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List of beautiful English Organs


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I don't want to start a list here but I think it would be nice to have a thread containing your experiences with a particular pipe organ in the UK.

It would be nice to know the amount of manuals, maker, where the instrument is located, your experience with it and possibly even an image!

My list:


J.Walker LTD Organ (Built. circa 1920)

A three manual J.Walker Organ built in the early 1900s. The school chapel used to house a Willis until the 1900s. Then replaced by a Lewis and again replaced with a Walker. It is a great organ to play and I have my lessons/practice there. 


Lewis & Co Organ (Circa. 1920?, Restored in the 1990s)

The nearby parish church has a Lewis & Co organ which I go during the weekends to practice on. The Walker is a better instrument because I prefer the structure/feel of the pedal-board. But the Lewis is a great instrument as well.

There is a 4 Manual Harrison & Harrison in the Speech Room but it is hard to access it.



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Might I make a suggestion that we restrict this list to make it more interesting.  For example, we all know that there is a beautiful organ case in King's College Chapel Cambridge, and in any number of major Dutch and German churches - it's too easy!

So, proposed restrictions: what do you think? -

1. Stick to organs off the beaten track (especially ones which other organists might not be aware of).

2. Stick to organs in anglophone countries (notorious for their overwhelming majority of horrible organ cases).

3. Avoid organs built since, say 1985. (Modern organs have cases which range from the smart to the exquisite.) Bonus points for 19th / early 20th century organs having genuinely beautiful cases.

With that in mind, my entries would be:

St Nicholas, Stanford on Avon:



Holy Trinity Staunton Harold -



A lovely modernist organ case at St Michael's Coxwold:



All Saints, South Pickenham:



St Michael and All Angels, Brownsover ( a stunning organ case based on the 1660 Thamar chair case from St John's College Cambridge):



OK, last one (this one's Victorian I think): St Miichael, Barton-le-street -


Edited by SomeChap
"Kong's College Chapel" hahaha
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Hi all,

How about this "little" instrument -

  • It's just a little of the beaten track, being in the Land Down Under;
  • it's kinda sorta Anglophone, if you can understand Orshtrayun; and
  • it was built just a few years before 1985 -

The Grand Organ of Sydney Town Hall, William Hill & Son 1890, 5 manuals + pedal, 126 stops.


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Dublin is hardly off the beaten track but this one wasn't on my radar until recently.  It's in the Public Hall of Trinity College, Dublin.  The organ is new (Goetze and Gwynn) but the cases are old so I think it counts!



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Dublin - I've heard about this one, but I never got to see it when I lived in Ireland.  Thanks for the picture.  This is one of at least two organs which were fabled to have been salvaged (or pinched) from a wrecked Spanish galleon.  All nonsense, of course, the case being (to quote one organ-builder) "un-Spanish to a Sino-Russian degree". Under the decoration, it does have an early English look to it.  I didn't know that there is now a playable organ in it.

Clumber - Blimey!  That looks impressive!

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Oh you must go to Clumber.  It's a truly wonderful park (the Duke of Newcastle's I think) and that's just the Quire of the chapel, which is a bonsai cathedral. The organ is a sizeable unspoiled 3-manual G&D, absolutely superb.


Edited to add:  it's just off the A1 north of Newark

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The case at St. Andrew-the-Less, Cambridge, has much similarity with that at Vijvekapelle, Belgium, where the church was designed by Bethune and Sutton had a lot of influence with the organ.  The top cornice and little spirettes are almost identical (especially the rather prominent cap to the central tower).  The Cambridge case has suffered somewhat over the years by repainting of the doors and lower coving - these might have had more elaborate decoration originally.  The organ as it stands is by Miller of Cambridge and post-dates the case.  I have previously hazarded a guess that the original might have been by George Dawson, who did other work for Sutton, but might not have been very satisfactory.  The original Twelfth was replaced with a Dulciana some time ago at the request of the organist at the time.

Framlingham was a very notable restoration for its time, by John Budgen of Bishop & Son, who collected bits of case and pipework from various places (I think the Cornet was found in the Rectory attic) and reassembled it all on a new west gallery.

