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Willis III in Wiltshire


Malcolm Kemp
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In the properties for sale section of Country Life this week there is an interior photo of Hamptworth Loge, Landford, near Romsey/Salisbury showing the case and pipework of a pipe organ. NPOR revels this to be a 3 manual Henry Willis III, the only other information being that it is unplayable since 2003 due to blower problems. No specification given. Does anyone know anything more about it?

 

 

Malcolm

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I note that, although NPOR says the organ has been out of action for several years because of blower problems, the Hamptworth Lodge website (in the section offering it as a wedding venue) refers to the " magnificent organ – the twin of that in Salisbury Cathedral".

 

http://www.hamptworthestate.co.uk/wedding/venue-salisbury-wiltshire

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  • 4 weeks later...

I note that, although NPOR says the organ has been out of action for several years because of blower problems, the Hamptworth Lodge website (in the section offering it as a wedding venue) refers to the " magnificent organ – the twin of that in Salisbury Cathedral".

 

http://www.hamptworthestate.co.uk/wedding/venue-salisbury-wiltshire

 

The twin part at least has to be wishful thinking - since apparently it has only three claviers. From the photograph, I would also speculate that it does not possess two full-length 32ft. Pedal ranks, either.

 

Perhaps DW can shed some light on this instrument?

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Hamptworth Lodge: New organ built to the order (and Specification) of Mr. H.C. Moffatt 1926

 

Great: Open Diapason 8; Claribel Flute 8; Stopped Diapason 8; Harmonic Flute 4

 

Swell: Claribel Flute 8; Salicional 8; Vox Angelica 8; Gemshorn 4; Oboe 8

 

Choir: Dulciana 8; Lieblich Gedackt 8; Lieblich Flute 4; Clarinet 8 (Enclosed)

 

Pedal: Open Diapason 16; Bourdon 16; Flute 8

 

The firm looked after the organ until 1934, then nothing until the 1950s when a 'suggestion' was made by HW3 to revise the specification (though there is nothing further to suggestthat this was ever done, before the organ was first offered for sale - after Mr. Moffatt's death presumably) in 1958. The vendor, presumably Mr. Moffatt's son, believed the instrument to have pipes made of 'silver' and it was he who determined that the organ must have been a 'sister' organ to Salisbury as his Father "had paid for the restoration of the Salisbury Cathedral Organ". Mr. Willis wrote to him to tell him that it was a common misconception that there was any silver content in organ pipe metal and that although his father had been a great friend of Sir Walter Alcock, it was possibly unlikely that he had actually paid the entire cost of the Salisbury work. He also told him that he would be unlikely to receive the £3000 which he was demanding as the sale price of the organ and that £1000 would be more reasonable. The organ was obviously not sold!

 

The tonal revision suggested by HW3 was:

 

Great: Open Diapason 8; Stopped Diapason 8; Principal 4; Fifteenth 2

 

Swell: Claribel Flute 8; Salicional 8; Vox Angelica 8; Gemshorn 4; Mixture 15.19.22

 

Choir/Pos: Lieblich Gedackt 8; Dulciana 8; Nason Flute 4; Cornet 12.15.17

 

Ped: As above.

 

 

Electro-pneumatic action - could be Pitman, but not sure and nothing in the file to say so (though we have photographs, and the the interior of the console includes views of 'Skinner' switches which the firm did use commonly thjough not exclusively with Pitman actions. There are notes of certain action faults in the tuners reports which our Foreman tells me indicates that the entire organ is wired on the Willis 'Grid' system. The organ fell out of use in the 1940s when the local electricity supply was changed from D.C. to A.C. and it isn't clear that the motor modifications were ever carried out, so in fact, the organ may have been without wind for a VERY long time! Our last contact with the place was in 1967, nothing since.

 

The file and details are available to anyone who wishes to put together a proper entry for the NPOR.

 

DW

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David - Many thanks for this detailed reply which has obviously taken you a lot of time and effort. I was merely interested out of curiosity when I saw it in a picture in Country Life which was advertising the property for sale. I was slightly surprised initially that none of the contributors to this forum from that neck of the woods responded but your reply suggests that they probably hadn't even heard of it.

 

I apologise for not ringing you as suggested in your reply to my PM; this week has been hectic with other things and I had been intending to ring you today.

 

THanks again

 

Malcolm

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"the twin of that in Salisbury Cathedral"

 

If it is, it's certainly not monozygotic- doesn't even have the same number of 'arms'.

 

I know which one I'd prefer to listen to- and it's not the one whose name starts with 'H'. I would hazard a guess that the acoustic at Salisbury is a tad more reverberant, too.

 

Well done, DW, for these fruits of your research.

 


 

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Hamptworth Lodge: New organ built to the order (and Specification) of Mr. H.C. Moffatt 1926

 

Great: Open Diapason 8; Claribel Flute 8; Stopped Diapason 8; Harmonic Flute 4

 

Swell: Claribel Flute 8; Salicional 8; Vox Angelica 8; Gemshorn 4; Oboe 8

 

Choir: Dulciana 8; Lieblich Gedackt 8; Lieblich Flute 4; Clarinet 8 (Enclosed)

 

Pedal: Open Diapason 16; Bourdon 16; Flute 8

 

The firm looked after the organ until 1934, then nothing until the 1950s when a 'suggestion' was made by HW3 to revise the specification (though there is nothing further to suggestthat this was ever done, before the organ was first offered for sale - after Mr. Moffatt's death presumably) in 1958. The vendor, presumably Mr. Moffatt's son, believed the instrument to have pipes made of 'silver' and it was he who determined that the organ must have been a 'sister' organ to Salisbury as his Father "had paid for the restoration of the Salisbury Cathedral Organ". Mr. Willis wrote to him to tell him that it was a common misconception that there was any silver content in organ pipe metal and that although his father had been a great friend of Sir Walter Alcock, it was possibly unlikely that he had actually paid the entire cost of the Salisbury work. He also told him that he would be unlikely to receive the £3000 which he was demanding as the sale price of the organ and that £1000 would be more reasonable. The organ was obviously not sold!

 

The tonal revision suggested by HW3 was:

 

Great: Open Diapason 8; Stopped Diapason 8; Principal 4; Fifteenth 2

 

Swell: Claribel Flute 8; Salicional 8; Vox Angelica 8; Gemshorn 4; Mixture 15.19.22

 

Choir/Pos: Lieblich Gedackt 8; Dulciana 8; Nason Flute 4; Cornet 12.15.17

 

Ped: As above.

 

 

Electro-pneumatic action - could be Pitman, but not sure and nothing in the file to say so (though we have photographs, and the the interior of the console includes views of 'Skinner' switches which the firm did use commonly thjough not exclusively with Pitman actions. There are notes of certain action faults in the tuners reports which our Foreman tells me indicates that the entire organ is wired on the Willis 'Grid' system. The organ fell out of use in the 1940s when the local electricity supply was changed from D.C. to A.C. and it isn't clear that the motor modifications were ever carried out, so in fact, the organ may have been without wind for a VERY long time! Our last contact with the place was in 1967, nothing since.

 

The file and details are available to anyone who wishes to put together a proper entry for the NPOR.

 

DW

 

 

David - thank you for the time and trouble you took with this enquiry. The details above are interesting - and much appreciated.

 

However, as another poster has already observed, the claim that the instrument was 'the twin of that in Salisbury Cathedral', is somewhat disingenuous.

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