Mediæval Bæbes

Mediæval Bæbes
Background information
Origin England
Genres Classical, traditional, a cappella
Years active 1997present
Labels Nettwerk, Venture/Virgin/EMI
  • Katharine Blake
  • Melpomeni Kermanidou
  • Sophie Ramsay
  • Clare Edmondson
  • Josephine Ravenheart
  • Anna Tam
Past members

The Mediæval Bæbes are a British musical ensemble founded in the 1990s by Dorothy Carter and Katharine Blake.[1] It included some of Blake's colleagues from the band Miranda Sex Garden, as well as other friends who share her love of medieval music. The lineup often rotates from album to album, and ranges from six to twelve members. As of 2010, the group sold some 500,000 records worldwide,[2] their most successful being Worldes Blysse with 250,000 copies purchased.[3]


The Bæbes' first album, Salva Nos (1997), reached No. 2 in the classical charts, a silver disc. Subsequent albums include Worldes Blysse (which went to No. 1), 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 25 November 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, 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' latest album Illumination (2009) produced by KK (Kevin Kerrigan).

In 2016, the group performed the theme song to the ITV TV series Victoria, performing the composition by Martin Phipps.


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 of England, 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 artists Graham Ovenden and Annie Ovenden. She was born and raised in Cornwall and now lives in London. She performed backing vocals on Dragonforce's The Power Within.[4] She is also a founding member and former lead vocalist of English gothic metal band Pythia. Emily left the group at the beginning of 2016.

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.

Member Maple Bee (aka 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.




Compilations and soundtracks



  1. Willin, Melvyn J. (2005). Music, witchcraft and the paranormal. p. 252. The Mediaeval Baebes were formed in 1996 when a medieval music enthusiast, Dorothy Carter, inspired Katherine Blake, a professional singer with the group Miranda Sex Garden, with her performance on medieval instruments.
  2. Mediaeval Baebes play Metropolitan Cathedral.(News). Liverpool Daily Post, 29 November 2010.
  3. What's On: Now it's the Mediaeval Mums Baeby love! Birmingham Evening Mail, 21 April 2000.
  4. Alex (2013). "DragonForce - Metal Master Kingdom". Retrieved 10 April 2013.
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