A little further up on this thread:

South Pickenham, as most will know, came from the church at West Tofts, which is now in the Stanford Battle Training Area and inaccessible except on very rare occasions.  There, it had its own little tribune over the chancel, which is much bigger than the nave and was added by Pugin for the Revd. Augustus Sutton.  There are pictures of the church as it now is, including the empty tribune and the stair-way leading to it, on Simon Knott's excellent Norfolk Churches website (http://www.norfolkchurches.co.uk/westtofts/westtofts.htm). When the organ came to Pickenham, it stood on the floor, but it now has a west gallery and looks marvellous.  It sounds wonderful, too - "Gothic grandeur" is an apt description, I think by the Revd. Hilary Davidson, who is the expert on the Suttons and things connected with them.  It had its vicissitudes when a local cowboy (no names, no pack drill!) who dabbled in organs "restored" it, which included painting over the decorations.  Fortunately, what he did was later put right and the original painting restored, so it is now an instrument which should be a must to visit if anyone is in the area (http://www.norfolkchurches.co.uk/southpickenham/southpickenham.htm).  I don't know of another organ quite like it.

Staunton Harold - There is a case which greatly resembles this, but larger, at Hilborough Church, Norfolk  (http://www.norfolkchurches.co.uk/hilborough/hilborough.htm).  The organ is by Bevington, 1857, moved from the west gallery by Norman & Beard in 1896.  I was sure that the case was older, but Holmes & Swift, who maintain it and did a fine restoration about ten years ago, assure me that it is contemporary with the organ.  Another instrument worth a detour to visit(http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N06363).

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Radwinter Church, Essex.  Main restoration of the church was by Eden Nesfield and he designed a pipe-rack sort of case, as well as specifying what stops were to be in the organ.  I think this case was by Temple Moore, who completed the work on the church after Nesfield's death.  The organ is by Miller of Cambridge, originally 2 manuals but now 3.  The sum total of stops on Great and Choir suggest that the original Great sound-board was adapted to carry two departments.  Like a lot of Miller's work, it's a fine instrument, restored some years back by Millers' successor, Bill Johnson.


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Little Bardfield, Essex - Renatus Harris case from Jesus College via All Saints, Cambridge.  Front pipes by Harris.  Interior was thought to be by Gray, but recent restoration by Peter Wood notes that soundboards are by Miller, so maybe the pipes are, too.  Again, undoubted Sutton influence, both in acquiring the organ and its archaic specification (black naturals, long compass, mounted Cornet, etc).



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Moot Hall, Town Hall, Colchester, Essex - Case by John Belcher, who designed the building.  The organ is an outstanding example of Norman & Beard's work (1901), with only 28 speaking stops but all on the grand scale and sounding more than twice as big as it is.  Harrisons' restored it to its original state (returning the Choir Organ to Viole d'Orchestre, Lieblich Gedackt, Dulciana, Concert Flute 4, Orchestral Clarinet) in 2015,  Dr. Bill McVicker, who advised on the restoration, described it as a "little giant".


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Again referring to Simon Knott's invaluable East Anglian churches websites, the Suffolk site entry for Lound has pictures of the Harrison organ (restored by Richard Bower) in its Comper case, as well as Comper's other furnishings:


The Norfolk site has pictures of Comper's work, including the organ case, at Mundford:


and Stephen Dykes-Bower's Westminster Abbey look-alike (cunningly fashioned and painted to look more elaborate than it is) at Great Yarmouth, although Simon is a bit sniffy about the case and, indeed, Dykes Bower (but he redeemed himself in the write-up of St. Edmundsbury Cathedral on the Suffolk site):


And here's the Comper case at All Saints, Carshalton, Surrey, where the Willis organ has recently been restored and enhanced by its original builders:


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This picture came form the church website.

The church of the Holy Angels, Hoar Cross - just north of Lichfield. A singularly beautiful church in the 'High Church' tradition.


Hoar Cross organ case.jpg

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The 1885 Hill at St German, Roath, Cardiff (photo from https://churchofstgermancardiff.weebly.com/gallery-church.html).

A glorious instrument (http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=A00698) and part of my formative years. A most sublime acoustic, comparing favourably with that of King’s.

