Archive

  • Edinburgh University Musical Instrument Museum, Restoration of the St Cecilia’s Hall Chamber Organ

    According to the 1968 catalogue, this organ was “built for the Earl of Normanton, at Ditchley, near Woodstock, Oxfordshire. Bought and restored by Noel Mander in 1967. Bought for the St Cecilia Hall by the University with the aid of a Government grant. Noel Mander thought the organ was built by John Snetzler in about 1750.

    The organ does not resemble other Snetzler organs, but the metal pipe marks are very similar to those in the 1777 Snetzler organ at Rotherham parish church. It is possible that these marks are those of Snetzler’s partner towards the end of his career, James Jones. Jones accompanied and erected the organ provided by Snetzler for the Edinburgh Musical Society (on the site of the present St Cecilia’s Hall) in 1775 [see John Kitchen The Organs of St Cecilia’s Hall, University of Edinburgh BIOSJ 24 (2000)]. He was executor to Snetzler’s will in 1785 [Alan Barnes and Martin Renshaw The Life and Works of John Snetzler p314-5 (Ashgate 1994)]. So this may not be a Snetzler organ, but it may be close to the organ bought for the Edinburgh Musical Society (though that was larger). Registration instructions in the organ relate it to James Bartleman, who was a famous bass singer in late Georgian London. In the sale of his effects (Morning Chronicle Monday June 25th 1821) is included “a Finger Organ, by Snetzler and Jones, of fine quality”. So there is some connection with James Jones.

    The general style of the case, with its naturalistic carving, would date from about 1775. The way in which the organ is laid out, supported on the solid panels of the casework, rather than an independent support structure, is unusual, unlike other English chamber organs of the time. The entablature and pediment were evidently made in the 1930s, in imitation of the overdoors at Ditchley Park, when the organ was supplied for Nancy Lancaster, presumably by Sybil Colefax and John Fowler, when Nancy and her husband Ronald Tree were re-decorating the house.

    The organ was bought by Noel Mander at some point before 1967 when his workmen restored the organ. They removed the feeders of the bellows, and cut down the pipes and provided tuning slides, raising the pitch to A432Hz @ 15ºC and presumably introducing equal temperament. Otherwise the organ does not show any obvious re-building. Unfortunately the organ was dried out in St Cecilia’s Hall almost immediately after it was delivered, the top and middle leaves of the bellows were split and the wind chest spoilt with ciphers and runnings.

    In 2015-6 the organ was stored by Martin Goetze and Dominic Gwynn Ltd in their workshop at Welbeck, Notts, during the re-development project, and was restored by Guillaume Zellner and Willie Hendry. Willie restored the wind chest, sealing the channels with cotton tape, re-leathering the pallets and making new leather pull-down purses. Guillaume restored the bellows, dismantling the reservoir and filling the splits in the leaves, making a new feeder bellows, re-leathering. The organ was re-assembled, adjusted and tuned by Edward Bennett, Dominic Gwynn and Willie Hendry in St Cecilia’s Hall on March 28th-30th 2017, when the organ was heard for the first time for 50 years.

    The stop names are engraved on bone labels; the knobs are ebony. The stoplist, in the order on the jambs, is:
    Twelfth
    Stop Diapason , Fifteeth
    Open Diapason , Principal

    A shifting movement reduces to the Stop Diapason. The key compass is GG C AA D to e³.

  • Handel House Museum restoration of Snetzler Bureau Organ

    The organ was built by John Snetzler in 1752 (information provided by Snetzler’s usual label at the back of the pallet box of the wind chest). The organ may originally have belonged to a W. Macpherson, a member of the Aberdeen Musical Society, who bought it for £46. It was given to the Handel House, https://handelhendrix.org/, by Elinor Warburg, who bought it from Noel Mander in 1957. Mander bought it from the estate of Canon Wallis of Lichfield, who may have bought it from the music critic and scholar J. Fuller Maitland (and ‘Early Music’ pioneer).

    It seems not to have been altered, except in ways designed to keep the organ usable. Some of the pipes are horizontal and conveyed in ways which look like an afterthought, or perhaps a later alteration to make the organ easier to tune. The 1754 bureau organ at the Horniman Museum is more logical in its layout. The case has been extended at the back. This looks like an early alteration to allow the front fall to lie flat when open. The panel above the keys, with its red fabric, is modern. The case is little altered apart from the extension, and the fabric in the panels in the frame above the keys. How this panel was organised, and the music supported, does not survive in its original form in any of the few surviving bureau organs.

    In 1957 Manders restored the organ, providing an electric blower and tuning slides. In September and October 2016 the organ was restored by Edward Bennett with assistance from Nick Hagen (casework) and Joe Marsden (metal pipes). The organ was restored as found, apart from removing the electric blower, which will in future only be used for tuning, and the keyboard, which had been restored in 1957. The main faults with the organ arose, as so often, from dehydration. Edward restored the wind chest, its first ever restoration, since its bottom board was still glued in position. The bellows valves were renewed, but the main bellows leather (which was replaced in 1957) was retained.

    The organ has Stop Diapason 8ft (stopped wood), Flute 4ft (stopped wood), Fifteenth 2ft (open metal), Sesquialtera bass II and Cornet II treble. There is a shifting movement pedal to take off the mixture. The key compass is C D to e³ (52 notes).

  • Rothbury, Northumberland restoration of the 1866 Hill Organ at All Saints Church

    The organ dates from 1866, given by Lord Armstrong (then Sir William) and the then Rector. It was built by Hill & Son (job no. 1198 in the Hill estimate book, and markings in the organ). It looks like a standard organ, responding to the spread of congregational hymn-singing; Hymns Ancient and Modern was first published in 1861.

    It started its life at Rothbury in a west gallery, and was moved to its present position at the east end in 1887 when the vestry was enclosed. After the First World War a false organ front was provided as part of the new furnishings for the chancel, as a memorial to those lost in the war. The organ was cleaned, repaired and overhauled at various times. In 1971 the wind chests and key action were restored in the manner of the times, and the interior of the organ painted battleship grey, by C. L. Sommerville and W. Welsh of Rushworth and Dreaper. Goetze & Gwynn Ltd restored the organ in 2016. The organ was inaugurated on September 17th 2016 by the Lord Lieutenant, Jane Duchess of Northumberland, James Lancelot organist of Durham Cathedral, the girl choristers of Durham Cathedral directed by James Randle and three young musicians playing an arrangement by John Casken.

    Goetze & Gwynn Ltd have moved the organ to the north transept, facing across the nave. Much of the front of the organ had been removed when the memorial front was placed in front of it; it was replaced with new work in the original style by Nick Hagen. The original zinc front pipes were decorated with stencils quite simply; they were repaired and waxed to bring the colours out. The organ is very compactly designed with no passage board between Great and Swell; the tuner has to remove front pipes and place a passage board over the treble pipes. The organ was completely restored, wind chests, bellows and wind system, keys and key action, stop action and combination action. The worst element of the organ before restoration was the key action, and especially the pedalboard, which needed to be restored to reduce lost movement and noise.

    GREAT  
    Open Diapason 8
    Stopped Diapason 8
    Dulciana (C-B grooved) 8
    Principal 4
    Suabe Flute 4
    Fifteenth 2
    SWELL  
    Open Diapason 8
    Stopped Diapason 8
    Principal 4
    Oboe 8
    PEDAL  
    Bourdon 16

    Couplers: Swell to Great, Great to Pedal
    Combination Pedals
    Lever swell pedal

    Key compass: manual C – g³ (Swell pipes cº – g³, C-B of the Swell keys act on the Great)
    pedal C – e¹

    wind pressure: 70mm (2¾ ins)
    pitch and tuning: A440, equal temperament (tuning slides presumably from 1971)

    Link to All Saints Church at Rothbury http://coquetdaleanglican.org/thropton/

  • Erddig House near Wrexham Wales, restoration of the Bevington Organ for the National Trust

    The organ was bought for the Music Room at Erddig in 1865, for Philip Yorke II, then aged 15. It was made by Henry Bevington & Sons of 48 Greek Street Soho, and cost , for £227.2s.4d. There is a Bevington printed label in the wind chest, with the date 1864 and the job number 654, written on the pallets. A history of the Bevington family is provided in Bevington & Sons told by Tony Bevington, Jill Bevington and Romana Bevington (Preston House Publishing 2013). With the organ is a dumb organist, with six tunes. In 1973 the Yorkes gave the house to the National Trust, who restored it and opened it to the public in 1977, https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/erddig

    The only noticeable alterations were to the pumping mechanism and to the swell box. A pumping handle was provided on the treble side, using one of the two feeder bellows, no doubt because use of the pumping pedal is restricted by the pedal keys. The pedal keys were originally retractable but the damage to the key action means that it is now fixed. There is no electric blower. The swell box was covered with thin boarding presumably by Whiteleys of Chester in the late 1940s (indicated by a note in blue crayon on the slats), which was removed in 2016 during the first complete restoration in the organ’s history. The work was carried out by Dominic Gwynn, Nick Hagen, Joseph Marsden and Stuart Dobbs, between November 2015 and May 2016.

