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Andrew Freeman's Favourite Organs


Guest spottedmetal

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Guest spottedmetal

Dear All

 

A wonderful booklet appeared out of the woodwork this morning entitled "CHURCH ORGANS and ORGAN CASES" by Andrew Freeman. His choice of organs worthy of illustration is particularly interesting as Revd Freeman's judgment must have been "spot on" as it included the organ that I realise now was my inspiration at the age of 4.

 

The subsequent history of the list of organs is therefore clearly worth watching:

 

1. St Stephen's, Old Radnor, 1520

2. St Nicholas' Stanford, Northants 1580

3. St Katherine's, Little Bardfield, Essex 1680

4. St Nicholas', Deptford, SE, 1697

5. St Michael's Sculthorpe, Norfolk, 1756

6. Warminster Parish Church, Wilts, 1792

7. St Mary the Virgin, West Tofts, Norfolk, 1850

8. Church of the Assumption, Harlton, Cambs, 1869

9. St Peter's Yaxley, Hunts, 1910

10. Carshalton Parish Church, 1937

11 and 12. St Nicholas, Hardwicke, Glos, 1938

 

Does anyone know these instruments and what has happened to them since?

 

Best wishes

 

Spottedmetal

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Dear All

 

A wonderful booklet appeared out of the woodwork this morning entitled "CHURCH ORGANS and ORGAN CASES" by Andrew Freeman. His choice of organs worthy of illustration is particularly interesting as Revd Freeman's judgment must have been "spot on" as it included the organ that I realise now was my inspiration at the age of 4.

 

The subsequent history of the list of organs is therefore clearly worth watching:

 

1. St Stephen's, Old Radnor, 1520

2. St Nicholas' Stanford, Northants 1580

3. St Katherine's, Little Bardfield, Essex 1680

4. St Nicholas', Deptford, SE, 1697

5. St Michael's Sculthorpe, Norfolk, 1756

6. Warminster Parish Church, Wilts, 1792

7. St Mary the Virgin, West Tofts, Norfolk, 1850

8. Church of the Assumption, Harlton, Cambs, 1869

9. St Peter's Yaxley, Hunts, 1910

10. Carshalton Parish Church, 1937

11 and 12. St Nicholas, Hardwicke, Glos, 1938

 

Does anyone know these instruments and what has happened to them since?

 

Best wishes

 

Spottedmetal

 

Yaxley is still there, although the church is now "less traditional" in its music, I gather.

 

Stephen Barber

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The Carshalton organ is shown here http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=H00191

 

I played it a few years ago, and seem to remember being disappointed that so much of the pedal organ specification was "prepared for". In particular, the Trombone 16' had no bottom octave (being the Gt/Ch 8 reed), which rendered it practically useless. But the Comper casework is dazzling, and the west end gallery position means it speaks well into the church. Happily, I see here that work is in hand to restore the instrument and complete the specification - http://www.willis-organs.com/carshalton_general.html

 

Perhaps David Wyld can give more details?

 

Graham

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The case at Stanford-on-Avon still exists, though it no longer has an organ inside it. This organ was originally built by Robert Dallam c.1630 for Magdalen College, Oxford, and was at the old Tudor 5' pitch standard. Three of the original pipes survive too in the facade; they are still capable of speech.

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Guest spottedmetal
Yaxley is still there, although the church is now "less traditional" in its music, I gather.

Thanks for this! This is the sort of area where the fate of an organ is clearly capable of being in danger and perhaps a local organist offering to do a recital there might inspire the young generation?

 

Perhaps one day the younger generation might get bored of the "less traditional" music as a result? But this sort of thing is very much like water dripping on a stone and not necessarily achieved with just one recital. At a memorial service for a wise friend the other day one of his sayings was reported to the assembled gathering "If you are going to bother to write and complain, be prepared to write the seventh letter".

 

Possibly efforts to regain appreciation for organs bear similarities?

 

Best wishes

 

Spottedmetal

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Guest Barry Williams
It sounded very good when i attended a friends wedding about 18 months ago. The picture is one of mine.

 

It is not clear exactly what tonal alterations happened with the 'overhaul' by Percy Daniel & Co Ltd in 1985/86. It certainly sounded very different afterwards. The casework is spectacular and only matched by St Philip's Cosham.

 

Barry Williams

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  • 4 years later...

Two West Tofts/ South Pickenham questions:

 

1. Is there a CD/ DVD recording of this instrument? (A Google search failed to find one but perhaps I used the wrong search terms or it features as part of a composite recording).

 

2. Freeman (on page 24 of his "English Organ Cases" book of 1921) notes that the centre pipe in the upper portion of the case is embossed but the only pictures I have seen are not sufficiently detailed to show this feature. Can anyone confirm this please and/or direct me to a suitable picture?

 

Thanks

PJW

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Warminster is still there - 'organ inside much rebuilt - recently restored by Griffiths and Cooper,

 

AJJ

Agreed. I saw it recently and can attest that the 1792 G.P England organ case survives, although only the frontage really survives - the rest and and the console are long gone in previous rebuilds. IMO, Blandford Forum is now a far better example.

