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Hoar Cross Samuel Green Organ


Barry Oakley
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I heard today that Freddie Meynell, a descendant of the family who built the wonderful Holy Angels Church at Hoar Cross, Staffordshire, had died in May. He was active at the time in assisting the planning of the restoration of the 3-manual 1779 Samuel Green organ, originally installed in Bangor Cathedral. The organ was installed at Hoar Cross in 1876 by J C Bishop. Ironically, a contract for its restoration is presently being negotiated with Bishop & Sons and it is anticipated the work will be completed in a couple of years time. Sadly, Freddie Meynell will not see it come to life again.

 

The present organ, housed in a beautiful case attributed to Bodley, has been worked on and enlarged by a number of organ builders over the years, including Bishop, Conacher Sheffield, and, more latterly, until the early 1980's (when it became unplayable) by Rushworth & Dreaper.

 

I'm am unsure if it will be restored as it is or according to the original Samuel Green specification.

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That is sad. (BTW, he came here last year - http://www.mander-organs.com/discussion/in...ost&p=53447 )

 

Yes indeed. I had been in touch with Freddie on a number of occasions after he announced on this forum the news of the organ's possible restoration, the last time being in May. I was only thinking earlier today about the project and the fact that I had not heard from him since that time when I discovered he had sadly died.

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  • 2 weeks later...
The organ at Holy Angels, Hoar Cross, Staffordshire, is to be restored by Bishops to the 1876 specification, thanks to a donation by a generous benefactor. Dismantling is scheduled to happen during early 2012.

 

 

http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N05336

 

Whilst it is good to read that this instrument is to be restored to working order, I would be interested to learn why it is planned to return it to its 1876 stoplist. Is is because too much has been crammed into the chamber over the years, making maintenance difficult (or perhaps, in some cases, impossible) - or is it simly another manifestation of the trend to try to re-create a 'historical' copy of something, in order to satisfy the historians?

 

On the face of it, returning the instrument to its original stoplist* looks to be a retrograde step; a number of possibly useful 'colour' ranks will be lost - not least the quieter Pedal stop. Or were the Conacher additions tonally unsuitable (a rather subective term, in any case) - or unsatisfactory?

 

For example, whilst the G.O. will regain its compound stop†, it will lose a Bourdon - albeit a C13 rank. The Swell Organ will lose the string, its companion Céleste, the 4ft. Flute § and the Cornoflute. Instead, on this instrument there will subsequently be three Stopped Diapason ranks.

 

Yes, it is good that an instrument which is, I believe, in a largely unplayable state is to be restored to working order - but I find it hard to believe that whoever has decided on the course of action to be taken has thought through all the implications of this choice.

 

 

 

* I use the term stoplist deliberately. It would be well-nigh impossible to return the instrument to its original state. Is it knowm whether or not there is anyone alive who would have heard or played it prior to its rebuilding in the 1930s? If not, unless the original plans are still in existence, much reliance on conjecture would surely be necessary. In any case, the original voicer is now long-dead, so this vital link is also unavailable.

 

† Is there still in existence a record of the original composition of this stop, together with the scheme of breaks?

 

§ With the loss of the Choir 4ft flute as well, there will then no longer be a stop of this type at this pitch - yet there will be three principal-toned stops - has anyone really thought about the musicality and practicality of this proposed scheme - or are they blinded by an ardent desire to create anew something 'historical'?

 

A contradiction in terms, if ever there was one....

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Whilst it is good to read that this instrument is to be restored to working order, I would be interested to learn why it is planned to return it to its 1876 stoplist. Is is because too much has been crammed into the chamber over the years, making maintenance difficult (or perhaps, in some cases, impossible) - or is it simly another manifestation of the trend to try to re-create a 'historical' copy of something, in order to satisfy the hstorians?

 

On the face of it, returning the instrument to its original stoplist* looks to be a retrograde step; a number of possibly useful 'colour' ranks will be lost - not least the quieter Pedal stop. Or were the Conacher additions tonally unsuitable (a rather subective term, in any case) - or unsatisfactory?

 

For example, whilst the G.O. will regain its compound stop†, it will lose a Bourdon - albeit a C13 rank. The Swell Organ will lose the string, its companion Céleste, the 4ft. Flute § and the Cornoflute. Instead, on this instrument there will subsequently be three Stopped Diapason ranks.

 

Yes, it is good that an instrument which is, I believe, in a largely unplayable state is to be restored to workinf order - but I find it hard to believe that whoever has decided on the course of action to be taken has thought through all the implications of this choice.

 

 

 

* I use the term stoplist deliberately. It would be well-nigh impossible to return the instrument to its original state. Is it knowm whether or not there is anyone alive who would have heard or played it prior to its rebuilding in the 1930s? If not, unless the original plans are still in existence, much reliance on conjecture would surely be necessary. In any case, the original voicer is now long-dead, so this vital link is also unavailable.

 

† Is there still in existence a record of the original composition of this stop, together with the scheme of breaks?

 

§ With the loss of the Choir 4ft flute as well, there will then no longer be a stop of this type at this pitch - yet there will be three principal-toned stops - has anyone really thought about the musicality and practicality of this proposed scheme - or are they blinded by an ardent desire to create anew something 'historical'?

 

A contradiction in terms, if ever there was one....

 

I have to agree with most of what you say, pcnd. There was some, shall I say, difference of opinion when this project kicked off under the direction of William McVicker. When I was in touch with the late Freddie Meynell I understood the prime objective of the church was to get the organ playing again using the stoplist as it presently stands. But as Freddie said to me, “It is a gallon in a pint pot.” I’ve never had the privilege of peering into the restricted chamber and from what I gather the tuner’s physique needed to be that of an anorexic. It is questionable as to whether in the first place (1876) this was the correct choice of organ for Hoar Cross. But with Bangor Cathedral hanging a price tag of £25 from the case it was probably seen as a bargain not to be missed.

 

I am unsure if the present benefactor’s gift is further enhanced by a grant, but there are more than a few instances of grant awarding organisations insisting on what can only be retrograde steps.

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