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Ottawa The Andrew Huggett Family Ian viol


January - Family relocates to "Sea View", on the Ise of Purbeck, Dorset, U.K..

January - Entire family is enroled at Trinity College, and the Royal College of Music, London

July - CBC documentary series, Telescope, Wales.

September - Back to Sea View and formal musical studies, Dorset.

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


Oboe Sonata in C Minor
G.F. Handel


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 in C minor. Technically 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. 

Handel's music is considered some of the finest in the "high baroque" style, and he is consistently recognized as one of the greatest composers of his age. 

This 1973 recording  was produced by Jane Forner.

Andrew - baroque oboe
Margaret - harpsichord
Jennifer - bass viol


In mid-January 1971, the family set down roots in Swanage, Dorset. Usually rented by the week to summer holidaymakers, their new home, "Sea View," perched high on the windswept bluffs, offered a spectacular view of the English Channel and the Isle of Wight. Central heating was a novelty in the UK and individual coal fireplaces heated each room. In January, bedtime was a damp frigid experience only slightly improved by a mandatory hot water bottle. But spring comes early to the southern British Isles. By the end of February, and with the daffodils in full bloom, the Huggetts started practicing outdoors.
There was a set daily practice routine. Eight a.m. Breakfast was followed by an hour of group singing, after which individuals practiced various instruments until lunch. After lunch, there was an hour off followed by two hours of schooling courtesy of the Ontario Ministry of Education. Before supper, there were two more hours spent on instrumental ensemble practice. After supper was personal time.

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Sea View, Acton, Langton Matravers, Swanage, Dorset, UK. - an address without a number in sight! Margaret surveys the property before renting with the curmudgeonly landlord, Mr. Kade, who held a rather grandiose opinion of "his house."

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January. Jennifer waiting for warmer climes.

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

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

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Andrew practicing on a lute generously loaned to him by teacher Edgar Hunt.

Ottawa Manotick Ottawa Citizen Andrew Huggett

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

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Fiona on the tenor viol. 

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Publicity shots on the Dorset downs in front of Sea View.

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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 cottage in Snowdonia National Park.

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

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The cottage's view overlooked the beautiful Mawddach Estuary.

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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.

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Directing music, one of Leslie's favorite activities.


While the family was in Wales, Canadian CBC producers sent a three-person production crew to film and interview them for a half-hour documentary. 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 it Leslie and Margaret examine and talk about their various motivations. 

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

Ottawa The Andrew Huggett Family wales telescope

Checking for clouds while Jennifer plays for the camera.

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

Ottawa The Andrew Huggett Family wales telescope

Take one. Andrew performs Greensleeves on the lute.

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Lunch prepared by Margaret for family and crew.

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Updating the shot list at the end of the day.

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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, the family gathered their instruments and took the 8:30 train from Wareham Station to London Waterloo, a 2.5-hour commute each way. All the Huggetts participated in a full day of music lessons from various professors at Trinity College of Music, the Royal 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). 

Ottawa Edgar Hunt The Andrew Huggett Family

(Above) Edgar Hunt helped the Huggetts enroll 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.

Ottawa The Andrew Huggett Family Trevor Pinnock
Ottawa 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. 

Ottawa 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 performed 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.

Ottawa 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.

Ottawa The Andrew Huggett Family Baines

(Right) June and Francis Bains, dear friends and viol teachers to the Huggetts, were founding members of The Jay Consort of Viols. Francis, a brilliant musician of eccentric personality, also owned and played an original 1650s Amati double bass. He would take the instrument to work in his Morris Minor, with the neck sticking out the back window protected only by its canvas case. 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.

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

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