A YouTube recording here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_G4KcVHCP0) has views of the church, surrounding area and console, amongst others.

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The case at St Andrew the Less, Barnwell, Cambridge (referred to above) is an important case.  It dates from 1856 and was designed by the Revd John Gibson.  Part of its importance lies in the fact that the central embossed pipe is the first surviving modern example, completed one year before that in Sir John Sutton's organ originally at West Tofts (now missing).  This means Gibson reintroduced embossed pipes to Britain, something not seen after the seventeenth century.  

The Barnwell organ is apparently now thought to be the work of George Dawson in 1856, not Miller,  whose organ building business was not established until 1858, although he is believed to have had a music business before.  A newspaper advertisement proves the 1858 date, some two years later than had been thought. 

Dawson is criticised for poor workmanship; I think erroneously .  His assembly work in 1857 on the West Tofts organ was the subject to a change in fashion.  The 1881 work by Miller was to change the short octave compass on the old lower manual for a conventional keyboard and to add a short compass Swell to provide for variety in the service.  A newspaper cutting makes this clear.  

THE ORGAN - A special service was held at the parish Church on Tuesday evening, to celebrate the re-opening of the organ, which has been rebuilt by Mr. Miller of Cambridge.  The old organ, built about 20 years ago by Mr. Dawson, of Cambridge, was a small one, and of peculiar construction, the lower octave of the bass being as is called “short octaves,” some of the large pipes being wanting, because they could not be got into the case.  This defect has now been remedied.  The interior mechanism is entirely new.  All the old pipes have been retained, the number of stops has been increased, and so arranged as to form swell and great organs.  The old case has been enlarged and further ornamented, but its old shape has been retained.  The wall at the back has been cut away so as to admit of the larger pipes and the octave of pedal pipes, and a new horizontal bellows has been added.  The old organ was sufficiently large to conduct the musical portion of the service, but the new instrument has the advantage of giving the organist a better opportunity of displaying his musical abilities.  In tone and power the new organ surpasses the old.  A large congregation were present, as were several of the neighbouring clergy.  The prayers were intoned by the Rector, the Rev. Prebendary Sutton.  The Rev. A.F. Sutton, the eldest son of the Rector, read the first lesson.  An excellent appropriate sermon was preached by the Rev. R. White, Rector of Little Bardfield, from the text “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is to come.”  The anthem was Sir Gore Ouseley’s, “From the rising of the sun until the going down of the same.”  At the close of the service Mr. H. Morgan, the organist, played a selection of music, and ably showed the capabilities of the instrument.

I think work elsewhere may have been deemed necessary to increase the pedal compass or add a pedal stop.  A re-appraisal of Dawson is needed.  


The church at Vijvekapelle, near Bruges in Belgium (mentioned above) was built between 1865 and 1867 with Jean de Bethune as its architect.  The organ by Hooghuys is in a case which was built in Bethune’s workshops and was probably mostly designed by him, although it has been suggested that the case was made after an old Dutch model.  Sir John Sutton is known to have been involved but Hillary Davidson has pointed out the similarity of some parts of the case (the cornice, and the mass of flat pinnacles above it) to that in St Andrew the Less, Cambridge, (since dated to 1856 and attributed to Gibson) and this also has been pointed out above).  He might also have noted the closely carved pipe shades and the provision of wing doors.  The two cases have characteristics that the Revd John Gibson was later to use in his 1876 organ at King’s Stanley along with features of the Kiedrich organ case.  Might Gibson have been involved with Sutton in the case design at Vijvekapelle?


The Great Bardfield case by Miller has recently been dated to 1878 (which is considerably later than had been previously thought).  It replaced an organ of 1841 by Russell.  I think I read somewhere that the 'side wings' are even later. 




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This rather poor monochrome photograph shows the rather spectacular Mardon Mowbray organ case at Paignton Parish Church, Devon in its original west-end position c.1889. The case was clearly inspired by Baroque Dutch and north German examples and I don't think I've ever seen anything else to match it in this country. When the organ was moved to the east end the two side towers were discarded. The Chair case now faces across the quire over the organist's head while the main case faces west down the south aisle: 1.thumb.jpg.234adffad96bb324b7a15058948c62b0.jpg

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