Jump to content
Mander Organs
OrganistOnTheHill

List of beautiful English Organs

Recommended Posts

Regarding Sandringham, thank you to Zimbelstern.  I had always assumed that the present Walker organ incorporated the previous one and I am grateful for the correction.

Beautiful pictures of the Cullercoats organ!  As most forumites will know, there are other Pearson churches with organs still awaiting their cases.  Truro Cathedral is the most well-known, with its glorious Father Willis organ and front pipes laid out for a spectacular case which never materialised.

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N11147

XMLFunctions.cgi?Fn=GetPicture&Rec_index=N11147&Number=2

And St. Augustine, Kilburn.  I'm not certain if this was intended to have a proper case or not. It is less prominent than the others, being somewhat out of the way in the triforium.  A fine Father Willis instrument in a good acoustic, rebuilt by Harrison in 1923, but retaining the old pipework and with much prepared-for (including the whole of the Solo Organ):

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N17146

XMLFunctions.cgi?Fn=GetPicture&Rec_index=N17146&Number=1

And St. Ninian's Episcopal Cathedral, Perth.  I haven't played this one since I moved from Scotland in 1988, so I only knew the Rushworth rebuild, which was an uneven sort of instrument although it sounded quite fine if one learned to avoid the danger spots.  Quirks included a 4' Clarion on the Great but no 8' reed. That was on the Choir, which had the advantage that it could be used in solo against the Great or coupled when needed.  There was also a solitary Choir mutation stop - a Septieme 1 1/7! Sandy Edmonstone's 1996 rebuild, incorporating the old Willis III console from St. Giles, Edinburgh, improved matters immensely, from what I hear:

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D03958

XMLFunctions.cgi?Fn=GetPicture&Rec_index=D03958&Number=1

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Speaking of Kilburn, one shouldn't forget the marvellous four-manual Wurlitzer in the Gaumont State Cinema.  The building was bought by a church in 2007, but the organ is still there, although apparently not used in worship.

Image result for gaumont state kilburn wurlitzer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Regarding the Cullercoats Lewis and its lack of case, there is a very similar Lewis fairly close by in Jesmond URC, in a similar physical situation but with a case which is probably typical of the time. The pipe arrangement is different, of course, but perhaps Cullercoats could have looked like this:

 

Jesmond-URC-organ-lit.jpg.a87e30f6c9395368c5913b5c4803a419.jpg

 

As for brand new English organ cases, there's an interesting example merely a paddle up the canal from me, at the Hooglandse Kerk in Leiden where this initial installation of an 1892 Willis, which had spent years in private ownership elsewhere in Holland:

 

356323748_hooglandsewillisold.jpg.6aa7678f237498f765bc396d6df7ddd9.jpg

 

was transformed by the addition of an entirely new case (not to mention a thorough internal rebuild) into this:

157179079_WIllis202017.thumb.jpg.422f9bd164df93c2cd638842b836b58b.jpg

 

 

which is almost twice the original height when measured up to the top of those intriguing pinnacles. Imagine looking up to that! Although you can't directly from the console, unfortunately. The side case is a bit less showy, though just as well crafted, but I'm not sure what the minarets are for - I'll ask. The back is formed from an impressive row of 32' Open Wood pipes, all in a polished light-coloured wood quite different from the blackboard-paint chimney stacks often seen in such organs. I rather like the proportions of the front case, especially the degree of embellishment compared with pipes, which I think are just right. It's a beautiful English organ.

As an aside, the Hooglandse Kerk in Leiden is not, and never has been, a cathedral. Although it was proposed to make it a cathedral during the 16th century, before the reformation in the Netherlands and so while it was still a catholic church dedicated to Saint Pancras, it was decided instead to make the church in Haarlem the new cathedral. This is why building stopped on the Hooglandse, and why it is so small - at least compared with the enormous Pieterskerk, not a stone's throw away, which houses the famous Van Hagerbeer organ at the back, and the equally English Hill organ to one side of the choir. The name of the whole project should be read in English as Leiden "Cathedral Organ", referring to the style and intended use of the instrument.

