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New Organ in Stratford-upon-Avon

John Morris

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The organ in the Guild Chapel in Stratford-upon-Avon is being "played out" in a recital by Stephen Dodsworth on Wednesday 6th March at 7.30. This will be replaced with a new two manual and pedal organ by Principal Pipe Organs later in the year, hopefully by mid-August. Here are details of the new instrument's proposed specification:




It's a beautiful little chapel in the centre of Stratford, right by King Edward VI Grammar School, not far from the theatres and well worth a visit.


Best wishes,


John Morris

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I do hope that the limed oak organ case will be retained. It is unfortunate that the recent book on Stephen Dykes Bower fails to specifically mention this little known gem in its List of Works, only noting: 1954-83 Guild Chapel, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire; Extensive restoration, refurnishing and redecoration.


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My understanding from Geoffrey Coffin and the "Keeper of the Bells" is that the case is to be retained. Much work in the tower has had to be given permission in the tower to allow for the weight of the new organ and the full length 16' pipes, the current 16' OD being haskelled.


I hope to be able to invite a limited number of members to sample the new instrument towards the end of the year in the way Adrian Lucas was kind enough to invite us to the new Quire Organ at Worcester. No promises at this stage but fingers crossed...


John Morris; welcome to the forum - is that the JM who used to work just across the road from the chapel? We know each other well if that's the case (and yes, I do owe you a reply to an email from last week!).

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Hello, handsoff - interesting to read your comments and thank you for your welcome!


Sorry - I'm not the John Morris who used to work across the road! However, my wife and I both love visiting Stratford and the theatre whenever we can. We actually live in Cockermouth in the Lake District.


Very much looking forward to hearing the new organ when it is installed - The Friends of the Guild Chapel have done a great job raising the money.


Best wishes,


John Morris

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  • 1 year later...

After raising a huge amount of money and overcoming numerous obstacles, the Friends of the Guild Chapel presented the opening recital on the new organ by Principal Pipe Organs on Saturday, 4th October.

After various introductions, Stephen Dodsworth played a varied programme to an enthusiastic capacity audience.

The programme included Karg-Elert, Bach, Derek Bourgeois, Dubois and Franck (A minor Choral). It showed off many aspects of the instrument which sounds much larger than its two manuals and pedals.

The organ feels powerful without being overbearing. It was more than adequate in supporting the assembled throng who sang three verses of “Now Thank We All Our God” with vigour. Organo Pleno is breathtaking.

The beautiful Stephen Dykes Bower case and the shell of the previous console remain, otherwise, I understand it’s a new organ.

I only had the chance of a brief word with Geoffrey Coffin after the recital as well as a quick look at the console and wish I’d written down the specification. Unfortunately, Principal Pipe Organs doesn’t seem to have a website, so I’ll try to get hold of it by other means. Maybe Handsoff can help with this.

In the meantime, do try and get to a recital if you are in the area - there’s quite a programme of events planned for the coming months - further details on the Friends of the Chapel website at: http://www.stratfordguildchapel-friends.org.uk.

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I too was there for the first of the two recitals on Saturday evening; the demand for tickets was such that the first was heavily oversubscribed so Stephen played again an hour later.


I fully agree with JGM's assessment of the completely new organ and IMHO it is easily the best-sounding instrument in the area, I haven't yet had a chance to play it but hope to remedy this shortly at which time I will post the full specification and some photographs.


I still hope to be able to arrange a Saturday session at some point in the not too distant future subject to agreement from the Chapel authorities, Stephen Dodsworth being able and willing to demonstrate the organ and sufficient members of this forum being interested in making the journey to Stratford.

