Category Archives: My Church

13 My Church July 2016

Alex Fishburn plays at Bromley Parish Church


I am a student in my third year at the Royal College of Music and Assistant organist at St Peter and St Paul, Bromley, Kent.

The church, which dates from at least the medieval period, was badly damaged by a bomb in 1941, though the tower was largely saved. It was rebuilt using much of the original stone work embedded in concrete so looks older that it really is. The foundation stone was laid by Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth ll) in 1949 and the building completed in 1957.

The church acquired an old instrument from a private residence in 1 Bromley Parish ChurchBroadstairs, which soldiered on until enough funds were raised for an entirely new instrument.

The current instrument was built in 1991 by J.W. Walker & Sons Ltd. Designed by David Sanger, the organ is distinctly “Modern English” in style, with a rather French flavour to the voicing. The organ is therefore perfect for the performance of a wide range of French repertoire, both from the Baroque era and the romantic era. The organ is also very versatile for 20th century and modern music.

1 Picture2
Due to its French voicing, the organ does not lend itself to the performance of English romantic repertoire very well; though with careful selection of stops it can deliver a rather convincing performance of almost any organ repertoire. As the organ does not make any huge attempt to be eclectic in voicing, it blends beautifully and every stop plays an integral part of the instrument. This integrity is what makes the organ excellent at performing many different repertoires of organ music from various schools, from North German Baroque (Buxtehude, Bach etc) through to 20th Century English (such as Matthias).

The piece I am playing, Mozart Changes, is by Zsolt Gárdonyli who was born in Hungary in 1946. It was composed in 1995 using the theme of the finale of Mozart’s piano sonata in D major K. 576, and changes it using elements of jazz. I find this piece regularly appears on my ‘encore’ list as it never fails to make an audience smile, or even laugh and it shows off the Bromley organ well. Click the jazzy picture or here to clear the music to make you smile.

The organ speciifcation is given

Alex Fishburn

Previous MyChurch

12 MyChurch June 2016

Peter Chester plays at St Swithun’s, Hither Green

Peter Chester small

Bach Fantasia in G minor.

As many of you will know, this piece rather stands alone in Bach’s organ Repertoire. Its style is unlike any of the other Preludes or Toccatas. There is an improvisatory feel to the main sections, interspersed with two delightful interludes or codas in contrast to the music before and after.I chose this piece to open a recital two months ago at St George’s Beckenham. The codas offer an opportunity to contrast the sound with just 8ft stops; as opposed to the plenum in the main sections.

Click my photo to hear the Bach, or click

Pierné Prelude.

Gabriel Pierne followed Cesar Franck as titulaire at St Sulpice. untitled4He composed across all musical genres and while he joins the ranks of Parisian organist-composers hardly any of his organ music survives.

This Prelude comes from a set entitled Trois Pièces. It is in the key of G minor and is almost pianistic in manner. I studied it for grade 8 many years ago and it has remained   a firm favourite.

The photo of the organ to hear the Pierné or click  

The organ

The present organ in St Swithun’s Church,Hither Green was built by Peter Conacher of Huddersfield, however, it did not begin life here. Sometime during the nineteenth century the organ was originally installed at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, home of the Duke of Marlborough. In 1891 a larger organ was built for Blenheim, by Father Willis (of Henry Willis and Sons of London); this new organ had four manuals and pedals, with seventy stops – huge for a private residence!I

It was probably two years later that the Conacher organ was installed in St. Swithun’s by Father Willis. It was installed in the north east of the church (where the pipes are today), and was a three manual instrument, with nine speakin05ag stops on the Great, ten on the Swell and six on the Choir; the Pedal organ had just three stops (which was typical of Conacher) and there were five unison couplers. The full specification is given

In 1959 Sidney George Tuddenham, then St Swithun’s organist, paid £5000 for the rebuilding of the instrument. This amounted to a reworking – and a pruning – of the existing pipework, with the result that we now have a fine, healthy two-manual organ with some excellent Solo stops – notably the Basset Horn, the Oboe, and the Tromba.

The Conacher organ is a fine instrument and is still making music to praise the Lord to this day and it is a joy to be one of the people doing so.

