Neo Classical Cello And Piano Concert Thursday 04 July 2019

Hello everyone . . . BUTLEY PRIORY SESSIONS are resuming!


We open our Summer season with the truly beautiful Cello and Piano collaboration that is the CEEYS brothers. Anyone who came to Poppy Ackroyd's concert here last summer will remember them opening for her; it was a beautiful summer evening, the garden doors were open, the evening birdsong joined in, as we were all swept away by the music. I cant wait to hear a repeat! Internationally acclaimed artists, they are coming to play for us all the way from Potsdam in Germany and will be giving us a taste of their wondrous new album. Atmospheric, contemplative music that I find deeply moving. "An extraordinary piece of work" Maryanne Hobbs on Waende their first album.


With my soundscape colleague Matthew, as Pianofield, I have the honour of playing a short warm up set before the main performance. I'm so looking forward to it - we are celebrating having just finished the recordings for our new album 'Sustain' - progress indeed!

Butley Priory  is a small venue so tickets are limited due to space. Our most recent concert with  Peter Gregson  was SOLD OUT quickly so I encourage you to book soon if you'd like to come.   Thursday 4th July 19:00 to 22:00  £20 or a limited number at £10 sitting on a cushion on the floor.     TICKETS    So I hope you can make it on July 4th, See you then!  With love,    Frances

Butley Priory is a small venue so tickets are limited due to space. Our most recent concert with Peter Gregson was SOLD OUT quickly so I encourage you to book soon if you'd like to come.

Thursday 4th July
19:00 to 22:00

£20 or a limited number at £10 sitting on a cushion on the floor.


So I hope you can make it on July 4th, See you then!

With love, Frances


We were so honoured to have 'the world's fastest pianist' Lubomyr Melnyk to play for us in February!  Signed to the always surprising and different label Erased Tapes Records, I first heard him play at Latitude, and later at the Barbican and was blown away both times.  We became friends and so when he was over playing in London I asked him if he would consider a smaller intimate gig at Butley Priory as I know he loves the place - and to my great delight he agreed.  

We had this extraordinary day . . a power cut in the morning and freezing temperatures so i was half thinking I'd have to cancel as the house was literally like a tomb, and I knew the fireplace alone would take a lot longer than one day to heat the room.  Then over a candlelit cup of tea in the kitchen huddled by the Aga, we all decided to go ahead anyway - then the power suddenly came back on, (celebrations and central heating for long enough to warm the house). . only to go off again (only for a second) just as Lubomyr played the first notes!  very dramatic . . It was a beautiful candlelit night, people relaxed on the sofas or lay beside the fire and let the music wash over them.  An incredible performance as you will see in the video.  Couldn't help feeling, this is the way music should be experienced.  

The wonderful thing was that my friend and remarkable film maker Ian managed to capture the experience on his mobile phone despite zero lighting or forethought - I only turned and asked him as the performance began!.  See more of his amazing work here Slaughterbackfilms

Best wishes to everyone . . Spring really feels like it's here today!  Frances

PS  JUST CONFIRMED - POPPY ACKROYD   plays here on July 22nd!  This too will be an unforgettable experience . . details soon but email us for tickets as soon as you can.   


November . . .


November . . I always think it's going to be a quiet month, where I can get things done and have a peaceful time.  Butley Priory has been packed with wonderful events - something going on every weekend  . . and then there's getting the chimneys swept, taking in the garden furniture, the stonemason has been here invisibly repairing 12C buttresses that were frost damaged last year, the alders around the ponds to thin,  . . . ah dear reader . . a thousand things to think of!

Not to mention ordering the Christmas tree and planning our carol singing bonanza on December 10th (all welcome, gifts to Compassion in World Farming -  vegan mince pies and mulled wine will be offered!)

I am learning, however, that the trick to all of this is to personally have a quiet month anyway!  despite what may be going on around me, despite my list making, relentlessly energetic mind.

Inside, I have my own weather, and it is nice to be in synch with the ebb and flow of the seasons. I have so enjoyed watching the showers of golden leaves coming down, and nature getting ready to bed itself in for winter.  Just a walk round the drive can restore me.  Or if I am not here at home, just imagining it can work!  Have a wonderful peaceful week everyone.

Mind and body

This month seems to be connecting to ourselves month - which suits the landscape, the quiet time of year as the season rolls into winter.

We have had two fabulous yoga retreats already this month, with a weekend devoted to health and fitness run by  . . . . . coming up!  The Retreat Sisters . . . . . were here on the first weekend of the month for what looked like a really beautiful time,  and my daughter Jayna Cavendish from KIND Yoga came last weekend with the Secret Yoga Club for another wonderful weekend where we focussed on chakras.   The photo above is from the treatment room, where utterly luxurious massages were available . .mmm!   Delicious vegan food was consumed, long walks were taken, friendships made and, I think it would not be exaggerating to say, lives transformed.

It always amazes me, the power of doing things with like minded people, as a group.  Being somewhat solitary by nature, I usually flinch from the idea of 'joining in',  but there is no doubt about the benefits . . . every time!  



The beginning . . .


For anyone interested in how I came to be living in this extraordinary house, I thought I would share a post this week from my ex!  Im taking this highly unusual step because what he wrote so brilliantly describes our first impressions of coming here . . it was this time of year - and one of those mornings when despite the rest of the county being bathed in morning sunlight, a sea hag had crept up across the marshes (as occasionally happens here) and the house seemed literally to be surrounded by its own strange and chill aura!  I have to admit for me it was NOT 'love at first sight'  Took me a couple of visits till  I too was hooked. . . .  This post from Ned Cavendish last week.


