gloucestershire on Sunday, 12th October, 1872. The hymn Come Down, O Love Divine, entitled Down Ampney was composed by him in its honour. Vaughan Williams’s father, the Rev Arthur Vaughan Williams was a teacher and the vicar of All Saints Church until his sudden death at the age of 41 on Feb 9th, 1875. His grave is marked by an inscribed stone cross and is located close to the Church Porch. The Vicarage still exists but is now a private house. There is a small exhibition in the bell tower of the church commemorating the life of the composer which was produced and donated by the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society.

Leith Hill Place


Vaughan Williams’ piano

One of the rooms at Leith Hill Place, RVW’s childhood home, has been converted into a small museum, displaying the composer’s piano, an exhibition of manuscripts and letters and other memorabilia, and a timeline of his life. In an adjoining room, you can watch a beautiful video presentation of his life created by Society member, Colin Lees. Please consult the National Trust’s LHP website for details on opening times and access arrangements. See our page: https://rvwsociety.com/leith-hill-place/

The Vaughan Williams Collection

Surrey Performing Arts Library (PAL), Dorking, Surrey RH5 6SP



Although born in Gloucester Ralph Vaughan Williams had strong connectionswith the Dorking area for most of his life. He was the first conductor of the Leith Hill Festival – a post he held from 1905 until 1953. His family home, Leith Hill Place, is a few miles south from the library. The road on which his Dorking home, ‘White Gates’ stood and where he lived with his first wife, Adeline, is but a short distance away. Among the major pieces he composed in Dorking were: Five Tudor Portraits (1936) Donna Nobis Pacem (1936) Serenade to Music (1938) Job (1930) Symphonies 4–7 The Magnificat String Quartet No 2 (1944) Pilgrim’s Progress (1951) Five Variants on ‘Dives and Lazarus’ The library is located on the scenic Denbies Vineyards Estate and is well worth a visit. There is free parking, a cafeteria and a shop. Click here to visit their web site. Denbies is on the A24, close to the M25 and A3 from London. Trains to and from London throughout the day (15 minutes walk from Dorking station.) The history of the collection Because of his local associations, Surrey libraries had accrued much material connected with the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams and the Leith Hill musical festival. In the late 1970s a start was made to establish a Ralph Vaughan Williams collection of published books, scores and recordings. Since then, the collection has grown with the acquisition of most subsequently published books on the composer, reprints of his own writings, new publications and editions of his scores and some of the now vast quantity of his music issued on compact disc. Additionally, local publications, programmes, cuttings, pictures and other materials have been added to the collection. Since the move of the library to Denbies in 2000, it has been enhanced by a permanent display on Ralph Vaughan Williams’ life and works. It is intended to add audio facilities to this display in the future.

Behind the Lines: the music and composers of the First World War

WW1 Centenary: Websites & Links, Resource Pack: Vaughan Williams

WW1 resource-Vaughan Williams

Vaughan Williams & WW1

Excellent resource containing information and links to media about the 2014-2018 war and documenting the year-long project run in partnership by Westminster Music Library and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.


Ralph Vaughan Williams Society member, Jonathan Pearson has produced a discography. This is a work in progress, a labour of love and the culmination of many years work. Jonathan invites interested parties to comment. It is free to use. The only thing that we ask is that should you use it, please credit Jonathan and the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society and to please let Jonathan know by sending an e-mail to: rvwinformation@hotmail.com The Discography is available in two formats. Click below for preferred format.




Concert Resources

The role of the Concert Resources Officer is to promote the Society and the performance of Vaughan Williams’ music in the community. JOHN TREADWAY can provide help in the following ways:

  • Advising on suitable works to match the resources and expertise of concert organisations.
  • Maintaining a list of artists who are interested in performing Vaughan Williams’ music.
  • Providing programme notes on RVW works, given due notice and with an acknowledgement of the source.
  • Encouraging young artists to perform his works
  • Promoting links between the RVW Society and other composer organisations.

For more information please email John at: John Treadway


Useful Links

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS Catalogue of music and printed music. See also: Vaughan Williams on Music. Excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. We have reason to be grateful for their special emphasis on RVW. Click to visit. STAINER & BELL Established in 1907, Stainer & Bell is an independent, family run business, specialising in the publication of quality printed music and books. The website has a range of free catalogue which can be requested for delivery by post free of charge and many of them can also be immediately downloaded directly. A Hire Library is also available. Click to visit VAUGHAN WILLIAMS MEMORIAL LIBRARY In honour of the eminent composer, song collector and President of the English Folk and Dance Society. Click to visit DISCOVERING VAUGHAN WILLIAMS A BBC Resource examining the life and works of Ralph Vaughan Williams. Click here to visit THE PHILHARMONIA ORCHESTRA This website features a listening guide in video format which explores the music of Vaughan Williams as well as a concert guide. Click here to visit LEOPOLD STOKOWSKI Leopold Stokowski was a great advocate of RVW’s music. They were both students at the Royal College of Music although Stokowski was ten years younger and entered the RCM as RVW was about to leave. According to Stokowski, Vaughan Williams was influential as a teacher (probably more as an older student – RVW did not take up teaching at the college until 1920). “I found him to be a remarkable man – very profound, very warm”. Click to visit. THE ENGLISH MUSIC FESTIVAL A celebration of Britain’s rich musical heritage showcasing the brilliance, innovation and beauty of English music. Click to visit VAUGHAN WILLIAMS ‘PLACES’ Information Officer, Graham Muncy has put together a leaflet illustrating some of the locations with which VW is associated; an “in his footsteps” snapshot.


Click here to download as a pdf.



The Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust The Trust’s primary object is to promote knowledge about Ralph Vaughan Williams and performance of his works and similarly of the works of his widow, Ursula Vaughan Williams. It does this by making grants in support of eligible projects. Click here to visit the web site The RVW Trust The RVW Trust is one of the most significant sources in the UK of funding for contemporary and recent British music. The Trust was established by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1956 and it continues to fulfill the purposes he intended. The trust is not able to make grants towards the performance or promotion of the works of the Founder. Click here to visit the web site



URSULA VAUGHAN WILLIAMS R.V.W.: A Biography of Ralph Vaughan Williams Oxford University Press, reprinted 2000 MICHAEL KENNEDY A Catalogue of the Works of Ralph Vaughan Williams Oxford University Press, reprinted 1998 HUGH COBBE (editor) The Letters of Ralph Vaughan Williams 1895-1958  Oxford University Press, 2008 JAMES DAY Vaughan Williams Oxford University Press (3rd edition), 1998 SIMON HEFFER Vaughan Williams Weidenfield & Nicholson, 2000 KEITH ALLDRITT Vaughan Williams: Composer, Radical, Patriot – A Biography Hale 2016


Photographs, Manuscripts, Papers

The Ralph Vaughan Williams Society does not keep an archive of photographs and is unable to grant permission for use. The following organisations may be able to help. NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY The National Portrait Gallery keeps a small collection of portraits and is sometimes able to advise on the whereabout of photographs. Click here to visit the web site THE BRITISH LIBRARY The composer’s wife, Ursula Vaughan Williams bequeathed her personal collection of photographs and a large number of manuscripts to The British Library. This collection is still being catalogued. Click here to find out more Commercial Photolibraries A few commercial libraries keep a limited number of Vaughan Williams photographs. These are usually available at commercial rates but it is worth trying to negotiate especially when for non-commercial use.