Kent County Organists’ Association
August 2012 Journal
The articles on this page are in the order published in the paper edition of the Journal
To go to a specific article click on the alphabetical list of contents below
AGM, Borden St. Peter & St. Paul
Kemsing, Shipbourne & Seal
Letters to the Editor
Martyn Noble Canterbury Recital
Roy Rogers A short Profile
St. Albans, Chipperfield & Boxmoor
Staplehurst, All Saints' Parish Church
The Romney Marsh
Review of recent Meetings
SET AGAINST the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics our activities and excursions this year may, for some, appear to be of paltry insignificance, but, in truth, they have been of outstanding interest and diversity.
Our visit to London’s Belgravia in April, an area many have passed without a second glance, revealed a bustling culture, both sacred and secular. We visited three churches: St Michael’s Chester Square, which offered a new two-manual J W Walker organ of fine quality; St Peter’s Eaton Square an avant-garde four-manual 1993 instrument by Kenneth Jones & Associates; and St Mary the Virgin, Bourne Street, a three-manual Lewis/Willis 111 organ with a ravishing tonal beauty that caused even the most hardened organ devotee to go weak at the knees.
Our coach outing to Hertfordshire regrettably attracted fewer members than usual, but here again we enjoyed three extraordinarily fine organs. The visit, arranged by Nicholas King, our new President Elect, gave us access to a 2006 three-manual and pedal Mander organ at St Peter’s, St Albans, which is often used during the St Albans International Organ Festival, and has an extensive specification and responsive tracker action. St John the Evangelist, Boxmoor, a new 2011 two-manual and pedal Nicholson organ, with direct electric action and a particularly well designed console, set on a movable platform allowing for recitals and service use. Nicholas King, Organist and Director of Music, demonstrated it for us, splendidly finishing his short recital with A Festival Toccata, a piece specially commissioned for the opening of the organ in 2011 by Malcolm Archer. The third organ, at St Paul’s Chipperfield, is a tonally robust T C Lewis of 1877, which has been recently sympathetically rebuilt.
Our home county of Kent has not been neglected and meetings were well attended. Rochester Cathedral in January provided an evensong, a conducted tour and access to the organ for members to play. Staplehurst in February attracted many members, braving the extremes of winter, but were generously rewarded with a captivating recital by Marion Whitehead, playing a programme of 15th to 18th century music on her virginals, which was intriguingly tuned to Werckmeister 111 scaling set at A415 baroque pitch.
At Kemsing, Shipbourne and Seal we enjoyed three very different but equally interesting organs and heard an unpublished piece of Edwardian music, full of enjoyable Elgarian cadences, composed by Frederic Lacey, organist of St Peter’s, Eaton Square, during the early 1900s.
We were particularly fortunate to visit Romney Marsh on a rare sunny day in May with the Marsh looking its best. The three ancient churches, steeped in history, added enormously to the interest of the afternoon, and we must thank Roger Marvin for arranging the meeting for us.
We are looking forward to our Organ Festival on 6 October, which will be adjudicated this year by Margaret Philips, Professor of Organ at the Royal College of Music and our Festival Patron. We are most grateful to Margaret for being with us as Dr David Flood was unable to avoid a clash of dates; we must thank our President, Richard Knight, for arranging this and so many of our enjoyable meetings this year.
IN CERTAIN aspects, quite a lot has changed at Rochester Cathedral since our last visit in July 2008. All the music staff is new, apart from Roger Sayer, and the quire is out of commission, due to falling roof plaster, so Evensong now takes place in the chancel crossing.
The duty choir, for our visit on 21 January, comprised the Girl Choristers with the Lay Clerks and Choral Scholars, directed by the Assistant Director of Music, Samuel Rathbone, accompanied by the Cathedral Organist, Roger Sayer. The responses were by Nardone and the setting of the canticles by Dyson in F. The latter employed a solo soprano in the Magnificat, interspersed with full choir sections, and in the Nunc Dimittis, full choir sections alternated with a bass soloist. The anthem was The Lord is my shepherd by How, simple in style but exquisitely crafted and beautifully sung as was all the music. It was interesting to note that the pieces by Peter Nardone and Martin How were introduced to the cathedral repertoire by the previous Assistant Director of Music, Dan Soper, having been at Croydon Parish Church, where all three had previously served. The service was rounded off by a rousing rendition of Vierne’s Carillon de Westminster. We were seated for the service up towards the high altar, which for those regular worshippers, provides a more generous acoustic than the more intimate sound in the Quire.
photo: C. Clemence
After the voluntary, a few members went to play the organ while the rest gathered on the nave steps for a photo call. Before an excellent tea was consumed in the Cathedral Tearooms, Neil
Thompson (Canon Precentor) and Scott Farrell (Director of Music) gave us a delightful tour of the cathedral, talking in an easy style covering the history of the building and organ with some amusing anecdotes thrown in for good measure! The overwhelming view was that this meeting was well worth attending.
Staplehurst, All Saints’ Parish Church
STAPLEHURST, on the old Roman road from Hawkhurst to Maidstone, has come to prominence recently with the two hundredth anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth.
It was at Staplehurst, in 1865, that Dickens was involved in the horrendous train crash, which killed ten people and injured many more. Travelling first class, Dickens, together with his mistress and her mother, was uninjured and after ensuring his ladies were safely on their way to London, he stayed to help with the rescue of the many less fortunate passengers.
Our visit, on 11 February, proved less harrowing, apart from the bitter subzero temperatures. The weather had maintained its icy grip for many days and overcoats were a necessity as we sat
in the pews at All Saints’ Parish Church. Nevertheless, Norman Wallace, who has lived next to the church for over forty years and taken a great interest in its history, spoke warmly of its evolving development since it was built in 1150. It has been greatly enlarged, acquiring some strangely leaning pillars as well as a fine tower with a ring of ten bells. The church registers run from 1528 and a small panel of Elizabethan glass remains preserved in a south window.
