End of play: Keyboard museum shuts down

The owners of Finchcock’s Musical Museum have let it be known they are shutting down and selling up.

Housed in a stately home in Kent, Finchock’s has one of the world’s finest concentrations of historic keyboard instruments.

But its owners, Katrina and Richard Burnett, are in their late 70s and ready to sell up. They will take some of the choice instruments to their new home and sell the rest at auction. The museum will shut on December 31.

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  • Sad but entirely predictable news. I have indelible memories of the Finchcocks Festival in its heyday – superb concerts and Katrina and Richard playing the perfect country house hosts. Happy days.

  • This is sad, and I am surprised that money has not been found to keep the collection together, even if not displayed at Finchcocks. Indeed, moving the whole collection to a different site could have been a great idea. Finchcocks was only open for 37 or 38 days per year, depending upon the date of Easter, and has always been difficult to visit without a car: a combination of two buses from Wadhurst station followed by a 2.8-mile walk, taking around 1 hour 50 minutes, and that is without considering getting to Wadhurst station. It would have been great to have seen the whole collection moved somewhere where it could have been viewed more frequently and which was more accessible to the wider public, rather than just to people in the south-east of England with access to a car.

  • So sad to hear this! We had an unforgettable visit there, exploring the beautiful instruments with Richard and Katrina, who so clearly loved the collection and the house and the visitors. I’m sorry that a way cannot be found to keep this meticulously chosen and maintained collection together for the benefit of keyboard buffs and music lovers everywhere.

  • Many, many happy days playing spent there, many hours recording spent there and many many drinks drunk there in the kitchen. Finchcocks has played a central role in my life as a player of historical instruments

  • This lovely couple supported so many of us kids as young performers starting out in our musical journeys. They even let me busk at their craft fairs! It will be sad to see the collection split up but understandable they’re ready to move on. I hope someone steps forward to offer it a home.

  • Its a deeply sad reflection on the state of our society. £25M was found practically overnight to restore – or arguably create a replica of – the Cutty Sark, and I remember being infuriated to discover that the National Trust expected to raise £10M to restore a pile of rotten timber that some past King once slept in. Finchcocks does not attract visitors by the million but it is an incredible, unique and priceless cultural asset. If the wonderful house and the collection could not be kept together then at least could not they not be separately rescued? Otherwise no doubt the house will become the repose of a football player and the instrument collection will be scattered to the winds and one more glorious example of what can be achieved with real passion and skill in the face of an uncaring world will be lost forever.

    • I think that separating the collection and house would be a sensible approach. While the combination of collection and house has earned celebrity under the present owners, I imagine that both collection and house could be better used if separated. The collection deserves to be held somewhere where it can be viewed frequently and conveniently, such as in London or another major city such as Birmingham or Manchester. It should be open at least 8 hours per day for at least 6 days per week throughout the year. The ideal arrangement would be for it to be held in a facility which includes a concert hall specially designed for performances on these historical keyboards, as well as other musical performances. As for the house, it could be restored as a typical Georgian house and opened as a stately home with gardens and a restaurant. My main concern, however, is for the collection, which should be kept together, displayed to the public, made available for scholarly research, and used for performances.

  • Sadly I’ve never made it to Finchcocks & now seem unlikely to, but a further irony surely that the closure announcement came on Nov 22 ($ Cecilia / Purcell / Britten).
    Might the Piano Miuseum at Brentford be worth liaising with, or are others ahead of me on this?

  • Je découvre ceci un an plus tard ! Quel souvenir émouvant de notre visite au Finchcock’s Musical Museum !
    Nous avons découvert ce château-musée et ses hôtes dans le cadre d’un voyage musical en Angleterre organisé par l’asbl Arts Croisés (www.artscroises.be), de Belgique.
    Beaucoup apprécié la compétence musicale et la qualité d’accueil de nos hôtes. Nous avons eu de la chance de les rencontrer. Tout ceci, dans un tel cadre de nature, nous a paru si merveilleusement british… Thank you.

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