    Bevingtons were known for making small model organs. They were fairly conservative in their voicing style, though the stop list, mechanism and appearance were up-to-date. It is designed as a miniature church organ rather than a Georgian chamber organ. As a result access for adjustment and maintenance is very restricted, and dismantling and re-assembly was challenging.

    GREAT    
    Open Diapason 8ft open metal G – f³ (G – gº in front) C – F# sharing Stopt Diapason
    Dulciana 8ft cº – f³ C – B sharing Stopt Diapason
    Stopt Diapason 8ft stopped wood C – bº open wood c¹ – f³
    Principal 4ft C to D# in front
    Fifteenth 2ft f#² to f³ break back to 4ft
    Bourdon 16ft C – cº
    SWELL     
    Stopt Diapason 8ft stopped wood cº – f³ C-B using Great Stopt Diapason
    Gamba 8ft open metal dº – f³cº-c#º sharing Swell Stopt Diapason, C-B using Great
    Flute 4ft stopped wood cº – f³
    PEDAL    
    Pulldowns to Great

    Key compass: Manuals C – f³ 54 notes (Swell C – B permanently coupled to the Great, the Great C-B playing the Open Diapason on its own, but the same pipes as the Stopt Diapason available only through the Swell), Pedals C – gº 20 notes
    Swell coupler on stop knob
    Pitch and tuning: A435Hz @ about 16ºC, Equal Temperament

    Blowing pedal and blowing handle (on treble side)
    Swell pedal
    Composition pedals: I all Great Stops; II Open Diapason, Dulciana, Stopt Diapason, Bourdon;
    III Dulciana, Bourdon

  • Great Tew, Oxfordshire restoration of the Henry Williams Organ at St Michael and All Angels

    According to the former organist Mark Purcell and his wife Caroline Shenton the organ was built and provided between 1860 and 1866, probably in 1863 when the church records are missing. It was paid for by the lord of the manor, Matthew Piers Watt Boulton, grandson of the James Watt’s partner Matthew Boulton. The organ was built by Henry Williams of Cheltenham, according to the name plate, in which he describes himself as ‘from Gray & Davison’ the eminent London builders. He seems to have been their works foreman, perhaps retiring to Cheltenham for his health, but continuing to supply organs in the Gray & Davison style, and perhaps with Gray & Davison parts.

    The organ was very well designed and solidly made, apart from the pedal key action, which is rather haphazardly spread around the ground frame, attached to the bellows, etc. The pedal board and the pedal key action to the Bourdons on both sides of the organ have been made more consistent and efficient. It is a very attractive and complete small church organ of the period, from a time when hymn-singing started to become a widely-adopted activity.

    The organ has been very little worked on over the years. The Great Cremona was prepared for but never supplied. The Swell Cornopean disappeared after the last War. The organ was cleaned but not altered by Hill, Norman and Beard in 1975, though the Great wind chest was restored and an electric blower was provided and the hand pumping disconnected. The feeders had been allowed to drop on the pedal key action, breaking quite a lot of it.

    The 2015 project consisted of a complete workshop restoration. The wind chests were dismantled, and the pallets re-leathered. The bellows were re-leathered and the manual pumping was restored. The keys were repaired, with new wood round the pivot and guide pins, and the key action too was checked for lost movement. The wooden pipes had their tuning stoppers re-leathered, the metal pipes were repaired, though the tuning sldies were kept. The reeds were replaced with new reeds made and voiced in the workshop, copied from examples in the Gray & Davison organ of 1878 now at St Anne’s Worksop. The casework was repaired, including filling of pinholes, etc. and repairs to the finish, especially around the console area.

    GREAT  SWELL   
    Open Diapason 8 Open Diapason 8
    Stop’d Diapason Bass 8 Stop’d Diapason Bass 8
    Clarabella TC 8 Stop’d Diapason Treble 8
    Dulciana TC 8 Keraulophon TC 8
    Principal 4 Principal 4
    Flute 4 Cornopean 8
    Twelfth 2⅔
    Fifteenth 2
    Cremona TC 8
    PEDAL  
    Bourdon 16

    Swell to Pedal
    Swell to Great
    Great to Pedal

    manual keys C – f³ (56 notes)
    pedal keys C – f¹ (19 notes)

    3 composition pedals
    trigger swell pedal

    A link to St michael and All Angels Church, Great Tew https://www.achurchnearyou.com/great-tew-st-michael-all-angels/

  • Boxford, Berkshire restoration of the Barrel Organ at St Andrew’s Church

    There is a painted name plate on the case but the name of the maker has been scrubbed away, apparently not an uncommon feature, perhaps by agents selling organs on as their own, etc. The royal coat of arms was that used by monarchs between 1816 and 1837, and resembles in style that used in royal letters patents. That may mean that this maker had a royal patent, but I can find none that match a short-ish name that evidently begins with ‘W—–’ or ‘W. —–’.

    Barrel no4 was made by Flight and Robson according to a paper label glued to the paper round the barrel, which is also marked in ink: 3609. The label gives: Flight & Robson/ Organ Builders/ St Martins Lane/ Charing Cross/ No 101 London. The partnership existed at this address 1806 to 1832, when it was declared bankrupt. One of the tunes on barrel no5 is ‘God save the Queen’, suggesting Victoria, so presumably post-1837.

    It was evidently made as a church barrel organ, but barrel no5 has secular tunes, as if the organ was occasionally removed from church for an entertainment elsewhere. It has evidently always been at Boxford.

    The organ had evidently been well-used. In the middle of the 19th century the Twelfth and Fifteenth were replaced by an Open Diapason, quite early in the organ’s life, using some of the original pipes and some second hand pipes. Otherwise there are no signs of later alterations, till a bicycle pedal wheel was adapted to provide a turning handle, presumably within living memory, and the six smallest dummy front pipes had been painted with gold paint. The organ was restored to its original condition by Dominic Gwynn, Stuart Dobbs, Joseph Marsden and Nick Hagen in 2015-16. The project was the initiative of churchwarden Andrew Lyle.

    The stops are labelled as follows in a row under the dummy front, from left to right:

    Diapason Principal Twelfth Fifteenth Flute

    The key compass is G to g², 26 keys spread over three octaves as follows:

    fº f#º gº aº bº c¹ c#¹ d¹ e¹ f¹ f#¹ g¹ g#¹ a¹ b¹ c² c#² d² e² f² f#² g² eº dº cº G

    There are five barrels, with 50 tunes, including favourites like the Easter Hymn, St Anns, the 100th and 104th Psalm, the Portuguese Hymn (‘O Come all ye faithful’), the Sicilian Mariners, Haydns Hymn, and on the secular barrel God save the Queen and Rule Britannia.

    A link to St Andrews Church, Boxford http://boxford.org.uk/the-parish-church-of-st-andrew-in-boxford/

  • Pilning Gloucestershire restoration of the William Allen Chamber Organ at St Peter’s Church

    The organ was made as a chamber organ by William Allen, of 11 Sutton Street Soho London in about 1800, towards the beginning of Allen’s career. It was moved into the church in 1920, which may be when a pedalboard was added, and new stops (Gamba for Swell Hautboy, new Flute for Bassoon, loss of Sesquialtera-Cornet). The organ was restored by Percy Daniel of Clevedon in 1974, when some mechanical parts were replaced and their surface finish altered. The gilded dummy front pipes had been painted silver, etc.

    The organ was restored in 2015-16 by Edward Bennett, Guillaume Zellner, Joseph Marsden (pipes) and Nick Hagen (case). The project was guided by Jonathan Edwardes, director of music at St Peter’s. The opening concert was given by Jennifer Bate on April 30th 2016. The original stoplist has been restored, with new mixture, Bassoon, Hautbois and swell box. The casework has been restored, the dummy pipes gilded, the pediment moved inwards and with a new urn. It was decided to leave the tuning slides and the pitch is now A440Hz as it was before the restoration.

    Bassoon Bass [GG AA – bº] Bassoon Treble [c¹-f³]
    Sesquialtera [III rank GG AA – bº] Cornet [III rank c¹-f³]
    Fifteenth [GG AA – bº] Principal treble [c¹-f³]
    Principal Bass [GG AA – bº] Stop Diapason Treble [c¹-f³]
    Stop Diapason Bass [GG AA – bº] Hautbois Swell [c¹-f³]
    Open Diapason [cº-f³] Dulciana [c¹-f³]

    The manual key compass is GG AA – f³. The shifting movement reduces to Diapasons, Dulciana and Principal. There is a swell box for the Hautbois.

    A link to St Peter’s Church, Pilning http://www.achurchnearyou.com/pilning-st-peter/

  • Sarsden House, Oxfordshire, restoration of the ca1830 J C Bishop Organ in St James Chapel

    The organ was built by J.C.Bishop and dates from about 1830. Bishop made at least two organs at Sarsden, though this one is not mentioned in the archive (Laurence Elvin Bishop and Son Organ Builders (Lincoln 1984), see pp112-3). Bishop first supplied a second-hand organ in 1819, then a barrel organ for the church in 1824 (one of his largest models costing £200 – a lot for a barrel organ) and this organ. Although this organ is not documented, it is undoubtedly by Bishop, and must date from 1830 or shortly thereafter. It was moved from the house in 1896, when the church was restored, presumably because the tunes on the barrel organ were by then old-fashioned, and an organist was reliably available.

