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24 October: Miranda Sykes, Jim Causley and John Palmer – The Sabine Baring-Gould Project


Six-time BBC Folk Awards nominee Jim Causley and Miranda Sykes of Award-Winning Show of Hands and Daphne’s Flight come together for the first time to celebrate the centenary of a Victorian superstar through his music and stories.

Sabine Baring-Gould inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Sherlock Holme’s Hound and Bernard Shaw’s Doolittle. He brought Ghostly Aunt Eliza, wretched heroine Mehalah and Norse hero Grettir to life. He mentored folk song collector Cecil Sharp – and wrote Onward Christian Soldiers

He was a giant of his time. He was a top ten best-selling novelist; the writer of what is still the go-to book on werewolves; author of a nerve-tingling book of ghost stories; storyteller of the Norse Myths of Iceland; compiler of a classic Dartmoor history book and composer of numerous popular hymns.

But he says the most important thing he did in his life was to collect songs from the countryfolk of Devon and Cornwall. A pioneer collector, starting a decade before Sharp and Vaughan Williams, he amassed more than 2000 songs.

Miranda, Jim and narrator John Palmer, director of the critically-acclaimed Vaughan Williams anniversary “From Pub to Pulpit” Cathedral tour, interweave some of those songs with anecdotes from his own astonishing life and stories from his impressive array of books.

This tribute aims to make audiences smile, gasp and sing along as they hear how:

A ragamuffin fiddler’s favourite tune lived on in his instrument after he died (Bold General Wolfe)

A cottage was built in a day on the moor for a penniless newly married couple (Cottage Well Thatched With Straw)

The eerie mysteries of Wil O’ The Wisp and his graveyard trips (The Blue Flame)

Bram Stoker took ideas from Sabine for Dracula 

And ….. How Sabine became Sherlock Holmes’s God Father.

Baring Gould was born in Exeter on 28 January 1834 and died in January 2024, the son of the Lord of the Manor of Lew Trenchard near Okehampton. He was at school in Warwick and a schoolteacher in Sussex. He then became a vicar in Yorkshire, Essex and Devon and devoted his time to his love of folk music, country traditions and the macabre…

Jim has been a long-term admirer of Baring-Gould and includes many of his songs in his popular shows based on songs of Dartmoor. 

“It’s fascinating to see how many songs he collected found their way into his Dartmoor books.  It’s also quite eerie to see how many other songs fit the mood of his books on ghosts, werewolves, myths and his classic Gothic novels”, he said.

Miranda added: “We’re really excited about having found a unique and enjoyable way of bringing all of his work together in a show which we think will engage audiences and leave them fascinated and entertained.”

John Palmer said: “It’s surprising that someone who was such a prominent public figure in his day has almost disappeared today. We hope that this show will introduce many more people to Sabine and restore some of the credit he deserves”.


£16 advance / £18 on the door. £2 reduction for Friends of Calstock Arts


Doors & Bar 1900

Performance starts 2000

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