We could not fail to notice an old organ front, its pipes screening a vestry in the north wall of the nave. It apparently dates from the 1850s, although nothing is known of the organ it was once part of. After a talk by Sonja Drew on the music of the church, Deputy President, Brian Moore, gave us details of the present organ. It is an 1896 rebuild by Henry Willis and the front pipes and case are in keeping with Willis of the period. However, most of the organ’s internal pipes are from an earlier instrument which, sadly, is not documented, although it is quite possible some are from the earlier organ in the nave. The organ was last overhauled by Mander in 1987 retaining its tracker manual action and installing a new pneumatic pedal touch box and action, in keeping with its original design, replacing a poor electric pedal action which had been added some years earlier. Also, a 16ft double diapason was removed from the Swell to provide an additional 16-8-4 Lieblich Bourdon/bass flute on the pedal. Its specification is now:Great organ, 8 8 8 4 4 2 111(17.19.22); Swell organ, 8 8 8 4 2 8 8; Pedal organ, 16 16 8 4, with usual couplers. Interestingly, our resident organ tuner, who trained under Willis 111 and after trying the organ, believes some stops are 1896 Willis: the Great mixture 17.19.22, Swell 8ft trumpet and the Great 4ft harmonic flute. Nevertheless, the organ’s choruses produce warm clear tonalities, with distinctive reeds, singing flutes and a diapason chorus reminiscent of the 1870s, with a dash of Willis. The organ sounds well in the church, although, like us, the tuning seemed to be suffering from the cold. Ted Hall, one of All Saints’ organists, demonstrated the organ for us with: Introduction and Allegro by John Stanley, a piece by Noel Rawsthorne and Prelude, Meditation and Fanfare by Gordon Jacob. Members were then able to try the organ for themselves, finding the console unusual in that it is at the side of the organ, playing from the organ’s “treble end”.
While we enjoyed a good tea, Marion Whitehead, who had been waiting so patiently, was able to prepare and tune her virginals for her recital. Tuned to Werckmeister 111 scaling at baroque pitch A415, which is almost a semitone lower than our modern A440, the virginals is an instrument quite unknown to many. Its design is not unlike a square piano in shape although the strings are plucked as in a harpsichord. The major difference from the harpsichord is that the strings are plucked by the key jacks about halfway along their length, unlike the harpsichord which is plucked near one end, giving the virginals its delicate, yet clear, sound particularly suited to the Elizabethan period. Marion's beautifully decorated instrument was made in 1980 by Feldburg & Whale of Sevenoaks, and is a detailed reproduction of a Flemish Jan Couchet virginals. Her recital ranged from the 15th century to, in context, a very modern sounding J S Bach. She introduced each section, engagingly illustrated with anecdotes and musical background. She started with three pieces: Der Winter der wil weychen, Anon (mid-15th Century), Ist mir ein fein braun Meg by Jacob Paix (1556-1617), and Almande Prynce, Anon Dutch (16th Century). The opening Der Winter piece, set in a minor key, and the Jacob Paix, Ist mir ein fein braun Meg, were bewitchingly awash with Elizabethan cadences and the final Almande Prynce, a set of charming Elizabethan dances.
with her "Jan Couchet" style Virginals
Photo: C. Jilks
The next set of three pieces were from the Jacobean period onwards, starting with Cantilena Anglica Fortunae by Samuel Scheidt (1587-1617), Allemande from Suite in A minor by J J Froberger (1616-1667), and Auf meinen lieben Gott by Dietrich Buxtehude (1637- 1707). The Samuel Scheidt was the familiar tune set by Byrd and Sweelinck. Then after a melancholy Allemande by Froberger, the Buxtehude, in three movements, seemed surprisingly modern, displaying some quite progressive harmonies.
Marion finished her recital with Hiskia aagonizzante e risanato by Johann Kuhnau (1660-1722), Fantasia No.11 by G P Telemann (1681-1761), and Sarabande and Gavotte from French Suite No.5 in G by J S Bach (1685-1750). The Johann Kuhnau was in three movements, two dances and a lament. The Telemann Fantasia was archetypal Telemann with his skipping Allegros, and the Bach Sarabande was unusually, but pleasingly, imbued with a plaintive elegance engendered by the virginals early tuning, which led to a joyously dancing Gavotte.
Marion’s playing was utterly captivating, the early pieces revealing the delicate nuances of the period, through to a more modern Bach; trills, ornaments and running semiquaver passages played with an involving musicality and panache, which was quite extraordinary considering the extreme conditions in the church.
Members were fascinated by Marion’s playing, and her virginals, with its captivating sound and intricately decorated case, making our meeting at Staplehurst a memorable occasion for which we must particularly thank Deputy President, Brian Moore, who had arranged it for us.
Kemsing, Shipbourne & Seal
SHELTERING under the North Downs, St Mary’s Parish Church, Kemsing, near Sevenoaks, is just one of many such churches which nestle close to the Pilgrim’s Way as it ambles its way through the Kent countryside to Canterbury. Founded in the 11th century, St Mary’s Church has evolved over the centuries but retains many interesting features, including a Norman font and a substantial oak choir screen which dominates the nave, its lower medieval sections extended and enlarged during the late Victorian period.
The organ is nowhere to be seen, being housed entirely out of sight on the choir screen, its larger 8ft pipes set discreetly on horizontal racks. It is a relatively modern instrument built by Ralph Arnold in 1973, originally comprising only three ranks: dulciana, stopped diapason and open diapason. Being built on the extension principle, it provided a two manual and pedal instrument playable from its console below in the nave. It was enlarged to five ranks byMartin Cross in 1998, now effectively providing twenty-five stops, including a lively trumpet, all controlled by a new digital transmission from its comfortable modern stop-key console. Its specification is: Great organ, 16 8 8 8 8 4 4 22/3 2 8; Positive organ, 8 8 4 4 22/3 2 11/3 1 8; Pedal organ, 16 8 8 4 4 8, with usual couplers.
Gillian Broome, Organist and Director of Music, welcomed us to the church giving a précis of the building’s long history as well as an outline of the organ. She has several promising young students and three of them had courageously agreed to play and demonstrate the organ for us. First to play was Ruth, aged 14, who played Prelude in A minor by Bach from hisEight short preludes & fugues. Then Lucy, also aged 14, played Lamento by Guilmant, before Judith, a more mature seventeen year old, played Postlude on an old Irish church melody by Stanford. The girls played with confidence and clarity revealing the organ’s typical 1970’s “chiffy” flutes, and clear upperwork all based on a full warm diapason tone. Although the organ is totally unenclosed, a remarkable dynamic range and colour is possible, eminently suited to the building.