 

 

Edited by Damian Beasley-Suffolk
Some minor details added.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, David Drinkell said:

And St. Ninian's Episcopal Cathedral, Perth.  I haven't played this one since I moved from Scotland in 1988, so I only knew the Rushworth rebuild, which was an uneven sort of instrument although it sounded quite fine if one learned to avoid the danger spots.  Quirks included a 4' Clarion on the Great but no 8' reed. That was on the Choir, which had the advantage that it could be used in solo against the Great or coupled when needed.  There was also a solitary Choir mutation stop - a Septieme 1 1/7! Sandy Edmonstone's 1996 rebuild, incorporating the old Willis III console from St. Giles, Edinburgh, improved matters immensely, from what I hear:

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D03958

XMLFunctions.cgi?Fn=GetPicture&Rec_index=D03958&Number=1

 

 

The organ also acquired at this time the Tuba from Dunblane cathedral. NPOR suggests this was in c. 1985, but that can't be true as the Dunblane organ wasn't removed until 1989, so I suspect that this wasn't until the 1996 rebuild. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I think Sandy Edmonstone's big rebuild was in 1996, when the Tuba was incorporated.  The earlier work was more of a holding operation....

Regarding the Willis in Leiden, I at first thought the new case might have been inspired by that on the Father Willis at St. Nicholas, King's Lynn, but looking at pictures of the latter, I guess my memory was at fault.  Nevertheless, here it is. a fine piece of work by John Oldrid Scott:

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N06410

XMLFunctions.cgi?Fn=GetPicture&Rec_index=N06410&Number=1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

St Mary the Virgin, Reading (the Minster church - my parish church throughout my childhood) has a 1936 case which had some potential of being moderately beautiful with nicely made details.  But in the event, it fails, demonstrating that a beautiful case (1) should not have pipes sticking out above it, and (2) should not have zinc pipes.

Paul

XMLFunctions.cgi?Fn=GetPicture&Rec_index

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 19/07/2018 at 23:17, pwhodges said:

St Mary the Virgin, Reading (the Minster church - my parish church throughout my childhood) has a 1936 case which had some potential of being moderately beautiful with nicely made details.  But in the event, it fails, demonstrating that a beautiful case (1) should not have pipes sticking out above it, and (2) should not have zinc pipes.

Paul

XMLFunctions.cgi?Fn=GetPicture&Rec_index

Classic wooden beauty! What maker?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The organ is a 4 manual Willis III rebuild of what was originally a Father Willis.  Case architect Harold Rogers, a one-time Mayor of Oxford, who had a thriving practice in that part of the country (including St. Edward's School and Somerville College).

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=A00123

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The organ came originally from a 1862 exhibition, as I recall.  It was the first substantial organ I played (and I had earlier been a chorister there).  It is now in a very poor state indeed, and there has for some time been an appeal fund for its rebuilding.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I was last there about ten years ago I was there to try a Phoenix digital organ. I think they had the organ from Magdalen College - I don't know why this isn't in use - it may need a lot of money spending on it. Incidentally, OOTH, do you know about the website, npor? Very useful!!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Going north again (although to someone who's lived in Orkney, it's all relative!), Paisley Abbey has a lovely and typical case by Lorimer, greatly improved at the Walker/Downes rebuild when the front pipes were re-arranged in natural lengths.  The organ is my favourite of the Downes designs and has tremendous character.  One can't feature Paisley without mentioning George McPhee, who has been organist there since 1963 and was the instigator of the Walker rebuild.  A stunningly fine player, brilliant choir-trainer and the possessor of a sparkling and wicked sense of humour.  Scottish church musicians know, like and respect George, but he is less well-known elsewhere.

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N18196

Image result for paisley abbey organ

Image result for paisley abbey organ

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dunblane Cathedral - Lorimer again, but recast for the new Flentrop in 1989.  Lorimer's work is peculiarly Scottish, in that his style of Gothic is more flamboyant than English examples, corresponding to the Scottish type of Decorated rather than the English Perpendicular.  I haven't been to Dunblane since the Flentrop went in.  The previous HN&B was not universally acclaimed - a difficult position militated against its success and the older Scottish organists used to say that the Ingram which preceded it was a finer sound.

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N09204

XMLFunctions.cgi?Fn=GetPicture&Rec_index=N18075&Number=1

XMLFunctions.cgi?Fn=GetPicture&Rec_index=N09204&Number=2

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Exeter Cathedral - the Loosemore case of 1660 containing the organ as rebuilt by Harrisons' in 1965 with subsequent additions.  A rather special sound, in my limited experience (I've played it once and heard it several times).  Although not lacking in power when necessary, it sings at you in a way which I've never encountered in similar instruments in other big churches.

