Harp Renovation underway at Pilgrim Harps

Work has started to repair the Erard Grecian harp from our collection.

The instrument was transported to the Pilgrim Harps workshop in Surrey before Christmas, following our Crowdfunder campaign to raise money for its restoration.

John Hoare from Pilgrim Harps has been keeping in touch about the progress of the repairs and has sent us a series of photographs showing their process with our harp.

The work underway is to:

  • Dismantle harp – you can see the separate elements being assessed and cared for in these photos
  • Remake the pillar base plate
  • Do repairs to pedal box – they have found that this was badly affected by woodworm
  • Fit steel to pillar support remount pillar
  • Remount the neck to the body
  • Clean and oil mechanics
  • Full service, rebind pedals and rods, clean pedals
  • Install a set of 19c strings & Grecian wires

The harp will be returned to us in time for our Summer Festival where it will be played for the first time during a series of presentations and performances on Saturday 1 July. The concert tickets were one of the main prizes in the Crowdfunder campaign and those original pledgers will be coming along. If you would like to know more about these events, sign up for our mailing list here…

Sebastian Erard was born in Strasbourg on 5th April 1752. He moved to Paris in 1768 to explore the fundamentals of instrument making, and it soon became apparent that he was a genius at finding ways around mechanical problems. In 1792 he opened a factory in Great Marlborough Street, London where he made several patented advances in harp technology.

Finally, in June 1810, after eight years of working on it, Sebastian Erard patented the double-action harp with seven pedals (number 3332). This is regarded by most people as the date of the invention of the concert harp. The instrument had one pedal for each note. It is reported that Erard did not undress for three months before his harp was finished, snatching meals with pencil in hand and sleeping for an hour now and again. This is the type of harp that was brought to Hospitalfield in the middle of the 1800s for Elizabeth Allan Fraser to play.