In 1863 the new St John’s College Chapel building was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and, when completed, the organ from the earlier chapel was enlarged and installed by Hill. Sir George Gilbert Scott did design organ cases: Rochester, Chester and Ely Cathedrals are examples. Whilst his designs were far better than the norm for the period, they seem to me to be more of a surround to the pipework (with tops of pipes showing), rather than a cohesive design with the display pipes.
A first look at the splendid organ cases at St John’s illustrated on the cover of this issue suggests a designer with a more developed understanding of the needs of good organ case design. Were the cases designed by Hill, the builder of the organ, who has some very fine cases to his name, Chichester and Peterborough Cathedrals and Beverley Minster for example? No, the cases were designed by John Oldrid Scott in 1890, the younger son of Sir George Gilbert.
I am probably not alone in getting muddled about the various Scotts when it comes to looking at architecture. There were the two sons of Sir George Gilbert, George Gilbert junior and John Oldrid, and George Gilbert junior also had a son Giles Gilbert, the architect of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral who was, like his grandfather, knighted. All of them were architects of note, but the least well known, John Oldrid was in my view the most accomplished when it came to understanding good organ case design.
Having sorted that out, now have a look at the Suttons in the context of church organs!
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