Following the recent closure of Finchcocks Musical Museum, it has been announced that many of the instruments in its collection are to be sold at auction.
On 11 May, Dreweatts and Bloomsbury Auctions will oversee the sale of the majority of the historic keyboard instruments that have been collected by Richard Burnett, a fortepianist himself, over a period of nearly 50 years. The proceeds from the sale will go to the Finchcocks Charity, which supports performances on, and the maintenance of, instruments of historical importance.
Although the catalogue of the instruments to be auctioned will not be made public until March, the sale will include a number of keyboards of very significant interest, such as a 1766 chamber organ by the London organ maker John Byfield, and a Conrad Graf grand piano dating from around 1820. In total, the Finchcocks collection contains more than 70 instruments, a small number of which will be retained by the charity.
Finchcocks itself is a 1725 manor house in Goudhurst, Kent, that was acquired in 1970 by Burnett. There, he and fellow player Derek Adlam set up a workshop to build keyboards based on historical examples. Before long, he would build up a collection of historic keyboards and replicas that would go on to be one of the most important in the UK. Importantly, many of the keyboards at Finchcocks Musical Museum were not just for display but were made available for enthusiasts to play. The Burnetts announced that the museum would shut at the end of 2015.