    Bishop was an innovator in his early career (see Nicholas Thistlethwaite The early career of J.C.Bishop organ builder 1807-29 Journal of the British Institute of Organ Studies vol25 pp6-29, including a reproduction of a portrait of JCB painted in 1831). He invented the concussion bellows, an early example of which is to be found in this organ. He also started to re-introduce open wood stops, called Claribella in this case. He helped to develop the swell box, in this case using louvres for swell shutters instead of a sliding front. There are characteristics of Bishop’s organ building practice in the organ: the stop knob discs have his characteristic font and ornamental lines above and below the stop names. Both the manual keys and the pedal keys can be slid into the case. The stops are in a row above the keys, and activate the sliders in the middle of the chest, through the upperboards.

    The organ is in almost completely original condition, which is unusual for chamber organs subsequently moved into churches. Unfortunately the two reed stops have been removed though there are plans to replace them with new ones in Bishop’s style. The metal pipes have been cut down and are now tuned with tuning slides. The organ has suffered recently from an over-heated and de-humidified atmosphere. The exceptionally long keys had twisted so that they were jammed tight, the wind system and the wind chest had sprung leaks so that it was impossible to produce noises. The organ now speaks beautifully into the generous acoustic of this little estate church. It was restored through the generosity of the current owner, Tony Gallagher.

    SPECIFICATION

    Open Diapason -8 (GG AA – F# stopped wood G – f³ open metal)
    Stopt Diapason bass -8 (GG AA – bº stopped wood)
    Stopt Diapason treble -8 (c¹ – f³ stopped wood)
    Dulciana bass -8 (GG AA – F# stopped wood G – bº open metal)
    Dulciana treble -8 (c¹ – f³ open metal)
    Claribella -8 (c¹ – f³ open wood)
    Principal -4 (GG AA – f³ open metal)
    Twelfth (2⅔) (GG AA – f³ open metal)
    Fifteenth -2 (GG AA – f³ open metal)
    [Cremona – missing -8 (c¹ – f³ reeds)]
    [Hautboy – missing -8 (gº – f³ reeds)]

    Lever swell pedal, general swell front
    Pedalboard draws out to playing position
    Key compass: manual GG AA – f³, pedal GG – F# (GG# plays G#)

  • Gerard Verloop restoration of the 1851 Pilcher Organ at the Koogerkerk, Zuidscharwoude, Holland

    In 2014-15 we restored an organ belonging to the Collectie Gerard Verloop. It must be one of the last organs to have been made in the classic 18th century style, but expanded to include some of the features of the latest contemporary church organs. To see details of a more up-to-date chamber organ, our restoration of a 1864 Bevington organ will be posted in April. William Pilcher was not a full-time organ builder, dealing in other instruments as well as organs, and in this instrument it looks as he had exceeded his abilities, or at least, his ambition with this complex instrument was not matched by his craft skills. It is evident that Pilcher used elements from other organs. The two keyboards follow piano-making practice. They slide into the case. The keys are weighted so that the tails drop onto a rail, and they can be slid into the case under the stickers. The couplers (including Great to Pedal and Pedal to Great) offer further complexity.

    It is nonetheless a very attractive musical instrument. Amongst its attractions is the completeness of its history, which Gerard Verloop has covered very fully in an issue of the magazine which he published, de Mixtuur no67 (December 1990). The organ was made by William Pilcher in 1850-1 for Miss Eleanora Grant Macdowall, for her home in Baker Street London, later moved to Hanover Lodge, a large villa near Kensington Gardens. In 1946 the organ was given to Westfield College London, one of the first university colleges to admit women. In 1980 the organ was sold to Gerard Verloop, made playable and moved to Noord Holland. It now stands in the Koogerkerk in Zuidscharwoude (see picture), where it is used for concerts and the monthly Bach cantata services http://www.koogerkerk.nl/index.htm.

    The organ has been altered slightly over the years. The original Swell Celestina was replaced by a Vox Angelica using the same pipes but sharpened to turn it into a stop beating with the Dulciana (perhaps by August Gern in 1898). It has now been replaced with a Victorian Clarinet, though the original pipes (which are in store) can be put back if desired. In 1946 a 30 note pedalboard was added and the pedal stop completed with a toeboard and treble pipes. A new pedalboard has now been provided to the original form and compass. There is a general swell front which does not completely enclose the organ and makes some of it impossible to tune; it has been removed and is stored in the church. The wind chest with its two manuals and shared bass has been restored. The sliding double keyboard, and the key and coupler actions, have been restored. Sense has been made of the complex composition pedals. New parts have been made for the casework where they were missing, and the front pipes re-gilded. The metal pipes had been cut down and tuning slides added; they were extended and tuned to Thomas Young’s temperament at a¹=440Hz, which must have been close to the original pitch.

    GREAT ORGAN     
    Stop Diapason Bass 8ft C – B stopped wood
    Stop Diapason Treble 8ft cº – c4 stopped wood
    Open Diapason 8ft cº – c4 metal
    Principal 4ft C – c4 metal
    Fifteenth 2ft C – c4 metal
    Sesquialtra III C – c4 metal
    SWELL ORGAN    
    Dulciana 8ft cº – c4 metal
    Flute 4ft C – c4 stopped wood
    Vox Angelica 8ft cº – c4 clarinet pipes
    PEDALS    
    Double Diapasons 16ft C – fº stopped wood
    Ditto to Great organ

    COUPLERS
    Swell to Great
    Pedals to Great Organ

    Key compass: Great and Swell C – c4 (61 notes), Pedals C – fº (18 notes)
    Pitch: a¹=440Hz
    General swell
    5 combination pedals, 3 Great 2 Swell

  • David Hindle Restoration of 1754 John Snetzler Bureau Organ

    This organ was bought by David Hindle in 2006 from the Caldecott Community at Mersham-le-Hatch. It was given to them by the collector Captain Lane, in whose house Andrew Freeman had photographed it in 1944. It had been extended with a pedal board and a free reed by C.R.Oliver of Plymouth in 1975. It looks as if he was a harmonium or reed organ maker; it was neat work. In about 1800 it had been turned into a chamber organ, rather crudely, with quite a good keyboard, but a slapdash pipe front. It is not known for whom the organ was originally made. The original name label which Snetzler habitually pasted at the back of the pallet box of the soundboard had been chopped out and placed in a frame on the front above the keys. It gives the date 1754, the same date as a bureau organ now in the Horniman museum, formerly in the Dolmetsch Collection.

    In 2006, the following parts of the original 1754 organ survived: the wind chest with altered upperboards, the bellows, the Stop Diapason 8ft (and one pipe from the Flute 4ft), the sides, floor and back of the case. From the mitering of the longest pipes it was obvious that the original organ stood taller than the usual Snetzler bureau organ, so the reconstructed organ has been given the form of the 1742 Snetzler in the Belle Skinner collection at Yale University. The existing veneered kneeboard was re-used, though it probably dates from ca1800, a date suggested by the colour of the wood and the fine stringing giving three gothic arches. The rest of the case was veneered in the same fashion, to cover the considerable later damage to the surfaces. The original is likely to have been made of single mahogany panels, with doors at the front. The doors use the ca1800 dummy front pipes, re-fashioned, and set in the kind of opening used in Swiss chamber organs of the period.

    The stoplist was obviously:

    Stop Diapason 8ft (stopped wood, 1754 except for bº which is new)
    Flute 4ft (stopped wood, new except for f#² which is 1754)
    Fifteenth 2ft (C D-eº stopped wood, eº-e³ open metal; new)

    pitch: a¹=422Hz @ 18ºC (for which all the surviving wooden pipes were long enough)
    tuning: Werkmeister III
    wind pressure 43mm

  • Harry Bicket restoration of William Allen Chamber organ

    The organ was made by William Allen of 11 Sutton Street Soho London (b.1750, d.1833). His surviving organs and those of his son Charles (1811-1871) are mostly chamber and barrel organs, but they also made and rebuilt church organs. William built new organs at Peterborough (1809) and Lincoln (1826) Cathedrals. According to John Camidge, organist of York Minster, Allen had such a reputation for making chamber organs, that he was credited with an equal but undeserved reputation for making church organs. According to Samuel Wesley he had a reputation for his reed voicing, though he also incurred Wesley’s anger for not paying him a fee for recommending him to the Dean and Chapter at Lincoln Cathedral.

    This organ looks as if it was made in the 1800s. The style of the case is earlier (late 18th century pattern book gothic), but Allen seems to have set up his own business only in 1794, and his earliest dated organ is the 1797 chamber organ now in Framlingham church in Suffolk. According to a pencil inscription on the thumper rail: “This Organ belonged to Mr W Kelly Organist of the [Chelsea?] Hospital Chapel and Fulham Church [… 1827?] and Putney Church Feb 7 1821”. He may have been the first owner. From 2002 it was the house organ in Fritz Spiegl’s home at 4 Windermere Terrace Liverpool.

