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Carolus Allen


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The organ I play at Scarthingwell is an 1854 Carolus Allen. I can't find any information about them, nor have I heard of any other organs made by them. Any ideas?

 

Charles (Carolus) Allen was part of an extensive family of organ builders and is believed to be the son of organ builder William Allen (also trading as Guiliemus Allen). The firm appears to have either had a hiatus for a few years or some kind of tragedy as William is listed as stopping work in about 1835, but not until three years later is there mention of Carolus becoming productive. In the 1841 census William Allen is listed as a shoemaker living in the house next door to the address used by the firm which seems to suggest some kind of enforced downward change of career, perhaps through financial misfortune or ill health.

 

Although there is no definite link, it is likely he is the cousin of one Robert Allen (believed to be the son of William Allen's brother), around 20 years Charles' junior, who was born (like Charles) in Middlesex. He was apprenticed to Henry Willis and evidently moved to Bristol with his wife Sarah (possibly via Winchester, where the first of seven children was born) and took over the firm of John Smith in around 1859.

 

As for organs - this is one which would be his, but I doubt what is there now has much in common with it - exactly the same story here. In another RC church near you is this which you are likely to recognise far more.

 

Interestingly, the Robert Allen (Bristol) and William/Charles/Carolus Allen (London) firms seem to have spent a good deal of time working on each others territories. There is also a link-up with someone called Yates in the late 20's which I would guess to be Roger.

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I never spotted the Yates connection with an 'Allen' when I was researching him about 20 years ago but that might just be my omission - Bill Drake might know more.

 

AJJ

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  • 2 weeks later...

We visited Everingham today. It's no longer in use and standing empty. The hall next to it is still inhabited, and so we asked to look round. He wouldn't let us. Not impressed.

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  • 13 years later...
On 13/05/2007 at 14:44, David Coram said:

 

Charles (Carolus) Allen was part of an extensive family of organ builders and is believed to be the son of organ builder William Allen (also trading as Guiliemus Allen). The firm appears to have either had a hiatus for a few years or some kind of tragedy as William is listed as stopping work in about 1835, but not until three years later is there mention of Carolus becoming productive. In the 1841 census William Allen is listed as a shoemaker living in the house next door to the address used by the firm which seems to suggest some kind of enforced downward change of career, perhaps through financial misfortune or ill health.

 

Although there is no definite link, it is likely he is the cousin of one Robert Allen (believed to be the son of William Allen's brother), around 20 years Charles' junior, who was born (like Charles) in Middlesex. He was apprenticed to Henry Willis and evidently moved to Bristol with his wife Sarah (possibly via Winchester, where the first of seven children was born) and took over the firm of John Smith in around 1859.

 

As for organs - this is one which would be his, but I doubt what is there now has much in common with it - exactly the same story here. In another RC church near you is this which you are likely to recognise far more.

 

Interestingly, the Robert Allen (Bristol) and William/Charles/Carolus Allen (London) firms seem to have spent a good deal of time working on each others territories. There is also a link-up with someone called Yates in the late 20's which I would guess to be Roger.

 

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I have just found this site and as a descendant of Robert ALLEN organ builder, I have a few comments to add and some corrections.

Robert was apprenticed to Father Henry Willis who sent him to Winchester to overlook the installation of their new organ. As a result, my great grandmother was born there. He then returned to London until 1859 (as you said). He then purchased the company in Bristol from John Smith who was a Moravian.  Robert had a total of 9 children, not 7.  

As for William.  he was NOT the brother of Robert ALLEN Sr and he was NOT a shoe maker.  He actually died in 1833.  His Will and Probate was published 11 Nov 1833 and he leaves money to his son John and his son Charles Arthur ALLEN was one of his executors.  This William was the Church Organ builder which was mentioned in his Will and he was baptised 09 Apr 1783 at St Marys, Walton on Thames the 6th of 9 children.

Going back to Robert 2 of his children were born in London and 6 in Bristol as well as Emma Elizabeth who as you say, was born in Winchester.   3 of Robert's sons were also Organ builders but all 3 died young Robert Franckling ALLEN age 51, Walter age 42 and Christopher John age 32.

"Willis was completing one of his first important organs at Winchester Cathedral in 1854: it had been built for the Great Exhibition in 1851, but very much remodelled for Winchester, so it would have been a big job:  Willis's men were evidently there for almost the whole of 1854. Installation began in January, but when it was first heard in June the press observed that quite a lot was still silent: the official opening recital was not until November."  

