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Ancient English Organs


Pierre Lauwers
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I just read in another topic there would still exist a Snetzler organ in a museum -at least-.

 

I tend to believe there are no ancient english organs still existing in England; I hope this is solely due to my sheer ignorance.

 

So what does still exist from Harris, Smith, England, Snetzler and Green,etc, apart from some pipes isolated in later instruments?

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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Guest Roffensis

There are still a few dotted about, there is a Samual Green at Heaton Hall, Manchester and the other is in Salford...forget which church. Haslingden church in kent also has one. Quite often houses have them, and several are on the Bate box set of Regis, well worth getting. Armitage has an old organ, and there is also Packington I think. What depresses is the way that you often find old organs incoporated in rebuilds, often in small churches where what was would still be enough to lead. Unaltered jobs are pretty thin on the ground. Liverpool museum as I said has an old Snetzler hidden away, theres also an even older one manual job, but you never really hear much about them. They were listed in a inventory book some time ago. I acquired an old Palmer organ, which i had restored, only one rank is original, but i have a wial of a time playing Walond, people just dont know what they are missing, these 18th century voluntaries are great to play, often pretty fiddly, but worth the effort, and great for technique, as there is usually no predal, so you are using more of the manual than you might with pedals. How many people know the 6th Vol.in D minor by walond? a gem, with a superb fugue. Thats published by Hawthornes, its well worth getting.

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Guest Geoff McMahon

There are in fact quite a few unaltered and virtually unaltered chamber organs about, some in churches and others in private hands. Plenty to look at and get excited about. There is a book called The English Chamber Organ by Michael Wilson which is worth getting hold of if you can find a copy.

 

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of larger instruments. The overwhelming majority of those (which are obviously in churches) have been very much altered. Killed by fashion and too much money I am afraid.

 

John Pike Mander

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There is a 1769 Snetzler and other interesting instruments (some 'early' including a c1795 James Davis and an 1809 Gray) at the English Organ School at Milborne Port - The well known recitalist and teacher Margaret Phillips and her husband David Hunt organize a regular series of recitals and workshops there all of which are well worth attending. I heard the Snetzler there a number of years ago and it certainly has a 'lively' sound with chorus topped by tierce mixture etc. Details of the organs (including those mentioned and a couple of rather nice modern instruments by Peter Collins) at the EOS can be found on the NPOR. Within reasonable distance from the EOS at Blandford Forum can be found (in its original case) the 3 manual 1794 England/1876 Hilll (1971 Mander) instrument - also well worth a visit. Margaret Phillips has recently recorded music by Stanley on this and other organs of similar vintage - Regent recordings - REGCD190 - 2 CDs.

These recordings have been very well reviewed as one would expect from this player see:-

http://www.theorganmag.com/cdrevs/04/329rev4.html

AJJ

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One ancient English organ is in Framlingham Church in Suffolk. This instrument was built C1674 by Thomas Thamar. This organ was built for the chapel of Pembroke College, Cambridge . The college gave the organ to Framlingham in 1708 and in 1754 Byfield added additional stops. Hunter of Clapham enlarged it in 1898.

 

Bishop and Son under the direction of John Budgen restored the organ in 1970. The organ is positioned on a West gallery and is mechanical throughout with original Thamar roller board and soundboard on the great . The Swell and pedal organs were redesigned in order to much better complement the original Thamar Great organ.

 

The organ case is another 'gem' as it pre dates Cromwell (circa 1588) and has been carefully restored to its original glory.

 

Well worth a visit and the church is very welcoming to visiting organists.

 

Spec: Manuals CC-g (56) Pedal CCC-F (30)

Great - Open Diapason 8, Stopped Diapason 8, Principal 4, Twelfth 22/3, Fifteenth 2, Cornet and Sesquialtera III-IV*, Trumpet 8.

Swell - Chimney Flute 8, Salicional 8, OpenFlute 4, Principal 4, Gemshorn 2, Quint 11/3, Mixture(19-22-26) III, Cromorne 8

Pedal - Bourdon 16, Principal 8, Flute 4, Fagotto 16.

3 Couplers and Tremulant

 

* Composition of Great Sesquialtera: 22,24,26. Cornet from Mid C# 8,12,15,17.

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I found the Snetzler of the English organ school on the NPOR site. There are even two pictures, one of the - very beautiful!- case, and one of the keyboard with a candid "please do not touch" warning (As an aftertought after centuries of systematic destruction?)

 

So we have chamber organs, plus some material left in rebuild church organs.

 

On the continent there has been a craze for "reconstituing" what was believed to be ancient organs. We begin to realize what was build is actually something else. Now that the "neo-baroque" fashion is coming -rapidly- to an end, it seems -paradoxically- sheer progresses have been made in this respect, at least in Germany (to my knowledge)

 

I know this is not "british" at all as an idea, but wouldn't *some* trials to reconstitution be worth considering? France, Holland, Germany, Belgium all have some ancient organs to display; recordings are made of it, and these organs act as public-relation tools for an area and its builders. If there were nor Poitiers nor St-Maximin, would about everyone know what the french baroque repertoire is like?

