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St Mary's, Stafford


Guest Barry Oakley - voluntarily dereg
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Guest Barry Oakley

This is basically a posting for Brian Childs who some weeks ago sought information on the condition of the large-scaled 4-manual H&H organ at St Mary's, Stafford. There is not much by way of detail I can say other than the organist tells me it is gradually deteriorating and stops are increasingly becoming unplayable. It's rarely used apart from choral evensongs which I guess are conducted in the chancel. Some years ago, I can't tell you how long ago it was, H&H quoted around £250,000 to restore this large-scaled instrument. Something else I learned was that the organ was originally intended to be sited at the west end of the church instead of it's present chancel position.

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This is basically a posting for Brian Childs who some weeks ago sought information on the condition of the large-scaled 4-manual H&H organ at St Mary's, Stafford. There is not much by way of detail I can say other than the organist tells me it is gradually deteriorating and stops are increasingly becoming unplayable. It's rarely used apart from choral evensongs which I guess are conducted in the chancel. Some years ago, I can't tell you how long ago it was, H&H quoted around £250,000 to restore this large-scaled instrument. Something else I learned was that the organ was originally intended to be sited at the west end of the church instead of it's present chancel position.

 

 

Thank you Barry. Not really surprising but unwelcome news nevertheless. I suppose that the size of the present congregation means the burden of maintaining two organs is unsupportable. Once again thank you for the information.

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Thank you Barry. Not really surprising but unwelcome news nevertheless. I suppose that the size of the present congregation means the burden of maintaining two organs is unsupportable. Once again thank you for the information.

 

 

I can recommend St.Mary's Stafford to this readership. The major 4-manual H&H is untouched and very typical - weighty and rather opaque but splendid for all that. Pierre would love it and the contrast between that and the 1980's HN&B at the other end is very striking. This looks very attractive and sounds fair - pretty musical, with one or two compromises including a lot of borrowing. The extremely fine Johannes Geib mahogany case really deserved a well-made tracker job but this was perhaps too early a project to receive such an approach. I think Dr.Michael Sayer (ex Keele University and BIOS) had a hand in it. If he didn't, he certainly wrote the instrument up in detail pretty soon after the event.

 

The big question is, if it hadn't been for a liturgical shift - somone's bright idea to shift the choir to the west end for morning services - the money spent on the HN&B would quite easily have covered the cost of a proper restoration of the H&H. Mind you - at least this scheme has left the H&H unmolested.

 

Our most interesting instruments seem (these days) to be so often the ones where there is no money to do anything! Empty church coffers may (in some instances) be something to be grateful for. This has a parallel in that some of the most interesting organ repertoire is the stuff that is no longer available.

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"Our most interesting instruments seem (these days) to be so often the ones where there is no money to do anything! Empty church coffers may (in some instances) be something to be grateful for. This has a parallel in that some of the most interesting organ repertoire is the stuff that is no longer available."

 

(Quote)

 

This is true in Belgium too, and could elsewhere as well.

 

Pierre

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Guest Barry Oakley
I can recommend St.Mary's Stafford to this readership. The major 4-manual H&H is untouched and very typical - weighty and rather opaque but splendid for all that. Pierre would love it and the contrast between that and the 1980's HN&B at the other end is very striking.  This looks very attractive and sounds fair - pretty musical, with one or two compromises including a lot of borrowing. The extremely fine Johannes Geib mahogany case really deserved a well-made tracker job but this was perhaps too early a project to receive such an approach.  I think Dr.Michael Sayer (ex Keele University and BIOS) had a hand in it.  If he didn't, he certainly wrote the instrument up in detail pretty soon after the event.

 

The big question is, if it hadn't been for a liturgical shift - somone's bright idea to shift the choir to the west end for morning services - the money spent on the HN&B would quite easily have covered the cost of a proper restoration of the H&H.  Mind you - at least this scheme has left the H&H unmolested.

 

Our most interesting instruments seem (these days) to be so often the ones where there is no money to do anything!  Empty church coffers may (in some instances) be something to be grateful for.  This has a parallel in that some of the most interesting organ repertoire is the stuff that is no longer available.

 

An organ I have often looked at is in the tiny, but beautiful parish church at Hoar Cross, Staffordshire. The church was built more or less as a family chapel for the Meynell-Ingram family and staff of adjacent Hoar Cross Hall and is almost a miniaturised version of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral. It was designed by Bodley who I believe also designed the elegant organ case displaying the delightfully decorated front pipes.

 

It’s been many years, more than 50, since the organ was playable. Given its pedigree, Samuel Green, Bishop, Conacher, it would probably sound a delightful instrument in such a splendid building were it to be restored. I believe R&D had it in their care latterly. As the area simply constitutes a pub plus a cluster of cottages, and the hall has become a health farm, it could well be yet another organ that is never heard again, having long given way for a ghastly Allen voiced for a cinema environment.

