Interactive: North Carolina Symphony Blog
This intriguing story of a harp belonging to NC Symphony harpist Anita Burroughs-Price appeared in The U.K. Guardian recently.
Extraordinary story of the Nonsuch harp
By Sophia Sleigh
A chance meeting in Canada has revealed the extraordinary story of a 200-year-old harp once housed in Nonsuch.
The harp was bought two centuries ago by Samuel Farmer, the original owner of Nonsuch Mansion House, for his wife Elizabeth.
Mr Farmer, a wealthy merchant, began a period of 130 years of Farmer history at the mansion.
However, this ended in 1936 when the Nonsuch Estate and the Mansion House were sold to the local authorities for use by the public.
Meanwhile, the harp had made its way across the Atlantic.
At the World Harp Congress in Canada, in July 2011, Catherine Dunlop, 84, a professional harpist and a descendent of Samuel Farmer went for dinner with some friends.
Mrs Dunlop got into conversation with Anita Burroughs-Price; an American woman who owned an Erard harp.
It emerged that Mrs Burroughs-Price had the original bill of sale for her harp and the provenance showed it had been bought by an English gentleman called Samuel Farmer of Nonsuch in the early 19th century.
Mrs Dunlop, said:"[Mrs Burroughs-Price] has been in touch ever since.
"It’s really extraordinary - I think it was meant to happen."
Mrs Burroughs-Price said: "I had done research and was amazed and thrilled that my harp was purchased by her family only 5 generations ago.
"Out of over 900 harpists at the World Harp Congress, I believe that God's grace brought us together.
"I have played many concerts on this lovely harp, often in stately homes in the US."
After the meeting Mrs Dunlop telephoned one of the trustees from the Friends of Nonsuch to tell her story.
The Friends of Nonsuch arranged for Mrs Dunlop and Mrs Burroughs-Price to come to the mansion for a special harp performance.
However, due to flight cancellations and time constraints, Mrs Burroughs-Price cannot make the event.
She said: "I am very disappointed but plan to return to England to play or visit Nonsuch as soon as possible."
Members of the Farmer family will still return to the mansion, harps will be played and the story of the Nonsuch harp will still be told.
The event will take place on Tuesday, May 1, doors open at 7pm and the performance starts at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £15, call Joyce Shaw on 0208 642 2845.
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