The Cobbe Collection at Hatchlands Park

Hatchlands is home to the Cobbe Collection, an extraordinary group of keyboard instruments by makers who were highly regarded or patronised by composers. Eighteen of these were owned or played by some of history's greats including JC Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Elgar and Chopin. This is one of the largest groups of composer-related instruments anywhere in the world.

Zenti harpsichord at Hatchlands Park

Harpsichord by Zenti

Harpsichords are instruments in which the strings are plucked rather than struck by rebounding hammers as they are in a piano. Girolamo Zenti made them for the Medici family, Queen Christina of Sweden, in England for Charles II and for Louis XIV at Versailles. There are seven surviving instruments by Zenti, this is the oldest dating from 1622.

Ruckers harpsichord at Hatchlands Park

Harpsichord by Ruckers

The Ruckers family of Antwerp were the greatest of all harpsichord makers. This example was built by Andreas Ruckers in 1636. It underwent revalement, a process of enlarging to add more notes, by Henri Hemsch in 1763. Decorated with a beautiful Flemish landscape it's believed to have belonged to the Savoy family.

Virginals by Player at Hatchlands Park

Virginals by John Player

Virginals are rectangular instruments with a plucking action as in a harpsichord. Built by John Player in 1664, the year of the Restoration, this instrument is likely to be a survivor from the Royal Household of Charles II. It's branded with the letters WP on its front left panel, used to mark items belonging to Whitehall Palace.

Zumpe pianoforte at Hatchlands Park

Square pianoforte by Zumpe

This instrument survived in a family house in the French village of Saint Germain-en-Laye. It was likely brought there by JC Bach when he visited in 1778, accompanied by Mozart. The pianoforte went on to survive the revolution and is autographed by Bach on the soundboard.

Southwell pianoforte at Hatchlands Park

Pianoforte by Southwell

This pianoforte dates from 1782 and was built by William Southwell, it's one of about six to survive. Built into an elegant and decorative half-moon table by William Moore, these instruments were very fashionable in Dublin during this period.

Streicher grand pianoforte at Hatchlands Park

Grand pianoforte by Streicher

This grand pianoforte was built in 1823 in Vienna by Nannette Streicher, who was the preferred maker of Beethoven. It was commissioned by King George IV, who purchased it directly from the maker. The instrument is loaned to us by HM The Queen in the care of The Cobbe Collection Trust.

Elgar's inscription at Hatchlands Park

Square pianoforte by Broadwood

Built in 1845, this pianoforte came into the possession of Edward Elgar's father, who ran a piano business. Elgar chose this piano from his father's stock for his cottage near Malvern and inscribed on the soundboard names of the works he composed on it. They include Sea Picture, Caractacus and The Dream of Gerontius. His most famous work The Enigma Variations was both begun and finished on this piano. A big history for a little instrument.

Chopin's Playel grand piano at Hatchlands Park

Grand pianoforte by Pleyel

The grand pianoforte in our saloon was built by Ignace Pleyel & Compagnie in 1848. It was built for and then brought to London by Fryderyk Chopin. He used it for his last-ever performance in Paris in February 1848. He then gave his first London performance on it, a private occasion at Gore House in Kensington. Chopin preferred Pleyel pianos above all others and referred to this one as 'my own' piano in his letters.

Listen further

The music room at Hatchlands Park

Listen in the music room

Our organ by JW Walker & Sons and the music room itself were both built in 1903 for Lord Rendel. You can regularly hear the organ played by volunteers as you walk through the house. If you play the organ and you'd like to have a go why not get in touch.