St. Mary's Kemsing,
1973 Ralph Arnold, on the screen
Thanking the three young players, our President, Richard Knight, spoke of our Organ Festival in October with encouraging words and the hope that one or all of them might be able to take part.
Quickly moving on to St Giles Church, Shipbourne — pronounced “Shibbun” by the locals and those in the know — we were welcomed by John Young, who has been organist at the church for thirty-two years. The present church dates from 1881, built in an early English Gothic style, replacing a Georgian church of 1722, which was controversially demolished, even though it incorporated much of an earlier church steeped in history. It is a building with clean lines and a pleasing symmetry, but somehow bereft of a soul, lacking that tangible reverential patina of time bestowed by history and myriad Christian souls at prayer. Nevertheless, a new 2-manual and pedal organ by T C Lewis was installed in 1881, its timbres breathing life into the building. The quality of the pipework is clearly evident in the spotted metal front pipes in its elegant case, producing the characteristic Lewis tonalities of the period: warm full diapasons, lieblich flutes and singing strings, enriched with colourful crisp reeds, creating an organ rich in character without being tonally heavy or burdensome; it has also been recently overhauled by Bishops retaining its original tracker action and drawstops. Michael Cooke demonstrated the organ for us with his engaging idiosyncratic improvisations, initially playing on individual stops before revealing the choruses and full ensemble. Its specification is: Great organ, 8 8 8 4 4;
Swell organ, 8 8 8 8 8 4 2 8 8; Pedal organ, 16 8, with usual couplers.
With time at a premium, having three churches and organs to visit during theafternoon, we hurriedly returned in the direction of Kemsing to visit the nearby Parish Church of St Peter & Paul, Seal. The nave and chancel are 13th century with a tower added in the 16th century. The Priest-in-Charge, Rev. Anne le Bas, gave us a courteous and warm welcome with a brief history of the church before a generous tea and an introduction and demonstration of the organ by Daniel Eaton, the resident Organist and Director of Music.
The organ was built by Forster & Andrews in 1879, rebuilt by Hill, Norman & Beard in 1956 and again by Martin Cross in 1996-7. Originally with tracker action, it now has electro-pneumatic action and a detached stop-key console with a specification of: Great organ, 8 8 8 4 4 2 111 8; Swell organ, 8 8 8 8 4 2 11 16 8 8 tremulant; Pedal organ, 16 16 16 8 4 16 with usual couplers. The foundation of the organ is Forster & Andrews at its best, with gentle beguiling strings, colourful flutes and singing diapasons. The new 1996 fifteenths and mixtures blend well creating a generous ensemble, also the Swell 8ft hautboy, given a 16ft bottom octave, provides a contra hautboy 16ft, tonally creating an “English full Swell” effect.
Daniel Eaton, who as well as being Organist and Director of Music at Seal, is a deputy Lay Clerk for Guildford Cathedral and Hampton Court, and also conducts the Shoreham Singers. Daniel’s description of the organ was as entertaining as it was informative, before demonstrating with an engaging improvisation revealing the organ’s salient features and tonal changes. He then played “The Fraternity March” composed in 1910 by his Great Grandfather, Frederic Lacey, who was organist at Eaton Square, London. It was stunningly played with its imperialistic Edwardian harmonies generously brushed with Elgarian colour, music eminently suited to the organ and its
period. This is just one of Frederic Lacey’s many compositions and Daniel is hoping more will be published for a wider audience. It concluded an afternoon of diverse instruments and architecture
and we are grateful to Richard Knight for arranging it for us and providing the detailed fact sheets adding to our appreciation of the day.
LONDON’S Belgravia, an estate built by the Grosvenor family in the early 1800s, is based on three residential garden squares: Belgrave Square, Eaton Square, and Chester Square, all fashionably desirable upper class residences; indeed, No.1 Eaton Square, adjacent to St Peter’s Church, has been the home of Prime Ministers Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain, as
well as famous actors such as Sir Laurence Olivier with his wife Vivien Leigh.
Our visit on 28 April began at St Michael’s Church, Chester Square, which was built in 1844 to a Victorian Gothic design by Thomas Cundy, architect and surveyor of the Grosvenor Estate. It has been altered in more recent years with removal of pews and internal fittings, and the installation of wall to wall carpeting — and was that a set of drums we saw behind a screen in the corner? Nevertheless, previous organists have included Arthur Sullivan and Reginald Goss Custard, playing organs by Robson and Hope-Jones rebuilt by Willis.
Chester Square, J W
However, a new 2-manual and pedal organ was installed in 1994, retaining some of Hope-Jones’ wooden 16ft pedal open diapasons. It stands majestically on a North transept gallery and was built by J W Walker in Neo-classical style with mechanical action. This is a commanding position allowing the organ to speak clearly into the building, even though a main roof beam runs distractingly just in front of its distinctive dark wood case and polished tin front pipes. Its specification is:Great Organ, 16 8 8 4 4 2 1v v 8; Swell Organ, 8 8 8 4 4 2 11/3 1v 16 8 8; Pedal Organ, 16 16 8 8 4 16 with usual couplers and electric pistons. There is also a movable console at floor level playing the organ via electric solenoids operating the action trackers.
We were given an entertaining description of the organ and church by Tom Bell, St Michael’s Organist and Director of Music, before he demonstrated the instrument with Jongen’s Sonata Eroica opening with the organ full to mixtures, rather betraying Walker’s tendency to tonal hardness, with its lack of any appealing warmth. Nevertheless, the Swell strings are undoubtedly alluring, there is a singing 8ft Great open diapason and clear bell like flutes, all underpinned by a deep warm pedal. Members were able to try the organ for themselves finding the mechanical action light and responsive.