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There was a specification on the website as part of the appeal stuff, but it seems to have gone. I had a play in August, if memory serves:



Open Diapason 8'

Stopped Diapason 8'

Principal 4'

(Nason ?) Flute 4'

Twelfth 2 2/3'

Fifteenth 2'

Tierce 1 3/5'

Mixture III

Trumpet 8'



(Claribel ?) Flute 8'

Viola / Salicional 8'

Celeste 8'

Gemshorn 4'

Flute 4'

Fifteenth 2'

Nineteenth 1 1/3' (probably from Mixture)

Mixture III

Contra Oboe / Contra Fagotto 16'

Cornopean 8'

Octave / Suboctave / Unison Off



Open Diapason 16' (at the initial planning stage, the bottom octave of haskelled pipes - Nicholson 1990 - was to be the only material retained from the old organ, I don't know if this is actually the case)

Bourdon 16'

Principal 8'

Bass Flute 8'

Fifteenth 4'

Trombone 16'

Contra Oboe / Fagotto 16' (Swell)

Cremona 4'


I really enjoyed my play on it (the Cremona wasn't there yet) - lots of character and colour, and comfortable to play. There's a recital series being planned for next year, which I'm kicking off on Saturday January 10. I hope Stephen won't mind me saying that the first people on the list are those who had to suffer the old organ the most - I was at the Grammar School next door and played for chapel most days for about four years!



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Thank you Paul. The Swell flute may be a Chimney Flute if memory serves.


I too suffered the the old organ for 4 years whilst at KES but "my" old organ was the unextended one on which most stops were just "prepared for" and which, for my final 12 months had only the Swell Organ with its 2 very quiet 8' strings and a claribel flute also at 8'. The tower roof had leaked one night and all the Great Organ woodwork swelled and became unusable. I hope that my suffering counts even after that long time! [For a private play and not a recital, heaven forfend].


PS I caught a glimpse of Howard Bould but didn't get the chance to speak to him. Was he there in your time Paul? He didn't teach me but I knew him from various local boozers!

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Most interesting, Handsoff and Paul - thank you!


I should be delighted to be included in a Saturday demonstration if you can manage to arrange one - we now live in Hampshire rather than the Lake District, so it is doable there and back in a day!


Best wishes,



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The Bucks OA visited Stratford earlier in the year and we were able to try out the new organ in a rather incomplete state. It then sounded very good and filled the chapel, even without the the great mixture and reed. Mr C had taken the Pedal Cremona back to the works for adjustment as apparently it was (almost) audible in Warwick! The console is very comfortable and easy to manage although I suspect the action needed final regulation as there was a bit of a "semi-detached" feeling. The case has been beautifully restored and as mentioned above is a gem. Well done to everyone involved.

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Paul's memory obviously serves him well!


I've just got the official specification from the Friends of the Guild Chapel, so for the sake of completeness, here it is:



Open Diapason 8

Stopped Diapason 8

Octave 4

Open Flute 4

Twelfth 2 2/3

Super Octave 2

Tierce 1 3/5

Full Mixture 15.19.22 III

Trumpet 8



Swell to Great



Claribel Flute 8

Viola 8

Voix Célestes 8

Gemshorn 4

Stopped Flute 4

Fifteenth 2

Nineteenth 1 1/3

Mixture 19.22.26 III

Contra Fagotto 16

Cornopean 8




Unison Off

Sub Octave



Open Diapason 16

Bourdon 16

Principal 8

Bass Flute 8

Fifteenth 4

Trombone 16

Fagotto (Swell) 16

Cremona 4


Great To Pedal

Swell to Pedal


Great and Pedal Combinations Coupled

Generals on Swell Toe Pistons


Compass of Manuals: CC-c''' (61 notes)

Compass of Pedals: CCC-G (32 notes)

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Thanks JGM. I've just found the original proposal for the specification from 2008 (I think...) and that's from where my thought of a Chimney Flute came.


Apologies to Paul for doubting his memory!


Very much looking forward to the recitals next year - Mrs H. and I will be there (although she doesn't know it yet... :ph34r: )

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  • 2 months later...

The next recital at the Guild Chapel is this Saturday at 5pm given by myself.


Pæan on 'Divinum Mysterium', John Cook

Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, Dietrich Buxtehude

Allein Gott in der Hoh sei Ejhr (BWV 662), J.S. Bach

Fantasia and Fugue in G minor (BWV 542), J.S. Bach

Cantabile, César Franck

For the Iron Voice, Philip Wilby

Song without Words, David Briggs

Marche Pontificale (Symphonie 1), Charles-Marie Widor


Paul Walton

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