My Britain: Interview with Seth Lakeman, Folk Singer

    Seth Lakeman gets ready for a gig at St Andrew’s Church in Plymouth. Portrait by: Gareth Iwan Jones
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    We spoke to folk singer Seth Lakeman, whose new album A Pilgrim’s Tale was released earlier this year, about how his childhood in Britain inspired his passion for music and the Mayflower story

    I was born and bred in Dartmoor, Devon. My parents ran a successful folk music night at a 16th-century pub called The Who’d Have Thought It Inn in Milton Combe. It’s still there, now the only B&B in the village.

    My new album, A Pilgrim’s Tale, is inspired by the Mayflower story. I live seven miles from Plymouth, so I’ve been visiting the area where the boat set off from all my life. That and the stories of Sir Francis Drake and the Golden Hind are a big part of history for us.

    The tour to promote my album followed in the footsteps of the Pilgrim Fathers. Every gig was a complete privilege, but the most exciting was the one in Southwark Cathedral, as it is near Rotherhithe where the Mayflower began its voyage to Plymouth.

    The captain of the Mayflower, Christopher Jones, was born in Harwich, Essex. Not many people know that the ship’s main mast broke in two when they were in the middle of the Atlantic, but Jones managed to get them safely to America. I performed at St Nicholas Church in Harwich, where he was baptised.

    I spent a lot of time immersed in London’s museums and architecture as a child. My grandfather was a Methodist minister at Wesley’s Chapel in Islington and his family led busy city lives, which made my visits – filled with journeys on red buses – far removed from my sleepier Dartmoor days. 

    I visit Tresco on the Isles of Scilly every year. I play two shows at The New Inn. I love the local produce and the people there, but also its history. We have camped on Bryher, one of the smaller of the inhabited island archipelago and the most westerly of Britain’s.

    I love the ‘real’ Cornwall where the tin mines are. My dad’s side of the family are from Penzance. It’s wild down there, proper Poldark country. Cape Cornwall, near St Just, is a great place to start if you’ve never been. Newlyn and Mousehole are also just perfect in early spring when it’s quieter.

    www.sethlakeman.co.uk

    Do you love Britain? Let others know!