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=R00458

XMLFunctions.cgi?Fn=GetPicture&Rec_index=R00458&Number=1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just returned from a weekend in Birmingham where I had the opportunity to play the instrument in St Anne's, Moseley which will be familiar to users of a well known piece of organ simulation software. Not a looker, but like most instruments, sounds much better in the flesh when you add the ambience of the building and the experience of sitting at the console.

Coming back to topic, the nearby church of St Agnes, Moseley has IMHO a very pretty case. http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D06670

Image result for st agnes moseley organ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Trawling through my camera, I found pictures of an interesting new case at Durham Cathedral:

 

334194840_Durhamnewcase.jpg.dae26fcdac52c4fda855c0dba66a2590.jpg

 

517507834_Durhamnewcase2.jpg.a8c6d83fae8e1abe6ae36a02d9ddb034.jpg

 

I recall that H&H actually built and installed it ?

OK, not quite what was asked for! This was part of a Lego model of Durham Cathedral built in 2015, for fundraising. I think you paid a pound for a brick. Great fun, and the finished model was impressive.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chelmsford Cathedral - the old organ had a decent enough case and I rather liked the instrument itself, as rebuilt by Hill, Norman & Beard in 1970, but it was rather out of the way in an awkwardly shaped building.  The whole place was re-ordered, with a new floor which improved the acoustics, and during Graham Elliott's dynamic period as organist, our hosts provided two new organs - a new one at the west end and a one using pipes from St. Andrew's, Cambridge, in the quire.  One part of the fund-raising activities was the "Essex Man Organ Gala" in St. Paul's Cathedral in 1993.  At that time, there were eight Essex-born serving cathedral organists - Roger Fisher (Chester), John Sanders (Gloucester), Michael Smith (Llandaff), Adrian Lucas (Portsmouth), Marcus Huxley (Birmingham), Barry Rose (St. Albans), Alan Thurlow (Chichester) and yours truly (Belfast), and we all took part, together with Graham and the Chelmsford Choir.  We each played a piece on the big organ, and there were a number of concerted pieces with nine players, featuring the big organ, the Willis-on-Wheels and two chamber organs lent by our hosts. It was amazing fun.  I was at the dedication of the nave organ, but so far I haven't got round to playing either it or its companion in the quire. Here are the organs:

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N07723

XMLFunctions.cgi?Fn=GetPicture&Rec_index=N07723&Number=3

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D01021

XMLFunctions.cgi?Fn=GetPicture&Rec_index=D01021&Number=1

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D02906

XMLFunctions.cgi?Fn=GetPicture&Rec_index=D02906&Number=4

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 31/07/2018 at 22:07, Damian Beasley-Suffolk said:

Trawling through my camera, I found pictures of an interesting new case at Durham Cathedral:

 

334194840_Durhamnewcase.jpg.dae26fcdac52c4fda855c0dba66a2590.jpg

 

517507834_Durhamnewcase2.jpg.a8c6d83fae8e1abe6ae36a02d9ddb034.jpg

 

I recall that H&H actually built and installed it ?

OK, not quite what was asked for! This was part of a Lego model of Durham Cathedral built in 2015, for fundraising. I think you paid a pound for a brick. Great fun, and the finished model was impressive.

 

 

I'm sure I posted a response to this post, but it seems to have gone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎01‎/‎08‎/‎2018 at 00:14, David Drinkell said:

Chelmsford Cathedral - the old organ had a decent enough case and I rather liked the instrument itself, as rebuilt by Hill, Norman & Beard in 1970, but it was rather out of the way in an awkwardly shaped building.  

Yes, it was behind an arch facing south: the sound had to go ‘around the corner’ into the Nave, in a rather torpid acoustic. Not an ideal arrangement for leading a congregation.

The best place to hear it was in the choir stalls or at the console.

One memory is that John Jordan insisted the console be kept free of clutter - a good lesson for many (most ?). Another is the use of the Mounted Cornet for a robust execution of the opening (and closing) scalic roulades of Britten's Jubilate

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Still in Essex - Mistley Church.  The case is by Renatus Harris and was the Chaire case from Worcester Cathedral.  The organ itself is interesting because, together with that at neighbouring Bradfield, it was made up from parts of an enormous, four-manual instrument blown by a donkey walking in a treadmill assembled in the neighbouring Rectory for the Reverend L.G. Hayne (composer of hymn tunes, including 'St. Cecilia' for "Thy Kingdom come, O God"). 

