Rosslyn Court is a vibrant music venue and B&B located in a substantial Victorian villa in the beating heart of bohemian Cliftonville which is fast becoming Margate's cultural quarter.
In the spirit of the town's burgeoning artistic scene, Rosslyn Court houses an intimate acoustic music venue on its ground floor. Upstairs, three stunning en-suite rooms offer a comfortable, quiet and relaxed stay with owners Morag and Chris ensuring the very best for your time in Margate.
Morag is a carpenter and music lover with a passion for supporting local talent and fostering the independent arts and music culture that has seen Margate transform into an international go-to holiday destination.
At Rosslyn Court expect the unexpected: from the sounds of folk legend, Martin Carthy to an impromptu jam-session with Margate-based Libertines founder, Pete Doherty.
Guests are encouraged to enjoy the jaw-droppingly stunning sunsets that originally inspired the artist, JMW Turner. A visit to the internationally-renowned Turner Contemporary – home to this year’s Turner Prize – is a must.
As the original seaside resort Margate is also home to Britain’s oldest theme park, Dreamland which offers family fun and an array of music events throughout the year.
Thanet’s coastline also offers beautiful, blue flag-awarded sandy beaches, quirky boutiques, galleries, bars, music venues and outstanding restaurants.
We look forward to welcoming you.
Art lovers may want to visit the unique Margate light and coastal scenery that inspired Turner and many others who have moved to Margate to take advantage of its special atmosphere. Even those of us who live here are constantly amazed by the quality of the light and air.
You can have a paddle or swim in the sea or in the nearby Victorian built tidal pool.
At the end of the day, maybe you could hit the Margate scene, watch a spectacular sunset, find a restaurant then enjoy a micro pub.
The house is also ideally placed for those interested in natural life, sea birds and coastal geology, archaeology or just people watching.
The Loop bus route runs from the end of our road every 10 minutes in both directions from Margate to Ramsgate and Broadstairs via Westwood Cross Shopping Centre. This makes us easily accessible for Broadstairs Folk week and Blues Festival as well as all the attractions of Thanet.
For those who would like more specific ideas, we have put together a pdf of suggestions culled from our own experience and that of our guests.
We acquired Rosslyn Court in May 2017. At the time of purchase, it was a house in multiple occupation. We are told it had had a fascinating previous history, starting out as a grand private house in the later Victorian era, then being converted into a hotel with a licensed bar in the post-war boom, falling upon hard times around the turn of this century when it was apparently a house of ill-repute for a period before becoming an HMO.
The house was structurally OK but needed complete renovation. It’s in a conservation area, so we needed to work closely with the council, but they approved all our ideas and within a year it had been stripped out, reconfigured, replumbed, rewired and redecorated so that in addition to being our home, it was ready to re-emerge as a B&B and a music venue.
We took our first B&B bookings in August 2018 and have since had dozens of delightful guests - mainly via Booking.com although we also take bookings privately. In October 2018 we had also completed our studio and were wired for sound and lighting, so we put in a license application to the Council and starting hosting concerts.
Morag renovating the studio with the help of Jack and Mia, two of our grandchildren.
Our opening concert was given by the Lunatraktors, an amazing local duo who perform a fantastic variation on the folk theme with body percussion, tap dance, overtone singing and physical theatre to rediscover folk music as a queer space of personal and political transformation. They have performed here twice more since then and Claire has run a singing workshops while Carli curated an art exhibition for the Power of Women week.
The very next day, Morag ran into Pete Doherty down at the local Farmers’ Market and amazingly he offered to do a gig for us the following night. You may wonder how we got an audience at such a short notice, but in fact Peter only needed to mention it on his Twitter feed and we were booked out, with some people travelling the length of the country to see him. He performed with some members of his current group Puta Madre and they were brilliant. Peter has been a regular visitor since and has performed for us four times more.
Next up were the Kellet Gut Shantymen who have also become regular guests. Taking from their performance go to the RNLI and we have had several other charity concerts here with beneficiaries including Crisis, Oasis and GRASS.
In 2019 we attracted an amazing collection of artists. In addition to repeat performances by all those mentioned above we have had several nationally known figures. We were honoured to host a fantastic evening with Martin Carthy with floor spots from Morag, Lunatraktors and JAKL. We have also welcomed Jez Hellard, Tim Eady, Frank McLaughlin and Stewart Hardy, and finally Hector Gilchrist and Sue Graves.
