In a Monastery Garden

The Composer

Music inspired by the Priory Church, Bridlington


Albert Ketelbey (1875 – 1959) was a very popular composer particularly during the 1910 to 1935 period. Born in Birmingham, at the age of eleven he wrote a piano sonata that won praise from Edward Elgar. Ketèlbey gained a scholarship to the Trinity College of Music  in London. Two of his better known works are “In a Monastery Garden” and “Bells across the Meadow”. Indeed, “In a Monastery Garden” was his first big hit (at the age of 40) and made his name. Both, it is believed, were inspired by a visit to the Bridlington Priory church. See the reference below. There are many recorded versions of this music, including a whistled version of “In a Monastery Garden” by Ronny Renald.


This account is included in the article In a Monastery Garden, by Albert W. Ketèlbey, in Music Masterpieces, Part 12, 18 March 1926, page 183: It is highly necessary to feel what one writes, and also to have the right kind of inspiration. When I was writing In a Monastery Garden, one of my most popular compositions, I was for the time being an imaginary monk, and as in my earlier days I had had certain ascetic inclinations it was not difficult to get myself into a suitable frame of mind. The first inspiration to write the piece came to me during a visit to Scarborough. I happened to drive over to Bridlington one day, and on the way I visited a beautiful old monastery. Its quietude and its aloofness from the gaiety of the world at its doors seemed to cry aloud for expression through the medium of the orchestra. I had an idea, and when I returned home I set to work to draw a musical picture of the scene as it had impressed itself upon my mind - the chanting of the monks, the serenity and calm of the landscape, and the emotional aspect generally. I have always thought it a great compliment that many clergymen have asked me to allow them to incorporate the “chant” section of the piece into their church services.

Suggested activities

  1. Research visits by other musicians to Bridlington to play for the holiday makers.
  2. Play recordings of the music.
  3. School ensemble plays the music.