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St. Michael's, Bishops Stortford


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I'm both surprised and delighted to see that Mander Organs are likely to be restoring/overhauling this instrument in the near future.


Delighted, because, as a former Director of Music at St. Michael's, who was also married in this church, the church and its organ hold a soft spot in my heart.


Surprised in several ways. Firstly that the organ has lasted this long. I was DOM sometime around the mud or late 1980s, the organ was in a very bad way then. It failed completely, as it happens through a fairly minor electrical fault, on Easter Sunday one of the years that I was there which concentrated minds on the idea that some action was needed.


The PCC were, on my recommendations, prepared to pay for expert advice, we had quotes from Mark Venning of H&H, Frank Fowler of HNB, Peter Collins and Bishops who maintained the organ at that time. Part of the brief that I gave them was to beef up the choir organ, which was the only division that spoke into the nave, to improve the support of congregational singing.


I returned to my native Gloucestershire before the project came to fruition, but at that date both H&H and HNB were regarded as prohibitively expensive, Peter Collins was not interested unless we would consider redesigning the whole instrument with tracker action, and so Bishops, who at that time had recently restored the Grove organ in Tewkesbury Abbey to some acclaim were seen as the only realistic contender.


If I'm entirely honest I always found the organ to be a bit of a damp squib, one of those instruments that looks good on paper but disappoints in reality. I lived with it for 2 years during which it never excited or inspired me, it will need considerable development to make it an instrument of any character.


I've visited the organ appeal website but, strangely, this give me little impression of what is planned. I'm hoping our hosts will elarborate...

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