The Bagpipe Society

Burghley House Piper

I was at Burghley House near Stamford recently, wandering around looking for images of bagpipers - as you do - when I found on the ceiling of ‘The Third George Room’ this lovely lady playing her pipes. She was accompanied by other, similarly almost naked, female musicians, playing amongst other instruments, lyre, harp, shawm and bass viol.

The ceiling portrays the Reunion of Cupid and Psyche, who are surrounded by lesser deities and their attendants; it was painted by the Italian, Antonio Verrio, who worked in the house from 1686 - 1697.

He had been commissioned by John, the 5th Earl of Exeter (1648-1700) who made at least four long journeys through France and Italy, during which time he commissioned a large number of tapestries, statuary, paintings and furniture.

Burghley house is amazing, as well as being very ornate in itself it is absolutely full of portraits of the great and the good - and probably the not so good - of the day! Well worth a visit if you are in the area.

The bagpipe itself looks to me quite weird, the chanter having a very slim neck leading from the bag, no visible blowpipe or bellows strap, and 3 downward facing drones, similar to a zampogna. But the large, chunky drone coming up over her shoulder is weirdest, reminding me of the large, chunky ‘drone' on the carving of the bagpiper on the bench end in the church of St Nonna at Altarnun in Cornwall of a somewhat earlier date (1520 - 1530).