    Dominic Gwynn and Guillaume Zellner restored the organ for Harry Bicket in 2014-5, in the workshop of Martin Goetze and Dominic Gwynn, Welbeck Nottinghamshire. New horizontal bellows were made in the style of the original, to replace the one removed 50 years ago. The voicing was not much altered. The mouths of the stopped metal Stop Diapason treble had been pulled out, and the mouths of the stopped wooden Stop Diapason bass had been raised. The mouths were re-formed, but the wooden pipes sound much as they would have done originally and were left unaltered. The original 18th century style Cremona had been turned into an early 20th century Clarinet, using the existing pipes, and was left unaltered. The tuning is now by tuning slide, and the metal pipes (open and stopped) have been cut down to give modern pitch.

    It was moved to the church of South Knapdale Achahoish in Argyllshire Scotland on January 29th 2015.

    Fifteenth [C-f³] Clarinet [c¹-f³]
    Principal [C-f³] Stop Diapason treble [c¹-f³]
    Stop Diapason bass [C-bº] Open Diapason [c¹-f³]

    key compass: C-f³
    pitch: now a¹=440Hz (originally somewhat lower)
    temperament is Young’s (described in 1800)
    wind pressure: 2⅝ inches (67mm)
    case dimensions: 2400mm tall, 1315mm wide and 630mm deep

  • New College Oxford restoration of the 1969 Grant Degens and Bradbeer Organ

    In 2013-4 we carried out a partial restoration of this organ, to reverse some of the effects of 40 years of intensive use, and revive the original verve of its sound. This organ has a special significance for us, because Grant Degens and Bradbeer was the firm where Martin and Edward started their organ building careers in 1971, when this organ seemed to presage the future of British organ building.

    The organ was made in 1969 when Sir David Lumsden was Director of Music at the College. It is difficult now to remember what a radical departure it was, not just “the new look” and “the new sound”, but being “new” at all. In our travels to the continent in the early 1970s we remember the thrill of seeing new organs being made and installed (and no doubt old organs removed) all over North West Europe, except in Great Britain, where ‘new’ organs were at best rebuilt rather than new. It did not seem at all unreasonable to remove a historic organ and replace it with a modern one, or to insert a modernist design in a mediaeval chapel with Victorian furnishings.

    After the upheavals of wartime, the Germans embraced modern design and modern materials in a way seductive for many in Britain. Maurice Forsyth-Grant took David Lumsden to visit a number of new organs around Düsseldorf and Hanover. Their enthusiasm survives in this organ, in a style common in Germany, but now very rare in the UK. Apart from the Swell Salicional and Celeste, there isn’t a single stop that would have been encountered in a traditional English organ of the period. The German stop names indicate the influence of the German Organ Reform Movement; the French stop names of the Swell reflect its eclecticism.

    The stoplist has been changed slightly from 1969. The Positif has a Sesquialtera (copied from the GDB in the Lyons Concert Hall at York University). It has replaced the Octave 1 and the None 8/9, which are now on the Swell, where they have replaced the Teint. The Messingregal 16 on the Great has been replaced by the Vox Humana 8. The Great Quintade 16 was re-voiced as a Bourdon 16. The Fagot 32 was provided with full-length resonators. Most importantly, the Great and Swell choruses have been increased in volume to somewhere close to the original.

    GREAT  POSITIV   SWELL  PEDAL  
    Bourdon 16 Holzgedackt 8 Flûte-à-Cheminée 8 Prinzipal 16
    Prinzipal 8 Quintadena 8 Salicional 8 Subbass 16
    Spitzflöte 8 Praestant 4 Celeste 8 Oktave 8
    Oktave 4 Rohrflöte 4 Prinzipal 4 Rohrflöte 8
    Spitzgedackt 4 Prinzipal 2 Flûte Conique 4 Oktave 4
    Terz 3 1/5 Quintatön 2 Nazard 2 2/3 Nachthorn 2
    Quint 2 2/3 Scharfzimbel III Quarte 2 Mixture IV
    Oktave 2 Sesquialtera II Tierce 1 3/5 Fagot 32
    Mixtur IV-VI Holzregal 16 Larigot 1 1/3 Fagot 16
    Vox Humana 8 Schalmei Krummhorn 8 Octave 1 Kupfer Trompete 8
    Trompete 8 Tremulant Neuviéme 8/9 Trompete 4
    Cornet V Fourniture IV-V Tremulant
    Tremulant Trompette 16
    Hautbois 8
    Trompeta Real 8
    Tremulant

    There is an instructive short essay written by Maurice Forsyth Grant for the programme of the opening concert (available in his Positif Press book of 1987 and on the College website at http://www.newcollegechoir.com/the-organ.html). It shows that much thought was given to providing the specific stops required for a wide variety of music, a lot of it freshly available to players in 1969. This organ was built for the 17th and 18th century music of France and Spain as well as for that of Northern Europe. It acknowledged the need to contribute to the Anglican liturgical tradition, in the chapel where (according to Norman Cocker) Sir Hugh Allen was the person who “first made the organ smoke”. But more important was the need to be part of a European mainstream which had passed Britain by.

    The essay also talks repeatedly about dimensional stability, emphasizing the day-to-day reliability and long term durability that would result. Grant valued predictable results from his materials and design. But at least as important is the quality of the work; considerable care went into the quality of the design, parts and assembly.

    The builders have been advised by Prof. Edward Higginbottom, then Director of Music and his assistant Steven Grahl, and they have received advice from Paul Hale, a former organ scholar at New College. The electric wiring inside the organ, the electric stop action and the digital registration system were provided by Clive Sidney and Calvin Smith http://www.sidneys.org .The new keyboards and coupler chassis, and the new stop knobs, were provided by Baumgartner Orgelbau http://www.baumgartner-orgelteile.de

    On March 6th 2015 Robert Quinney, the new Director of Music at New College, played a re-opening concert of music by Byrd, Buxtehude, Bach, Nielsen (Commotio) and Leighton.Webcasts are available at http://www.newcollegechoir.com/webcasts.html

  • Alan Rubin restoration of the 18th Century South German Chamber Organ

    This organ would date from 1730 or thereabouts, and was made in central Europe. Such organs are often described as South German or Austrian, but could come from further afield (e.g. Poland). The method of design and manufacture is ingenious, highly skilled and artfully executed, but not standardised or uniform. They seem to have been made for important churches and wealthy urban customers, so they are fashionable in their ornament details. This organ was designed to be carried, perhaps in procession round a large church from altar to altar. There are similar organs at the Händelhausmuseum in Halle, and in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nürnberg, by Adam Ernst Reichard “Orgel- und Clavicimbel-macher in Nürnberg”. They are made to be as light as possible, the wooden pipes grouped together with common fronts and backs, the upperboards whittled away wherever there are no grooves.

    The earliest inscription is “1902 Adam Plachỳ Orgelbau”; newspaper used for repairs show that he was working in Salzburg Austria. At that time the front pipes were replaced, no doubt because the organ had been neglected for a period. Between 1902 and 1935 the organ arrived in Paris where it was restored by a harmonium builder, an employee of les Frères Fortin, according to inscriptions on the back of the pallet box cover: “Reparé Rue Saulnier Novembre 1935 L. Chassonneau” and “Reparé Installation nouveau moteur Rue Chaptal MARS 1946 L. Chassonneau”. In association with the provision of the electric motor, the reservoir was given two bed springs to provide the wind pressure, in the manner of harmonium building.

    When purchased by Alan Rubin in 2008, the organ had deteriorated beyond use. The organ was restored in 2013-4, bringing the organ back to playing condition, restoring the bellows and wind system, making the organ wind-tight, regulating the stop and key mechanisms, making new front pipes in the style of the originals, restoring the casework and its finish.

    There are no stop names. There are two stopped wood ranks, an 8ft and a 4ft with pierced stoppers. The front pipes are from the open metal 2ft, with punched dots making crosses on upper and lower lips. There is also an open metal 1ft, using the remaining original pipes, the tenor and middle octaves with conical pipes. The key compass is C/E – c³ 45 notes, the pitch now A440Hz (originally perhaps slightly higher), and the tuning now Bach (Kellner)

    One oddity is that there are 12 narrow pallets at the treble end of the pallet box, apparently without any key action, though notches in the stickers indicate that it was intended to be a sort of octave coupler, so that each sticker plays the octave above at the same time, a futile idea. There are upperboard holes for all the stops which correspond to these pallets, now leathered over.

  • Liverpool Hope University, restoration of ca1780 Dutch Chamber Organ

    The organ was repaired and prepared for its future use as a teaching and concert instrument by Dominic Gwynn in 2013-4. The purchase of a historic Dutch chamber organs for the use of the music department of a British university is most unusual; Eton College is the only other institution in the UK with an organ in this style.

    It may have originated in the workshop of Hendrik Hermanus Hess, of Gouda, the most prolific builder of domestic organs in the Netherlands in his day. It was originally made in the manner of Hess’s bureau organs, with perhaps a 2vt front and carved panel above the keys. These organs share characteristics: wind chest placed low, with a single fold horizontal bellows underneath and splayed stickers between the pallets and the keys, ranks divided bass and treble with a stopped oak Holpijp 8vt. The organ may have been made in around 1780. According to A.J.Gierveld’s Het Nederlandse Huisorgel in de 17de en 18de eeuw (Utrecht 1977) the key compass of these small organs expanded to C – f³ between about 1770 and 1790.