Peter Chester


Previous MyChurch

14 My Church May 2016

Christ’s Chapel, Dulwich

ChapelWelcome to Christ’s Chapel Dulwich. The chapel’s full title is Christ’s Chapel of Alleyn’s College of God’s Gift at Dulwich. Founded by Edward Alleyn, a famous Shakespearean actor and entrepreneur,  it celebrates 400 years of continuous worship in 2016. Today, Edward Alleyn’s legacy consists of three top schools in Dulwich, Dulwich College, Alleyn’s School and James Allen’s Girls’ School. Other schools in and outside London also benefit from the founder’s legacy. As well as the schools there exists the charity that is the Almshouses, visible on College Road. Land and property are managed by the Dulwich Estate. The chapel is used by the schools for services at the beginnings and ends of terms. Dulwich College and JAGS occasionally join forces to sing Choral Evensong, maintaining and nurturing the tradition of sung services which began in 1616.They also give concerts, notably on Wednesday lunchtimes. Services using the Book of Common Prayer are held on Sundays on behalf of St Barnabas Church Dulwich, and these are the services for which I play the organ and direct the choir. I also organise a thriving series of organ recitals on Sunday evenings.

Although built in 1616 the interior is largely Victorian, and the reredos is particularly colourful, showing an image depicting one of the original 12 poor scholars and Edward Alleyn. Two big paintings are copies of works by Raphael, notably ‘The Transfiguration’.

The chapel is a jewel in London and Dulwich’s crown. Visitors to the Dulwich Picture Gallery, which the chapel adjoins, can walk round on Tuesday afternoons. Many say they had no idea it was here at all.

The organ was built in 1760 by George England and Thomas Wyatt. It had three manuals only, the pedal board being added by TC Lewis of Brixton in 1880. Since Mendelssohn had brought the music of Bach to London, English organs needed to catch up. In 1874 it was cleaned by Forster and Andrewes, and in 1908, Norman and Beard modified the action. Between the two world wars, the organ thankfully survived bombs that fell on Dulwich, and was cared for by a local Alleyn’s Old Boy, Arthur Coombs. He ran a grocery business but the organ was his passion. He added more ranks, including a Voix Celeste. Another example of Arthur’s work is in Penge Congregational Church, where the society likes to meet. In 1969, Alan Morgan, then Director of Music at Dulwich College, invited Manders to rebuild the organ. It became a neo Baroque instrument until 2000, when soaring temperatures caused by fa0b DSCF2261_loulty thermostats caused the soundboards and leatherwork to dry out. William Drake was commissioned to restore the organ to the world class instrument here today. Many of the pipes are original, including the Vox Humana rank on the choir, found in bags inside the Swell Box. In 1880 it was out fashion but Lewis knew its qualities, and there it remained until 2009 when it returned, restored to its rightful place in the organ.

The National Pipe Organ register link is

I have made a recording of the Buxtehude Choral Prelude Te Deum (Bux WV 218) Herr Gott, dich loben wir.

To see a 3 minute video of me describing this piece click here.

To hear the 16 minute recording  click here

The recording was made using levels set to auto-adjust and some sections sound distant. Thank you Martin for your help in editing.

Previous MyChurch

1st May 2016 Marilyn Harper at Christ’s Chapel, Dulwich
1st April 2016 Sarah Best at All Saints, Poplar
1st March 2016 Martin Callingham St Paul’s Tooting
1st February 2016 Nicky Jones at St Swithun’s Hither Green
1st December 2015 John Webber with the Beckenham Junior Choir and Youth Voices at St John’s, East Dulwich
1st November 2015 Samzu Agbaje at Tulse Hill Methodist Church
1st October 2015 Richard Pilliner at St John the Evangelist, Shirley
1st September 2015 Harry Bramma at All Saints, Tooting
1st July 2015  John King and Chris Caine at St Clement with St Peter, Dulwich
1st June 2015 Robert Bowles at the Church of the Holy Spirit, Clapham
1st May 2015 Marilyn Nicholson at Penge Congregational Church
1st April 2015 Andrew Chadney at St Stephen’s, Norbury
1st March 2015 John Mitchell at All Saints, Warlingham

11 MyChurch April 2016

All Saints, Poplar

SarahI am Sarah Best and I am going to play in All Saint’s, Poplar. Actually, my church is St Augustine’s, Kilburn, which has a fabulous organ, but is unfortunately much in need of attention. So I have decided to play in  All Saints Poplar, E14, 0EY  where I often deputise: this has an excellent organ, and a vicar and organist who have kindly let us do this.