There was time for lunch before making our way to St Mary the Virgin, Bourne Street, on Belgravia’s western boundary close to Sloane Square. This red brick Victorian church was founded as a mission chapel in 1874, but became an independent parish church in 1909, subsequently enlarged in the 1920s. Its tradition remains ‘High Church Anglican’ with its ornate raised chancel and numerous small chapels, bedecked with statues of the Saints and Stations of the Cross; it has the look of a church that might use incense, although none betrayed itself. Members spoke in whispers such was the atmosphere of the building, although this hallowed tranquillity was strangely disturbed from time to time by a deep subterranean rumbling, which transpired to be nothing more than a District & Circle Line underground train passing benignly nearby.
The organ is set on a West gallery extending the full width of the building. Its impressive polished mahogany case with rich gold painted front pipes, was designed by Gambier Parry, father of Sir Hubert Parry and was installed in the early twentieth century when Lewis & Co incorporated an original 1875 organ by J W Walker within their new 1913 organ; this was then extensively rebuilt and enlarged by Henry Willis 111 in 1928. Harrison & Harrison restored the organ in 2006 installing a new ‘Lewis’ style trumpet on the Great to take the place of the Willis Great organ 8ft tromba, which was moved to a wind chest in a more prominent position, allowing it to speak clearly as a solo reed playable from both Great and Choir manuals.
Lewis/Willis in St. Mary's, Bourne Street
Photo: C. Jilks
Richard Hills, Organist and Director of Music, gave us an outline of the church and its services before cordially inviting members up to the organ gallery while he demonstrated the organ for us. Richard is a consummate improviser and faultlessly plays much from memory, skilfully illustrating the effectiveness of the organ in service playing and recitals. He opened with shimmering silken Choir strings, suspended over a hushed 16ft pedal bourdon. This was breathtakingly beautiful, wrapping itself in the beguiling acoustic of the building. The Swell strings followed, with a little more fullness but just as atmospheric. He progressed through the organ demonstrating the warm unforced Lewis foundation stops together with the many added Willis ranks which blend seamlessly. This is an organ of stunning tonal beauty, full of character, richness, warmth and a whispering delicacy; English romanticism at its best. The chorus build up is seamless, with 4ft, 2ft and Willis mixtures becoming one with the foundation stops. There is a rather bold open diapason on the Great, no doubt fashionable in 1928, which can be used with discretion on the right occasion. One of Richard’s service playing illustrations included a psalm chant with a closed ‘full Swell’ that provides spine-tingling excitement, without swamping the choir. We heard some wonderful Baroque registrations and some stunningly played Bach before Richard revealed the solo reeds and the majesty of full organ. Members were then given full access to the organ trying it for themselves although, strangely, no one seemed to quite produce the beauty we had just heard. The organ’s specification is: Great Organ, 16 8 8 4 4 2 111 8; Swell Organ, 16 8 8 8 8 4 111 16 8 8 4; Choir Organ, 8 8 8 8 4 8 8; Pedal Organ, 32 16 16 16 8 8 4 4 16 (16 8 16 8 4 enclosed) with electro-pneumatic action and usual couplers.
Our last organ of the day was at St Peter’s Church, Eaton Square, at the Eastern margin of Belgravia. The church was built in 1824-1827 and designed by Henry Hakewill in a classical style featuring a six-columned portico supporting a clock tower. Sadly, a fire destroyed the interior of the church in 1987, but it has since been restored re-allocating part of the building for use as church offices and a hall; thankfully, the interior still retains a pleasing grandeur with clear light windows and marbled floor. A new organ by Kenneth Jones & Associates was installed at the West end of the church in 1993, and it sits above and astride the West door; the Consultant was Stephen Ridgley-Whithouse. It has an attached console and tracker action to each department, with the action trackers and roller-boards fascinatingly exposed beneath the organ.
St. Peter's Eaton
Square, Kenneth Jones & Associates
This 4-manual and pedal instrument is of striking design with polished tin and gilded display pipes, although the longest 16ft pedal open diapason pipes are of flamed copper giving an attractive rich warm dappled effect, like the colour of autumn leaves. It is a tonal delectation with diapasons and flutes of character and colour, in no way brash or harsh, as the avant-garde case design might imply, delivering an authentic Baroque tonality when required. Mutations and mixtures abound, blending comfortably with their choruses, but still retaining their distinctiveness. The Great organ 16ft 8ft 4ft reeds are voiced with a crisp attack, if lacking a little in colour. The generous pedal section builds on a rich 16ft diapason tone through to a 1v rank mixture and 16ft 8ft 4ft reeds; there is also a 32ft Bombard for good measure. The organ’s lavish specification contains: 14 Great stops; 15 Swell stops; 12 Choir stops; 12 Solo stops; and 12 Pedal stops.
Daniel Moult, St Peter’s organist was, unfortunately, unable to be with us, and the organ was demonstrated by John Webber FRCO, a member of The Southwark and South London Organ Association who had joined us, together with a few of his colleagues, for the day. John played Prelude in F by Buxtehude, perfectly displaying the organ’s Baroque textures, and the last movement of Rheinberger’s First Sonata for organ. John showed the organ to good effect giving a splendid performance. There was still time for members to try the organ for themselves, discovering the light responsive action and the colours of individual stops. Our visit to Belgravia had been a memorable one — we will forget the rain — and we must thank our President, Richard Knight, for arranging it for us.
The Romney Marsh
THE ROMNEY MARSH, with its hauntingly vast landscape, can be notoriously fickle, its changing weather often leaving it shrouded in grey languid mists and damp penetrating chill air.
But there was none of this when we visited on 12 May, its broad sweeping panorama bathed in spring sunshine, silhouetting remote ancient churches against vast open skies. We visited three: St Nicholas, New Romney; St Mary-in-the-Marsh; and All Saints’ Church, Lydd.