    In 1970 the firm of Verschueren restored the organ for the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Utrecht, with a new case. It had lost its original casework and was probably not in good condition, since there have been extensive repairs on the wooden pipes, and some of the treble ranks have new pipes. In 2011, the organ was sold to Firma Feenstra of Grootegast in Groningen (in the north east Netherlands), and he sold it on to Ed Wijnands, retired minister, of Dalmsholte in Overijssel. In 2013 the organ was sold to the Music Department of Liverpool Hope University, by the agency of Dr Tassilo Erhardt. The tremulant had stopped working and leaked wind, so it was removed. The conveyancing to the 1970 front pipes prevented tuning of the upperwork, also removed so the front pipes are now non-speaking. The oak case has been stained darker and Dr Erhardt has bought three carved and porcelanized lime carvings, of King David, St Cecilia and a musical angel.

    Fluit 4vt bas Holpijp 8vt
    Octaaf 2vt bas Praestant 4vt disk
    Sifflet 1 1/2vt bas Fluit 4vt disk
    Fluitje lvt bas Quint 3vt disk
    Octaaf 2vt disk
    Terts 1 3/5vt disk

    In ca1780 there would have been a tremulant on the wind trunk.

    key compass is C – f³
    pitch is A436.6Hz at 16.5°C
    tuning is the Werkmeister III temperament
    wind pressure 55mm

  • John Cooper of Norwich restoration of ca1840 table organ

    Nick Hagen restored this organ in 2014, with Joseph Marsden repairing the metal pipes and Martin Goetze voicing and tuning. The organ dates from the 1830s/1840s, judging by the case and the style of the pipes and mechanism. The organ builder is not known. The provenance of the organ goes back to the 1880s, when it was in John Cooper’s father’s childhood home in Berkshire. The organ building is of good standard, but using secondhand material. The builder may have been London-based, but there was an increasing amount of expertise in the provinces.

    It is contained in a writing table which seems to have been adapted to its present purpose. One possibility is that this organ was provided for an organist who composed and wrote his own music, so that he/she could lay the manuscript paper on the table but have the keys and blowing pedal available underneath.

    The key compass is F G – c³ (43 notes). There are two stops, a wooden Stop Diapason and a Principal, though an octave higher (i.e. 4ft and 2ft). The pitch is A432Hz @ 18°C, a pitch common in the 1825-50 period). The pipework is voiced in the standard English way, with a low wind pressure of 37-45mm. The wind is supplied by foot.

  • Hanbury Hall, Worcs restoration of ca1770 Samuel Green chamber organ

    The organ was restored by Edward Bennett and Nick Hagen in 2014 for the National Trust, https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hanbury-hall-and-gardens. The nameboard has the inscription “Samuel Green London”. David Wickens in The Instruments of Samuel Green (Macmillan Press 1987) thinks the organ was made after 1777 from the evidence of the pipe maker’s marks on the metal pipes, and probably after ca1785 from the use of a dulciana-scaled chorus. It is an organ made from a harpsichord, retaining only its case and keys, so that it became a harpsichord-shaped organ, like the organ made by Robert and William Gray for the 9th Earl of Exeter at Burghley House in 1790. There are signs that the action may hay been partly carried out by a German piano maker.

    Noel Mander bought it at “the sale of Canon Wallis’ effects, Lichfield Cathedral” in 1958, and also noted that it was “once the property of Earl of Effingham Tusmore House BICESTER Oxon”. The 2nd Earl only moved to Tusmore in 1857. In 1958 Manders added an electric blower at the tail of the case (without removing the feeder), and a new stop action. Otherwise the organ is in original condition. The ingenious 1958 stop action had its own problems and was replaced in 2014.

    Stop Diapason bass and treble
    Dulciana (c¹ – f³)
    Principal bass and treble (stopped wood pipes AA – c#º)
    Fifteenth

    The key compass is apparently FF long octaves to f³, re-using the harpsichord keys with their shaped tails, but only AA – f³ is in use. The bass/treble division is c¹/c#¹. The shifting movement had never been provided with sliders

    Pitch A435Hz (1958, originally lower)
    Tuning Equal Temperament (1958, when tuning slides were fitted)
    Wind pressure 59mm

  • Thaxted, Essex restoration of 1821 Henry Cephas Lincoln 3 manual and pedal organ

    The organ was restored by Martin Goetze and Dominic Gwynn in 2013-4. It was originally built by Henry Cephas Lincoln for St. John’s Chapel, Bedford Row in Holborn, London (a proprietary chapel, i.e. not a parish church and maintained by private subscriptions and pew rents). The chapel was closed for renovation in 1821 and the organ was installed towards the end of that year before the building reopened. The organist was the daughter of the minister, Theophania Cecil, who published voluntaries in ca1812 and psalms and hymn tunes in 1814 (for the original John Harris organ, which went to Blackheath). A contemporary thought her playing “grave, devotional, and edifying”.

    The new organ would have been more up-to-date and worked more smoothly than the existing organ by John Harris (1724). It had a second Great Open Diapason (though the same scale as the front Open), a mixture divided into Sesquialtera/Cornet (therefore of principal scale) and Mixture, a somewhat extended swell organ (though still with the sliding shutter of the old nag’s head swell), unison pedal pipes played from a full-size pedalboard with German-style sharps, and couplers. It also perhaps sounded less brilliant and more polite.

    In 1856 it was discovered that the ceiling of the chapel had shifted and sunk, and the chapel was abandoned. The organ was moved by G.M.Holdich to Thaxted in Essex in 1858, to the north transept of this magnificent mediaeval church. Holdich was a conservative organ builder; he left the organ more or less as found, though replacing the couplers and re-leathering the bellows, with a new inverted fold in the reservoir. At the opening event Holdich himself contributed, playing a pastoral symphony.

    In the early 20th century the organ was a great favourite of Gustav Holst, who lived in the village for many years and wrote much of the Planets Suite there. The organ remains intact apart from a replacement Great roller board (1907) and the unfortunate loss of the Great Trumpet, Choir Bassoon and Great Mixture (much of which was found crumpled in a box under the organ, and odd pipes in the Sesquialtera). It is the earliest surviving English church organ with (almost) all its original pipes and mechanism surviving intact.

    The restoration owes a great deal to Sybil King, to the Organ Committee, and to the Foundation for Sport and the Arts, Viridor Credits and other funders. The consultant to the project was Nicholas Thistlethwaite who has written a booklet about the organ available from John Brennan (Positif Press Oxford) at jb@positifpress.co.uk. The organ from before the restoration can be heard on the Historic Organs Sound Archive pages http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N18436 played by Anne Page.

    Great Organ (FF GG-f³)  
    Open Diapason Front 8
    Open Diapason (C-f³) 8
    Stopped Diapason 8
    Principal 4
    Twelfth II
    Fifteenth 2
    Sesquialtera (FF GG-bº) III-IV
    Cornet (c¹-f³) IV
    Mixture II
    Trumpet 8
    Choir Organ (FF GG-f³)  
    Stopped Diapason 8
    Dulciana (grooved bass) 8
    Principal 4
    Flute 4
    Fifteenth 2
    Bassoon 8
    Swell Organ (eº-f³)  
    Open Diapason 8
    Stopped Diapason 8
    Principal 4
    Trumpet 8
    Hautboy 8
    Cremona 8
    Pedal Organ (FF-cº)   
    Pedal pipes 8

    Couplers
    Coupler Swell [Sw-Gt]
    Pedals Great
    Pedals Choir
    Lever pedal to nag’s head swell
    Straight, flat pedalboard

    pitch: A428Hz at 15ºC
    tuning: slightly modified 1/6th comma meantone

    The sound file is from the Historic Organ Sound Archive of the National Pipe Organ Register. For more recordings go to http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?HOSA

  • Powderham Castle Devon Restoration of 1769 Brice Seede Chamber Organ

    The organ was bought for £154 from Brice Seede by William Courtenay 2nd Viscount in 1769. The organ was originally only a single manual organ without pedals and was placed in the old mediaeval chapel on the site of the north range of the west court. It was probably moved to the elegant 1795 Music Room in 1837, and expanded with a Swell organ and pulldown pedals, perhaps by Henry Crabb of Exeter. The famous Axminster carpet has had to be moved away from the centre of the room towards the windows, to accommodate the organ.

    In 1865 Henry Dicker of Exeter altered the Pedal compass to C – c¹ (25 notes), and added the Bourdon and in 1868 he extended the Swell compass down to cº from fº, with extra keys added to the 1837 keys, a new Oboe (‘Hautbois’), and he replaced the Swell Stopt Diapason with a new one. In the place of the Great Trumpet he added a Clarabella from c¹.

    Between January and May 2013 the musical and mechanical parts of the organ were restored by Martin Goetze and Dominic Gwynn. The case has been repainted with similar colours to the original, through the whole of the Music Room, so it was decide to leave the case. The organ was left essentially as it was found.

