Collection Description

Collection name Calke Abbey
Unique identifier
Description The Harpur Crewe family, Calke’s occupants for nearly 300 years, were keen collectors of all disciplines. While Calke Abbey has perhaps one of the largest music collections of any National Trust property, even this is dwarfed in comparison to its collections of natural history, books, furniture and paintings. A visit to Calke Abbey today presents these collections in situ, as they were upon the National Trust’s acquisition of the property in 1985, in a somewhat disarrayed state. As such, the collections are still not entirely catalogued. Speaking of the music collection alone, Mark Purcell and Nicola Thwaite observe that “until the current project to catalogue the Calke books has penetrated into the furthest recesses of the house, it is not clear how much of this still survives, but probably much of it does.” A catalogue of the music collection as it was at the time of Sir Henry Crewe, 7th Baronet Harpur (1763-1819) is kept at Derbyshire Record Office (reference D2375/M/287/38).

Calke Abbey’s undoubted musical treasure is its Haydn manuscript, “Two Marches Composed by J. Haydn M.D. for Sir Henry Harpur Bart.” Commissioned by Sir Henry Harpur Crewe, one of these marches is in Haydn’s hand, while the other is in the hand of his copyist Johan Elssler. These manuscripts, along with related items, are currently on loan to Derbyshire Record Office. Additional material includes a printed edition of these marches, along with the original copper plates used for printing this edition; family letters regarding the marches’ commissioning and use; and a George Grove letter discussing the marches.

Printed music in the Calke collection, of which approximately 700 items are currently catalogued, mostly dates from the nineteenth century, with some outliers dating back to the mid-eighteenth century. All items are indigenous to the property, and approximately half have ownership markings to various members of the Harpur Crewe family, whose distinct musical tastes can be distinguished by the items bearing their inscriptions. Family members with music in the library include Lady Frances Greville, Lady Harpur (1744-1825) (mid-eighteenth-century piano music); the aforementioned Sir Henry Harpur Crewe (vocal music and glees, late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries); his wife Anne “Nanette” Hawkins, Lady Crewe (1765/6-1827) (late eighteenth-century English comic opera); Sir John Gardner Wilkinson (1797-1875) (early- to mid-nineteenth-century opera and national music); Georgiana Stanhope Lovell, Lady Crewe (1824-1910) (late nineteenth-century hymn books); Sir John Harpur Crewe (1824-1886) (early- and mid-eighteenth-century songs); Mary Adeline Crewe (1834-1930) (late nineteenth-century piano music); Hilda Ethelfreda Harpur Crewe (1877-1949) (late nineteenth-century light songs); and Airmyne Catherine Harpur Crewe (1882-1958) (late nineteenth-century piano duets). Amongst the items without ownership markings are large quantities of piano music and piano duets (late nineteenth century).

Whilst the aforementioned printed music items are typical of an amateur music-making family, some more uncommon items are also present which distinguish this collection from many others in the National Trust. Perhaps most striking are the complete orchestral and band sets of parts. Examples of these complete sets include Johann Baptist Vanhal’s The periodical overture (1780); Haydn’s A favorite overture (1790); Peter von Winter’s 1st set of twelve military marches; and Henry Pick’s A set of military divertisments (both approximately 1800). A number of single orchestral parts from this era also exist, usually being string parts but occasionally from other sections of the orchestra.

Some of the printed music in the collection can be closely tied to some of the instruments that remain. “Information for playing the accordion” (1831), inscribed with the name of Sir George Crewe (1795-1844), was almost certainly purchased to accompany the nineteenth-century accordion which still resides at Calke Abbey. There is a notable absence of any further accordion music which perhaps suggests that this self-teaching endeavour was not successful. Likewise, the approximately twenty items of music that feature the guitar all date from the mid- to late-eighteenth century, which dates match closely the English guitar in Calke’s instrument collection.