 

I would say "recently rebuilt by Griffiths and Cooper" - it is more of an update of the HNB 1960s rebuild with a new console, E-P action, etc. There is little to do with historic restoration in the work on this organ - it is more a story of ongoing development to keep up with the expectations and desires of the organist to have an up-to-date organ (even most recently), a story that has been perpetuated ever since the middle of the 19th century.

 

I visited Old Radnor with Stephen Bicknell some years ago. Although George Sutton might not have found J W Walker quite to his taste, the 1870 organ in the case is a little gem. Barely touched - trigger swell, straight pedalboard to d; Walkers managed to fit an 8ft Great organ into the 6ft case with quite a degree of skill and - for the time - quite a degree of sensitivity. One certainly has the feeling that Walkers raised their game with this organ, putting in a special effort on this organ and it's a very good example of their work.

 

I know Stephen once cast aspersions on the unusual horizontal linenfold pannelling at Old Radnor - during our visit (which was a much longer visit than his previous visits), he was of the opinion that the linenfold pannelling may well be original as it matches the vertical pannelling exactly. I remember spending quite a lot of time looking at this in detail... It's a fascinating case, with tantilising clues of its history and previous organs.

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Agreed. I saw it recently and can attest that the 1792 G.P England organ case survives, although only the frontage really survives - the rest and and the console are long gone in previous rebuilds. IMO, Blandford Forum is now a far better example.

 

I would say "recently rebuilt by Griffiths and Cooper" - it is more of an update of the HNB 1960s rebuild with a new console, E-P action, etc. There is little to do with historic restoration in the work on this organ - it is more a story of ongoing development to keep up with the expectations and desires of the organist to have an up-to-date organ (even most recently), a story that has been perpetuated ever since the middle of the 19th century.

 

I

 

Interesting - I've not been over since the G & C work - there was talk at one time of a reconstruction - case back to what it should be with representative instrument inside - all on a west gallery - but this has obviously not been the preferred choice.

 

A

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Radnor - I think querying the horizontal linen-fold panels is a redherring. Such panels exist elsewhere, althoguh they are not too common. There is a definite atmosphere about this case - Stubington recognised it when he wrote up the organ many years ago, and I felt it when I visited in 1978. I'm sure Lady Susi Jeans was way off the mark in her analysis of it, and probably started from the wrong premise in the first place.

 

Stanford - The Chaire case to the Great case now at Tewkesbury. Goetze & Gwynn did some cosmetic restoration a few years back. I've often wondered if there is another organ in the church which acutally plays. There's no mention of such in NPOR.

 

Little Bardfield - Lovely Harris case, but the instrument is of equal interest. Apparently nothing is older than mid-19th century, but the whole thing is thoroughly antiquated for its date. Miller of Cambridge possibly had more to do with it than is generally suggested. Sir John Sutton owned proerty in the Bardfields and there is a clutch of nice little organs in the area. Great Saling is another single manual Miller with a very decent Gothic case and a startlingly virile chorus (more like West Tofts than Great Bardfield). http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=H00620

 

I've never been to Deptford and have so far not managed to get in the church at Sculthorpe (I tried once as a student, but I don't think the dear lady with the key liked the look of me. My hair is a lot shorter now).

 

Warminster - My memory of this (late 70s) was a very pleasant turn-of-the-century sounding organ, not unlike the N&B at Frome. This would accord with its Vowles parentage. I don't recall anything England-ish tonally.

 

West Tofts - I know the organ very well indeed, although in its present home at South Pickenham. A quite stunning sound, aptly described as 'Gothic'. It looks good, too, although I suppose it must have looked even better in its original swallow's-nest home. West Tofts is in the Stanford Battle Area and has been off limits to visitors since the last War. Things are a little more relaxed now and I believe occasional access is granted by the MoD. Simon Knott's 'Norfolk Churches' website has excellent pictures, both of the empty loft at West Tofts and the organ's present situation. http://www.norfolkchurches.co.uk

 

Harlton - Beautiful case, but the organ was never very interesting. Peter Bumstead's enlargement and resiting looks to be very exciting indeed. http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=M00001 I think Freeman would be very pleased with Peter's 'new' organ at Brundish, Suffolk, with its simple but effective Gothick case seemingly inspired by Great Bardfield. http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=K00988

 

The remaining organs are still there. Willis' announced new work at Carshalton.

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Warminster - My memory of this (late 70s) was a very pleasant turn-of-the-century sounding organ, not unlike the N&B at Frome. This would accord with its Vowles parentage. I don't recall anything England-ish tonally.

 

True - though Frome has a more 'solid' sound to it and is much more bottled up in the chancel chamber of an acoustically difficult church - unfortunately it is not often used for services these days and is not kept in top condition.

 

A

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True - though Frome has a more 'solid' sound to it and is much more bottled up in the chancel chamber of an acoustically difficult church - unfortunately it is not often used for services these days and is not kept in top condition.

