Copper Church Cello
Owned and played by members of the Martin family in the Bosham Parish Church, Holy Trinity, this late 18th-century copper cello is now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection, Accession Number 18.656). It has an ebony fingerboard and tailpiece as well as professionally made boxwood pegs.
Overall Length: 127.5 cm
Back Length: 75 cm
Width: 45 cm
“EUTERPE” is engraved on a silver disk on the scroll, surrounded by a heart. Euterpe was one of the Muses in Greek mythology, presiding over music.
Of the metal church cellos in this exhibition, this is the most finely crafted example. It has distinct edges, well-shaped arching, and less crudely-shaped f-holes. The scroll is less spiral-shaped than that of the others.
Vandalism by Evil-Disposed Person or Persons
This cello was likely the subject of this notice, posted on the door of Bosham Parish Church in 1844, and later discovered in the parish chest in the church:
Whereas some evil-disposed person or persons did last evening during the usual time of ringing the Church bells enter the Sacred Edifice and wantonly and maliciously destroy three of the principal strings of the bass-voil [sic] in the gallery: Whoever will give information to the Church Wardens so as to lead to the conviction of the Offender or Offenders of such sacriligious [sic] conduct, the informers thereof will meet with a satisfactory Reward from certain respective Parishioners who feel themselves interested in the especial care and welfare, and will, if possible, protect from insult, or degradation, an old venerable Church, obviously known to be the most ancient and renowned in the Diocese. – Henry Brooker, Church Warden, Parish of Bosham, February 25th, 1844.
[As transcribed by K. H. MacDermott, The Old Church Gallery Minstrels (London: SPCK, 1948) 27.]
The instrument was played in the Bosham Parish Church, Holy Trinity, by members of the Martin family, and stayed in the possession of that family until 1916. Here is the provenance as given by the MFA, Boston:
By February 1844, used in at Holy Trinity Church (Bosham), Chichester, West Sussex, England; 1884, John Martin, Barcombe, East Sussex, England; 1916, sold at auction by Martin to a dealer, Chichester, for £7.10; sold by Chichester dealer to F. J. W. Crowe, organist of Chichester Cathedral, for about £20; sold by Crowe to Francis W. Galpin, Hatfield Regis, England; 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1918, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: December 9, 1918).