"A house, if you can call it that which I helped restore, lived in for a while and love. Just now, reading this unique building’s chronological story I was taken aback by how much of my country’s history was entwined with the building’s own. Although I knew most of the stories in isolation I never saw them before in their entirety and what a fascinating story it is. We first saw it on a freezing, foggy winter morning in very poor light in 1985.   In its neglect it seemed like some ancient mammoth about to give its last gasp and collapse to the ground, going indoors was like entering a walk in freezer, it had not been lived in for some time and an eviction order was nailed to the door, brambles and undergrowth were beginning to creep up and obscure the walls, for me it was love at 1st sight. Putting the initial chill aside it is an incredibly warm and friendly building despite its appearance and size. 
Frances Shelley, my former wife and my 2 daughter’s Bess and Jayna band name AYA have kept this special building warm and alive, it gives so much pleasure to literally hundreds of people every year as a venue for weddings, concerts, yoga, workshops, and a whole lot of other things. People love being in and around this extraordinary building, if some buildings have a touch of magic this is certainly one of them."




Came out of the cottage here at the weekend to this dreamy sight on ‘the hill’ in front of the main house.. Coupled with a sort of ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’  atmosphere . . . I wish them the very best for a long and happy life together. 


Wild and windy days!  Personally I love this weather- I love the feelings of the world being swept clean, change and renewal.


My excitement last week was seeing my daughters play to a packed 2000 seater theatre at Shepherds Bush Empire!  Their band AYA was supporting the hugely successful Lamb, and it was their first major concert of this size.  Proud? As I wrote previously, my heart was full!   As any parent will recognise, it’s the moment when you can’t help remembering all the numerous ‘concerts’ that me and the animals and any random passer by weresummoned to when they were children .. . .Butley has of course always been somewhere that brings out the creative!

I have booked AYA to play here in the New Year!  Probably February, date to be decided.

Meanwhile,  enjoy the wind and the colours out there . . and create something beautiful!



John Broadwood in Great Hall.jpg

I've had a fun weekend playing at the Flipside festival at Snape Maltings  Fell in love with the Steinway in the Jerwood Kiln.  Oh dear .  . I want one!   It is a special relationship between performer and piano . . each instrument is so individual.  I was given my beautiful old John Broadwood when I was only 6 years old and had just started to play.  Having it in my life has definitely helped to form my life, and who I am.  (Interesting to speculate what would have transpired had it been. say . a trombone . .)

I love how much people enjoy playing it here in the Great Hall.  As you can see it is not in the first gleam of its youth, in fact a little lined and worn you could say.  (no analogies thanks . .) But a surprising number of visitors say it's one of the reasons they booked the house.     

You can hear it in action on December 10th when we are planning our annual Carol Singing Night.  All welcome - come and sing your heart out. 

We also will be at some point having the fabulous band AYA (my daughters Bess and Jayna) here to play after they finish their tour with Lamb, which is coming up this week, great excitement!  Read all about it in the link below.  Not sure of the date for AYA at Butley yet so keep a look out,  and join our mailing list if you want to be kept in the loop.

So. . enjoy this week as never before!  Frances




F walk.png

Hi all you busy people!

Took some time off from rehearsing for my performance next weekend at the Flipside Festival (which I am super excited about! and have come up to Perthshire for my mums 96th birthday.

Somehow being up here in the mountains, going for long walks, spending time with family puts everything back into persepective. My 'to do' list suddenly seems mostly unimportant and I get back in touch with the real stuff.

‘Family’ being a bit of a number one.  I come to Scotland where my mother lives, and am reminded why so many people come to Butley Priory for the same reasons.  Getting together matters.


S M I L E !


Good morning!  People often ask me do I mind having loads of people traipsing around in my house.  Good question, and the answer (I’m happy to say) is emphatically no I don’t!


Okay sometimes if Im home around 11 pm on a Saturday night I start to thinkp l e a s eturn down the music! It’s true . .

But on the whole having the house ringing with laughter and filled with so much fun and joy is an infectious life affirming thing. I so often wonder what those old monks would have thought?! I think they’d have loved it. .


Since last blog we’ve had two beautiful weddings and a christening celebration . .

Seeing the genuine smiles radiating on people’s faces is a real delight. In fact ‘concious smiling’ is something I’ve recently taken up – because it makes you feel good.  I read somewhere that you acctually can’t feel cross, bad, angry or any other sort of negative emotion when you have a big broad grin on your face.  It’s true, try it!


Have a lovely smiley week then!



First ever post!


Hi everyone,

Good morning.  New resolutions – I love them!  I am publicly resolving to run a weekly blog on our beautiful new website.

OK its good for expanding our reach apparently, but also because it’s just SO lovely here and I want to share it all with you!  

I love the changing seasons – especially this one – I start to reflect on the year and all that’s happened, and how amazing it has been.

One of the great things is that we are now hosting more weekday events, and really interesting ones! We had great fun when Charlie XX and her songwriting team all came here from Sweden for a week in August,  and this week we have the beautiful Ponderosa and Thyme here with 16 talented florists and hordes and hordes of fabulous flowers for a wedding floristry workshop week!

It feels good – the sun is shining and the hedgerows are blooming.   

May you also bloom and choose joy this week!


PS  I love how my picture of Daniel in the Lion’s Den watches over the flowers.  This picture has been in my family all my life and has majorly affected my life, made me so much braver!