All Saint’s was built in 1821 when the population in Poplar began to grow at the time the West India Dock was being dug out.

1. IMG_9036Originally there were galleries on three sides and a pulpit which could be cranked up for large congregations!

There was also a stained glass window behind the altar which was so criticised that apparently the artist committed suicide. It was eventually bricked up.

The church has undergone several alterations since then. In the 1920’s recession everything was simplified. The church was painted white and the adjustable pulpit removed.

The East end was damaged in the Blitz and subsequent restorations saw the galleries removed and a new organ and choir stalls put in at the West end. You can hear me saying more about the church and the organ by clicking this link or the photo of the church above.

The organ


The organ pipework came from a church in Clapham and was originally made by Hunter. The current organ was restored by Manders. The registration is given on the following link:

The piece I shall play is ‘Schmücke Dich O liebe Seele’ (Deck Thyself, My Soul, with Gladness) by Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933). This tune has been used by many composers and was originally a Bach cantata BWV 180 composed for the 20th Sunday after Trinity which falls in October and was used as a Eucharist hymn. I chose this as I thought it would show the colours of the organ.

You can hear this music by clicking the picture of the organ or clicking on the following link here,  on the picture of the organ

Sarah Best

Previous MyChurch

09 My Church February 2016

St Swithun’s the Evangelist, Hither Green

3Nick75I am Nicky Jones an organist on the rota of organists for St Swithun’s Hither Green and Honorary Secretary of the Southwark and South London Society of Organists.

I am playing “Te Splendor et Virtus” – Chorale No 15 from Le Tombeau de Titelouze Opus 38, composed in 1942 by Marcel Dupré . Dupré was inspired by the work of Titelouze (1563-1633), French composer, poet and organist of the early baroque period. “Te Splendor et Virtus” is, like  all 16 chorales from the collection, a reworking of Titelouze’s organ settings of plain chant hymns for use during the litany. The Latin verse reads:-


You can hear (and see) me playing by clicking this link or by clicking the photo of the church. In my view this piece is really quite beautiful as well as being 01measured in pace, reassuring and unpretentious.  I  found too that Dupré’s very precise fingering instructions and the associated requirement for legato playing provided a real opportunity to attempt to  improve technique!

The organ

The present organ in St Swithun’s Church,Hither Green was built by Peter Conacher of Huddersfield, however, it did not begin life here. Sometime during the nineteenth century the organ was originally installed at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, home of the Duke of Marlborough. In 1891 a larger organ was built for Blenheim, by Father Willis (of Henry Willis and Sons of London); this new organ had four manuals and pedals, with seventy stops – huge for a private residence!I

It was probably two years later that the Conacher organ was installed in St. Swithun’s by Father Willis. It was installed in the north east of the church (where the pipes are today), and was a three manual instrument, with nine speakin05ag stops on the Great, ten on the Swell and six on the Choir; the Pedal organ had just three stops (which was typical of Conacher) and there were five unison couplers. The full specification is given

In 1959 Sidney George Tuddenham, then St Swithun’s organist, paid £5000 for the rebuilding of the instrument. This amounted to a reworking – and a pruning – of the existing pipework, with the result that we now have a fine, healthy two-manual organ with some excellent Solo stops – notably the Basset Horn, the Oboe, and the Tromba.

The Conacher organ is a fine instrument and is still making music to praise the Lord to this day and it is a joy to be one of the people doing so.

Nicky Jones

Previous My Church

08 My Church December 2015

Happy Christmas, everybody!


