Binks Gallery Tour – Virginals

A virginal is a smaller and simpler rectangular or polygonal form of harpsichord with only one string per note running more or less parallel to the keyboard on the long side of the case. Many, if not most, of the instruments were constructed without legs, and would be placed on a table for playing. Later models were built with their own stands.




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Maker Name: Lodewyk Theewes Date Made: Circa 1570 Made In: London, England Accession No: 4336
You can tell by the Tudor rose decoration that this keyboard dates back to the 16th century. The instrument was produced during the reign of the ‘Virgin Queen’, Elizabeth I, and is the oldest-surviving English virginal. Incorporating Latin mottos into artwork was both fashionable as well as a status symbol, as it was a ‘private’ language exclusive only to the privileged and educated.
Maker Name: Stephen Keene Date Made: 1668 Made In: London Accession No: 4308
This instrument was the height of 17th-century fashion in more ways than one. Its overall style suited a fashionable home and it was decorated with a painting of well-dressed ladies and gentlemen. The virginal’s tall stand also served a practical purpose. It allowed women wearing fashionable but cumbersome dresses to play the instrument standing up.
St Cecilia's Hall