My favourite object… #1

As the house gets back to ‘normal’ I thought it might be a nice opportunity to share with you perhaps my most favourite item in the house. It has been shrouded in a dust sheet for many months as the essential rewiring works have taken place but now it is proudly gleaming in the Drawing room.

My favourite object is… Mary Elizabeth’s harp.

Picture 150

The harp is know as an Erard Harp and was made in 1844  by Sebastian and Pierre Erard – hence the name!

It is unusual in that it has pedals on both sides. A visitor in June 1999 explained that a possible reason for the pedals is that the harp is tuned in C sharp and the pedals were used for the ‘hard and soft’ sounds. It also has coloured strings to denote the changes in the octaves.

Photo courtesy of Bridgend County Borough Council

Photo courtesy of Bridgend County Borough Council

Mary Elizabeth was said to be a wonderful harpist and was tutored by John Thomas. Mr Thomas was also tutor to Queen Victoria so it must have been quite something to have him come to Charlecote often.

Mary Elizabeth owned 3 harps – this is her third. Her first was a wedding gift given by her husband. I’ve never seen this harp but it is at Charlecote – in the private wing occupied by the current Fairfax-Lucy family.

You’ll find this harp in the Drawing room which is such a sumptuous room with gorgeous golden walls and an ornate ceiling. It glimmers beautifully! When you enter the room, if it is quiet, you’ll hear the gentle plucking of strings as we have a recording playing in the background. It helps me to visualise how Mary Elizabeth would have used the room and I long to take a seat on the tete-a-tete, lay back and listen to the music…

I’d love to know what your favourite object is. Please do share here or on our facebook page. Perhaps write a blog too and we can share it on here!

If Mary Elizabeth was here today I’m sure she’d say that Charlecote was one of her very special places. It certainly is one of mine and I’ve shared this with some of our colleagues who are collating stories of our special places on the National Trust facebook page. Have you added yours to the list yet?

Ruth, Administrator


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