All Saints' Lydd, Willis
Photo: C. Jilks
Over hundreds of years, the Marsh has seen many topographical changes and some of these are recorded at New Romney. The internal stone floor of St Nicholas Parish Church, which was founded in 1086, is some four feet below the present street level, evidence of the great storm of 1287 which ravaged the sea defences and almost destroyed the town, the influx of silt and mud filling the church leaving its distinctive brown tide-mark signature on the internal Norman pillars. We were welcomed to this beautiful and recently restored church by Roger Marvin, a KCOA member and organist of St Thomas the Martyr, Winchelsea. The organ boasts nothing of ancient history, being installed by George Osmond & Co of Taunton in the early 1960s. It is a 2-manual and pedal 4-rank extension organ with an additional two octave repeating mixture. The organ is of simple design being a plain square box with zinc and metal open diapason display pipes on its front and east side, the other containing wooden 16ft sub bass pipes. Nevertheless, clever use of its minimal number of ranks produces a remarkably usable instrument. While it is totally unenclosed, its Positive and Great manuals provide versatile tonal colour with the Positive organ based on an 8ft violin diapason and the Great organ on a full warm 8ft open diapason; the remaining ranks being a salicional and lieblich flute, both extended from 16ft to 2ft. Its specification is:Positive organ, 8 8 8 4 4 22/3 2 2 11/3 111; Great organ,
8 8 4 4 22/3 2 2 111; Pedal organ, 16 8 8 4,with usual couplers and electric action throughout.
Roger Marvin skilfully demonstrated it for us with Trio by Gorge Andreas and Prelude and Fugue in D BWV 554 from Bach’s Eight short preludes and fugues. The organ’s English diapasons, lieblich flutes and warm sub bass pedal provided character and interest, blossoming in the generous acoustic. With its many mutation ranks the organ proved remarkably flexible, producing some believable baroque tonalities through to a full English ensemble, an organ proving to be greater than the sum of its not so many parts. Churchwarden, Carol Downs, gave a short talk on the recent restoration and church history, following which, we were kindly provided with tea and biscuits before setting off to St Mary in the Marsh.
St Mary’s Church, set on a slight rise a few miles north of New Romney, stood majestically silhouetted against a clear blue sky. The foundations and oldest sections of this attractive church date from 1133, but it has been greatly enlarged and rebuilt, initially in the 13th century, with many subsequent changes and extensions. Interestingly, E Nesbit, author of The Railway Children and many other children’s books, was buried in the churchyard following her death in 1924.
Roger Marvin plays
the Browne Organ, St. Mary in The Marsh
On investigation, we found the organ was a 5-rank extension organ by Brownes of Canterbury, installed in 1990 at the west end of the church with a most impressive oak case, which totally
encloses the organ. The case front is made up of three pipe towers separating two groups of Swell box shutters. Before members tried the organ, Roger Marvin demonstrated the instrument for us from its detached console just in front of the chancel. He played another piece by Gorge Andreas, using a number of the mutation stops, and a new 21st century piece by Paul Edwards based on the hymn tune Contemplation, from The Millennium organ book. The organ’s specification is:Man 1, 8 4 2 13/5; Man 2, 8 8 2 11 8; Pedal organ, 32 16 8 8 4 11 16, with usual couplers. It is strange to find that manual 2 (the Great manual) is based on the 8ft flute not the diapason and is also devoid of a 4ft stop; the one diapason rank in the organ is only playable on the Swell manual. Nevertheless it has a benign diapason tone, clear flutes and a recently installed Oboe 8ft adding a gentle reedy colour. While the organ acquitted its self well in the dry church acoustic, it rather lacks interest leaving the thought that a better arrangement and
composition of stops could have been derived from the five ranks available.
The picturesque St.
Mary in the Marsh
All Saints’ Parish Church, Lydd, is a surprisingly large church for its village, in fact it is the longest parish church in Kent; its tower also the tallest. This had repercussions during the war as the chancel, including its organ, was destroyed by a bomb in 1940. Fortunately, following the war, the chancel was rebuilt in a 13th century style, removing the many late Victorian changes. In the mid-1950s a 2-manual and pedal c1890 Willis organ was acquired from a redundant church in Bristol and installed in a north nave arch adjacent to the choir pews, which are in a central position in the church. It has a simple front pipe case display with the sides protected by a framework of metal screens and its pedal bourdons. The organ’s specification is: Great organ, 8 8 8 4 2; Swell organ, 8 8 4 8; Pedal organ 16, with usual couplers. The tracker action is comfortable, if a little noisy, having become rather worn over the years. Again, Roger Marvin kindly demonstrated with more Gorge Andreas and No.2 of six preludes on hymn tunes by C V Stanford. The organ’s Willis tonalities were immediately evident with a gentle lieblich gedact, warm flutey claribel and a singing open diapason, topped with a crisp Swell cornopean. Tonally this was the most pleasing organ of the day, its quality enriched by a supportive church acoustic.
Before a most generous tea, with a wide selection of sandwiches and cakes, Beryl Crocker, a local historian, gave a short talk on the history of the church, often referred to as “The Cathedral of the Marsh”. It is originally Norman, but now predominately 12th and 13th century
with a 17th century tower. This had been a fascinating and instructive afternoon exploring this remote and picturesque part of Kent at its best. We must thank Roger Marvin for not only arranging it, but also playing and speaking so eloquently revealing what the Romney Marsh has to offer.
St Albans, Chipperfield & Boxmoor
OUR VISIT to West Hertfordshire on 9 June presented us with three very different, yet equally appealing, organs, two new and a very creditable rebuild.
St Peter’s Church, St Albans, close to the town centre, dates from the 12th century and has evolved over the centuries culminating in a major restoration in 1893 by Lord Grimthorpe, following his work at St Albans Abbey. It is a fine church with slender pillars and arches and a sympathetic acoustic. The new three-manual and pedal Mander organ, installed in 2006, is an extensive instrument with tracker action and an unusual double-fronted oak case. This organ is far from being a grotesque two-headed monster, as its deep spacious case is positioned cleverly between two nave pillars under a north arch, its Great organ case set over the console looking south, and its Pedal organ case looking west. Both have polished tin pipes and carved wooden pipe shades using the Great organ diapason basses in the south case and a duplicated case on the organ’s west side utilising the Pedal principal basses, speaking down the building’s north aisle. The two fronts are identical, apart from a few carving and pipe shade details. (Our cover picture features the West front, with further observations in our Front Cover article by Gary Tollerfield).
