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Mander Organs

David Drinkell

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About David Drinkell

  • Rank
    Advanced Member
  • Birthday 10/12/1955

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Fredericton Cathedral, New Brunswick
  • Interests
    Choral and organ music, food, wine and restaurants, architecture (especially old churches and Charles Rennie Macintosh), the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway....

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  1. David Drinkell

    List of beautiful English Organs

    Quite right too! I have to confess that, as far as Cambridge is concerned, my alma mater is Homerton, where I did my teaching year (my degree is from Bristol). In the hall, there was (in 1979) a Hammond, dated 1937. It still worked, although it was prone, when it got excited, to emit smoke. I suppose a lot of us were like that in those days. I wonder if it's still there. In a way, I was glad to make its acquaintance, as I was of a similar model in a Belfast suburb where I filled in for Evensong for about six months (Cathedral Evensong was at 3.30). At least I got to know how to operate the things - as forumites will know, even just switching them on can be far from straightforward. Real old Hammonds are much sought-after by rock musicians - nothing else makes quite the same sound. Returning to the real things, here are the two other "grinning monkey" cases, apart from Portsmouth Cathedral. All Hallows, Twickenham (by Renatus Harris, ex-All Hallows, Lombard Street, City of London, brought here when that church was demolished and installed by Kingsgate Davidson to a clever scheme by Cecil Clutton: http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N12615 And St. Clement's, Eastcheap, City, by Renatus Harris. it looks a bit incongruous in its present position perched above the porch, but a fine case all the same. The organ, rebuilt the last two times by Hill, Norman & Beard, I always thought to be a good one. http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=A00714
  2. David Drinkell

    List of beautiful English Organs

    And another of my favourites - St. Edmundsbury. It's mind-boggling to remember that the two great churches (St. James - now the Cathedral - and St. Mary's, a third, St. Margaret's is long gone), which stand within a stone's throw of each other, were dwarfed by the enormous abbey church which stood behind them, the ruins of which can be seen to this day. St. James was beautifully enlarged in the sixties by Stephen Dykes Bower, and the wonderful central tower completed in 2005, the impetus being a substantial legacy from Dykes Bower - it looks as if it has been there for centuries. The organ was rebuilt in Dykes Bower's new Quire by Nicholson in 1970 (I was at the opening recital, by Francis Jackson) and was a fine job, but relied rather heavily on recycled soundboards, etc. Harrison & Harrison built a new instrument in 2010, and it finally has a pair of proper cases designed by Alan Rome, very much in the Dykes Bower style. http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=E01697
  3. David Drinkell

    List of beautiful English Organs

    Thinking again about English cathedrals, I'm very fond of Portsmouth. The first time I was there was in the seventies to ring the bells (bell-ringing is one of the best ways to discover churches, organs and good pubs). The old town looked rather scruffy - it hadn't recovered from World War II - and the cathedral was still incomplete. The Jordan "grinning monkey" organ case looked somewhat the worse for wear (as well it might). Much later, in the nineties, I took my Belfast choristers to sing there for a week - what a difference! The town had revived itself and the cathedral had been completed. The 1861 organ which Nicholson had built for Manchester Cathedral had arrived (via Holy Trinity, Bolton) and been restored and installed by the present Nicholson firm, and the old case had been splendidly renovated. The whole place looked beautiful and the clergy and vergers were exceptionally friendly and helpful (as was David Price, the organist). Portsmouth Cathedral is a peculiar building (I don't use that term disparagingly). The east end consists of the gothic chancel of the medieval church, plus the classical nave (now the quire) and tower added in the seventeenth century to replace the one destroyed during the Commonwealth. When the church became a cathedral, Sir Charles Nicholson was commissioned to enlarge it. He made a substantial gallery under the tower and commenced the building of a new nave, which was halted at the outbreak of war in 1939. The nave was finally completed in 1991. Because of the substantial tower, which was at the west end of the seventeenth century building, the nave is pretty much a separate space, so a West Great organ with case by Didier Grassin was built by Nicholsons' back-to-back with the existing instrument and inaugurated in 2001. Last year, a Trompete de Maris was added in the nave - a particularly happy example of a party horn, I think. The West Great has doors which are closed during Advent and Lent. The main organ is the third to have been installed in the old case. The first, after many rebuilds, was destroyed in the Blitz at Compton's works in London, whence it had been taken for rebuilding (the case, fortunately, stayed in the cathedral and survived). The second came from St. Michael's Church, which had been damaged in the war, and was installed by Walker, with a later rebuild by Eustace & Alldridge in 1974. This was replaced by the Nicholson organ in 1994. http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D02774 The Jordan case, facing in the Quire: The West Great case, facing the nave:
  4. David Drinkell

