Mediæval Bæbes

Mediæval Bæbes
Mediæval Bæbes
Background information
Origin England
Genres Classical
A cappella
Years active 1997 – present
Labels Nettwerk Records
Venture/Virgin/EMI Records
Katharine Blake
Emily Ovenden
Sarah Kayte Foster
Esther Dee
Bev Lee Harling
Clare Edmondson
Tanya Jackson
Jo Burke
Past members
Dorothy Carter (deceased)
Teresa Casella
Sophie Evans
Nicole Frobusch
Ruth Galloway
Vince Johnson
Karen Lupton
Carmen Schneider
Nichole Sleet
Rachel Van Asch
Audrey Evans
Cylindra Sapphire
Marie Findley
Melanie Garside (Maple Bee)
Claire Ravel
Maxine Fone
Sofia Escobar
Claire Rabbitt
Melpomeni Kermanidou

The Mediæval Bæbes are a British ensemble of female musicians founded in the 1990s by Katharine Blake and included some of her colleagues from the band Miranda Sex Garden, as well as other friends who share her love of mediaeval music. The lineup often rotates from album to album, and ranges from six to 12 members.



The Bæbes's first album, Salva Nos (1997), shot straight to No. 2 in the classical charts,[citation needed] a silver disc[citation needed]. Subsequent albums include Worldes Blysse (which went straight to No. 1[citation needed]), Undrentide, (co-produced by John Cale), The Rose, (produced by Toby Wood), and the Christmas-themed album Mistletoe and Wine.

Mirabilis (2005), was launched at a concert and party in London, August 2005. A self-titled DVD was released in July 2006. The first 300 preorders were autographed by the band and received a special mention in the DVD credits.

A live album was released on November 25, 2006 and features two new studio tracks.

Each album features traditional medieval songs and poetry set to music, mostly arranged by Blake specifically for the ensemble, alongside varying numbers of original compositions. They sing in a variety of languages, including Latin, Middle English, French, Italian, Russian, Swedish, Cadenet, Scottish English, German, Manx Gaelic, Spanish, Welsh, Bavarian, Provençal, Irish Gaelic, modern English and Cornish. Their vocals are backed by medieval instruments, including the recorder and cittern, played by the singers or fellow musicians.

The Bæbes' musical pieces run the gamut from extremely traditional, such as their version of the "Coventry Carol" on Salva Nos, to songs that feel traditional but are much more modern, such as their rendition of "Summerisle", a song written for Robin Hardy's 1973 cult film, The Wicker Man. John Cale added non-medieval instruments, including saxophone and electric guitar, to some of the arrangements on Undrentide, although with subsequent albums the band returned to more traditional instruments. Even with these instruments, however, the band's current style is quite different from medieval authentic performance groups, as it displays significant modern influence, this juxtaposition most notably apparent in the Bæbes's latest album Illumination (2009) produced by KK (Kevin Kerrigan).


The Bæbes provided the vocal track for and starred in the video of the Delerium track "Aria"; the vocals are an adapted version of the vocals from "All Turns to Yesterday" from Worldes Blysse. They are also featured on two tracks from Delerium's 2006 album, Nuages du Monde: "Extollere" and "Sister Sojourn Ghost".

In 2005, the Bæbes contributed Mediæval Bæbes music to the soundtrack of the BBC period drama The Virgin Queen, which portrays the life of Elizabeth I, including the title music, which is a poem written by Elizabeth set to music by Blake.


One of the group's founding musicians, Dorothy Carter, died of a stroke in 2003 at the age of 68. In addition to playing autoharp, hurdy gurdy, and dulcimer with the group, she performed the lead vocals on "So Spricht Das Leben" (Worldes Blysse) and "L'Amour de Moi" (The Rose).

Emily Ovenden is the daughter of artist Graham Ovenden.

Marie Findley is also a film reviewer and television script writer for programmes such as Smack the Pony and The Ant & Dec Show. She was the lead (using the name Tulip Junkie) in the Ken Russell film The Fall of the Louse of Usher. Marie left the group in March 2007.

Former member Maple Bee (a.k.a Melanie Garside) is the singer in electronic duo Huski and the younger sister of KatieJane Garside, singer of London-based rock band Queenadreena.

16 May 2007 - Audrey Evans and Maple Bee resigned due to family and professional commitments and Cylindra Sapphire resigned in order to follow a different musical path.

22 July 2009 - Claire Rabbitt left the Bæbes. Sarah Kayte Foster came on to replace her.


  • Salva Nos (1997)
  • Worldes Blysse (1998)
  • The Best of the Mediæval Bæbes (1999, a compilation of tracks from the first two albums)
  • Undrentide (2000)
  • The Rose (2002)
  • Mistletoe and Wine (2003, a collection of Christmas-related music from earlier albums with a few new songs)
  • Mirabilis (2005)
  • Mediæval Bæbes (DVD, 2006)
  • Live (Live album, November 25, 2006, includes two new studio tracks; sold only on the official website and at concerts)
  • Illumination (2009) (includes one of the studio tracks from Live, 'My Lady Sleeps')
  • The Huntress (working title) (2012)

The Best of the Mediæval Bæbes is absent from the Bæbes' website, and they comment that Mistletoe and Wine is 'the only compilation endorsed by the Mediæval Bæbes'.

External links

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