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Street View: 65
Address: 20 Charles Street

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In The Times of 17 July, 1829, an advertisement appeared for music lessons (piano and harp) at Mr. Serquet’s, harp manufacturer, of 77 Great Tichfield Street, Portland Place. Private lessons at the advertiser’s address were 3 guineas a quarter with 2 lessons a week. In this case no initial or first name is given for Mr. Serquet, but an advertisement in the same paper of 26 February, 1836, tells us that we are dealing with E. Serquet. This time he “begs leave to acquaint the nobility and gentry that he has a splendid collection of new and second-hand double-movement harps” for sale or hire. The harps were manufactured by himself, by Erard, by Erat, etc. and were suited for any climate. So, if you happen to be leaving for India, you were “solicited to inspect the above”.

Name plate on a harp by Serquet (@National Trust inv. nr. 884817)

Name plate on a harp by Serquet (@National Trust inv. nr. 884817)

E. Serquet, that is Emanuel Serquet, must have moved between 1836 and 1839 to 20 Charles Street, frequently referred to as Charles Street, Middlesex Hospital, or Charles Street, Cavendish Square, to distinguish it from the other Charles Streets in London, as we find him there in the Tallis Street View. Charles Street has now been incorporated into Mortimer Street, but in Serquet’s time, the section between Wells Street and Goodge Street was called Charles Street. An indication of Serquet’s country of origin can be found in an advertisement in The Times of 26 May, 1851, where the annual sermon for the poor at the Swiss Church in Moor Street, Soho, is announced and Serquet’s address is mentioned as one of the places where donations could be handed in.

The 1851 census entry does indeed gives place of birth for Emanuel as Switzerland. He is then a widower and 61 years old. When he came to England is unclear, but he was certainly in London in 1822 when he married Frederique Louisa Esther Delechat at St James, Piccadilly, on the 6th of May. As far as I can find out, the couple only had daughters, of which Malvina, born in 1827, was probably the most talented. Already in 1851, we find her as “professor of music” in Walthamstow and after her marriage to James Dryden, a mercantile clerk, she is still styled thus in the 1861 and 1871 censuses. In 1881, 1891 and 1901, by then a widow, she is still classed as “professor of harp, piano & singing”. She dies in 1910.

The Era, 5 November 1871

The Era, 5 November 1871

But back to her father Emanuel. In 1824, the partnership as harp manufacturers between J.C. Schwieso, F. Grosjean and E. Serquet was dissolved.(1) No address is mentioned, unfortunately, but Grosjean and Schwieso are well-known harp makers. Frederick Grosjean will get a blog post of his own at some point as Tallis lists him at 11 Soho Square as Grosjean & Co., but Schwieso has not made it into the Tallis booklets, so a bit more about him here. He was born in 1786 and came from Hanover to England in 1808 to make his living as harp and pianoforte maker. He entered into various partnerships, among them with Grosjean and Serquet and worked from various addresses: 11 Soho Square (with Grosjean), 263 Regent Street (with Serquet), 79 Wigmore Street, 19 Marlborough Street and 74 George Street. He is found at that last address by the 1841 census. He died in 1847, apparently in the St. Pancras workhouse.(2) In 1827, a partnership between Schwieso and Serquet is dissolved and the address given is 263 Regent Street, so the advert shown below may very well date from just before that.(3)

Source: downeyharps.com

Source: downeyharps.com

harp by Serquet (@National Trust inv. nr. 884817)

harp by Serquet (@National Trust inv. nr. 884817)

The last reference I found for Serquet is in the 1856 Post Office Directory and in the 1861 census, 20 Charles Street is occupied by other people. I have not found a record of Serquet’s death, but he presumably died between 1856 and 1861. He may just have lived long enough to see the inauguration of the new Swiss Church in Endell Street. Serquet’s harps can still be found around the world and are treasured possessions of various museums.

Advertisement in The Musical Record of June 1895 in which Serquet, Grosjean and Schwieso are described as among "the famous harp-makers of the world".

Advertisement in The Musical Record of June 1895 in which Serquet, Grosjean and Schwieso are described as among “the famous harp-makers of the world”.

Swiss Church in Endell Street

Swiss Church in Endell Street

(1) The London Gazette, 25 May 1824.
(2) Rootsweb and R.E.M. Harding, The Piano-Forte (1933).
(3) The London Gazette, 26 June 1827.

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