I have been Director of Music at St. John’s Church, East Dulwich twice: 1993-7 and again since 2003. The main Sunday service is a Sung Mass at 10a.m. with choir.  The junior section is twelve strong and usually sings at two services each month.  The adults (10-15, occasionally more)  are there every week.  We have an anthem and usually a psalm with a cantor, plus other bits and pieces for choir members, such as an introit and hymn descants.  Sometimes the opening music is not an organ voluntary, but an instrumental piece (often by a young person) or a choir solo or a short anthem.  The Junior Choir is well involved in these solos.  Four Junior Choir members have diocesan awards, as have also several of the adults.  We sing the Fauré Requiem at All Souls’ Tide and occasional cathedral services, sometimes with friends joining us.  Plainsong is used regularly and we cover many styles of composition, but the music is mainly traditional.

I have made the Choir my priority and am very fortunate St Johnsin having a team of assistant organists who do most of the playing, by being available from time to time: Nicky Jones, Neil Stevenson, Marilyn Harper, Harry Bramma, Emily Elias, Andrew Baars and, more recently, Niall Baxter and Charlie Warren.

The organ is a three manual Walker of 1985, restored in 1995, but actually the property of Trinity Laban Conservatoire, but on permanent loan as it is surplus to Trinity‘s requirements since they moved to Greenwich.  We have had this since 2011.Click o0n the organ picture to get its specification from the National Pipe Organ Register.

Each summer there is a series of recitals: in 2016 these will be on May 7th. (me), July 2nd. (Emily) and September 17th. & 24th. (Richard Pilliner, who will be playing the Six Sonatas of J S Bach).

The Beckenham Junior Choir and Youth Voices

I started Beckenham Junior Choir in 1993 as a means of encouraging young people to sing outside school hours.  It is amazing what can be achieved!  Over the years that has been tremendous loyalty and several singers have gone on to take their music further.  Many of the singers have been pianists for the Choir as well; from time to time some of them play other instruments in our many concerts.  We have the benefit of adult musical support: Stuart Kale (international opera singer) coaches the young people and Mark Edwards is our regular guitarist.  A few Choir parents join us for some of our songs.  We sing folk music, pop music, classical repertoire with a smattering of church music.

Beckenham Youth Voices began in 2004 in response to the need to provide further singing for our 11 year olds when they would otherwise have had to leave.  The sound of this older group (aged 11-18) is very satisfying and they have been growing in confidence.

The two choirs sing a mix of musical types: folk, popular songs, items from shows or musicals, classical pieces – and even some church music! However, although the older choir joins my gathering of groups for Choral Evensong at Southwark and Rochester Cathedrals every other year, it is unusual for either group to be involved with a church service. So it was an exception that this year on the 29th November they both came together in the Advent Carol Service at St John’s. These services are much rarer than the Christmas ones that everyone knows about but are rich in themes and there is plenty of material to be used.

The event gave the young people  from Beckenham  a chance to do something different; it also took away some of the pressure on my very busy church choir.

advent candlesIt has been good to involve the parents of a few of the children, together with personal friends, over the last few years. Good for the parents to have an opportunity of joining in but also good for the children to hear four-part  texture which we don’t  otherwise have.

To hear an see the children doing their final rehearsal, click on the picture of the Advent candles or on the link:

The film is 7 minutes long

John Webber

 Choir members

 BECKENHAM JUNIOR CHOIR: Claudia Adams, Malachi Adams, Nathaniel Bates Fisher, Eve Battley, Caleb Carpenter, Maya Channing, Joe Davies, Samuel Draisey, Nehara Fernando, Ella Fraser, Olivia Fraser, Georgina Glynn, Aaron Gunaseelan, Aashni Gunaseelan, Sophie Hall, Elena Harwood, Steven Harwood, Rachael Leary, Alexia Moren-Rosado, Alessandro Mutti, Amelia O’Keeffe, Sheron Piremi, Dionysios Sevastakis, Nikola Treigute, Zara Eden Wynter.
 BECKENHAM YOUTH VOICES:  Zachary Bates Fisher, Ivan Berdnikov, Chloé Beroud, JJ (Joshua) Carpenter, Miriam Carpenter, Elle Cousins, Ben Davies, Oliver Farrell, Sabrina Giampieri-Smith, Tiziri Hadj-Mahsoud, Chloe Harwood, Malini Kendall, Anna Porritt, Marie Purrman-Charles, Stella Rosen-Morado, Grace Westgarth.

