- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Sc. 2

Alison Crum and I are the founder members of the Rose Consort we had been playing together for a number of years in the Landini Consort, a group that played a wide range of early music and used lots of different instruments. We chose Rose Consort of Viols because:

  • it said what we focussed on, by featuring ‘consort of viols’
  • it used the name of one of the most significant viol-making families in Elizabethan and Jacobean England: a father and son team, both called John Rose. I suppose we were also paying tribute to the pioneering work in the field of English consort music of the Jaye Consort, who were also named after another prolific early English viol maker.
  • a rose was also the symbol of the Tudor monarchs, in whose reigns some of our favourite pieces were composed, and the viol consort became firmly established
  • it referenced the fact that several of the instruments we played had a beautifully carved rose on the soundboard
  • it linked us to Yorkshire, where the group was initially based (and where I still live), whose symbol is a white rose

I sometimes wonder if ‘The Rose Consort of Viols’ is a bit of a mouthful. As a group of players we usually just call ourselves ‘The Roses’, as do most of our friends, and I’m aware that the famous Lindsay String Quartet rebranded themselves as ‘The Lindsays’. Some other viol consorts such as Fretwork and Phantasm have adopted one-word names, and I guess we could follow suit, but for the moment I think we’ll stick with our full descriptive name with all its connotations.

This picture, from a publicity leaflet from the 1980s, shows the Rose Consort in one of its earlier manifestations: we are on the steps of The King’s Manor in York, a building that was originally the Abbot's House of St Mary's Abbey. It was taken over by the Tudor monarchs after the dissolution of the monasteries to serve as a seat of government in the north of England.

At the top, left to right, are Alison Crum, Sarah Groser and Elizabeth Liddle, with Susanna Pell and me down below.