    List of beautiful English Organs

    Another Caroe case is at Elveden Church, Suffolk, where he added a new, larger nave adjacent to the medieval one, plus a cloister leading to a much larger tower, all paid for by the Guinness family and in a style which Pevsner described as "Art Nouveau Gothic". The picture in NPOR shows the case to be a typical Caroe design (more so than Southwell) with its deep pipe shades and further embellishment around the toe-boards. http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D01854 Further pictures of the extravaganza which is Elveden, including a couple of sideways views of the organ, are found on Simon Knott's Suffolk Churches site. http://www.suffolkchurches.co.uk/elveden.htm
  5. David Drinkell

    List of beautiful English Organs

    Not all English cathedrals have beautiful organ cases, but Stephen Dykes Bower's double-fronted screen case at Norwich is superb. I believe the organ is shortly to undergo restoration by Harrisons'. http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D05016 Southwell is not so well known, but it has a double-fronted case by Caroe. He designed a number of good cases, but Southwell is perhaps his best. Nicholsons' organ looks to be a fine conception, too, as does the nave organ by Wood of Huddersfield. I haven't yet heard either of them. The last time I was in Southwell Minster was in1971 when the organ was in bits for the previous rebuild - I had lunch in a local pub afterwards and John Norman was in there for the same reason. http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D02714
  6. David Drinkell

    List of beautiful English Organs

    And on the subject of pipe-less screens, the Royal Hospital School at Holbrook, Suffolk has what is said to be the largest example in Europe. The organ itself is a magnificent example of Hill, Norman & Beard's work, 1933. The late Reg Lane, who cared for it for many years and whose pride and joy it was, said that it was an ideal opportunity for HN&B - an open west-gallery position in which no part got in the way of anything else, a large and resonant building, and money no object. The tonal scheme is unaltered. http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N00981
  7. David Drinkell

    List of beautiful English Organs

    Gone, but not forgotten..... St. Jude's, Thornton Heath, Surrey - Henry Willis III 1930. An enormous organ for quite a small church (there were plans to extend it by two bays, but it would still not have been large), all enclosed in swell boxes (Great, Swell, Choir, Chancel. Pedal divided between them and all controlled by a switchboard, which enabled any box to be controlled from any of the four patent "Infinite Speed and Gradation" pedals). Certainly one of Willis III's finest instruments, possibly his largest new organ (as opposed to a rebuild) after Liverpool, Westminster Cathedral and Sheffield City Hall, and close enough to his works for him to use it to show off to clients. Alas, it was too much for the parish to maintain, especially in latter years when the local population was predominantly non-Christian. It was replaced by an electronic in the 1980s and purchased by Carlo Curley to save it from being scrapped. Subsequently, it is said to have gone to Japan to be installed in a concert hall, but I don't know if that ever happened. Being all-enclosed, there were no cases with pipes, although the west organ had quite a handsome screen (a plainer one in the chancel), but the console was quite a piece of kit - all bells and whistles in the latest Willis style, influenced by his visits to Ernest Skinner in America (shown here in its last years when it was a bit the worse for wear). In the picture of the west screen, note the little red light, top centre. This was a reminder that the wind was on! http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N13491 It really was one heck of a fine beast...….
  8. David Drinkell