The organ’s console is comfortable and well presented with a light responsive tracker action. The decision to adopt a continental pedalboard, with its straight concave design, was possibly
influenced by the use of the organ in the St Albans International Organ Festival, but with a fully adjustable stool and infinitely settable electric pistons, the organ is a delight to play. The spacious Swell box has additional West facing shutters which can be opened independently, adding to the organ’s flexibility. Its specification is:Great Organ, 16 8 8 8 4 4 22/3 2 13/5 111 1v 8; Swell Organ, 8 8 8 8 4 4 2 111 16 8 8 8; Choir Organ, 8 8 4 4 22/3 2 13/5 111 8; Pedal Organ, 16 16 102/3 8 4 16 with usual couplers.
The organ was demonstrated for us by St Peter’s Assistant Director of Music, Alex Flood, who played: Bergamasca by Scheidt (1587-1654) and Triptych, No. 26 from L’orgue mystique by Charles Tournemire (1870-1939). The organ has well balanced departments, the Swell and Great diapasons full of character but not overblown, although the full Great organ up to the 1v rank mixture did portray a hint of tonal hardness. There are persuasive flutes, strings and colourfully arresting reed stops, especially the Swell vox humana 8ft, demonstrated for us together with a gently beating tremulant. In its lower octaves, the Swell bassoon 16ft is voiced with a delightful touch of vulgarity and individuality and the tenor G Great mounted cornet 111 sings with an early English vitality. In all, this is a fine organ that is a credit to its builders and St Peter’s Church who raised the required £600,000 to finance it.
Following lunch in St Albans it was a short coach ride to Chipperfield, a village only five miles from Watford and less than two from the frenetic M25 motorway. But here we found a tranquil
village scene, the Two Brewers public house overlooking a village green with white flannelled cricketers intent on their game. St Paul’s Parish Church dates from 1837, subsequently enlarged
during the 1880s with funds provided by the local Blackwell family — of Crosse & Blackwell tinned food fame. The present organ started life in 1877 as a two-manual instrument by T C Lewis, which was rebuilt in 1898 and enlarged with the addition of a third manual by William Hill & Son.
When its original Presbyterian Church home near Glasgow became redundant, the organ was transported and installed at Chipperfield in 1964 with a rebuild by Hill Norman & Beard in 1973. Subsequently, work was carried out by Wood Brown Ltd in 2002, which proved unsatisfactory leading to a complete rebuild by The Village Workshop in 2008, which included a new digital transmission.
The organ was demonstrated for us by Keith Beniston, Organist of St Paul’s, who played: Harmonies du Soir from Op. 72 by Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933) and Dedication March by William Lloyd Webber (1914-1982). This is an English organ of its period with lush Lewis strings, full flutes and rich diapasons set over a fulsome pedal department. The organ was impressive, if a little over voiced for the size of the church, especially the Great trumpet with its cathedral scaled tuba tones. Nevertheless, there was much to enjoy in this wide-ranging instrument with its specification of:Great Organ, 16 8 8 8 8 4 4 22/3 2 1v 8 4; Swell Organ, 16 8 8 8 8 4 2 8 8; Choir Organ, 8 8 4 22/3 2 8 8 16 8; Pedal Organ, 16 16 16 102/3 8 8 16 with usual couplers and a digital piston setter.
St John the Evangelist, Boxmoor was built in 1872 replacing an earlier smaller chapel. Boxmoor, on the edge of Hemel Hempstead, still retains its village atmosphere, and indeed its cricket, which was in full flow as we arrived. Nicholas King, Organist and Director of Music, welcomed us to the church and gave us an outline of the eight-year project which culminated in the installation of the new 2011 two-manual and pedal Nicholson organ. This instrument is very different from the Mander organ at St Peter’s St Albans, having direct electric action and a movable console. The organ, set in a south chancel transept, has been well designed for the requirements of the church, with its main chancel case of oak and fine quality spotted metal front pipes, with a more simple side case speaking west, all beautifully assimilated into the church architecture. Here, like St Albans, the Swell box sports two sets of shutters, this time controlled from two independent Swell pedals. Its flue voicing has been delicately realised allowing an unforced character to come through. It has warm flutes and effortless diapasons which are embellished with a generous number of Great organ mutation stops, allowing the tonal flexibility of a three-manual instrument. The organ’s reeds have their own individuality; a richly singing Great organ corno di bassetto 8ft is typical Henry Willis 111 voicing and there is also a fine solo trumpet 8ft, set in the west case. However, the Swell 16-8-4 reed chorus is voiced using reed tongues which are perhaps one grade too thin, sacrificing tonal warmth for the ultimate in crispness, although the 8ft hautboy does sing more sweetly. Nevertheless, these small criticisms aside, this is an engaging instrument full of delight and interest, with its tonal and mechanical design eminently thought through for the suitability of the church and as a fine recital instrument, all delivered at half the cost of the St Peter’s Mander organ. Its specification is:Great Organ, 16 8 8 8 4 4 2 22/3 2 13/5 1v 8 8 tremulant; Swell Organ, 8 8 8 8 4 4 2 1v 8 16 8 4 8 tremulant; Pedal Organ, 16 16 16 8 8 4 16 16 8, with a multiplicity of couplers, pistons and multi-level capture system.
the Evangelist, Boxmoor, Nicholson console
Nicholas King skilfully demonstrated the organ for us with: Prélude et Fugue sur le nom d’Alain, op. 7 by Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986), Elegaic Romance by John Ireland (1879-1962), and A Festival Toccata, a piece specially commissioned from Malcolm Archer (born 1952) for the opening of the organ in 2011. We must especially thank Nicholas for not only playing and hosting our visit to St John’s, which also included a very enjoyable tea, but also for arranging the whole day, providing us with a cornucopia of organ interest and enjoyment.
AGM, Borden St Peter & St Paul
THE VILLAGE of Borden is only a couple of miles from the centre of Sittingbourne but, with commendable diligence, the Parish Council has maintained a defined green belt of land between village and town keeping it free from the relentless spread of its near neighbour, maintaining its character.