Interested in joining either of the the Choirs?

Go to

Interested in more of John’s choir music?

John also runs an adult choir, the Elm Singers which is performing at St John’s, East Dulwich,  SE22 9AT on the 11th December 2015.


Previous My Church

07 My Church November 2015

Tulse Hill Methodist Church


I am Samzu and am the organist at the Tulse Hill Methodist Church

At first glance, the church looks like a recently built church. The present building itself was opened in 1910 however there is more to this story than meets the eye.

Prior to 2002, the name of the church was Roupel Park Methodist Church. It can be said that a church is not made of a building but the people it comprises and this image is clearly presented here. The present building is the 3rd to be created by the church at this location.

  • The first was a small Iron Church founded in 1870 but destroyed by fire in 1877.
  • The second was a fine Gothic style Weslyan Church opened in 1880 but destroyed in 1944 during the Second World War.


This organ was installed when the church was re-opened in 1970; that makes it 45 years old. Itchurch1 is a two manual electronic Miller Organ.

45 years for a pipe organ is a relatively small length of time but for an electronic organ, 45 years means the organ is at the dusk of its time.

Nevertheless the organ still manages to produce it’s electronic sounds to good effect in the church with 16 stops and 1 crescendo pedal for the swell manual.

Hear and see me playing this organ by clicking on the photo of the church and see something of the history of the church by clicking here

Samzu Agbaje

Previous My Church

06 My Church September 2015

Harry Bramma at All Saints, Tooting

WoolfI am Woolf van Silver, a long standing member of the congregation at All Saints, and am running the project to raise and spend money on our Historic Harrison organ: to preserve it physically and to use modern media to record and broadcast its beautiful sounds   It is a honour to be involved with such an instrument — and a very great privilege to have Harry as a mainstay to our efforts, and such a virtuoso in demonstrating and explaining its capabilities



0Harry Bramna75

I am Harry Bramma and have had a long term connection with All Saints – in fact from 1976. The present Organist of the Church – Alun Barlett – has kindly given permission for me to do a short demonstration of the organ for The Southwark and South London Society of Organists website since I am the Honorary President.

I became Organist of Southwark Cathedral in 1976 after twelve and a half years as Assistant Organist at Worcester Cathedral. Since then I have been closely associatated with the diocese of Southwark as an Organ Adviser and a member of the Diocesan Advisory Committee. I have over 40 years gained a great deal of information about South London instruments as a result of this work. On leaving Southwark Cathedral in 1989, I was Director of the Royal School of Church Music for 10 years and Organist of All Saints, Margaret Street, W1 from 1989 to 2004. I    now play regularly as an itinerant deputy in South London.

The Organ

The Harrison and Harrison organ at All Saints‘ is an outstanding example of the firm’s work dating from 1907, standing in its fine case by Walter Tapper, later knighted and elected President of the R.I.B.A. in the 20’s.

This notable building by Temple Moore has remarkable acoustics and has been much used as a recording venue.

The organ is particularly significant because tonally it is totally unaltered from the day Arthur Harrison finished work on it. It’s one of a series of organs built between 1904 and 1914 which established Harrison’s as a leading organ builder of the day. It followed Durham cathedral of 1905 and came before Ely Cathedral (1908). All Saints, Margaret Street (1910) and St Mary, Redcliffe, Bristol (1912) were some of a fine collection of instruments dating from the Edwardian era.

The instrument at Tooting is a large three manual with 45 speaking stops. It is really a cathedral organ without the fourth manual.


The tutti of the organ is majestic and very powerful, topped by the Great Trombas, 8 and 4 foot, very fine heavy pressure ranks which have to be used occasionally and with discretion!

Click the photo of All Saints to hear my improvisation in the form of a Gavotte highlighting the louder features of the organ which give the tutti of the Instrument its particular and magnificent personality (3 mins) or use this link:




P1040043The organ also has a wide rage of softer registers, many of which are to be found on the large Choir organ.

