Rutland Boughton

Rutland Boughton was born in Aylesbury in 1878. After studying with Sir Charles V Stanford and Walford Davies at the Royal College of Music, he spent some years working in the pit at the Haymarket Theatre in London before eventually being offered a permanent teaching post by Sir Granville Bantock at the Birmingham and Midland Institute. He established himself there as a singing teacher, composer and writer.

Rutland Boughton.

In 1914 and with the support of the Clark family (Clark’s shoes) he founded and directed the first of his Glastonbury Festivals in order to provide a platform not only for this works but for any other music that accorded with his artistic ideals. The Festivals became a huge success and by 1926 he had mounted over 300 staged performances and 100 chamber concerts in addition to lectures, exhibitions and a series of innovative Summer Schools.

From left – Florence Boughton nee Hobley, Ruby, Rutland. Cira 1907 probably Marston Green, Birmingham.

In 1922 his opera (or choral- drama) ‘The Immortal Hour’ was produced in London were it enjoyed phenomenal success and enjoyed a continuous run for many months. Boughton’s other notable works for the stage are ‘The Queen of Cornwall’ (based on a play by Thomas Hardy), ‘Bethlehem’ and ‘Alkestis’.

Rutland Boughton, Bevans Hill, Kilcot.
Bevans Hill, Kilcot.

After Glastonbury Boughton took up residence at Kilcot, a small village in Gloucestershire, primarily to complete the cycle of Arthurian Music Dramas that he had begun in 1908 but also to organise further festivals at Stroud (1934) and Bath (1935). Whilst living at Kilcot, Boughton also produced some of his finest orchestral pieces. Despite successful revivals of ‘The Immortal Hour’ and ‘Bethlehem’, Boughton’s fame declined in the ‘40s and ‘50s. 

From left – Brian, Rutland, Kathleen Davis, Rutland Sherman (Peter), Jennifer. Circa 1938 front garden, Bevans Hill, Kilcot.

During his lifetime he was married to Florence Hobley until 1911, he then met and collaborated with the artist and set designer, Christina Walshe until 1922. He spent the rest of his life with Kathleen Davis. Rutland had 7 children, Brian Boughton is the last remaining child.

From left – Tanya Price, Joyance, Kathleen Davis, Rutland Sherman (Peter) Jennifer, Peter Price, Brian, Rutland, Maire (Moya). Circa 1929 Bevans Hill, Kilcot.
From left – Rutland, Brian, Kathleen Davis, Rutland Sherman (Peter). Circa late 1940’s.

His life and music has documented in detail by biography Michael Hurd – Rutland Boughton and the Glastonbury Festivals which can be purchased through the Trust.

Other publications featuring Boughton include:

‘King Arthur in Music’ by Richard Barber (2002) ISSN 0261 – 9814  from

‘The Avalonians’ by Patrick Benham (1993 revised 2003) This was available from the Glastonbury bookseller Gothic Image.

‘Music in the Landscape: How the British Countryside inspired our greatest composers’ by Em Marshall (2011) ISBN 9780709084686 from

Independent film:

‘Glastonbury – The Untold Story’ (2010) about the lives of Boughton, Buckton and Bligh Bon (includes interviews with Michael Eavis and Charles Hazlewood). Compiled and presented by Dr Tim Hopkinson-Ball in association with 4reelfilms and Strode Theatre.