    GREATSWELLPEDAL
    GG AA – e_ (57 notes)cº – e_ (41 notes)C – c_ (25 notes)
    Open DiapasonOpen DiapasonBourdon
    Stopt DiapasonStopt Diapason
    PrincipalDulciana
    FlutePrincipal
    TwelfthHautbois
    Fifteenth
    Tierce
    Sesquialtera II (GG-bº)
    Cornet II (c_-e_)
    Trumpet (c_ – e_)

    Couplers: Pedal Coupla (Great to Pedal)
    Copula (Swell to Great)
    Shifting movement reducing to 8.8.2 (“to remove the loud stops”)
    Swell pedal (not balanced, up is closed, down is open)

    The pitch is now a¹=440Hz at 19ºC (it was lower in 1769). The tuning is now a modified 1/6th comma meantone tuning, with good thirds, and a wolf fifth divided over neighbouring fifths, indicated by the pipe lengths, provided in 1865/8.

    The wind pressure is 57mm or 2¼ ins, which is presumably the same as it was originally.

    The metal principals are of a single scale, which was quite usual for the period, and of the same scale as the large church organ which Seede made for Chippenham church, which was less usual. That is, they are ‘church scale’ not chamber organ scale which was six pipes narrower. The Tierce treble and Cornet are the only stop with a different scale, four pipes larger, to give an impression of a church solo Cornet stop in the treble. It is unusual at this period to have the tierce withdrawn from the Sesquialtera/Cornet. The stops together make the usual Sesquialtera 17.19.22 and Cornet 12.15.17.

  • St Patrick’s, Soho Square Restoration of 1793 Robert & William Gray Organ

    St Patrick’s church was probably the first Roman Catholic church to be built after the Reformation which was not a private chapel. It was provided partly for the Irish labourers building the ‘New Road’ (i.e. Euston Road and Marylebone Road). Because Roman Catholic worship was still illegal and could not make a public display, the church occupied the Saloon to the rear of Carlisle House, which had been run by Madame Theresa Cornelys as a venue for parties and masquerades for fashionable society, and also for public concerts, including the then fashionable Johann Christian Bach and Josef Haydn. It was here that Joseph Merlin introduced his newly-invented roller skates, while playing a violin, and crashed into a Chippendale mirror, smashing his violin and himself.

    The present magnificent building was first used on St Patrick’s Day 1893. The organ, which had already been rebuilt by Hill in 1882, was transferred to the new church. In 1936 it was replaced with a new organ by Bevingtons, whose workshop was behind the church. The case was kept but the tonal and mechanical parts were moved to a new church in Maida Vale. By 1980 the new organ had ceased to function and the new church had been condemned. Fortunately for this organ, John Rowntree and Martin Renshaw brought the 18th century pipes and wind chest back to St Patrick’s and stored them in the organ, making the present reconstruction possible.

    An inventory file of 1794 lists “A capital organ, long octaves in a mahogany case. Two sets of keys, great organ and swell, and one octave of double diapason pipes. Made by Messrs. Grays. Cost £262 10s.” In ca1810 Henry Leffler recorded the stop list as follows:

    GREAT ORGAN SWELL ORGAN PEDAL ORGAN 
    Open Diapason Open Diapason Pedal Pipes
    Stop Diapason Stop Diapason
    Principal Trumpet
    Twelfth Hautboy
    Fifteenth
    Sesquialtera
    Trumpet

    Key compass:
    Great GG AA – f ³ 58 notes
    Swell f° to f³ 37 notes
    Pedals GG – F# 11 notes

    Pitch: a¹ = 445Hz at 18ºC the pitch established by the Great and Swell Stopped Diapasons, which have never been cut down, and the alterations to the tuning windows of the front pipes
    Tuning: circulating temperament proposed by Thomas Young in 1799 which he claimed was used by the best London builders. Young lived nearby.

    Leffler notes that “Mr Novello” was organist, that is Vincent Novello, organist composer and founder of the famous publishing company. Leffler also made it clear that the pedals were independent, of stopped wood and at sub-octave pitch, the earliest in England, provided for doubling the octave in Novello’s arrangements of orchestral music.
    The organ sounds magnificent in the church, which is lined with marble. It will make an important contribution to a notably musical church. And it can provide an insight into the revival of Roman Catholic service music in England in the late 18th and early 19th century.

    Information about the church, its services and activities can be found at www.stpatricksoho.org A restoration report with pipe measurements and other technical details is available from the builders.

  • New Wardour Castle Restoration of John England 1776 Chamber Organ

    The organ was made in 1776; ‘Feb 1775’ is written on the GG key. It was made by John England, who was nephew to George England (d.1775). John may have been his successor. He died in 1791 “much afflicted with the gout”.

    Open Diapason GG – F# Stop Diapason with wood helpers, G – e³ open metal
    Stop Diapason bass and treble GG – e³ stopped wood
    Principal GG – e³ open metal
    Flute GG – g² stopped wood, g#² – e³ open wood
    Fifteenth GG – e³ open metal
    Sexquialtra bass and Cornet treble 3 ranks; GG – bº, c¹ – e³
    Trumpet bass and treble GG – F# 4ft, G – e³ 8ft

    Sesquialtera/Cornet III GG 1 3/5’ 1 1/3’ 1’
    gº 2’ 1 3/5’ 1 1/3’
    c#¹ 2 2/3’ 2’ 1 3/5’

    shifting movement reduces to Diapasons and Principal

    pitch a¹ = 435.7Hz @ 19.6ºC
    wind pressure 55mm
    keyboard compass GG – e³

    When first made a small Swell organ was prepared for, but never installed. The organ acquired its façade when installed at Wardour. There was also a second shifting movement pedal, whose pedal still exists, though the plinth only has a hole for one. The organ was tuned by Alexander Buckingham in 1835. The organ remained unrestored till 1967 when Bishop & Son from Ipswich (John Budgen) restored it, presumably for Cranborne Chase Girls’ School. Bishops removed the feeder bellows and replaced it with an electric blower, re-leathered the pallets and cut the pipes down and fitted tuning slides. The flat 18th century pitch may have been raised closer to modern A440 and the original irregular tuning system was changed to equal temperament. The fabric backing behind the feet of the dummy gilded front pipes is synthetic silk, presumably also 1967.

    The organ was restored for Jasper Conran in March 2012, re-leathering the bellows, repairing and cleaning out decorators’ dust and rubbish. The tuning system chosen was an English 18th century organ tuning based on Renatus Harris’s instructions from the 1700s, used by G&G at St Botolph Aldgate ca1704. It is an irregular meantone tuning with good thirds and a spreading of the wolf fifth which makes all the keys playable round the circle of fifths.

  • Odiham, All Saints Church Hampshire New Church Organ

    This new organ was first used at a service of dedication on Sunday September 25th 2011. It is based on early 18th century English organs, mainly the Bernard Smith organs at St Mary Finedon in Northamptonshire and Great St Mary’s in Cambridge, and the Gerard Smith organ at St Lawrence Whitchurch in Middlesex.

  • Walton on Thames restoration of casework and front pipes of 1673 Bernard Smith organ

    The organ was supposed to have been the one made by Bernard Smith for the private chapel at Windsor Castle in 1673-4. It seems an unlikely story since there is no subsequent story about this organ having been royal, and the standard of the casework does not seem to be the same as the rest of the chapel. However, on stylistic grounds there can be no doubt that this organ case was made by Bernard Smith, and that it was one of the first that he made in this country.

    The organ was rebuilt by Hedgeland, by Bishop and finally by Rushworth and Draper in 1936. The organ was seen and photographed by the Revd. Andrew Freeman in 1910 and ca1920. In all this time the 1673 front remained attached in a rather undignified way to the front of an expanding organ. This organ was replaced with an electronic organ in 2003 and finally removed in 2009. Nick Hagen made a new lower case in 2009, as it might have been made originally. It is not impossible that a 6 or 7 stop organ in the style of Smith’s organ may one day again fill the case, alongside the electronic organ. Or that one day Elizabeth Holford may be asked to conserve the painted pipe front and paint the woodwork as it might have been originally.

    There is a Harley monograph about the organ case: https://www.dropbox.com/s/cua5vc6j79mcyf0/10%20Walton%202014.pdf?dl=0

  • St Swithun, Worcester, Restoration of the 1795 Robert and William Gray/ 1845 John Nicholson Organ

    This organ was restored in 2009-10 for the Churches Conservation Trust (in whom the church is vested) https://www.visitchurches.org.uk/ and the Friends of St Swithuns (who raised the funds and now encourage the activities associated with the organ). A single manual organ was built by the brothers Robert and William Gray (according to an 1820 list advertising their organs) and installed in August 1795. By 1822 the organist John Baldwin persuaded the vestry that tastes were changing, the Principal and Fifteenth were exchanged for new ones, the Twelfth re-voiced, the Trumpet replaced with a Dulciana, and perhaps the third rank of the mixture removed, presumably all to make the organ quieter, at least in the tenor and treble.

    In April 1845 John Nicholson completed a new Swell organ, and provided Pedal pipes. In case the organist found the latter tricky, they could be played from the Great keys as well as the Pedal keys. Minor repairs and the usual tunings were carried out over the years, the last being the introduction of tuning slides, electric blower and a new stool in 1956. The hand blowing survives. The reservoir is double fold, both folds are inward. Stone weights give a pressure of 60mm.

    The stop list is as follows, as displayed on the stop jambs, with the Swell stops and couplers in italic. The Great stops were identified with paper labels, which have disappeared though the ink has left traces in the wood. The Swell stops and the couplers have inscribed ivory discs.

