The Andrew Huggett Family Ian viol




January:  Family relocates to "Sea View", an old Ise of Purbeck, quarryman's cottage in the county of Dorset.

January:  Entire family is enroled in various musical studies at Trinity College and the Royal College of Music in London. 

July:  The summer months are spent in Wales at Margaret's Aunt's country cottage.

August: The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation sends a 3 man crew to film the Huggett Family for their flagship documentary series, Telescope.

September:  Back to Sea View and formal musical studies.

This is the only year in which the Huggetts did not spend time in Canada.

Dorset 11 1971 The Andrew Huggett Family

Dorset 1971. A year for serious music study and goal setting. 

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Handel's Oboe Sonata in C Minor


The baroque oboe was derived from the eastern shawm and bombard of the middle ages and was the instrument for which Handel wrote this Sonata.  The instrument presents many challenges to the player.  The sound tends to the uneven side, and without its modern counterpart's many keys, many fingerings are clumsy and awkward. Andrew plays the baroque oboe, Jennifer the bass viol, and Margaret the Harpsichord on this 1973 CBC recording.

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Andrew on the baroque oboe and Margaret on the harpsichord with Professor Edgar Hunt at Trinity College of Music, London. 


In mid-January of 1971, the family set down temporary roots in Swanage, Dorset. Usually rented by the week to summer holiday makers, "Sea View," perched high on the windswept bluffs, offered a spectacular view of the English Channel and the Isle of Wight. Central heating was still a novelty in the UK and individual fireplaces heated each room. Bedtime was a damp frigid experience only slightly improved by a mandatory hot water bottle.

But spring comes early to the southern British Isles, and by the end of February and with the daffodils in full bloom, the Huggetts took to practicing outdoors.

There was a set daily routine. Breakfast was followed by an hour of group singing followed by individual practice on various instruments until lunch. After lunch, an hour off and then 2 hours of schooling courtesy of correspondence courses made available through the Ontario Ministry of Education. After supper was free time..

The Andrew Huggett Family sea view mr kade

Sea View, Acton, Langton Matravers, Swanage, Dorset, UK. - an address without a number in sight. Margaret surveys the property prior to renting with the curmudgeonly landlord, Mr. Kade, who liked to refer to the property as "my house."

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Waiting for warmer climes.

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Outside ensemble practice. By March, the weather in Dorset was quite balmy.

The Andrew Huggett Family margaret julie andrews

A tribute to Julie Andrews. There is no doulbt that the success of The Sound of Music helped pave the way for The Huggett Family's own musical journey 10 years later.

The Andrew Huggett Family lute dorset

Andrew plays Greensleeves on the lute.

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(Above and below) Publicity shots on the downs in front of Sea View.

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A publicity shot at the McKenzie King Estate in Gatineau, Quebec.

Fiona Viol Dorset 1971 Dorset 13 1971 The Andrew Huggett Family

Fiona on the tenor viol. So hot out that you need a sun hat.

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Hidden talents revealed. In this publicity shot taken with the assistance of the Huggett's milkman, you can see Sea View and the quarry worker's hamlet of Acton in the background.



During the summer months, the rent at Sea View was prohibitive. Margaret's Aunt Cecil, author of over 60 Harlequin Romances under the pen-name Eleanor Farnes, and her husband Uncle Bob, who'd made a small fortune building swimming pools for the Arabs in the 1930s and 50s, generously allowed the family to summer in their Snowdonia Park cottage in Wales.  

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Aunt Cecil's Welsh cottage in Snowdonia National Park..


Jennifer and Fiona with their pet guinea pigs. Wherever went the Huggetts, so too went the guinea pigs.

The Andrew Huggett Family wales

The cottage view overlooking the beautiful Mawddach Estuary.

The Andrew Huggett Family wales

Plenty of backdrops for publicity photos and one of the sunniest summers on record.

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Ian adopts one of the local cows.

The Andrew Huggett Family wales string quartet

Directing music, one of Leslie's favorite activities.


While the Huggetts were in Wales, Canadian CBC producers sent a three-person production crew to film and interview them for one week. In the days before video, making any kind of film required a significant amount of time and investment. All the filming was outdoors, and the Huggetts and crew were blessed with some of 

 the sunniest, warmest weather seen in Wales for years. The documentary, directed by Colin Smith, is one of the oldest surviving records of the family's unique lifestyle in which Leslie and Margaret examine and talk about their various motivations. 

The Andrew Huggett Family wales telescope

Andrew in the background waits for director Colin's cue.

The Andrew Huggett Family wales telescope

Watching for clouds while Jennifer plays for the camera.

The Andrew Huggett Family wales telescope

Leslie and Margaret wait as the crew sets up the next shot.

The Andrew Huggett Family wales telescope

Take one. Andrew performs Greensleeves on the lute for the camera.

The Andrew Huggett Family wales telescope

Lunch prepared by Margaret for family and crew.

The Andrew Huggett Family wales telescope

Updating the shot list at the end of the day.

The Andrew Huggett Family wales telescope tv Guide

This Telescope episode was promoted in TV Guide and shown on CBC as part of their 1971 Christmas lineup.

