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Fulham Court

Philip J Wells

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[CULHAM COURT; not Fulham as was auto corrected - sorry]. The property section of the Saturday Telegraph 5 Nov 2016 contains and article about this years winners of The Georgian Group Awards. The winner of the 'New Building in the Classical Tradition' is given as a Roman Catholic chapel at Culham Court, Oxfordshire. The chapel may have been consecrated in January this year. An interior photograph looking westwards appears to show a substantial case of an organ with 5 flats (possibly including 2 towers) in a wooden case with cornice and pipe shades. Given the owner who could afford to have all this built hails from the continent does anyone have any further information about the organ and who built it?

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You are correct. Thanks. The earlier article did not name the location but did give the surname of the client which I see corresponds with a press report I found from a Henley newspaper which carried a report of the consecration of this new RC church/chapel.

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Guest Geoff McMahon

The organ is indeed a product of Mander Organs.


The specification is:


Open Diapason 8

Stopped Diapason 8

Principal 4

Chimney Flute 4

Twelfth 2 2/3

Fifteenth 2

Tierce 1 3/5

Trumpet 8

Pedal Bourdon 16


All the manual stops with exception of the Open Diapason and Principal are divided at middle C. This is so that much repertoire can be played, which otherwise could not be played, not least, the early English.


The consultant for the project was William McVicvker, who was very helpful in suggesting elements of the organ to increase its versatility. He suggested that the manual stops be split and be extended downwards to include GG and AA, the C# key being split so that both AA and C# could be played, mostly, but not exclusively, that of the early English repertoire. He also suggested that a thunder or drum pedal, cymbalstern and a nightingale be included, not simply for fun, but so that music of the Iberian and German repertoires could be played. The drum pedal plays the lowest 6 notes of the Bourdon 16, adding them from the bottom note progressively. The Nightingale is based on an Italian example, we copied from an Italian organ we partially restored for the Royal Academy of Music. The Cymbalstern is worked by wind and we believe this is the only such Cymbalstern worked by wind ever to have been made in England. The bells were provided by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, being untuned clock bells.


The tour de force was the Bear, which is not worked by clockwork, but pneumatically. This came about because William mentioned the Ox at Oxenhausen and the client's representative asked if we could provide a bear, because the client's name is Urs, the Swiss-German for bear. My response was that we probably could, although at the time I had no idea how! It is pushed forwards and returned by a piston. In either extreme position (in or out) a wooden Regal with a long thin tongue makes a vaguely bear like sound and you can see a video of this here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iusa0miwHb0.


The acoustic in the chapel is very favourable. This enables the organ to sound rather larger than it really is. The case was designed by the architect, Craig Hamilton. It was a challenging and interesting project, to say the least.



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