I have birth, marriage and death certificates as well as Wills.

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2 hours ago, Allen Descendant said:

I have just found this site and as a descendant of Robert ALLEN organ builder, I have a few comments to add and some corrections.

Robert was apprenticed to Father Henry Willis who sent him to Winchester to overlook the installation of their new organ. As a result, my great grandmother was born there. He then returned to London until 1859 (as you said). He then purchased the company in Bristol from John Smith who was a Moravian.  Robert had a total of 9 children, not 7.  

As for William.  he was NOT the brother of Robert ALLEN Sr and he was NOT a shoe maker.  He actually died in 1833.  His Will and Probate was published 11 Nov 1833 and he leaves money to his son John and his son Charles Arthur ALLEN was one of his executors.  This William was the Church Organ builder which was mentioned in his Will and he was baptised 09 Apr 1783 at St Marys, Walton on Thames the 6th of 9 children.

Going back to Robert 2 of his children were born in London and 6 in Bristol as well as Emma Elizabeth who as you say, was born in Winchester.   3 of Robert's sons were also Organ builders but all 3 died young Robert Franckling ALLEN age 51, Walter age 42 and Christopher John age 32.

"Willis was completing one of his first important organs at Winchester Cathedral in 1854: it had been built for the Great Exhibition in 1851, but very much remodelled for Winchester, so it would have been a big job:  Willis's men were evidently there for almost the whole of 1854. Installation began in January, but when it was first heard in June the press observed that quite a lot was still silent: the official opening recital was not until November."  

I have birth, marriage and death certificates as well as Wills.

Greetings A.D and welcome to the forum.

Dave

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There's a fabulous recording from Everingham called Handel to Wesley recorded by Alan Spedding in 2004

http://www.amphion-recordings.com/phicd211.html

A search on NPOR lists three organs in the village which must be a record for a village with a population of just 300 (can anyone else find a larger number of organs per head of population.....I know the nearby town of Beverley is supposed to have the highest number of pubs per head, I should know I used to drink in most of them). The Allen organ is in a private RC chapel but there is also the parish church and a private residence called the Coffee House in the village which as far as I can make out is the house of John Scott Whitely.

 

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On 15/02/2021 at 14:13, Allen Descendant said:

Robert was apprenticed to Father Henry Willis who sent him to Winchester to overlook the installation of their new organ.

Fascinated to read this.  In itself interesting that FHW delegated such an important job to his apprentice.  As you go on to say, the necessary adaptation of the 1851 Great Exhibition organ (three manuals and 70 speaking stops) in its 1854 new home at Winchester Cathedral (now four manuals and 49 stops) was very long drawn-out and that received humorous press reports at the time.  When the great day of its inauguration finally arrived, S S Wesley had mustered the services of most of the other cathedral choirs of southern England; among the choristers on that occasion was the juvenile John Stainer from St Paul’s.

It’s too big a subject to go into here, but I still wonder how the 32’ pipes were conveyed in the 1850s from London to Winchester - they are full-length and still going strong 170 years later.

Do your family records include any details where Emma Elizabeth was born and baptised?  

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Yes, Emma was born on 05 Jun 1854 at Folkstone Place, Winchester, Hampshire. I have the Birth Certificate.  Her mother, Sarah, probably returned home to the rest of the family on 16 Jul 1854 for her baptism at All Saints, Islington..  Following the births of their next 2 sons, they had moved to Bristol by the birth of Edwin John ALLEN at 3 Kings Square Avenue on 23 Sep 1860 and he sadly died 18 Jan 1861.  

I would be interested to know who the William ALLEN was who had an Organ Building Company in Bristol in 1860.  I can find no William and wonder if this was actually Robert but using the name of William as William (his uncle) was obviously well known in the Organ Building circles?

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Our Bristol members may be able to help with William Allen.  Folkstone Place is something of a mystery and isn’t currently known by that name.  The artist Richard Baigent found it important enough to include in a very fine series of Winchester paintings dating from the 1830s to 1850s, sold at Sotheby’s in 2003, but now, I believe, possibly in Canada or USA.