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N08677

XMLFunctions.cgi?Fn=GetPicture&Rec_index=N08677&Number=2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Slightly off-topic because it's in Northern Ireland, but Down Cathedral really deserves a mention.  Once attributed to Samuel Green and reputed to have been donated by King George III, it is fairly definite that the original organ was built by Hull of Dublin, whose work was incorporated in a new instrument by Telford in 1856.  Arthur Harrison carried out a sympathetic rebuild in 1914, and Harrisons' rebuilt it again in 1966 in consultation with Lord Dunleath, converting the Choir organ, adding a chorus mixture to the Swell and another mixture to the Great and Pedal (to enable the organ to provide a better lead to a full congregation, which had not been its purpose in earlier days). Wells-Kennedy subsequently did some revoicing to take the sting out of the new mixtures and later reinstated a celeste in the Swell. The building is not vast - it's basically a Quire with the organ standing on a gallery somewhat forward of the west end - and the organ fits it perfectly.  If it were to be described as the best organ in Ireland, I would not argue.  The old mixtures are unique and quite amazing in their effect, and altogether this is an instrument that stays in the memory. 

The pedal reed is reputed to have been meant for the Royal Festival Hall but never got there.  It sits on its own in a corner of the gallery and is quite a snorter at close quarters. When I did the Great Irish Cathedral Organ Marathon in 1992 (a half-hour recital in each of the 31 Cathedrals of the Church of Ireland during Easter Week), I finished off the programme at Down with Scotson Clark's Marche aux Flambeaux.  One of my roadies happened to be leaning against the aforesaid Pedal reed and got the shock of his life.  'Wow!' he said, 'Bullfrogs from Hell!!'

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N00207

Image result for down cathedral organ

Image result for down cathedral organ

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, David Drinkell said:

  The organ itself is interesting because, together with that at neighbouring Bradfield, it was made up from parts of an enormous, four-manual instrument blown by a donkey walking in a treadmill assembled in the neighbouring Rectory for the Reverend L.G. Hayne (composer of hymn tunes, including 'St. Cecilia' for "Thy Kingdom come, O God"). 

XMLFunctions.cgi?Fn=GetPicture&Rec_index=N08677&Number=2

 

The donkey, of course, is a major player in the history of religion. He was there at two great moments in the story of Christianity in that he carried Mary to Bethlehem to give birth to the Christ-child and, later, he carried Jesus whilst the Jews shouted 'Hosanna to the Son of David'! My close friend, who is Vicar of a beautiful ancient Abbey in the Midlands always employs a donkey on Palm Sunday. One year the donkey stayed for the whole service and joined in the singing of the hymns with great gusto! I have a vision of the donkey, standing in his field, looking at his calendar and saying "It's that time of the year again!!!"

David. Your encyclopedic knowledge always astounds me - but that has to be one of the best I have ever heard!!! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of my favourite modern cases is that of the Nigel Church instrument previously in Hucknall Parish Church, then Sedbergh School and now Ss. Peter and Paul RC Church, Lincoln.  What's inside is jolly good as well - a great sound and a crisp touch:

 

DSCF0919a.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, S_L said:

One year the donkey stayed for the whole service and joined in the singing of the hymns with great gusto! 

“These entries had such equine class:

    I refer to the Biblical ass.

    Etym’logic’lly wonky

    (Since 18th cent., ‘donkey’):

    It cannot partake of High Mass !

 

 

  And, whilst, at the hymns it might bray,

    I’m sure that, oft times, it would neigh !

    It must feel quite foolish

    To sound, like this, mulish –

    Much better off just munching hay.”

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks as always to David Drinkell and others for showcasing the best of rural Anglophone organ heritage.  Three more I remembered:

 

Hatfield house contains two stunning organ cases, one in the chapel:

24381584148_4a5c4fc6ba_b.jpg

... and (to my eye) an even finer one in (I believe) the summer drawing room

IMGP4071.JPG

In a similar vein there is also the early Harrison at Castle Howard

IMG_3722.jpg

(apologies for low resolution photo of the latter)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...