Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
MusicPart of Humanities

At home with Music - Tatton Park in sound

Published: 12 December 2011
Tatton Park afternoon performance

Researchers from Music at Southampton have teamed up with scholars and performers from the Royal Northern College of Music for a series of events at Tatton Park, one of the North West’s most wonderful National Trust stately homes. Performances have highlighted pieces from Tatton's extensive music collection, heard in the house for the first time in over two hundred years.

Tatton Park figures prominently in a long-term Southampton research project on domestic music-making, led by Professor Jeanice Brooks and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the National Trust and Cheshire East Council (who administer Tatton Park on behalf of the Trust). As part of her work on the project, Southampton PhD student Leena Rana researched and selected vocal music from the Tatton Park collection for young professional singers from the RNCM, who included it in a series of afternoon performances in the house during its special Christmas opening in the week of 5 December. The RNCM's Professor Richard Wistreich, Dean of Research and director of the College's new Historical Performance programme, worked with the singers on performance styles for the music, which included pieces with manuscript ornamentation added by the original owners of the scores and reflecting singing lessons that took place at the close of the eighteenth century.

The performances, which were open to members of the public visiting the house, were intended to evoke the style of ‘home entertainment’ enjoyed by the landed gentry in the late eighteenth and early nineteeth centuries. Tatton Park (which features as ‘Cumnor Towers’ in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford and Wives and Daughters) was home to the Egerton famiily. Elizabeth Sykes, who married her cousin Wilbraham Egerton in 1806, brought with her the foundation of an extensive collection of music, still to be found in more than 50 volumes in their original bindings on the shelves of the house’s magnificent Music Room. The collection contains a huge range of music of all kinds – ranging from oratorio arias to comic songs, piano arrangements of excerpts from the latest operas to nursery rhymes – reflecting her eclectic tastes and those of her close family.

In addition to the afternoon performances, on 8 December the RNCM and Southampton teams put on a study day on domestic music making. The day began with presentations of the house and its music library, and culminated in a performance workshop open to the public, led by Professor Wistreich and using Tatton’s original 1789 harpsichord and early 19th-century square piano for accompaniment. Over five hundred visitors touring the house heard portions of the workshop, during which the singers experienced what it is like to perform in the kind of space in which much of the eighteenth-century music they know was originally heard, and Southampton researchers heard the music they have been studying brought to life in sound.

Southampton PhD student Leena Rana researching Music from the Tatton Park collection
PhD student Leena Rana
Privacy Settings