A small amount of manuscript music, besides the Haydn, also exists in the collection. Of particular interest is a twelve-page manuscript of various pieces for clarinet and keyboard, which, if the posited date of 1780 is accurate, would make this a relatively early source of clarinet music. Other manuscripts include a collection of Handel music that possibly dates from Handel’s lifetime; “Neapolitan boat song” (approximately 1880); and violin teaching music in the hand of Sir John Gardner Wilkinson, which, according to National Trust Collections, “probably dates from Wilkinson's later years at Brynfield when he learned the violin.”

The musical patronage of some members of the Harpur Crewe family is clear in the collection. Organist John Alcock worked locally, and his 1791 Harmonia festi lists Sir Henry Harpur Crewe (the aforementioned commissioner of the Haydn marches) as a subscriber. He is also listed as a subscriber in “A selection of original Scots songs in three parts” (1795). From the nineteenth century, a collection of programmes from the Derby Musical Festival lists Sir George Crewe as a patron in 1825 and a vice-president in 1828. Other local concert programmes include a programme for a 1957 production of The Mikado in Melbourne, Derbyshire.

Calke Abbey has a wealth of instruments, in varying conditions. These include three grand pianos (Mott, 1821; Erard, 1869; and Broadwood, 1872/3); an undated Adam Beyer square piano; a Burkat Shudi harpsichord (1741); four organs (unsigned chamber organ, approximately 1750; unsigned barrel organ, approximately 1790; Flight & Robson barrel organ, undated; W. Doherty & Co. pedal organ, 1897); the aforementioned mid-nineteenth century accordion; a J. H. Bou & Co. banjo (approximately 1900); the aforementioned English guitar or cittern (1760s); a Donatus Filano mandolin from 1761, owned by Sir Henry Harpur Crewe; percussion including a gong with hammer, three pairs of clash cymbals, castanets, a tambourine and tubular bells; an early nineteenth-century crystallophone; two gramophones; two musical boxes; and a music stand.

Calke Abbey’s fine collection of paintings features only a few with musical connections. Of local interest is John Gelder’s 1876 painting of a procession, with musicians, into the town of Melbourne. Other musical paintings include “A man playing a flute”, “A musical jester”, and “The tax collector”, all seventeenth-century and unsigned.

Staunton Harold Church, located nearby, is managed by staff at Calke Abbey, but is considered a separate National Trust property. This Church does contain some musical items, which are described in a separate Cecilia entry.

Most items are listed on, although this database is wanting records for some of the printed music. All music is listed on Jisc Library Hub Discover. Most instruments are also on, and all the artworks may be viewed on

Jonathan Frank, April 2020

Manuscript music
Printed music
Private papers/diaries/letters
Concert programmes
Playback devices
Date range -
Associated People and Organisations Sir Henry Crewe 1763 - 1819 Haydn, Joseph - Elssler, Johann - Grove, George - Frances Greville 1744 - 1825 Anne Hawkins - 1827 Sir John Gardner Wilkinson 1797 - 1875 Georgiana Stanhope Lovell 1824 - 1910 Sir John Harpur Crewe 1824 - 1886 Mary Adeline Crewe 1834 - 1930 Hilda Ethelfreda Harpur Crewe 1877 - 1949 Airmyne Catherine Harpur Crewe 1882 - 1958 Vanhal, Johann Baptist - Peter von Winter - Henry Pick - Sir George Crewe 1795 - 1844 Handel, George Frideric - Derby Musical Festival - Isaac Mott - Erard, harp manufacturers - Broadwood, John - Adam Beyer - Shudi, Berkat - Flight & Robson - William Doherty - J. H. Bou & Co. - Filano, Donato - John Gelder -
Associated Places Staunton Harold Church
Associated Times 18th Century 19th Century 20th Century
Associated Content Piano music Vocal music Opera Songs Piano duet Festival Accordion Guitar Guitar music Cittern Sacred music Piano Harpsichord Organ Mandolin Bells Dulcimer Gramophone Musical box Marches Overtures Banjo
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National Trust, Calke Abbey

Ticknall Derby DE73 7JF Open Map
Building Information The un-stately home and country estate.
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For details of other collections held at the same location: See the location record

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