Morpeth's Chantry bagpipe museum, whilst
not quite unique, must be one of the UK's most unusual museums. Its
purpose is to be not only an interesting tourist attraction, and a
magnet for the true bagpipe enthusiast, but to preserve and maintain
interest and development in piping, along with its associated
cultures. Special emphasis is given, not unnaturally, to the
Northumbrian Small Pipes, the unique local instrument of
Northumberland. To that end, the Museum's accommodation is a regular
venue for performance, discussion, workshops, lectures and lessons,
all with a Northumbrian flavour.
The collection at the Black Gate,
Newcastle upon Tyne
The original collection of bagpipes belonged to William Alfred
Cocks, a member of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon
Tyne, and himself an amateur pipe maker and performer. This
collection, augmented with many other artefacts, books and
manuscripts related to bagpipes and piping was housed in the Black
Gate and on display for 15 years until concerns over the long term
storage and preservation of the collection precipitated a move to
more suitable premises in Morpeth's Chantry in the mid 1980s. The
museum was officially opened in 1987 by HRH Princess Margaret.
The Museum at Morpeth
The Bagpipe museum is most attractively housed in a
spacious, uncluttered upper floor of the Chantry building.
Most unusually, visitors are able not only to see the exhibits,
but to hear many of them too, using the museum's infra-red
sound system*. The visitor, wearing special headphones supplied by the
museum, can hear a sound-clip of the exhibit currently in
view. A move to another exhibit automatically causes the
appropriate change in the music heard. This simple but
effective system breathes life into the now extended
collection of instruments.
The Chantry - © 2011 MorpethNet