Other artists who have played here in our fist nine months include Sally Ironmonger and Brian Carter, Gaddzukes, Nunhead Folk Circle, Helen North, Brown Boots, Lizzie and Hamish Bell and Hook, Line and Sinker..
In 2020 the Covid crisis hit. Hospitality and live music venue have been badly affected, but with help from Thanet Council, the Music Venues Trust and a group of loyal and hardworking supporters, we have weathered the storm to date. Details of how we have managed to keep the venue running can be found on Morag's 2020 Blog page and details of all the live streams we have recorded together with the links to watch them on YouTube can be found on our Past Livestreams page.
We have deliberately set out at Rosslyn Court to make our venue as accessible as we can and to ensure the variety of folk music we promote is as inclusive as possible. Below are notes about the steps we have taken to promote inclusivity in the different protected areas.
Although folk music in the UK has been traditionally a largely male province, we ensure we feature an equal number of male and female singers and we take special steps to ensure all performers coming to us are looked after well and offered safe accommodation. Similarly we work actively to make sure that our venue is a safe space for female audience members and that any issues of harassment are immediately addressed.
We have also worked hard to make sure gay, lesbian and trans people feel totally welcomed and to book a significant number of artists whose performances actively challenges hetero- and gender-normality.
English folk music can seem exclusively white. Black and minority songs rarely figure the English folk canon, the international and minority roots of much of English folk music and of folk instrumentation is overlooked, and music reflecting minority experience has not been fostered in the tradition. We aim to counter this by ensuring folk musicians of colour and of other heritages – whether English or international - are well represented in our billing and by booking musicians who are exploring the Black and minority heritage and composing new work to address these issues. Our audiences are multi-ethnic and multi-racial and we work had to ensure that everyone in our audiences feels welcomed and acknowledged.
As we are fortunate enough to own our venue, we have set out to make it disabled friendly, in line with the social model of disability which places the responsibility on us to make proactive adjustments rather than expecting disabled people to take the lead. We have level access and a disabled toilet; Blue Badge holders can park directly outside. Patrons who are hard of hearing are supported by our insistence that all performers use PA and we have a personal hearing loop available for anyone needing it. We have extensive experience of supporting people with hidden disabilities, especially ASDs and mental health issues and we will make appropriate adjustments for them on request. We are pleased that we have had a number of disabled performers who have played here and have happily returned. All our performances are live-streamed and freely available online so those unable to join us because they are immuno-compromised, unable to travel, or otherwise cannot tolerate busy venues can still be fully involved. See below for concessions; if a disabled person requires a personal assistant to enable them to attend, the attendant may be admitted free of charge.
We are aware that certain groups may be unable to afford standard price tickets, so half-price tickets are freely available on a trust basis – if you feel you cannot afford a full-price ticket, just request a half-price one. We are open to the expression of all forms of tolerant and inclusive religious faith within performances and welcome singers whose work has a spiritual content. Although we are aware that there are strong political convictions underlying much folk music, we encourage all performers to express this in a constructive and inclusive way so that everyone can feel that a range of opinions are respected and welcomed. We also work to ensure our performers include people across the whole adult age range. We welcome people bringing their children. We understand babies need to be breast-fed during events and will positively support this; private spaces and baby changing facilities are also available.
We reserve the right to ask anyone whose behaviour might reasonably lead other to feel uncomfortable to desist from so behaving or to leave, as appropriate. We feel it is particularly important that we work to create a safe space for all and that it is not just left to members of the protected groups to call out poor behaviour and challenge discrimination.
Rosslyn Court concerts are run by Morag but serviced by a commited team, most of whom volunteer their time and skills for the love of the music.
Roger Heald generally controls the livestreams from his computer at the back; with Phil Chapman as our stand in broadcaster when Roger is not available. Phil also controls the cameras and the lights and takes brilliant photos.
Jon Beetham is the sound engineer who works with intern Grace Mills; sometimes Brian Langsdon replaces him when Jon is not available. Jon also performs and has his own livestream from early days.
Andrew Ogden is the friendly face at the door and in her pinny at the bar, we have Una Bellingham, who also runs the Irish nights and bakes amazing cakes for special occasions. When Una is off baking 'n' that, Naomi Wilson steps in.
Chris Butler controls the lights, cameras and smoke machine. Lisa Butler often posts on social media during concerts from Galashiels.
Jodie Nestling advises on publicity and writes the newsletters. Morag Butler runs the concerts, arranges promotion, books the performers and often performs herself.