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This is basically a posting for Brian Childs who some weeks ago sought information on the condition of the large-scaled 4-manual H&H organ at St Mary's, Stafford. There is not much by way of detail I can say other than the organist tells me it is gradually deteriorating and stops are increasingly becoming unplayable. It's rarely used apart from choral evensongs which I guess are conducted in the chancel. Some years ago, I can't tell you how long ago it was, H&H quoted around £250,000 to restore this large-scaled instrument. Something else I learned was that the organ was originally intended to be sited at the west end of the church instead of it's present chancel position.

 

I played this instrument for a couple of RSCM choral days when I was still at school, I guess it must be about 15 years ago, and it was pretty dire back then.

 

I don't remember a huge amount about it, except for a pedal reed (trombone?) deciding it was going to sound a B flat throughout Bainton's "And I saw a new heaven", which, surprisingly enough, didn't really fit ... Tonally, I can't remember what it was like. :-(

 

Still, it's all still there, which is a good thing.

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  • 3 years later...
An organ I have often looked at is in the tiny, but beautiful parish church at Hoar Cross, Staffordshire. The church was built more or less as a family chapel for the Meynell-Ingram family and staff of adjacent Hoar Cross Hall and is almost a miniaturised version of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral. It was designed by Bodley who I believe also designed the elegant organ case displaying the delightfully decorated front pipes.

 

It’s been many years, more than 50, since the organ was playable. Given its pedigree, Samuel Green, Bishop, Conacher, it would probably sound a delightful instrument in such a splendid building were it to be restored. I believe R&D had it in their care latterly. As the area simply constitutes a pub plus a cluster of cottages, and the hall has become a health farm, it could well be yet another organ that is never heard again, having long given way for a ghastly Allen voiced for a cinema environment.

 

I have some good news for you Barry. We have at last got substantial enough sums to restore this fine instrument. I'm a Meynell and descendant of the Founder, Emily Meynell Ingram) and was born and brought up at Hoar Cross, but left there in my early twenties to pursue a different lifestyle. I am the last person alive now who used to play this organ regularly for services until the '70's when the bellows collapsed. I wrote a history of it many years ago but that has now been lost.

 

The Church is one of the greatest achievments of the great Victorian architect, G.F. Bodley. You can see the fine case if you go to http://www.holyangels.co.uk/index.html under the photos (the Church is hardly tiny but whether it served as a model for the much later Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, I wouldn't know, though I see the resemblance you mean). The case was actually by Farmer & Brindley but it is understood that whilst Bodley DID design a case for the Church this was not it but he undoubtedly influenced its design. It did indeed come from Bangor, and contained a decent proportion of Samuel Green pipework. But it was only intended as a Chancel Organ, but being there became, ipso facto, the main isnstrument.

 

It's a 3 manual, tracker action obviously, and has Bishop writeen all over it. I now play a 2 manual Bishop near where I live now, near Banbury, and felt immediately at home as soon I saw it and played it.

 

Some 40 years ago – it must’ve been in the early ‘60’s - as the Founding Secretary of the Eton College Organ Society, I arranged a visit by the Society to come and see round the Mander Works. Noel Mander conducted us on this tour and I was fired up with his description of how to voice and – above all - his passion. The fact that he was as enthusiastic to a bunch of uncouth 15-17 yrs old boys as I imagine he would be to a parcel of Bishops, lives on in my memory. We were transfixed too by the craftmanship we saw – we talked of little else for days (apart from the other things that 15-17 yr old boys talk about).

 

A few years later, I asked him to come up and look at the Hoar Cross Church Organ – not particularly remarkable maybe except for the Greene pipework and the wonderful case. He crawled all round it with a torch and thought he could identify Greene’s work – he knew what it looked like - but couldn’t be certain until some at least was removed.

 

He followed this up with a suggested specification and an approximate Estimate (sadly lost now – a different story). We then at the Hoar Cross end started a fund to raise the money. Our main step forward was when we sold a painting collected by my ancestor, Emily Meynell Ingram. For those days it was a huge some of money and the then Bishop ‘seized’ it (the money) and said we could make do with a piano – the starving of Africa deserved it more. So the organ has lain silent – the bellows collapsed permanently a couple of years later (temperature fluctuation, probably) - since then, and nobody has done anything for obvious reasons.

 

After the death of my brother, I was recently appointed a Trustee of the Meynell Church Trust and we have now established that the Church BELONGS to the Trustees and so – as OWNERS - we now know we're in a stronger position.

 

Watch this space!

 

Freddie Meynell

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