Welcome to

Friends of Square Pianos!

This is a sort of on-line club for anyone who owns, or would like to own, a square piano, or possibly a spinet. Or anyone who is just interested, possibly to learn a little more.


Please get in touch with me, David, on friends.sp@btinternet.com with questions, comments, or just to say 'Hello'.  This is a site for everyone, especially those new to the world of Square Pianos.  And of course, we very much appreciate the support of those with more experience.


Update 11th March


Opening of the Carolina Music Museum



1789 Stodart Grand at Gardiner Houlgate


A Volunteering Opportunity

at the Horniman Museum



Chelveston 2018 - Full House



Opening of the Carolina Music Museum 

Tuesday March 27th

It is encouraging to report that the Carolina Music Museum will be formally opening on  Tuesday March 27th.  We wish the museum every success for the future, and I know that all Friends who are able will be sure to visit and take part in the events.  The museum has a splendid website which is now active  


1789 Stodart at Gardiner Houlgate


  This beautiful and historic grand by Robert Stodart appeared at the auction at Gardiner Houlgate on Friday 9th March.

  Robert Stodart was a student of John Broadwood, and was involved with Americus Backers in the development of the English grand action.  In 1775 or 1775 he moved to Wardour Street, and in 1777 received a patent for a combined harpsichord and piano with a swell pedal.  The earliest known piano by him is dated 1784, and apart from the 1772 Backers is the earliest known English grand.   

Pictures by and by courtesy of Gardiner Houlgate Ltd

     The estimate was £3,500 - £5,500; thee hammer-price realised was over the top estimate, at £6,200.

A Volunteering Opportunity 

at the Horniman Museum

Two of the instruments recently acquired by the Horniman Museum, The Guarracino virginals and the Beyer sqaure piano, are soon to be restored, and there is an opportunity for a volunteer to assist with this work.  Futher details are in the attached PDF.

Anyone who wishes to be considered should apply with a covering letter and CV to volunteering@horniman.ac.uk by 4pm on Thursday 22nd March 2018

Adobe Acrobat document [142.9 KB]

Chelveston 2018 - Saturday 7th April

  Planning for our party is going well, and we are pleased to announce that Alexandra Cade will be joining us from the USA to make a presentation about amateur-made pianos in America 1790 - 1810.  These were important at a time when there were few imports, and the local industry was only just getting established.  The pianos show a variety of influences, particularly from Germany and England, and a surprising number have survived.


 There's more about Alexandra on the Spinet Page.


 Please see the Chelveston 2018 page for details.  The event is now  fully-booked. 

Important Events in 2018

27th MARCH


Opening of the Carolina Music Museum.



7th APRIL 


Friends of Square Pianos' Party "Chelveston 2018" 

with special Guest Derek Adlam.



Opening of the New Finchcocks in Tunbridge Wells



Sale of the Colt Collection


We are hoping to arrange a special Preview Party for Friends of Square Pianos.

On the Sale Page - Érard 1821

This piano remarkable for its beautiful ormolu brass decoration.  

See the Instruments for Sale page for details.

Carolina Music Museum to open in Greenville, SC, Spring 2018

 Recent years have seen some sad changes in the musical collections in the UK.  Richard and Katrina Burnett decided that the time had come for them to 'downsize', and consequently Finchcocks closed, and much of the collection has been sold.  Barbara Lore Colt died, some of the Colt Collection has been sold, and its future seems uncertain.  Musical instruments no longer have a place in the plans of the V&A, and although some of the instruments have gone to the Horniman Museum, many are in indefinite storage.  Additionally, the private collection of Christopher Hogwood has been dispersed following his death.  All this is against a background of declining musical education in state schools, which makes it more difficult for most young people to become actively involved.


  So it is very refreshing to announce a splendid new Initiative in the United States, the founding of the Carolina Music Museum in Greenville, SC, due to open in  the Spring of 2018.  

This owes much to the efforts and enthusiasm of our Friends Tom and Debra Strange; Tom is seen in the above picture on a recent visit to the UK, inspecting (with a feline advisor) the action of a rare 1774 square piano by Weber.  

Tom Strange has had a life-long interest in early keyboards beginning in the 1970s and including building and playing harpsichords and restoring early pianos. That interest built enormously with the advent of the internet and the ability to connect with people all over the world. The first antique instrument entered his collection over twenty years ago, and was followed by others over the years.

 Ultimately the collection grew into something that seemed appropriate to share with the public. With continuing visits to his house by students and professionals from all over the world, it suggested that a more permanent home for the collection might make sense. A splendid use of the collection for the 2017 HKSNA conference last May made it clear that having it in a dedicated, climate controlled space would be a requirement for the instrumentsto be used with an eye toward conservation and limited disruption.

  After a three year search and several dead ends, the museum now has a lease on an ideal building in Greenville SC, set on the campus of Heritage Green, and home to the Upcountry History Museum, Greenville County Museum of Art, The Children’s Museum, and others, with state of the art climate control, security, and ADA compliant facilities. There will be an office, performance and display space in the roughly 8000 square foot facility set on a campus-like green space, with ready access to parking and within easy walking distance of all the museums as well as downtown Greenville.

  The first show will be titled ‘Facing South: Keyboard Instruments in the Early Carolinas’ with a projected opening date of late March, 2018. The show will highlight twenty-seven selected instruments that have been associated with music in the Carolinas from 1700 to 1860, either by repute or using instruments that have been here since they were new. However the museum must be more than early keyboards, and while the opening show is being mounted and begins running, work continues in the background on additional projects to bring other instruments and important southern ethnomusicology interests to the Carolina Music Museum.

  The core of the museum will always be the early keyboard collection, with a mission to help emerging musicians and seasoned professionals understand the critical ability of the historic keyboard to bring forward the actual intent of the composers who knew them and composed from them. 

There is now a permanent new page 'Carolina Music Museum' on the website, where updates and details of the collection will be posted as they become available.

Making a Spinet

  Some of you may have been following the construction - starting from a pile of wood - of this replica of a remarkable and important instrument.  The spinet is now complete and playing well, and has gone to its new home in Scotland.    

 Please see the Spinet Page for the story.

The Spinet Page

  We all love those beautiful English Spinets, and now they have a Page of their own, where I hope to encourage interest, ownership, and amateur makers.

Square Piano Tech

Please take time to visit our sister website www.squarepianotech.com  This is run by our Friend Tom Strange in America, and is rapidly growing into a treasure-store of permanent wisdom.  

About the 'Webmaster' (David Hackett)

My only claim to respectability is that Carl Dolmetsch once offered to take me on as an apprentice.  This was in 1962, when I had just shown him my first clavichord, and been his guest at Haslemere.  However, he also advised me that it would be better to go to University, and I accepted his advice.  Early Keyboard Instruments have therefore remained a hobby, and now happily retired, I am able to spend a bit more time enjoying them - and encouraging others, I hope..

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© David Hackett