Virginals by Charles Rewallin of Exeter

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Virginals by Charles Rewallin of Exeter

This is one of the two surviving instruments made by Charles Rewallin of St Sidwell's, Exeter, the other being in the Somerset County Museum at Taunton. The two instruments are almost identical to one another, the only major difference being two double-strung bass notes in the instrument at Taunton.

The Exeter instrument is of softwood, jointed rather than nailed together. On the upright face of the jackrail is the inscription 'CHARLES. REWALLIN. MADE. IT. IN. XON 1679. The case is richly but fairly crudely painted with floral patterns, with imaginary landscape scenes within the lid and in the inner face of the front board.

Exeter and Norwich were the only English cities outside London which could support such a specialist craft at this time.

Acknowledgments: RAM Museum