Just a thought.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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Guest Geoff McMahon
I know this is not "british" at all as an idea, but wouldn't *some* trials to reconstitution be worth considering?

 

Do you mean something like Pembroke College Cambridge on this web site?

 

John Pike Mander

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I tend to believe there are no ancient english organs still existing in England; I hope this is solely due to my sheer ignorance.

 

So what does still exist from Harris, Smith, England, Snetzler and Green,etc, apart from some pipes isolated in later instruments?

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

An interesting item here is the Thomas Thamar (Portsmouth) organ that was built by him for Winchester Cathedral in 1665-6.

 

Cathedral of Holy Trinity, Winchester, Hampshire

Thomas Thamar, Portsmouth, 1665-6

 

Cost: £427.12s.6d for "a 'faire, substantial, good and perfect double organ'.

 

Two manual organ, no pedals. Manual Compass: 51 notes

 

Great Organ:

 

1 Open Diapason 8 metal

2 Stopp Diapason 8 Wood

3 Principal 4 metal

4 Recorder 4 Wood, unison with Principal

5 Principall 2 metal

6 Principall 2 metal

7 Twelfth 2 2/3 metal

8 Fourniture II metal

9 Two and Twentieth 1 metal

 

Chaire Organ:

 

10 Principall 8

11 Stopp Diapason 8 Wood

12 Flute 4 Wood (?4')

13 Principall 2

14 Two and Twentieth 1

 

[source: NPOR, reference N11460]

 

This organ was, it seems, rebuilt by Renatus Harris in 1693-4 (cost £400) and by John Avery (1798-9, cost £400. Some action and front case pipes retained from old organ). Further work was done by Blyth in 1825 and 1846.

 

In 1851, this organ was removed to Christ Church, Lancaster Gate, reconstructed by Willis in about 1855 and then by Bishop and Starr in 1875 to leave an organ of 4 manuals.

 

Part of the organ was then moved to St. Peter's Church, Southsea, Hampshire in 1884 by Willis whose organ was 4 manuals and 37 stops. This was rebuilt in 1908 by WJ Burton and then again by Hill, Norman & Beard in 1930.

 

It appears that, despite all the rebuilds and alterations, the case from the 1665 organ at Winchester has survived the intervening 340 years and is still in existance as can be seen in this 2004 photo which was sent to the NPOR by D.Fry:

 

1665organ.jpg

 

Looks old enough to me to be at least 200 years of age.

 

Dave

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A few more old instruments:

 

A few more I can find by looking in the NPOR:

 

-------------------

 

Little Bardfield, Essex

NPOR Reference: H00559

 

1680: Built by R. Harris for Jesus College, Cambridge

1790: Removed to All Saints Church, Cambridge

1860: Removed to Little Bardfield

1880: Enlarged by JW Walker.

 

Harris case still survives.

 

-------------------

 

St. John The Baptist, Thaxtead, Essex

NPOR Reference: N18436

 

1704: Renatus or John Harris. Built for St. John, Bedford Row, Holborn, London

1805: Hugh Russel

1826: Henry Lincoln

 

Organ said to have once been played by Gustav Holst. Now barely used and in poor condition.

 

-------------------

 

St. Paul, Parkend, Gloucestershire

NPOR Reference: N05754

 

1668: Possibly built by Thomas (or Renatus) Harris for Salisbury Cathedral. Possibly sold shortly afterwards because:

1679: "For the organ sold at Bristol not paid for hitherto £050-00-00" [salisbury Cathedral Records]

Later rebuilt by another firm from Leonard Stanley, Gloucestershire.

 

Casework 1680. Original front pipes (decorated) remained.

 

It seems that this organ may not now exist. A further look for Parkend in the NPOR reads that John Compton built an organ for St. Paul's, Parkend and incorporated a "nucleus of pipework from Trocadero Cinema, Southport". This organ went back to Southport in 1990. See separate thread for more on the Salisbury part of this organ.

 

The organ now at Parkend was moved in 1990 from Yeovil Baptist Church and was built by George Osmond. Shame on Parkend for letting the 1668 organ go! I reckon that the organ in NPOR number N05754 is older than 1688 though.

 

-------------------

 

Great Bowden, Leicestershire

NPOR Reference D00819

 

1660: Originally an organ by Harris and brought here from elsewhere.

1887: Henry Speechly. New organ in old case.

 

1660 Harris case survives.

 

-------------------

 

And that is just for starters. Finding all these old organs and any evidence of them is by no means an open and shut case! icon_smile.gificon_smile.gif

 

Dave

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