Collection Description

Collection name Carlyle's House
Unique identifier
Description Carlyle’s House was the London home of writers Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) and Jane Welsh Carlyle (1801-1866). Its star musical item is its upright piano, which is indigenous to the house and belonged to Jane, having been brought to London from Jane's mother's house in 1842. This piano was certainly played by Chopin, an acquaintance of the well-connected Thomas Carlyle, with Jane Carlyle writing in 1848, "But I went to hear Chopin too - once in private and once at a morning concert and Chopin has been here!! I never heard the piano played before - could not have believed the capabilities that lie in it..." This piano is depicted in Robert Scott Tait's 1857/1858 painting of the Carlyles at home, "A Chelsea interior", which hangs above the piano in the House; and in a pen and ink sketch which served as an illustration for the House's original guide book.

The sheet music collection, of approximately 80 items in binder's volumes, predominantly bears Jane's ownership inscriptions, and mostly dates from the first two decades of the nineteenth century, prior to her marriage. The repertoire includes Scottish airs, arrangements from opera, a large number of piano variations, and a piano tutor. A handful of these are for piano duet, or piano with obligato instrumental accompaniment. One item which can definitively linked to Thomas Carlyle is John Stuart Blackie's Musa burschicosa (1869), inscribed to Carlyle by its author.

Amongst the books is Charles Burney's The present state of music in Germany, the Netherlands and United provinces (1775).

Most items are listed on, with printed items being additionally catalogued on Jisc Library Hub Discover. The piano is a long-term loan to the National Trust from a descendent of the Carlyles, and as such is not listed on any public databases.

Printed music
Date range -
Associated People and Organisations Thomas Carlyle 1795 - 1881 Jane Welsh Carlyle 1801 - 1866 Chopin, Fryderyk - Robert Scott Tait - John Stuart Blackie - Burney, Charles -
Associated Places
Associated Times 19th Century
Associated Content Piano Piano music Opera Piano duet Piano teaching Songs Music history and theory
Star Item(s)
Further details
Viewing the Collection
Visiting information

Location details

National Trust, Carlyle's House

24 Cheyne Row Chelsea SW3 5HL Open Map
Building Information The Chelsea home of a Victorian literary couple.
Collections Overview
Display Overview
Star Objects
For details of other collections held at the same location: See the location record

Additional Collection Information

Accrual Status
Legal Status
Custodial History
Related Publications
Management Information (Type)
Collection Owner(s)
Collection Creator(s)
Collection Custodians(s)

Help with Searching