    GREAT ORGAN SWELL ORGAN PEDAL ORGAN 
    Open Diapason Bourdon Pedal Pipes
    Stop Diapason Open Diapason
    Principal Stop Diaapson
    Twelfth bass Oboe
    Twelfth treble
    Fifteenth
    Sesquialtera bass
    Cornet treble
    Dulciana

    The Mixture was in 1795 and is now again 17.19.22 in the bass and 12.15.17 in the treble dividing at bº/c¹. There is a shifting movement to the Great, taking off all except the Open, Stop Diapason and Dulciana (originally working on the Trumpet).

    The Great keys were originally GG AA C D to f³ (55 notes) but were extended to long octaves with GG# AA# BB and C# in 1845, with these keys playing the pedal pipes only. The 1845 Swell organ starts at tenor C, cº to f³ (42 notes). The Swell organ uses the original 1795 Great keys.

    The pitch was established between the open wood Pedal pipes whose highest level was fixed by not needing to saw any tops, and the front pipes whose lowest level did not involve soldering extra metal in the tuning windows. It is a¹ = 440Hz at 16.7°C. The tuning is a modified meantone tuning with good but not pure thirds, with characteristics shared from the tunings used by J.C.Bishop for St James Bermondsey in 1829 and suggested by Thomas Young in 1800.

    Pictures of the church, and news of the activities of the Friends of St Swithuns (Chairman Will Scott) and future events (including a series of lunchtime concerts on the organ organised by Andrew McCrea) are available on their website: www.stswithunschurch.org.uk Reports written during the project are available as a restoration report from the workshop. There is a historical and technical report on the organ in preparation, available on CD, from the workshop. Dr Jim Berrow carried out the archival research. The advisor for the restoration project was John Norman.

  • Langton by Spilsby, Lincolnshire, St Peter and Paul, Restoration of the 1860s Henry Bryceson organ

    Made by the London builder, Henry Bryceson of Brook Street, Euston Road, according to a paper label behind glass set into the music desk. This label also records a ‘Prize Medal, Class 10 A’ at the Great Exhibition of 1851. Bryceson’s workshop was at Brook Street between 1859 and 1867. The organ was cleaned by E. Vickery in Sep 1908 and perhaps by others before him. The organ was restored by Edward Bennett and team during the winter of 2009, and returned to the elegant Georgian village church in May 2010.

    The single manual organ is all enclosed in an oak-grained Gothick softwood case, with gilt dummy wood front pipes. Inside the hinged back panel is a list of ten hymn tunes for each of three barrels. There is no evidence that this was ever a barrel organ, however, and it can be set up and played without its surrounding casework, so the conclusion is that the casework was planned for either a keyboard or a barrel organ. On the same panel is nicely pencilled in large letters ‘Stoke Fleming’. Dimensions of the organ are: Height: 3288mm/ 10′ 9½”. Width: 1610mm/ 5′ 3½”, Depth: main case 1062mm/ 3′ 5¾”.

    The manual keys have 54 notes, C-f³. The ‘pull-down’ pedal board has 30 notes, C-f¹. Above the keyboard are the stop knobs, reading, from left to right:

    Octave Coupler from c¹-f² only
    Open Diapason 8ftC-B open wood, metal from tenor c
    Dulciana 8ft from tenor c
    Stopt Bass 8ft C-B stopped wood
    Stopt Diapason 8ft from tenor c
    Prinicpal 4ft

    The pitch and tuning remain as found, A=446.6 at 18.7° C, and the tuning an unequal equal temperament, perhaps provided in 1908. There have never been tuning slides. The wind pressure is also as found 88mm.

    A trigger pedal operates the swell shutters. Hand- pumped cuckoo feeders fill the double-rise bellows reservoir.

    The restoration owes everything to the fund-raising efforts of David Douglas. A restoration report is available from the workshop.

  • St Teilo’s Church St Fagans Cardiff New Organ in Tudor Style

    The new organ for St Teilo’s church at St Fagans Cardiff

    This organ was made for the project directed by Professor John Harper from Bangor University researching “The experience of worship in late medieval cathedral and parish church”, at the great medieval cathedral church at Salisbury, and the reconstructed parish church of St Teilo’s in the grounds of the Welsh National Museum at St Fagans near Cardiff. A fuller account of the project can be found on the University’s website http://www.bangor.ac.uk/music/AHRC/index.php.en

    The new organ is based on the Wetheringsett organ made for the Early English Organ Project in 2001, which was based on the soundboard found in 1977 at Wetheringsett in Suffolk. Its characteristics suggest that this organ was made by an English builder, probably local. They include a long, fully chromatic key compass, choruses of wooden or metal pipes of the same scale and style, each with its own slider, and a voicing style familiar from 17th century English organs, but also Italian and Spanish organs. The organ for St Teilo is physically smaller. Its pipes are based on the only pipes surviving from the mediaeval West Country tradition, from John Loosemore’s 1665 organ for Nettlecombe Court. They are very narrow-scaled and without nicking, so the speech is sibilant and the tone rich.

    The case is a much-reduced version of the case at Old Radnor, copying the carvings. The painted and gilded decoration was provided by Fleur Kelly and Lois Raine, who worked on the painted woodwork at St Teilo’s. http://www.fleurkelly.com/ painted the wonderful Annunciation and Adoration of the Shepherds on the doors.

    I open metalprincipal 5ft (C – g#_ in front)
    II.open metalprincipal 5ft (C – g#_ in front)
    III.open metaloctave
    IV.open metaloctave
    V.open metalfifteenth
    VI.stopped wood diapason10ft (full compass)

    Key compass: The key compass is C to a², 46 notes, which is the number of grooves in the Wetheringsett soundboard and the compass specified in the contract for Holy Trinity Coventry (1526). It matches the ranges needed for the surviving repertory. This key compass allows for transposition by the player, extended by the sub-octave Diapason for choral and vocal accompaniment in the early 17th century verse style. There is a second keyboard which can be folded down to give ‘singing pitch’ at F – d³, for demonstration purposes.

    Pitch: The nominal pitch is 5ft, i.e. a plainsong pitch a fourth above singing pitch, the basis for all the Tudor organs we know about. The actual pitch is a semitone above A440 at singing pitch.

    Tuning: The tuning system was recommended by Arnolt Schlick in his Spiegel der Orgelmacher published in Heidelberg in 1511, and intended as a guide for good practice throughout the Holy Roman Empire. He was the first writer to give a recipe which mentions every note of the scale. It is a modified form of mean tone tuning, with good (not pure) major thirds and the wolf spread to some extent over neighbouring fifths to allow some modulation (though ab is still much closer to being a g#).

    Dimensions

    The outside dimensions of the organ are

    height total340cm (375cm with pinnacles)134ins (148ins)
    height to impost122cm48ins
    plan at pipe level170cm wide x 78.5cm67ins x 31ins
    plan at ground level98cm wide x 78.5cm39ins x 31ins
    ground plan of the wind system134 x 13453ins x 53ins
    staging (= total floor space required)300 x 150120ins x 60ins
  • Dutch Chamber Organ ca1770 Restoration for Christopher Hogwood

    This is a rare example in the UK of a Dutch chamber organ. Its recorded history only goes back to 1956, though the internal markings are Dutch and the style of manufacture is the same as in other historic Dutch chamber organs. The tonal and mechanical parts may have been made by one of the most notable Dutch chamber organ builders. The ornamental pipe front is the only surviving Dutch chamber organ front which imitates a church organ. We don’t know why it came to England, but its musical significance has been enhanced by its acquisition by a pioneer of the Early Music movement, Thurstan Dart, and its use with instrumental ensembles in the 1950s and 1960s.

    The case, soundboard, bellows and pipework were made in ca1760 in Holland, perhaps by Hendrik Hermanus Hess (1735-1794) in Gouda. In ca1800 a new pipe front was added to the case, perhaps in Dordrecht. The dummy metal front pipes are very similar in make to the inside pipes, which suggests a successor worksop, perhaps Pieter Johannes Geerkens (1757-1833) . In the mid 19 th century the organ was restored using letters from the Dordrecht tax office to seal the bar frame. In the early 20 th century the organ came to England. It was found by Thurston Dart in a cottage in Milton just north of Cambridge in 1956 and restored by N P Mander. In 1971 Thurston Dart left the organ to the Oxford University faculty of Music. It was kept in the Holywell Music Room till 1985. In 2004 it was moved from storage to New College Chapel and repaired. In 2009 the organ was sold to Christopher Hogwood and restored by Dominic Gwynn.

    The stop list consists of

    Holpijp 8vt bas/diskant
    Prestant 8vt diskant
    Fluit 4vt bas
    Prestant 4vt diskant
    Octaaf 2vt bas/diskant

    These names are those on the ivory stop labels supplied by Mander in 1956. The lowest pipe of the Prestant 8vt is marked ‘ prest 8 ‘, the Prestant 4vt is marked ‘ Fluijt 4v ‘, the Octav 2vt is marked ‘ octaav 2v ‘. The pipe metal has a high lead content and is thick and soft, unusual because it was evidently thicknessed between metal rollers and not by plane or scraper. The Holpijp and Fluit are stopped pipes made of oak, unusual in Dutch church organs but common in chamber organs. The speech and tone are characteristic, relatively fluty compared with classical English pipework. At some stage a tremulant had been removed, perhaps as late as 1956.

