Raymond Russell's story at Mottisfont

An old photograph of Raymond Russell at the harpsichord

This year, we're exploring the life of Raymond Russell, youngest son of Maud and Gilbert, through installations around the house. Raymond was a talented musician, with a keen interest in collecting; among other curious objects, he eventually amassed an important collection of early keyboard instruments.

Raymond was a troubled, complex character, who passed away at a young age. However, his research and collection played an important part in reviving the harpsichord and early music in general in the early 20th century.

Meet Raymond at Mottisfont

Our house is open every day from 11am. As you explore, you can find out more about Raymond and his interests, starting from his teenage years spent at Mottisfont with his brother, Martin.

Extracts from Maud Russell's diaries (published as A Constant Heart: The War Diaries of Maud Russell 1938-1945 by The Dovecote Press) reveal her worries for her son as he grew older.

Raymond developed an interest in early keyboard instruments, and became an accomplished player. Information about his performances, including original newspaper clippings collected by Maud, will be on show in the Red Room. Also on show here is a beautiful instrument made by Michael Johnson, based on measurements made of one of Raymond's own instruments.  

This beautiful harpsichord forms part of our house display
A harpsichord painted green and embellished with pattern work, created by instrument maker Michael Johnson
This beautiful harpsichord forms part of our house display

Beyond his collection of harpsichords, Raymond was fascinated by a variety of other objects. You can find out more about his collections of surgical instruments, historical medical books and even some important coins. Studying these items and collecting them brought some order to his life, when so much was difficult for him to control.

Despite his tragic, early death, the legacy left by Raymond's collections has had a lasting impact. The Dining Room table is set for you to discover Raymon'd legacy, due in no small part to Maud Russell's diligence and perseverance in keeping her son's work and ideas alive.

We've been working with Kate Hawnt, a PhD researcher at the University of Southampton, to develop our understanding of Raymond Russell and share this knowledge with visitors. Much of our interpretation is based on Kate’s research, which is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.