Major Benton Fletcher
Hidden away in a typical Bloomsbury street is a house belonging to history, Old Devonshire House, bought by Major Benton Fletcher , artist, historian, and musician, who has presented this relic of the eighteenth century to the National Trust, to be preserved for ever.
In last week's Radio TIMES 'The
Broadcasters ' gave a sketch of the history of the house, which was built for the gay Lord Cavendish in 1667 and occupied by him until he was created Marquess of Hartington and Duke of Devonshire in 1694. From cellar to roof there is a secret shaft running up it, which once concealed Lord Russell, who made his escape through it and an underground tunnel. Panelling is there—punctured in one place by darts thrown by tenement occupants in the twentieth century.
In the old kitchen, which was used as a forge before Major Fletcher bought the house, the Devonshire Singers sing madrigals from time to time ; and in almost every room there is an eighteenth-century harpsichord, bought by Major Fletcher, to say nothing of virginals dating back to the time of Queen Elizabeth.
Presented by Lionel Salter
The first of a series of occasional visits to famous collections of musical instruments: today the Benton Fletcher Collection at Fenton House, Hampstead. LIONEL SALTER talks to restorer, ANDREW GARRETT; keeper, MAURICE COCHRANE; Surveyor of The Queen s Works of Art, GEOFFREY be BELLAIGUE; and harpsichordist TREVOR PINNOCK, who demonstrates some of the instruments and performs Handel's Suites in D minor (1733) and E major (1720) on a harpsichord by Hans Ruckers.
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