 

A

 

Yes - Warminster had been slightly pepped up and was better positioned. I liked Frome, though, and played it several times when Stephen Carleton was organist there. Pity it's not appreciated these days....

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Radnor - I think querying the horizontal linen-fold panels is a redherring. Such panels exist elsewhere, althoguh they are not too common. There is a definite atmosphere about this case - Stubington recognised it when he wrote up the organ many years ago, and I felt it when I visited in 1978. I'm sure Lady Susi Jeans was way off the mark in her analysis of it, and probably started from the wrong premise in the first place.

 

Warminster - My memory of this (late 70s) was a very pleasant turn-of-the-century sounding organ, not unlike the N&B at Frome. This would accord with its Vowles parentage. I don't recall anything England-ish tonally.

Radnor - yes, agreed about horizontal linen-fold panels.

 

Warminster - yes, parts of this organ (great chorus, some of the flutes) are very pretty. I didn't get time to investigate what was what but I would just observe that by 1886, when Vowles first worked on the organ with a move from the West Gallery, they would have started to move to a thicker, more "Victorian" sound and, in any case, it's more likely that any Vowles material is going to be from their 1903 work. I recall the Great Trumpet (HNB 1960s), stands away from the rest of the organ rather uncomfortably and bits of it (one of the Great Diapasons, bits of the choir organ, Great Double) are still a rather a mixed bag. All in all, while it hangs together to the causal listener, closer investigation would uncover rather a patchwork quilt. Personally I'd far rather have the Clarinet back on the Choir organ and the Swell Oboe back at 8ft pitch but overall, I'd agree it is a pleasant sounding organ in the right hands.

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Now that you mention it, I remember that Trumpet! You're right - I think maybe it was voiced (or revoiced) with an eye to its solo potential at the expense of contribution to the chorus. A lot of Clarinets disappeared round about this time, didn't they? Although one can fake it to some extent, it's nice to have a real one. Mine even works in chorus (thank-you R H-J). Like a lot of organs, it's something of a mongrel, but loveable.

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Yes, I think you're right, re. the Trumpet - that was my impression too.

 

I think it was someone like Peter Wright who's responsible for the survival of the Clarinet at Warminster. The (emeritus) organist said that they were going to throw it out but PW said it was worth keeping so they found space for it on the Swell Organ... Yes, I've come across some small organs where the only Great Reed is a Clarinet and the best examples are rather clever: Not only are they a Clarinet but they add to the chorus (with rather an exciting fizz) and I've known some where Clarinet 8ft + Principal 4ft give the impression of a small Trumpet, the Principal 4ft adding in the missing harmonics, which is really useful.

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Now that you mention it, I remember that Trumpet! You're right - I think maybe it was voiced (or revoiced) with an eye to its solo potential at the expense of contribution to the chorus.

 

It pops out in the north aisle through a stone arch behind the organ and the pedal Trombone (extended from same) likewise. This gives a very odd perspective in the choir stalls or at the console - a decidedly muted and 'round the corner' effect. In the body of the church both tend to rule supreme. The recent work has made the organ work better and put in a more 'regular' console (the the NPOR for the old one) but left some of the typical '60s moves noted above and of course the good old Larigot on the Choir.

 

A

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  • 1 year later...

The wonderful collection of pipe organ cases taken by Andrew Freeman as glass plate negatives housed in the British Organ Archive at Birmingham is now on line at http://www.calmview.bham.ac.uk/imagegallery.aspx . It can also be accessed through the BOA tab on the NPOR.

Well, that should keep me occupied for several days!

 

 

PJW

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Thanks for this! This is the sort of area where the fate of an organ is clearly capable of being in danger and perhaps a local organist offering to do a recital there might inspire the young generation?

 

Perhaps one day the younger generation might get bored of the "less traditional" music as a result? But this sort of thing is very much like water dripping on a stone and not necessarily achieved with just one recital. At a memorial service for a wise friend the other day one of his sayings was reported to the assembled gathering "If you are going to bother to write and complain, be prepared to write the seventh letter".

 

Possibly efforts to regain appreciation for organs bear similarities?

 

Best wishes

 

Spottedmetal

To be fair, the church (St Peter's, Yaxley) does keep this organ in good condition. I played for a wedding here a couple of weeks ago. It's a lovely instrument though the console and swell are on one side of the arch and the great on the other: when you play you can hardly hear the great or congregation. (The latter is a good thing when playing before a wedding!)

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.... I've come across some small organs where the only Great Reed is a Clarinet and the best examples are rather clever: Not only are they a Clarinet but they add to the chorus (with rather an exciting fizz) and I've known some where Clarinet 8ft + Principal 4ft give the impression of a small Trumpet, the Principal 4ft adding in the missing harmonics, which is really useful.

 

On the other hand, there are some Great clarinets which are so loud that one wonders just what they were supposed to be for, even in the work of the best builders. The Father Willis at Foxearth, Essex (http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=D02729), a slightly larger than usual 'Model Organ', has a Corno di Bassetto which is ideal for Susato but not much use for anything which might have been played when it was built (1863).

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