Our AGM was held at the Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul which, founded in the 11th century, has much to commend it. Its organ is by Hunter of Clapham, built in 1908 and recently restored by Brownes of Canterbury. Before we were to hear it, the formalities of our AGM were observed with reports by our President, Treasurer, Secretary and Festival Committee Chairman. Our finances maintain a steady balance, much in part to the excellent work of our Treasurer, Kevin Grafton and our new Festival Committee Chairman, Rob Millar, has secured not only the funding, but also several candidates for our next Organ Festival in October. With Officers elected, the only negative aspect of the reports was the small decline in membership which, excluding Hon. members, is now ninety-eight, bringing our membership below a hundred for the first time for many years.
However, with the formalities over, Andrew Cesana, Deputy President and organist at Borden, played a short recital to demonstrate the fine Hunter organ. He played: Rigaudon from Idomenee by André Campra; Chorale Prelude Herzlich tut mich verlangen by J S Bach; Crown Imperial by Walton; Choral Dorien by Alain, and Carillon de Westminster by Vierne. The organ is tonally unaltered since it was built and is typical Hunter of the period. It has positive strings, warm flutes and delightfully Edwardian diapasons, with a choice of a bold No.1 or a more gentle, yet still colourful, No.2. Its Swell reeds are bright and full of character, controlled by an effective Swell box, and the Great is topped with a full throated clarinet. The action remains charge pneumatic and its specification is: Great Organ, 8 8 8 8 4 4 11 8; Swell organ, 16 8 8 8 8 8 4 4 11 8 8; Pedal Organ, 16 16 8 8, with usual couplers.
Following tea, with its generous selection of cakes, the meeting concluded with a talk by local historian, Helen Allinson, who spoke of the social history of Borden during the 18th and 19th centuries illustrated with a number of photographic slides.
This, however, was not the end of our visit to north Kent as a recital by Roger Sayer, Organist of Rochester Cathedral, was to take place at St Michael’s Parish Church, Sittingbourne, at 7.00 p.m. and many members took the opportunity to hear Roger play the fine three-manual and pedal Hill organ. With music by Mendelssohn, Vaughan Williams, Bach, Dubois and César Franck, the programme was a delight, with Roger’s stunning playing extracting untold wonders
from the organ.
Peter Moorse at
We were delighted to see Peter on our visit to Hertfordshire. He is an Hon Member and President of KCOA 1968- 1969. He was Organist and Choirmaster of All Saints’ Church, Maidstone 1965 - 1970
Martyn Noble, Canterbury Recital
By Brian Moore
MARTYN NOBLE, as part of his award as winner of the KCOA 2011 Organ Festival, gave a splendid recital in the Cathedral on 13th April. It was attended by a good number of our members as well as his family and friends and those who stayed on after Evensong, sung by the Alleyn Singers.
His well-chosen programme was:
Prelude and Fugue in G (BWV 550) J S Bach,
Rhapsody No. 3 in C sharp (Op. 17 No. 3) Herbert Howells,
Air, Flor Peeters,
Sonata No. 3 in A Felix Mendelssohn,
Chant de paix, Jean Langlais,
Finale from Sonata No. 1 Alexandre Guilmant.
The Bach was characterised by light piquant registration and clear articulation, before we entered a different world with a powerful performance of the Howells Rhapsody. It opened with arresting chords including the striking chorus reeds of the Cathedral organ, moved on to the delicate quiet section using string and celeste stops before ending on full organ.
Martyn Noble at
Flor Peeters’ Aria was a contrast between this and the Mendelssohn Sonata Martyn chose to play the opening movement in a bold style, and it was certainly very majestic. The concluding Andante tranquillo was indeed that, tenderly played using the nave section of the organ to ethereal effect.
After the Chant de paix, with its slow textures and colourful mysterious harmonies using flutes and strings, Martyn gave a bravura performance of the Guilmant Finale He skilfully used the full resources of the organ, with contrasting registration, and it brought his recital to a very exciting close.
Martyn is currently studying the organ and piano at the Royal College of Music, and has successfully completed his LRSM in organ. He has just been appointed Organ Scholar of Southwark Cathedral, beginning in September this year, thus following Jonathan Hope, the winner of our 2009 Festival. We wish him every success and look forward to hearing him at our 2012 Festival, when he gives the concluding recital.
St Peter’s Church, St Albans
AS MUSIC listeners, we are aware of fundamental physical relationships between hearing and sight. At an orchestral concert, our ears tell us which section of the orchestra is playing, be it strings, brass or woodwind. Likewise when we see the piccolo put to the mouth, we know a pitch around treble C or above will sound forth, but if it were a flute being played, we anticipate a pitch around Middle C or above. Similarly a somewhat lower pitch would be expected from the longer bass clarinet.
In the context of the organ, we nominate our stops by length imperial 8 foot (2400mm for those younger than me!), knowing this to be the natural length of a pipe resonating air so as to produce a Bottom C on the keyboard. Hence, up an octave to Tenor C a natural length of 4 foot (1200mm) will apply, and on to 2 foot we are back to Middle C. Thus, the direct comparison with the orchestral flute of similar length referred to earlier, and of course the 1 foot pipe equates similarly to the piccolo. We therefore have a picture in our minds as to what a rank of speaking pipes looks like through its compass.
Traditionally the organ case, (being part of an organ as an entire piece of furniture as well as a musical instrument), will be designed to display these speaking pipes in various ways to excite visual and aesthetic appreciation of the organ as well as musical. Indeed, the look of an organ case itself will invariably give a clear indication of what to expect the organ to sound like.
Of course, these principles went very awry in the late 19th and early 20th century, and I have a photograph of a “fence” of twenty or more 4 foot pipes to the side of an organ, suggesting that the stop jambs would include twenty Open Diapasons – all identical. Not very likely! The joinery screen and pipework I refer to was well painted and the pipework beautifully stencilled; all very pretty, but bearing no relationship to the integrity of the musical and visual elements.
Now to St Peter’s St Albans, where Mander have designed two attractive matching joinery cases with carved pipe shades for the organ, which look identical, apart from a few carving details, and of course will include speaking pipes. (I am certain there would be no dummies as a matter of principle, (excuse the pun), let alone the matter of wasted cost, especially if tin).
