Agatha Christie was a trained (but very shy) concert pianist, who regularly played privately on her Steinway in the Drawing Room of her holiday home, Greenway, now cared for by the National Trust. This piano travelled with her to London when Greenway was requisitioned during the Second World War, where it survived a bombing raid. It’s now beloved of volunteers and visitors alike, who regularly perform on the Steinway Boudoir Grand Piano, which dates back to the late 1800s. This summer it has fallen silent whilst specialist conservation work is carried out, to ensure that it continues to fill the house with the sound of music for years to come.
Work began on Monday 23 July, when Jeff Clamp, Restorer and Tuner of Antique and Modern Keyboards, began the project with an audience of visitors. Jeff described the work he was doing: ‘I’m taking away the workings of the piano – pedals, action and dampers. I will totally strip them down to their component parts and rebuild, replacing any damaged parts with authentic replacements, while trying to keep as much of the original as possible. It’s a good quality piano and it’s always nice to work on pianos like that. I aim to have it finished by Agatha’s birthday.’
While this work is going on, visitors can still see the body of the piano in the Drawing Room at Greenway. The work should take about two months, seeing the piano fully restored just in time for the anniversary of Agatha Christie’s birthday on 15 September. The project has received some very kind donations, which are covering over half of the cost. House and Collections Manager for the National Trust at Greenway, Elaine Ward, explained ‘Every time a visitor steps through the door, they are helping to look after Greenway. The money we raise here is used to care for the house, garden and all of the collections, including the Steinway piano. Hearing it being played is something our visitors love; the sound carries throughout the house and really brings it to life. We’re pleased to be able to have this wonderful item restored so that it can continue to be loved for many years to come.’
To see Agatha Christie’s piano and explore her holiday home, Greenway, call 01803 842382 or visit the website to book a parking space.