Click the photo of the organ pipes to hear me demonstrating the softer stops and beautiful combinations of them (6 mins), or use this link:

A description of the stops is given on the npor link





Harry Bramma


Previous My Churches

05 My Church July 2015

St Clement and St Paul, Dulwich

P1040027 mod I am Chris Caine, Organist and choirmaster here at St Clement with St Peter Church with John King our Emeritus organist. Click on the picture of John and me to hear a little more about the church, or click on this link. The United Church of Clement with St Peter’s, Dulwich and was established in November 1986. There had previously been two separate parishes. The parish of St Peter’s was founded in 1865 and it initially used temporary buildings until a dedicated church was finally built in 1874. The parish of St Clement began life as a mission church in Hindmans Road. It became a separate parish in 1883 and by 1885 a large new church had been built on Friern Road and a vicar was appointed. It was destroyed by bomb damage in 1940 and the new church was subsequently consecrated in September 1957. Worship at Church of Clement with St Peter’s, Dulwich is in the anglo-catholic tradition. It is an inclusive church with regular sung services each Sunday morning at 10.00am and said services on Thursday mornings at the same time. Services consist of parish communion with Sunday School and once a month there is a shorter All Age Worship service. There is a small but flourishing choir to support the worship of the parish with hymn and psalm singing and regular anthems.

The organ

The original 3 manual organ of St Clement’s Church (as it was at the time and now St Clement with St Peter) was by Normal Beard. It survived the bomb damaged suffered by the church in 1940 and was stored in the church hall during the remaining war years. The church was re-built after the war but the new build did not allow sufficient space for the organ to be re-instated. It was therefore sold and its current whereabouts are not known. st clements P1040037It was replaced with a small, far from new two manual instrument by Henry Jones which was installed in the West Gallery. It was deemed to be just adequate for the liturgical needs of the church but its incomplete pedal compass and meagre range of speaking stops imposed severe limitations upon serious organ playing. Some of the shortcomings were rectified by work carried out by Vincent Coggin in the early 1990s but a few years later the opportunity arose to secure a superior instrument from a redundant church – St George’s Battersea. The former organ was eventually installed in choir auditorium of the Russian Musical Academy at St. Petersburg in 1996. This instrument was built by J. W. Walker & Sons in 1897 and incorporated the pipework from the company’s earlier instrument of 1837. It was installed in St Peter’s for first use on Ascension Day 1995 with an additional clarinet stop obtained from St George’s Perry Hill Forest Hill. Some of the pipework is of interest. It includes 16 of the original 21 gilded case pipes, which though still in use, are not visible. The Swell Gamba is a Bell Gamba stop, a tapered body with flared tops originally with ear tuning. Click here  to download the specification. john head


Click on the photograph of John to hear him playing the Fantasia in F minor by Mozart, or click on this link.                                                         

Text written by Chris Caine
Previous My Churches 

04 My Church June 2015

A story of three organs

RB photo Feb 15I am Robert Bowles, Director of Music at the Church of the Holy Spirit, Clapham, and Chairman, St Paul’s Cathedral Chorus and Guild of the Companions of St Paul.

I want to tell you the story of our organ.

 So, firstly tell me about the history of the church

It was dedicated 102 years ago.  There was no church in this part of Clapham because the area was undeveloped.  Just a few large houses with vast gardens.  From about 1870 they were sold off and the grid of streets with terraced houses took the population from 500 to 8000.  The church was designed to accommodate 600! 

 And the organ?

This was built by Alfred Hunter and Son, whose works were nearby in Clapham High Street, in 1921.  When the church was dedicated there were plans to fit out the interior quite quickly, including building an organ.   The First World War disrupted those plans, and inflation eroded the value of the money that had been collected. Even with a significant grant from Andrew Carnegie, lots of the organ was “prepared for” but not installed.  Behind the three manual console was a two manual instrument with space to install what was missing! Our predecessors were wise and realistic.  Everything they did was to a high standard of design, materials and workmanship.  If there wasn’t enough money to do something properly, they didn’t try and do it on the cheap – they just didn’t do it.  We have the original contract for building the organ which describes very clearly what was in the first phase, and what was to happen later.  After the first phase was complete further fundraising allowed three of the missing ranks to be installed, but by the mid-1980s the 60-year-old leatherwork was starting to disintegrate, so the focus was on restoring the instrument that we had got, not completing it.   

