The Cobbe Collection at Hatchlands Park
Hatchlands Park is home to the Cobbe Collection, an extraordinary group of keyboard instruments by makers who were highly regarded by composers. Eighteen of these were owned or played by some of history's greats including JC Bach, Mozart, Elgar and Chopin. This is one of the largest groups of composer-related instruments anywhere in the world.
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.
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 ‘ravalement’, 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 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.
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.
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.
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 the Cobbe Collection Trust by HM The Queen.
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.
Grand pianoforte by Pleyel
The grand pianoforte in the 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.
Hear the instruments played
Download the Hatchlands Park app
You can now download the Hatchlands Park app, available for free on iOS from the App Store. Take a tour of the house and enjoy a little family history. You can hear from Alec Cobbe, the founder of the collection, on just what makes this group of instruments so special. Bring your visit to life with music from Chopin and Elgar, your only chance to hear these instruments played without attending a concert.
Listen in the music room
The 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.
Discover more about the 250-year history of Hatchlands Park, the families that made it their own and the influences of famous architects and designers of their day.
Explore six beautifully restored rooms, see some of Robert Adam’s earliest work, plus wonderful collections of paintings and musical instruments in the Cobbe Collection.
Discover the best bits of the parkland at Hatchlands. Spanning over 400 acres and just 45 minutes outside Greater London you’ll find a fun outdoor adventure, whatever the season.
Stuck for something to do outdoors with the family? Look no further. With a fantastic children’s adventure area and loads of space to run around in, Hatchlands Park is the perfect spot to get some fresh air.