Collection Description

Collection name Snowshill Manor
Unique identifier
Description Best known for the enormous and wide-ranging collections of its last owner, Charles Paget Wade (1883-1956), Snowshill Manor holds approximately 16,000 items. By no means a collection of random items, some very distinct categories exist within the collection, including costume, toys, clocks, and musical instruments.

There are perhaps 120 complete musical instruments at Snowshill Manor, as well as numerous detached parts. Most date from the nineteenth century, with the earliest being from approximately 1770 and the latest approximately 1915.

Stringed instruments consist of two violins, one described as “miniature”; three nineteenth-century cellos, one by John Wallis; a William Tarr double bass (approximately 1850); a late eighteenth-century mandolin; a late nineteenth-century banjo; four eighteenth-century citterns, one (Claus & Co.) keyed, two by John Preston; three Edward Light harp-lutes, and a dital harp; a lyre-guitar (approximately 1810); five harps (two by the Irish maker John Egan); two dulcimers, one by Antonio Battaglia (approximately 1770); two bowed zithers; and three hurdy-gurdies, one by Henri Thouvenel and another by J. Colson. Assorted pieces of stringed instruments include bows, bridges, and cases, which cannot be linked with any of the complete instruments.

Woodwind instruments are fourteen flutes (mostly “concert” flutes but also two “walking stick” flutes, a piccolo and some “folk” flutes), dating from 1770-1870, with makers including Sanguinetti, Richard Potter, Astor and H. Wrede; four early nineteenth-century clarinets by makers such as Cramer, James Wood, and Bauer; three oboes, all dated approximately 1800, by William Milhouse and Astor; three early nineteenth-century bassoons, made by Astor and Preston; four flageolets (two single, two double), one with case; a D’Almaine & Co. fife (1835); cornemuse bagpipes; and a bagpipe chanter. Assorted flute parts, a bassoon crook, clarinet reeds and a flageolet mouthpiece also exist in the collection.

The brass instruments at Snowshill Manor consist of four mid-nineteenth-century cornets, some with crooks, one with rotary valves; three bugles, two keyed; a Henry Smith slide trumpet (approximately 1840); a “tenor cor”, coiled with piston valves; two trompes de chasse; a trombone; a horn from a buccin; an alto saxhorn; a late nineteenth-century Ward baritone; four serpents, one made by F. Pretty; two ophicleides, one by D’Almaine & Co.; a coach horn; a toy trumpet; and an ox horn trumpet. There are also some assorted natural horn crooks, and some mouthpieces.

Percussion instruments are four side drums, dating from 1800-1915; four bass drums; one of a pair of cavalry timpani (eighteenth-century); two tambourines, by Benjamin Dale and Button & Purday; and a nineteenth-century triangle. A dozen assorted drumsticks also exist in the collection.

Other instruments are a late nineteenth-century clavichord, designed to impersonate an Aloysius Ventura instrument of 1533; a Longman square piano of approximately 1810; a late nineteenth-century American accordion; and a flutina with case. There are also assorted whistles, rattles and pitch pipes.

Besides European instruments, there is also a sizeable collection of world instruments at Snowshill Manor, from China (a drum, a flute, a sheng, and a dulcimer); Japan (a kotsuzumi, a shemedaiko, a sho, and a koto); India (two tablas, a horn, a shehnai, a sarod, and a sarinda); and Africa (a horn trumpet).

There is little printed music at Snowshill Manor, although that which exists supports the instrument collection. The largest amount of printed music relates to the flute and/or flageolet, and includes a “Flageolet preceptor” (1790), “The flutist’s catechism” (1829), and “Alexander’s new scrap book” (1850), containing a thousand tunes for flute, violin, or flageolet. There is also a very small amount of piano music, mostly consisting of Johann Strauss II waltzes.

More notable is Snowshill Manor’s large collection of musical manuscripts. A large proportion of these are manuscript antiphonals which contain musical notation. These nine items are variously dated from 1550 through to 1709, and originate from Italy, Germany and Spain. Another, dating from 1750, is a psalter which contains musical notation. Besides these volumes, there are four loose sheets containing similar content, which are framed in various locations around the Manor.

Four other music manuscripts, which have been dated to 1790, 1800, 1850 and 1872, have not had their contents described. Two of these belonged to Charles Spencer, who was Wade’s maternal grandfather.

There are few books on music in the collection. There are two books on the history and dating of musical instruments, although one of these postdates Wade’s death and cannot be indigenous. Other books include Edith K. Prideaux’s The carvings of musical instruments in Exeter cathedral church (1915); Eugénie Droz’s Poètes et musiciens du XVe siècle (1924); and Ifan Fletcher’s Music and books relating to music (1948).

Snowshill Manor contains a large number of photographs, some with their original glass negative plates, many of which are of Snowshill Manor itself. This includes several pictures of the Snowshill instruments, taken in the 1920s; some photographs of the manuscript antiphonals; and one picture of some children in costume actually playing some of the Snowshill instruments.

Amongst a sizeable collection of postcards featuring actresses, a number of singers are included, such as Gabrielle Ray, Marie Studholme, Phyllis Dare, and Edna May.

Mechanical music devices at Snowshill Manor include a street barrel piano, with two music rolls; a John Fentum barrel organ (approximately 1800), with one barrel; a Gerock barrel organ (approximately 1810), with four barrels; two musical boxes; and two mechanical toys with drummers. There are also a small number of detached and incomplete music box and gramophone mechanisms.

Other musical items include music stands; models and toys of musicians, including two complete sets of military band toy soldiers; some of Charles Paget Wade’s own drawings, including some sketches of his own instruments; a radio; and a mahogany
“notation board” designed to assist blind people in musical composition.

All items are listed on Printed and manuscript items are additionally catalogued on Jisc Library Hub Discover, and most instruments also appear on

Jonathan Frank, June 2020

Printed music
Manuscript music
Playback devices
Date range -
Associated People and Organisations Wade, Charles Paget - John Wallis - William Tarr - Claus and Co. - Preston, John - Light, Edward - John Egan - Antonio Battaglia - Henri Thouvenel - J. Colson - Sanguinetti - Richard Potter - Astor - H. Wrede - Cramer, J.B. & Co. - James Wood - Bauer - Milhouse, William - DAlmaine and Co. - Henry Smith - Ward - F. Pretty - Dale, Benjamin James - Button and Purday - Aloysius Ventura - Longman, John - Strauss, Johann II - Charles Spencer - Edith K. Prideaux - Eugénie Droz - Ifan Fletcher - Gabrielle Ray - Marie Studholme - Phyllis Dare - May, Edna - John Fentum - Gerock -
Associated Places
Associated Times 16th Century 17th Century 18th Century 19th Century 20th Century
Associated Content Violin Violoncello Double bass Mandolin Cittern Harp Dulcimer Zither Flute Clarinet Oboe Bassoon Flageolet Bagpipes Serpent Ophicleide Clavichord Piano Accordion Instruments Piano music Religious music Organology Barrel organ Musical box Banjo Drum Harp-lute Hurdy-gurdy Fife Cornet Bugle Trumpet Horn Trombone Buccin Saxhorn Baritone
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National Trust, Snowshill Manor

Snowshill near Broadway WR12 7JU Open Map
Building Information Snowshill Manor is a Cotswold manor house packed with extraordinary treasures collected over a lifetime by Charles Wade.
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