So how did you deal with that?

That’s when I was appointed organist.  The layout of the organ within the gallery is excellent, and if you know where to crawl you can get to any of the pneumatic machines without dismantling anything.  That makes ordinary maintenance quite straightforward, individual components can be removed if they need work in the workshop.  I inherited a scheme to re-leather everything gradually whilst never taking the whole instrument out of action.   Then William McVicker, one of our Diocesan Organ Advisors and a SSLSO member, suggested we should apply to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant.  He thought that although incomplete, the organ was an excellent example of its age and type, largely because it had not been altered in the 1960s.   Our bid for grant-aid was successful, and we got further grants from the ON organ Fund and the Council for the Care of Churches. So once we had raised the rest we were able to restore the whole of the original instrument in one go.  So it is now in perfect working order.  Our organ builder and SSLSO member Vincent Coggin did an amazing job. 

 But the instrument looks pretty complete now – how did that come about?

Our discussions with the HLF included a proposal to complete the organ.  They were supportive of the idea, but funding it fell outside their terms of reference (“We are able to fund the restoration of existing heritage but not to buy new heritage”).  They imposed an interesting but understandable condition, which was that it had to be completed to the original design, using second hand material known to have originated in Hunter’s works, or new material copied from a Hunter original.

red87We did some further fundraising and started a Hunter hunt.  Paul Joslin of BIOS led me  on a treasure trail which finished in the loft space of the garage of the Vicarage in Catherington, near Portsmouth.  There I found all the Hunter pipes from an organ removed from the church some 10 years previously with the intention of re-installing them in a new action.  That scheme had been abandoned as there was no prospect of raising the money.  We got consent to buy these pipes. Click the photo or link to see 13 more photos of the Catherinton effort.



Michael Toll led me to the United Congregational Church in Lee-on-Sea, near Southend.  They had a project to re-develop their church and hall to provide residential accommodation and a smaller worship space into which their two-manual Hunter organ would not fit.   So we bought the complete instrument. Click the photo or link to see 8 photos of the dismantling of the organ at Leigh-on-Sea


P1030989With the aid of voluntary labour we brought everything back to Clapham and sorted out what was needed for the church organ, disposing of the rest.   We had almost everything that was missing, including a soundboard, reservoirs and a swell box for the choir organ.  Click the picture or the link to see 6 photos of the first stage of the work at the Church of the Holy spirit.


Vincent Coggin re-leathered and restored everything that needed it, and we re-erected it in the xVincent Coggin and Ian Bell in discussion 001space prepared for it all those years ago.  We used more volunteer labour, mostly graduate structural engineers from my office.  Click on the photo or link to see 12 photos of the installation of the organ in the Church of the Holy Spirit


All that is missing now are the 16ft Trombone on the pedal and the 16ft Contra Fagotto on the swell.  I can’t find them anywhere! 

The end result is a huge success, and the whole instrument has great integrity despite the  various routes that components have taken to get here from the factory only a mile away.

 Can you demonstrate this?

There are two video for you to see.

Holy Spirit75The first starts with me playing a quiet piece ending with a louder piece. I also give a short commentary . Click on the picture or the link to see the video which last just over 4 minutes.

The second is a recording of 17 separate stops or stop combinations. Click here  to hear the individual and combination pipe sounds. 

And how is the organ used now?

Click here to download the full current specification.

 Well, we use it every Sunday for our main service, and we are gradually introducing evening prayer on Sundays.

We have three organ students who regularly use it for private practice, and three more who come occasionally.

The PCC is keen for it to be used, so we’d welcome any approaches from students of any age.  We are developing links with the RCO organ academy.   The organ is also available to any of the other musical groups which are starting to use the church for rehearsal, recording and for concerts.

  Any other  thoughts?

If anyone knows where I can get a Hunter Trombone and Contra Fagotto – get in touch!


 Note: Vincent Coggin is a former Chairman of the Society and now lives in Norfolk


Previous My Church’s