History of the Company

Morleys have been involved in London music making for centuries, initially at the Chapel Royal, Westminster Abbey and St Pauls, Thomas Morley, Master of the Queens Music in Elizabethan times was not the first but certainly the most famous. James Morley started a music lending library in Greenwich in 1796 which continued for many years under the ownership of his daughter Ann Marie, his sons made and sold musical instruments in their own shops and workshops especially pianos and his grandson Robert moved to Lewisham and started Robert Morley & Co in 1881 which continues to this day in the ownership and direction of John Morley and his daughters.

Robert Morley was both a craftsman and musician, he established his Company one hundred and thirty years ago and we hope our website has provided an insight and encourage you to visit us to view and play our instruments or to discuss your requirements for repair and restoration or part exchange.

Robert Morley (seated) & Edgar Morley (standing) c1901Robert Morley, a younger son of Charles Morley, Piano maker and Musical Instrument Dealer in the City of London at first sold a broad range of pianos including Broadwood, Bechstein, Bluthner and Steinway. Within a few years he had, with the help of his sons, Edgar and Frank, set up a factory in Lewisham to make his own pianos, these were good, reliable and solid traditional instruments which we still restore on occasions for their owners.

During the 1920’s demand for the traditional large upright piano fell away as more and more new houses were built with lower ceilings and smaller rooms which needed a smaller, more compact upright or grand piano to provide a better acoustic balance and visual appearance.

Morley “Visual” designed by DouglasRobert’s grandson, Douglas, having travelled through Europe and North America returned to design and make a completely new range of horizontal and upright grand pianos which proved to be an immediate success during the 1930 period.

By the early 1950’s the interest in Early Music, Johannes Sebastian Bach and Mozart had grown far too big for the few original antique instruments which had survived so John, (great grandson of Robert) made drawings of original clavichords and harpsichords which he had built by the piano craftsmen. After having made some 16,000 pianos new production was transferred to making harpsichords and clavichords and well over 3,000 of these have been made.

John Morley has been making Clavichords, Spinets, Virginals and Harpsichords, based on original 18th century instrument for more than 60 years, the Early Keyboard Instrument are made using traditional techniques and materials including Bavarian pine soundboards, English Beech bridges and wrestplanks combined with the highest quality of craftsmanship to produce the quality and tone which ensure the continuing success of John Morley Instruments.