    The key compass is C-d³ (51 notes) divided at bº/c¹. The pitch is now A440 but was originally about half a semitone lower. The tuning is now Werkmeister III, but may originally have been a modified meantone. The metal pipes are now tuned with slides so that the tuning system can be altered (retained at this restoration because the pipe metal is so soft). The wind chest was restored, for the first time since the middle of the 19 th century, a much needed repair.

    The wind is provided with an electric blower only and the original feeder and foot pedal removed in 1956, presumably because the organ was provided with castors. A new blower was placed inside the case at this restoration, which meant that the foot pedal was not replaced.

    The case is 2330mm tall and the bottom case is 1370mm wide and 720mm deep.

  • Liza Caudle’s Georgian Chamber Organ Restoration

    The organ was purchased in 1975 by Dr. Peter Caudle from the Royal School of Church Music at Addington Palace, Croydon in 1975(?). Its earlier owners are not known. For many years the organ had been unplayable.

    The GG key is stamped ‘3 1777’, which is a plausible date for the organ. It was presumably made by a builder of the second rank for a middle class drawing room, though with an entrancing miniature church organ case. The physical evidence suggests the Georgian organbuilder used an earlier windchest and some of its wooden pipes (c.1680-1700) within a new case and with a new mechanism.

    A brass plate reads: Coleman & Willis/Organ Builders/29 Minories London. This suggests a date before 1866 for Coleman & Willis’ work, which included (from the physical evidence): converting the former wedge bellows to a parallel rise bellows, reconstructing the internal framework, and supplying the ‘inside’ metal pipes. A further brass plate reads: “In thankfulness to God for the memory of/Peter Mawe Greany, late I.C.S./This organ was restored by his widow, Grace/1957/ KHUDA HAFIZ” (This is a common parting phrase in Iran and the Indian subcontinent, with the meaning ‘may God be your guardian’). It is not obvious what work was carried out at this restoration.

    The stops are: Stop Diapason (ca1690), Open Diapason (ca1850 originally from gº, now from c¹), Principal (ca1690 GG-E wood, ca1690 front pipes F-G#, ca1850 rest inside), Twelfth Bass (ca1690 stopped wood) Twelfth Treble (ca1850 open metal c¹-c#², 2008 d²-e³ Keraulophon stopknob), Fifteenth (ca1690 GG- dº front pipes, ca1850 d#º to f¹, rest an assortment of old pipes)

    Key compass: GG AA C D – e³ (C – e³ from ca1850). We made new pipes for Stop Diapason AA, Principal GG and Twelfth GG and lengthened Stop Diapason GG, Principal AA and Twelfth AA.

    The pitch is about a¹=440Hz, derived from the front pipes after taping up the tuning slots to the original level. The tuning is now Kellner-Bach.

  • Crick, Northamptonshire, St Margaret of Antioch, Restoration of the 1819 Thomas Elliot Organ

    This organ was restored in 2008-9, with Nicholas Thistlethwaite as advisor, with Nigel Howard as manager of the project for the church and with generous funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It was made by Thomas Elliot in 1819 for the Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace, Westminster. It was removed in 1837 and moved to Milverton near Leamington Spa, possibly by train since Milverton was then the terminal station for Leamington. It was installed at Crick in 1841, the gift of John Clark the blind organist of the church. In 1852 Henry Elliston (organist at Leamington) extended the Swell from fº to f³ (37 notes) to cº to f³ (42 notes) and the Pedals to GG/AA to cº (17 notes). In 1896 the organ was restored with C compasses, and in 1978 it was restored to playing condition by John Bowen and Robert Shaftoe. In 2009 it was restored to its original stoplist, including GG compass and Choir and Swell reeds (which had been stored under the organ and in the sexton’s hut in the churchyard).

    George Cooper (1793-1843) writing in The Christian Remembrancer thought the organ “generally esteemed the worst instrument of its maker: the tone being extremely harsh and unmusical. It is quantity without quality; and possesses what organ-builders term a cast-iron tone.” In The Musical World he described it as “a source of unceasing annoyance to the choir and organists.” Cooper seems to have had something against Elliot, but there are indications of hasty work in the organ, as if using parts made for another organ assembled rapidly for a royal emergency, perhaps George III’s lying in state since he died a year later. On the other hand, nobody could accuse the organ of having a ‘cast-iron tone’. It is quite restrained and sweet, though still with some of the brightness of 18th century organs. It is probably the earliest organ surviving in Great Britain with all its parts intact – nothing had to be reconstructed, apart from filling in a few gaps in the pipework, especially in the reeds, and supplying some of the GG-BB pipes.

    The reports written during the project and other pictures and information are to be found on the church’s website at www.crick.org.uk/organrestoration/index.html. There is a report on the organ in preparation, available on CD.

    GREAT ORGAN  CHOIR ORGAN  SWELL ORGAN  
    GG/AA to f³ 58 notes GG/AA to f³ 58 notescº to f³ 42 notes, with Choir bass
    Open Diapason (8’) Stopped Diapason (8’) Open Diapason (8’)
    Stopped Diapason (8’) Dulciana (8’) Stopped Diapason (8’)
    Principal (4’) Principal (4’) Principal (4’)
    Twelfth (2?’) Flute (4’) Trumpet (8’)
    Fifteenth (2’) Cremona (8’) Hautboy (8’)
    Sesquialtra II
    Mixture II
    Trumpet bass & treble (8')

    Pedals (GG to f¹; GG AA AA# BB separate pedals)
    Bourdon 16’

    Pedal Coupler [Pedals to Great]
    Pedals [Choir to Pedal]
    Swell to Great
    Swell pedal (lever)

      GG a#¹ 
    Sesquialtera I 1 3/5 2 4
    II 1 1/3 1 3/5 2 2/3
    Mixture I 1 1 1/3 2
    II 1 1

    Pitch: A437Hz at 18ºC (revealed by the front pipes – the organ could not be any flatter).
    The tuning is a modified 1/5th comma tuning, with the wolf spread to make all keys more or less usable (though there is a noticeable difference between the good meantone keys and the bad keys). It is the tuning that was discovered more or less undisturbed on the Swell pipework of the 1829 J.C.Bishop organ at St James Bermondsey.

  • Deene Northamptonshire St Peter’s Church Restoration of Nicholson 1890 Church Organ

    The organ was built in 1890 by Nicholsons of Worcester. Casework and painted decoration designed by G.F.Bodley was fitted in the church around the completed organ as part of a complete chancel scheme. In 1906 the original ‘12th & 15th’ was replaced by a Trumpet, and the wind pressure raised to 3ins. The organ was ‘renovated’ in March 1947 in memory of the organist of over fifty years, George Piggott. The restoration by G&G in 2007-8 was led by Edward Bennett.

    The organ was unplayable due to encrusted corrosion on the moving parts of the mechanism; it was frozen solid. The damp conditions caused a build-up of mould particularly on the console. Woodworm was active in many parts of the organ, and moth damage was severe, especially inside the windchests. The theft of lead from the church roof (in early October 2007) allowed water to enter the organ; water actually leaked out of the bellows feeders!

    The object was to bring the organ, silent for many years, back to playing condition. Budgetary constraints meant that there were no cosmetic improvements, but the organ was made to work well. Corrosion meant that most of the pins, wires and screws had to be replaced. Moth damage meant that all the cloth and felt had to be replaced, and the pallets and the bellows were re-leathered. Apart from a split in the Swell soundboard table (which was filled with new wood), the main problem was failure of glue joints, which were re-glued. Fractures in the zinc pipe seams were re-soldered. It is expected that improved ventilation in the church, and some heating in the chancel, will keep the organ in better condition in the future. The Bodley casework, not part of our contract, may yet receive ‘conservation cleaning’ by the Churches Conservation Trust https://www.visitchurches.org.uk/.

    Great Organ (6 stops):

    Open Diapason 8ft zinc below cº
    Dulciana 8ft zinc below cº
    Clarabella 8ft wood, open from c¹
    Principal 4ft
    Harmonic Flute 4ft C-B stopped wood, cº-bº open metal, c¹ to g³ harmonic
    Trumpet 8ft 1906 hooded

    Swell Organ (8 stops):

    Open Diapason 8ft zinc below cº
    Gamba 8ft zinc below cº
    Lieblich Gedact 8ftwood bass, metal from gº
    Salicional 8ft bass octave from Gedact
    Voix Celestes 8ft from cº
    Wald Flute 4ft
    Harmonic Piccolo 2ft
    Cornopean 8ft

    Pedal Organ (2 stops):

    Bourdon 16ft
    Principal 8ft zinc below cº

    Great to Pedal
    Swell to Pedal
    Swell to Great
    Sub Octave (Swell sub octave to Great coupler)
    3 combination pedals to both Great and Swell

    Manual compass: C-g³ 56 notes
    Pedal compass: C-f¹ 30 notes
    Pitch: A=447.4 at 11.8ºC
    Wind pressure: 76mm (3ins)