RNCM Collection of Historic Musical Instruments

The RNCM Collection of Historic Musical Instruments comprises in excess of 300 instruments (European wind, strings and keyboard; Non-European wind, strings and percussion)

These include a number of keyboards by Broadwood; viols by Barak Norman and Collingwood; violins by Stradivarius and Guarnerius together with some wind instruments from the 18th and early 19th centuries.

The collection is essentially an amalgamation of two collections originally assembled by Dr Henry Watson (1846-1911), and a smaller collection by Josiah Thomas Chapman (1843-1907).

A Catalogue of the Collection, which was shortlisted for the 2012 C B Oldman Prize (for 2010 imprints), was compiled by the eminent bassoonist William Waterhouse and is available in print. For details on how to purchase a copy, see below.

Location of the Collection

The Collection is located in the basement of the Library part of the College building (to the left of the main entrance on Booth Street West). It can be accessed using the staircase behind the Box Office or by the lift situated opposite the RNCM Library. Please note that outside advertised opening hours access is restricted.

Opening Times 







Thursday 26

12noon – 1pm

RNCM Baroque Ensemble


Thursday 3

6 – 7.15pm

RNCM Symphony Orchestra


Monday 4

12.30 – 1.45pm

RNCM Together

Thursday 7

12noon – 1pm

RNCM Percussion Ensemble

Thursday 7

5 – 6pm

RNCM Brass Band

Thursday 14

12noon – 1pm

RNCM Concert Orchestra

Tuesday 19

6 – 7.15pm

A4 Brass Quartet

Thurday 21

12.45 – 1.45pm

Gilbert & Gorb

We regret that the instrument collection will not be open to visitors as advertised during the Piano Day. We apologise for any inconvenience.

The Catalogue of the Collection of Historic Musical Instruments

The catalogue of the Collection, compiled by William Waterhouse, is available in print, priced £40. Illustrated throughout with colour photos of most of the instruments and other artefacts, this is the first printed catalogue of the Collection in its entirety.

The catalogue is case-bound, containing 336 pages (274 x 239mm) with colour photographs, including front and rear views of the stringed instruments and tip and frog details of bows. The prefatory text includes an introduction by Graham Wells (Galpin Society), a short essay by Charles Beare and a tribute to William Waterhouse. In addition to the descriptions of the instruments, it also contains William Waterhouse’s history of the Collection and indexes by instrument/item, makers, names of people with associations to the objects and lists of the original Watson & Chapman collections.

Price: £32
Postage and packing costs: UK £9.50, International £17.50

To order a copy please complete an order form and return by e-mail, fax or post.


All enquiries relating to the Collection should be directed to the Librarian, Anna Wright.

e-mail: anna.wright@rncm.ac.uk

MAS English (teal)