The restoration of the 1765 John Byfield organ at St Mary's Rotherhithe SE London


The organ was built as a three manual organ by John Byfield in 1765. Hugh Russell filled the short octave and took the compass up to f³, probably in 1829. At the same time he replaced the Nason with a second Open, the Sesquialtera lost a rank, the Vox Humana with a Cremona from c#, removed the Great Cornet, replaced the Swell Cornet with a second Open, and provided and octave and a half of pull down pedals.

In 1882 Gray & Davison provided a new console, with new stop action, new key action up to the roller boards, couplers and composition pedals. They altered the compass, giving all the keyboards a compass of C to f³. A Gamba replaced the Great Clarion, the Sesquialtera lost another rank and was recast, a Pedal organ with a single Grand Bourdon was provided, and a new full compass Swell. This used the old pipes for each rank, the new Fifteenth using pipes from the Great mixture.

In the process alterations had to be made to the back case; the swell box was moved from its original position between the two halves of the Choir organ upwards, and the side walls were moved 30cm outwards, so that they are now flush with the side walls of the front case. The roofs of the Great case were removed. A new horizontal bellows was provided, though only repairs are mentioned. At some stage during Gray & Davison's care, the tuning was altered to equal temperament, and presumably the pitch was raised from the usual mid 18th century pitch of about half a semitone flat.

In 1959 Noel Mander repaired the organ, and effected some alterations, putting in a new Great Cornet, replacing the Gamba with a Clarion (supposedly 1817, but actually ca1870), adding a
bass octave to the Cremona and adding a third rank to the Great Sesquialtera. The feeders to the bellows were removed, a blower was provided, and tuning slides were fitted. In 1975 the front pipes were re-gilded and some of the larger front pipes were given new zinc feet.

In 1991, Martin Goetze and Dominic Gwynn made new roofs to the Great, repaired the Gray and Davison actions, and restored the Great Sesquialtera to its original composition. They replaced the 8' stopped rank on the Great Cornet with a copy of the contemporary example at St George Gravesend, the 1959 pipes having deformed sufficiently to make them untunable. The tuning system is now Young's.

The restoration of the 1765 John Byfield organ at St Mary's Rotherhithe SE London

Great:
the compass is now C to f³, so all the Byfield ranks have Russell C# and f³

Open Diapason
Open Diapason
Stopped Diapason
Principal
Twelfth
Fifteenth
Sesquialtera
Cornet treble
Trumpet
Clarion

8'
8'
8'
4'
2²/3'
2'
IV
V

8'
4'

mostly Byfield
Russell
Byfield
Byfield
Byfield
Byfield
Byfield/Goetze and Gwynn
Byfield/Goetze and Gwynn
Byfield
Victorian/Mander

Choir:
Stopped Diapason
Principal
Flute
Fifteenth
Cremona
8'
4'
4'
2'
8'
Byfield
Byfield
Byfield
Byfield
Russell/Mander

Swell: C to g are all Gray and Davison extensions of the Byfield Swell stops.
Double Diapason tc
Open Diapason
Stopped Diapason
Principal
Fifteenth
Trumpet
Oboe tc
16'
8'
8'
4'
2'
8'
8'
Byfield/G & D
Russell/G & D
Byfield/G & D
Byfield/G & D
Byfield/G & D
Byfield/G & D
Byfield/G & D

Pedal: C to e¹
Grand Bourdon 16' Gray and Davison

Couplers: Great to Pedal Swell to Pedal Choir to Pedal Swell to Great

The restoration of the Sesquialtera has provided the organ with a proper full organ again (the G & D mixture was a 1¹/3' and a 1' which broke back an octave at c# ² ). The pipes had not been removed in ranks, but haphazardly, so that it was possible, following the pipe marks, to re-order the pipes and fill the gaps, voicing the new pipes in line with their neighbours. The following is the result:

  I II III IV
GG/C 1 ³/5 1 ¹/3 1 4/5
F# 2 1 ³/5 1 ¹/3 1
f# 2 ²/3 2 1 ³/5 1 ¹/3
f#¹ 4 2 ²/3 2 1 ³/5

 

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