ON TUESDAY evening, December 28th, the CBC Television program, Telescope, will present the musical profile of a unique family musical ensemble,  The Huggett Family Players.
The latest installment of the Huggett family Saga finds the parent-children sextet of musicians in Northern Wales, where they are currently living on a Canada Council grant.
But it all started back in 1954 when Leslie and Margaret Huggett, graduates of the London Royal College of Music and Royal Academy of Music, respectively, came to Canada and decided they wanted to make good chamber music within their own family. But they also realized that the best instruments for their children to reach a decent standard on were the ancient ones. So they chose to play medieval music on a number of rare and little used instruments, including the krummhorn raushfeiffer rankett, and Baroque oboe. Since then, the Huggetts (the four children, Andrew, Jennifer, Ian, and Fiona, are presently ages 16, 14, 12, and 10) have pursued their musical vocation in a varied and interesting way.

Settling in Ottawa, Leslie Huggett went through the institutions, including teaching posts at Carleton University, the Collegiate Board, and Public and Separate School Boards. In 1966, however, he accepted an offer to teach in Westchester, New York.

The family looked forward to the move, but exorbitant rents threatened to stand in the way. Then they met an elderly stockbroker who owned a home on a wealthy preserve. He wanted someone to look after the estate, so the Huggetts convinced him that Mrs. Huggett was a botanist, "she's sort of interested in birds and wildlife," is the way they put it, and the family all played instruments and could give outdoor concerts.
They rented the three-story home for $100 a month and began practicing vigorously to live up to their promise.
Practicing and performing together whetted their appetite for more, and they left New York for the Greek island of Crete, where they could live frugally and devote their time to music. For $4,200, including fares, they spent ten months in

Agios Nikolaosolas, about 50 miles from Iraklion. Home was a rented stucco house with one bed. The children slept in sleeping bags on air mattresses on the floor. There were four Orange crates, two chairs, and a minimum of household appliances.
It was the worst winter in Greece in 40 years, and the Huggetts spent many an evening huddled around their one luxury, an electric fire, listening to wild cats howling in the backyard.

They rose at 7 a.m. and spent the mornings practicing and doing school work supplied by the Ontario Department of Education's correspondence course. 

On Tue. Afternoons were free for visiting other villages and other islands or for swimming in warm weather.

They gave a concert for the villagers before they left and came home via  Europe, stopping to play in Hanover, West Germany, and London. Then they were back in Ottowa and faced with the problem of recognition. "To make it in your hometown is no mean feat," Leslie Huggett says. To make it in the classical field is quite something else. But the

family went at it one hundred percent, and it paid off. They started with a concert in Aid of the Unitarian service committee, which they promoted themselves. Mrs. Huggett made robes for herself and the daughters, tunics for her husband and sons, and cases in which to carry the odd-shaped instruments. Mr. Huggett took publicity photographs and made arrangements for tickets and advertising. After that, every performance they gave attracted a full house. Becoming a family consort was never a predetermined thing. "People come as much to see a family play together as to hear the music. If you just rely on the music, you're lucky to drag out 300 people." The Canada Council Grant, which they received in late 1970,  has finally enabled the Huggetts to expand further their individual lifestyle. They've also added the writing of folk songs to their list of accomplishments, some of which they performed at a recent London concert, and they have made a demonstration disc which could well start them on another career phase as recording artists.


Every Thursday, while at Sea View, the family gathered up their instruments and took the 8:30 train from Wareham to London, a 2.5 hour each way commute, for a full day of music lessons at Trinity College of Music and the Guild Hall School of Music. Their teachers included Edgar Hunt (early winds), Henrietta Cantor (violin), Christopher Hirons (violin), Anthony Rooley (lute), Anthony Pleeth (cello), Brian Kay (voice), Trevor Pinnock (harpsichord), and June and Francis Baines (viols). 

Edgar Hunt The Andrew Huggett Family

(Above) Edgar Hunt facilitated getting the Huggetts enrolled in the Early Music Program at Trinity College of Music. He was one of the earliest champions of Europe's Early Music movement and transcribed and edited numerous pieces from the period, made available to a modern audience through Schotts Publishers. Thanks to a past posting in India, he could also consume the most beastly Indian curries without ever breaking a sweat. The Huggetts will be forever grateful to him for taking them under his wing.

(Right) June and Francis Bains, dear friends and viol teachers to the Huggetts, were the cornerstone of The Jay Consort of Viols. Francis, a brilliant musician of eccentric personality, also owned and played an original 1650s Amati double bass in The English Chamber Orchestra. He would take the instrument to work in his Morris Minor, with the neck protected only by its canvas case sticking out the back window. Nicolò Amati was Stradivarious's teacher. An Amati bass would be worth in the many hundreds of thousands today. Fiona, who was the only Huggett to remain in London after the group's demise, was particularly close to June and Francis and bought their house in London when the couple eventually retired to County Cork, Ireland.

The Andrew Huggett Family Trevor Pinnock
The Andrew Huggett Family Don Whitton

International harpsichordist and conductor Trevor Pinnock and the Huggetts became long-time friends. When he broke his hand in a door, he briefly lived with the family during his recovery. For many years after the break up of the Family group, Fiona played in the string section of Trevor's flagship chamber orchestra, The English Concert. 

Brian Kay The Andrew Huggett Family

Vocal teacher, Brian Kay of The King's Singers. Years later, the Huggetts would run into Brian when both were performing in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

In London, Jennifer studied cello with William Pleeth, but the person from whom she felt she learned the most was long-time NAC Orchestra principal cellist Donald Whitton, a beautiful musician, and inspired teacher.

The Andrew Huggett Family Anthony Rooley

Andrew's lute teacher, Anthony Rooley, was a founding member of The Consort of Musike, one of the world's most widely recorded Early Music groups.

The Andrew Huggett Family Baines