Cumbria Crack

New English Heritage song celebrates Lady of Carlisle

Lucy Farrell. Picture: Elly Lucas Websize

Folk sensation Sam Lee’s Nest Collective and English Heritage have announced a collection of songs and videos paired to historic sites in the care of the charity from Carlisle Castle to Dover Castle

Offering an armchair escape into England’s story during lockdown, ‘Songs of England’ weaves together original performances produced by The Nest Collective, including Bellowhead’s Jon Boden and folk scholar/singer Fay Hield, with narration and film of England’s most evocative historic sites from Dover Castle to Whitby Abbey, Hadrian’s Wall to Tintagel Castle.

In Cumbria, The Lady of Carlisle performed by Lucy Farrell with additional performances by Ellie Wilson on violin uses Carlisle Castle as inspiration.

It tells the tale of a woman – courted by two men – who tests her suitors with a dangerous trial of courage in a den of beasts.

Whilst on Hadrian’s Wall, When Fortune Turns The Wheel is performed by The Northumberland-based, Brothers Gillespie who sing a traditional parting song.

It’s a classic song often sung by friends after a night of drinking or at funerals. The lyrics portray a bittersweet goodbye with the hope of a reunion.

Matt Thompson, English Heritage, head collections curator, said: “Sam Lee and the musicians featured by The Nest Collective are tremendously talented.

“The songs, and their performances, are in perfect harmony with the sites in our care.  As a charity we want to inspire people to step into England’s story and while we may not all be able to visit in person at the moment, being transported through these beautiful songs is a wonderful journey in itself.”

Sam Lee said: “It has been a great privilege to create this collection, taking inspiration from the epic historic sites English Heritage looks after.  We hope these songs inspire a fresh connection with the history and spirit of these remarkable places and engage people everywhere with tradition, stories of the land around them and the folk history of our ancestors.”

The songs and films, narrated by Sam Lee and Matt Thompson and sung by musicians featuring The Nest Collective are available through a specially created digital map on the English Heritage website –

The ‘Songs of England’ are also available on Spotify.

  • Carlisle Castle – Cumbria 

The Lady of Carlisle performed by Lucy Farrell, with additional performances from Ellie Wilson (violin).

Music Direction and Mastering by Thom Ashworth. Series Original Music and Arrangements by Christopher Schlechte-Bond.

  • Whitby Abbey, Yorkshire 

Whitby Lad performed by Fay Hield, with additional performances from Ellie Wilson (violin).

  • Hadrians Wall, Cumbria/North East 

When Fortune Turns the Wheel performed by The Brothers Gillespie, with additional performances from Ellie Wilson (violin).

  • Old Sarum Castle – Wiltshire

Salisbury Plain performed by Alice Zawadzki.

  • Wrest Park – Bedfordshire

Bedfordshire May Carol performed by Dila Vardar, with additional performances from Ellie Wilson (violin),  Christopher Schlechte-Bond and Thom Ashworth.

  • Dover Castle – Kent

A Ship To Old England Came performed by Mara Carlyle.

  • Tintagel – Cornwall

Sweet Nightingale performed by Lisa Knapp.

Mix by Gerry Diver

  • Iron Bridge, Shropshire

Four Loom Weaver performed by Abel Selaocoe.

  •  Audley End, Essex 

The Old Garden Gate performed by Bea Hankey.

  • Pendennis Castle, Cornwall 

High Germany performed by Jon Boden.

  • Richmond Castle and Cells – Yorkshire

Peat Bog Soldiers performed by Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith.

  • Stonehenge, Wiltshire

John Barleycorn performed by Sam Lee, with additional performances from Ellie Wilson (violin).