    Organs and the warm weather

    Little reeds are more susceptible to getting out of regulation - I suppose the simplest explanation is that larger ones are more robust and allow a bigger margin before they become unhappy. The same thing is true of flue pipes and one usually finds that the basses need a good deal less tuning than the trebles, but reeds by their nature are a more complicated system so there is more to go wrong or to get out of regulation. Excellent initial construction and regulation, together with competent subsequent maintenance, results in good general stability of tuning, but extremes of temperature will upset the finest of pipes and mechanisms - and it's the reed trebles which tend to be the worst affected.
  9. David Drinkell

    Organs and the warm weather

    It was 36C here, with a humidex of 46, yesterday, which is a bit more than we usually get in New Brunswick at this time - although temperatures in the 30s are not uncommon in high summer. The Cathedral organ is behaving herself well enough, although the tuning is a little bit French. I went out to Woodstock (about an hour's drive) today to try out the organ in the Anglican Church prior to giving a concert on it next week - Casavant, rebuilt by Hill, Norman & Beard 1954 - nothing untoward to report, but the tuner is coming on Monday anyway!
  10. David Drinkell

    List of beautiful English Organs

    I remember Clifton Cathedral from student days. A fine example of its type, immaculately planned and engineered as usual with Rieger (Josef von Glatter-Gotz was a genius), and more versatile than might at first appear. I like the building, too. Revisiting some twenty years later, I thought it sounded rather less spiky than I remembered. I wonder if this was due to revoicing, the effect of age, dust and incense, or just a change in my hearing facilities! Speaking of Father Smith and Durham, the Chaire case of Smith's cathedral organ is in Tunstall's Chapel in Durham Castle, looking very well and containing a very nice little Arthur Harrison organ, slightly modified. http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D00489
  11. David Drinkell

    List of beautiful English Organs

    Lythe Church, Yorkshire - an octopod by Norman & Beard 1911, but charming nevertheless. The case is by Sir Walter Tapper and the console, a massive item squatting to the north of the chancel like a hibernating Wurlitzer, has N&B's "disc and button" double miniature draw-stop system. http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N02981
  12. David Drinkell

    List of beautiful English Organs

    Two historic Essex organs, both of which were thoroughly knackered (a technical term I heard used by Henry Willis 4 to describe the organ in the Alexandra Palace) when I first knew them over forty years ago but which nevertheless continued to play until scholarly restorations took place. Harwich Church - Flight & Robson 1821 - is reputed to have been brought here from London in a barge which sank in the harbour and had to be salvaged. It was in a shocking state when I played it in about 1970, and had apparently been so for many years before that, but it soldiered on until Peter Bumstead restored it in 1992. http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N08670 Thaxted - Henry Lincoln, also 1821 - seems to have been worn out even when Gustav Holst was organist in the 1920s and was kept going by local organ builders Cedric Arnold and Peter Wood (the latter was organist here as well) until Goetze & Gwynn restored it in 2014. http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N18436 One reason why the Thaxted organ survived unspoiled was that Cedric Arnold, in 1952, provided another organ at the west end, with case and pipe-work by George Pike England. http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D02744
  13. David Drinkell

    List of beautiful English Organs

    Epping Parish Church, Essex. A rarity because the four manual organ is by Wordsworth of Leeds (with later work by Brian Bunting and David Wells) and the case by C.E. Kempe, better known for his work in stained glass. http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N08724
  14. David Drinkell

    List of beautiful English Organs

    Edwardstone, Suffolk - both Bernard Edmonds and the Suffolk organ historian John Ince remarked on traditions that some of the pipes came from Father Smith's organ for the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford. Martin of Oxford assembled the organ in Bodley's case in 1879 and Cedric Arnold pulled it together in 1970 (I was at the opening). Peter Bumstead restored and enhanced it in 1998. The lower case is rather more maroon than the candy-colour which appears in the picture. The uppermost portion gives a truer idea. http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D05284
  15. David Drinkell

    List of beautiful English Organs

    Unusual for its date - the 1937 Cedric Arnold extension organ at Great Easton, Essex. A crafty disposition of the pipe-work, all unenclosed, and a simple but dignified case. http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D00965
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