Charles van Raalte

The musical instruments on display at Dean Castle, Kilmarnock, were collected at the end of the 19th century by Charles van Raalte of Brownsea, Dorset. His daughter, Margherita, married the 8th Lord Howard de Walden and, although several of her father's instruments were sold after his death, she brought many of the most historically important examples to Dean Castle. For certain types of instruments this is one of the most important collections in the world. In particular, there are examples from the lute family, some of which are very old, especially fine and well preserved. These date from as early as 1570, several being products of famous instrument makers of their time. The tops are made of maple wood and the backs are usually wholly or partly of ivory, which is also used in the elaborate decoration found on several instruments.  For their quality and significance, our collection of historical musical instruments has been recognised by Museums Galleries Scotland as a Nationally Significant Collection.               .

Keyboard instruments are represented by a variety of miniature types - which include very early, rare and outstanding pieces. There are several spinets and organs, an early clavichord and an unusual folding harpsichord. Ladies used the smaller ones for home amusement and are particularly finely decorated. In the case of the clavichord and of a mechanical spinet, the instruments are constructed to form musical jewellery boxes. 

The Van Raalte collection includes many other interesting and unusual instruments - miniature viols, early ivory recorders, flutes, harps and drums. 

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