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I wonder if Folkstone Place  was a hospital?  I've often found hospitals don't actually state that they are hospitals on Birth Certificates.  Yes, I notice that Folkstone Place was  mentioned in Richard Baigent's painting of the Cathedral.   I have scoured all the newspapers looking for a William ALLEN in Bristol and there is no mention of him but plenty of references to my Robert.  I'm beginning to think that those references to William ALLEN Organ Builder of Bristol is an error and must be Robert.

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The first organ I ever played was reputedly by one of the Allens. The organ builder at the time strenuously denied that it was by Vowles. Early 1840s in a very protestant church about 15 miles from Bristol. The organ was originally placed under the tower at the back of the West gallery. Sadly it was changed rather unsympathetically by a local builder in the early 1970s and no longer exists, the church having gone the way musically of so many of that style having previously had a full choral repertoire sung by juniors and adults.

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The mystery of Folkstone Place is solved, thanks to a book by the distinguished Oxford historian Professor Martin Biddle.  It was "a row of four dwellings along the North side of Abbey Gardens to the East of Abbey House" and probably built circa 1800.  However, I think these no longer exist, possibly victims of road widening, although I can't be sure of that.  They must have been sufficiently attractive for Richard Baigent to have painted them.  Sotheby's might have a photograph of that painting - worth a try if you are sufficiently interested.  

This location would have been a very convenient short walk for Robert to the Cathedral through what is now the Water Garden entrance to the Inner Close by a footpath direct to the South Transept entrance, the most direct route for access to the position of the organ.
 

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Thank you so much.  It is lovely to get the exact location where Robert lived and where Emma was born.  Emma died at 21 Longfield Road, St Andrews Park, Bristol.  It was inherited through the Will of Emma's husband to their maiden daughter, Winifred.  She lived in it with no electricity until she died in 1969.  In the hallway was a huge wooden angel which she said had been made by her grandfather (Robert Allen) and that it was one or two, the second was in St Mary Redcliffe.  Many years ago I wrote to St Mary Redcliffe to see if Robert had done any work on their organ.  I know that at least 2 of his children were baptised there.

Any information on St Mary Redcliffe would be much appreciated.

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9 hours ago, Allen Descendant said:

Thank you so much.  It is lovely to get the exact location where Robert lived and where Emma was born.  Emma died at 21 Longfield Road, St Andrews Park, Bristol.  It was inherited through the Will of Emma's husband to their maiden daughter, Winifred.  She lived in it with no electricity until she died in 1969.  In the hallway was a huge wooden angel which she said had been made by her grandfather (Robert Allen) and that it was one or two, the second was in St Mary Redcliffe.  Many years ago I wrote to St Mary Redcliffe to see if Robert had done any work on their organ.  I know that at least 2 of his children were baptised there.

Any information on St Mary Redcliffe would be much appreciated.

A look on the NPOR records for St. Mary Redcliffe makes no mention of Robert Allen and neither does the copy I have of the history of the organs there. As for the address in Longfield Road, St. Andrews it still stands but I can't imagine how she coped with no electricity.

Dave

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There is this somewhat cryptic note on NPOR N03901 about the Redcliffe organ in its 1726 Harris & Byfield state, i.e., before Vowles rebuilt and enlarged it in 1867.   
Accessories  "There is a (?spring) of communication that will give octaves on the pedals;
but it has a bad effect.". Organist Mr Allen.
C.W. Pearce, 'Notes on English Organs'

Could the organist be Robert Allen?

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9 hours ago, DaveHarries said:

As for the address in Longfield Road, St. Andrews it still stands but I can't imagine how she coped with no electricity.

Dave

My Great-Grandmother had no electricity in her house until she died (early to mid - 1960's).  It was a typical fair sized Victorian terraced house.  Gas lighting on the ground floor only (which was all that was used by that time).  A gas stove in the kitchen, alongside a coal fire range (which I never saw in use).  Outside toilet.  If you needed to go upstairs in the dark you used a candle.  No TV  (obviously), but there was a radio - on a "Redifusion" system.  Basically a cable relay system.  There was a choice of BBC Light programme & home service.  My sister & I would regularly go there for tea on Fridays.  Granny Pete (Mrs Peters) was quite happy with what she had & never wanted anything more modern.  I guess when you've lived your life without "modern" luxuries you don't see the point.

At least Granny Pete had running water - I remember Mum & Dad taking her to visit a friend who lived in a cottage in the country - their water supply was a spring across the road!  (That would probably have been late 1950's)  How times change!
 

Every Blessing

Tony

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