In 2022 we moved a most attractive T.C Bates organ from St Paul Whatley near Frome Somerset three miles south to St Mary Cloford. Its history was dug out by Paul Tindall, to whom many thanks. It was made for John Sinkins of Wallbridge House Frome (1805-69), according to a list of Bates organs. He was a draper and J.P., who founded the Frome Literary and Scientific Institution, now the Museum. He was already resident at Wallbridge House in 1841, and presumably bought the organ shortly afterwards. A watercolour of the staircase hall shows the organ towards the end of the 19th century (Frome Museum collection). His widow Eliza was still there in 1881 and died in 1891, which is presumably when their son Colonel Sinkins sold up and disposed of the organ to Whatley. In 2022 the congregation at Whatley decided to turn their church into a community hub, and the organ was moved to Cloford on the initiative of churchwarden Richard Mawer.
The stoplist is as follows: Open Diapason TC, Stopt Diapason bass, Clarabella TC, Dulciana TC, Principal, Wald Flute (octave Clarabella), Fifteenth, Pedal Bourdon (C – cº). There are two couplers: Manual to Pedals, Manual Octave. There is a Hitch-down swell pedal. The key compass is C – f³ 54, and C – fº 18. The pitch is 435Hz at 13ºC (tuning slides have been fitted but the original pitch was probably similar). The wind pressure is 68mm.
There were alterations, evidently made by the Bates workshop at the purchaser’s request. The whole organ was enclosed to make a swell box, with some difficulty. A rank of upperwork had to be sacrificed as a result. A Double Diapason was exchanged for a Dulciana, the lowest octave on rather complicated pneumatics. A Double Diapason would have made sense of a pedalboard with 18 notes, when the Pedal Bourdon only had 13 notes.
The organ was evidently moved to Whatley by H.J.Prosser of Frome. In the last 20 or 30 years the roof over the organ leaked and the windchest was restored, not very well, but adequately. The pulldowns for the key action at the back of the wind chest and the octave coupler at the front were replaced without care and attention, which proved a problem when re-connecting and adjusting in 2022. During installation in 2022 the Pedal wind chest was brought 125mm closer to the organ, to fit the space, with a new square beam for the angled squares. The blower hung from above, but the cast mountings had broken. New ones were made by Joe Marsden. The front walls of the Clarabella had fallen off in the damp, and were replaced. The bellows inlet valve hinges were nailed but the nails were corroded and the valves had come adrift; they were glued and the hinge strips screwed. The console was made to be dismantled for access, but had been altered so that it was loose but inaccessible. The stop jambs are now fixed in place, and it is possible to remove the music desk.
Otherwise the organ was cleaned and adjusted during re-assembly, by Chris Davies and Dominic Gwynn, and by former colleague Joseph Marsden, and Pete Thomasson. The casework is being restored by Bill Hewitt. A number of the composition crockets and panel mouldings have fallen off, and will be put back or replaced. The surface paintwork and gilding will be cleaned and touched in.