FOR the first time visitors to the State Rooms of Tabley House can hear its historical English Virginal being played.

At the press of a button visitors can delight in the sound of this remarkable instrument which dates from 1671.

Short extracts of music from a previous recital on the instrument have been carefully put together to demonstrate its beauty and versatility for everyone.

“We hope this will enhance each visitor’s enjoyment of this wonderful instrument and help them imagine the times when the Leicester family would have gathered round as it was played,” said Gill Dent, Collection Manager.

Tabley’s English Virginal is an early member of the harpsichord family.

This means its strings are plucked rather than struck with a hammer as happens with a modern piano.

The name virginal is thought to originate from the Latin word for ‘rod’ (virga), which refers to the plucking mechanism at the end of the key.

Traditionally the box-like virginals were decorated with paintings, and Tabley’s is typical of this, being decorated with an English park scene and English fruits and flowers.

For visitors who would like to hear the Virginal, the Tabley House Collection and State Rooms are open to the public from April to October, Thursday through to Sunday from 1pm until 5pm. The last day of the 2019 season is Sunday, October 27.