21 March 2018
Having housed one of the finest collections of historic keyboard instruments in the world, it's back in business!
When the famous piano museum at Finchcocks closed its doors at the end of 2015, it was a sad day for all. But now, after a sensitive programme of renovation, a new musical venture is being launched to offer first class piano tuition for adults.
Finchcocks was originally built in 1725 as the country seat for the Bathurst family. In the Second World War it played host to soldiers and evacuated school children, before being used in the 60s as a ballet school. But it is as a piano museum that most people will remember it. In 2015 the museum closed its doors after operating for nearly half a century, during which time it made a name for itself as one of the world’s finest collections of historic keyboard instruments.
Many feared that the 18th century manor house would be taken over by developers and the music would come to an abrupt stop, but the new owners have just announced plans to continue the music at Finchcocks, with parts of the house being used to host piano courses for adults of all abilities.
As well as restoring the main house, the owners have carefully renovated the adjacent Coach House, retaining and incorporating the period features into the interior design of the boutique hotel style accommodation to be used by guests of the piano school.
In the main house, the 18th century vaulted cellars have been converted into spacious piano practice rooms each containing a grand piano.
Neil Nichols, who is the new owner, grew up nearby and visited the famous Finchcocks Piano Museum 25 years ago on a school trip. He says fondly:
‘I distinctly remember the school minibus navigating the hairpin bends as it trundled through Goudhurst, and then a magical day spent amongst the spinets and clavichords. 25 years later, whilst still having piano lessons, I noticed the Finchcocks auction brochure on the lid of my tutor’s piano… It’s fantastic to be able to continue the musical legacy at Finchcocks. A lot of people learn the piano growing up, but barely touch a piano as an adult. We hope that our weekend courses will re-inspire lapsed pianists and help them rediscover their love of the piano.’
Neil and Harriet Nichols moved in with their two young sets of twins in autumn 2016, with the idea of using the house both as a family home and as a venue for piano courses, with the cellars, North Wing and Coach House being used for the piano school.
The intensive weekend piano courses at Finchcocks include workshop sessions, masterclasses and private tuition. In between classes, guests will be able to practice on one of the nine grand pianos which have been selected to give students the chance to play on a broad range of modern grand pianos, including a Bösendorfer, Blüthner and Grotrian-Steinweg.
In the evenings, there is a recital that typically explores the work of a particular composer or genre, followed by dinner cooked by an in-house chef served in the Coach House. The accommodation looks pretty impressive too!
Previous owners, Katrina Burnett, commented on the new venture:
‘Richard and I are so pleased that Neil and Harriet have bought Finchcocks, and we’re delighted that they’ve found a way to continue the musical tradition at Finchcocks. Meanwhile, 14 of the instruments from the original Finchcocks collection now form part of the Richard Burnett Heritage Collection which are housed in a new purpose built musical faculty in Tunbridge Wells’
Finchcocks will be offering courses for beginners, intermediate and advanced students. Courses are limited in availability, with only eight students at a time and one course per month. All details below.
Visit Finchcocks for full details.
Tel: 01580 428080