Raymond Russell and the Harpsichord 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. 

As you explore the house, you can find out more about Raymond and his interests. Raymond began collecting stamps as a child; this hobby developed into creating other collections, from surgical instruments to harpsichords.

Perhaps initially he is interested in collecting items to preserve and appreciate them, however, ultimately, collecting becomes a means of honing his skills and knowledge base in specific areas. This could be seen as an attempt to bring order into his own life, when so much was difficult for him to control.  

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 for her PhD, which is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.