Sunday 3 May 2015

Broadway and Bechstein, again

This afternoon we walked across to Shugborough. We've visited parts of it before and walked in the grounds, but never been in the house itself. It was a nice enough afternoon for the canal traffic to be stirring.

The confluence of the Rivers Saw and Trent showed a fair bit of water running – a happy sight for one who wants to get up the Caldon canal in a month's time.

The dog kept retrieving its ball from the river, and seemed to be enjoying the exercise.

You walk into the grounds across this old bridge – a sort of single track with passing places.

About wide enough for a pack-horse. They had to build a new bridge further downstream when the gentry wanted to use a carriage.

The original expansion of house and estate seems to have been financed from the proceeds of capturing a Spanish treasure ship worth about £130m in today's dosh. The original building was apparently suitable for a country gentleman but not for a titled family expected to play their part in society.

The house was home to the Lichfield family, with Patrick Lichfield (the Earl) living there until his early death last decade. While a lot of it is done out in conventional National Trust style with period furniture and so on, there is also a good deal relating specifically to Patrick Lichfield's work as a photographer, and some stunning exhibition areas. His relationship with camera maker Olympus was captured in this sculpture which appealed to my best beloved.

It's always my hope, when we visit such properties, to find a couple of pianos, and Shugborough did not disappoint. On the ground floor was this Broadwood fortepiano, though I couldn't see the date.

Upstairs was a Beckstein. Upon enquiry the lady guarding it said that people who said they could play were allowed to do so – she obviously reserved the right to stand judgment after they'd started. So I sat down and enjoyed myself at the keyboard for a while.

It had a softer touch than some of the Bechsteins I've encountered in other NT houses, and was a pleasure to play. My best beloved was going to take of photo of me doing so from across the room. This being the first time she'd used my new camera, I didn't make it sufficiently clear which button was the shutter release, and we ended up with a movie complete with sound! I decided that ought not to be released into the blogosphere.


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