I am not an organ builder, but my guess is that the South case includes the bottom pipes of the Great Open Diapason, whilst the West case (cover picture) is made up of Pedal Principal pipes, starting of course at 8 foot C. If I got that one right, then it may be that the two sides of the case are not absolutely identical as the Principal pipes may be just a fraction smaller scale, (i.e. narrower for a given note), than the Open Diapason. I hope Mander doesn’t get a sight of all my amateur ramblings!
St. Albans, St.
Peter's, Mander West Case
Letters to the Editor
Chislehurst, St Nicholas
SIR: Thank you for the ever interesting KCOA Journal. I was interested in the piece about St. Nicholas, Chislehurst in the February 2012 edition. I attended a wedding there some years ago, and of course went round to have a word with the organist afterwards, and he told me it was a Lewis — genuine C. S. Lewis he told me! I don’t know what the author of Narnia would have made of that.
Incidentally, regarding Gary Tollerfield’s interesting remarks on the case, it is clear that the central panel was intended to house pipes, but I would think it was too wide for a three pipe tower and not wide enough for one of five pipes which would have been of larger scale. The length could have been got over by mitre-ing. What is intriguing is wondering which came first the organ or the case, or are they as Shelley says “Of different birth”. I have often wondered about the relationship between architects and organ builders. I know Cuthbert Harrison persuaded Basil Spence to lengthen Coventry Cathedral to accommodate the new organ!
Pluckley Church, Organ
SIR: My attention has just been drawn to the write-up of your visit to Pluckley in the KCOA February 2010 Journal. I realise that some two years have now passed, but I would appreciate it if you could find a way to correct what I feel comes across as a misconception in respect of my involvement in the Robin Jennings instrument.
As you correctly state, Pluckley would have liked us to build the organ in the first instance, but they had a protracted fund-raising operation and when it eventually came to the point of being able to commit to a contract we were in the happy position of having several years work in front of us — including the new Worcester Cathedral organ. The church had been given a grant which was conditional on the organ being completed in a certain time frame, which was not then possible for us. Nevertheless, they liked my case design and asked if I would be prepared for another builder to make the organ, using my design. I agreed to this, and prepared all of the working drawings for the organ case and internal layout. By that time the church and Robin Jennings had decided to make several changes to the specification which I had originally proposed, including the arrangement of both manuals on one common soundboard.
So I was rather disturbed to read: “The organ’s voicing is very much what we have come to expect from a Kenneth Tickell design”. This can be read to imply (as I did) that the voicing of the organ was the responsibility of Kenneth Tickell & Company. I’m of course sorry to hear that there are aspects of the voicing which seemed unsatisfactory, but unfortunately that is Robin’s responsibility, not mine and I trust it has now been corrected.
Kenneth Tickell & Company Ltd
16 Rothersthorpe Crescent
A short Profile
ROY ROGERS is a founder member of our Kent County Organists’ Association, asked to join by C Kenneth Turner, Organist and Choirmaster of All Saints’ Parish Church, Maidstone, when our Association was being formed in the late 1940s. Roy was born on 9 April 1929 at Plumstead, South East London, where his mother was currently living. It was an itinerant family with his father often away, required to move frequently with postings both home and abroad, as a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps, forerunner of the RAF.
These were challenging times, not helped by the uncertain outcome of the General Election on 30 May 1929, when Stanley Baldwin polled a quarter of a million more votes than Ramsay MacDonald, but gained 27 fewer seats, resulting in a ‘hung’ Parliament. Eschewing the Liberals, Ramsay MacDonald became Britain’s first Labour Prime Minister, heading a minority Government.
Of course, this national difficulty may have escaped young Roy, being only a few weeks old, as his more immediate concern were his parents, with mother having to travel with his father on distant postings leaving Roy in the care of several aunts. Fortunately, for Roy, they seemed blessed with natural benevolence, unlike the formidable aunts of P G Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster, “who called to each other like mastodons bellowing across primeval swamps”. Nevertheless, Roy eventually joined his mother and older sister when the family settled at Rainham, Kent in 1936. Unfortunately, his father had had the misfortune to be invalided out of the services following a crash ‘in the drink’ from an aircraft carrier, and was being treated for his injuries and tuberculosis at the British Legion Village, near Maidstone; living at Rainham allowed the family to visit regularly and be near father at this difficult time.
Roy, then aged seven, joined the choir of St. Margaret’s Church, Rainham where he was immediately attracted to the music and especially the organ, having already started piano lessons locally. Unhappily, this was interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War when everyone at his school was evacuated to Ringwould, between Deal and Dover. This, as it transpired, was an even more dangerous location as, following the collapse of the Maginot Line and the capitulation of France, the Germans were shelling the South Coast from the other side of the Channel. As a result, and after having first taken their 11 plus exams, Roy and his school friends were moved to Llanharan in South Wales. The results of the exams were greatly delayed, having to follow the children in their travels, with Roy fearing he had not passed; but when they did eventually arrive, he discovered that he had and, together with the other successful pupils, was moved to Rhymney, which is a little further up the valley from Cardiff.
Towards the end of the war Roy returned to the Medway Towns to be reunited with his mother and sister, together with his father who had made a good recovery. He attended Gillingham Grammar School for Boys until 1945 and, after Matriculating, sought employment in the commercial world. He was interested in banking and was offered a position as a junior clerk at the Westminster Bank at Chatham and later served in several branches throughout the Medway Towns, including: Watling Street, High Street Gillingham, and Rochester Star Hill; Roy subsequently returned to the Chatham branch as Branch Accountant. In 1969 further promotion took him to Thanet, first to Ramsgate as Sub Manager and finally taking over the Margate High Street branch as Manager, from where he eventually retired after forty-four years’ service.
However, his music had not been neglected as he returned to St. Margaret’s Church Choir at Rainham after the war, subsequently taking up his first organist’s appointment at Upchurch Parish Church where, still a school boy, he played for weekly services, cycling down through the lanes from Rainham. He had been having piano lessons from a dear old lady, whose name now sadly escapes him, who had trained at the London College of Music. Nevertheless, James Levett, who became the Assistant Organist of Rochester Cathedral, was horrified as she was not a qualified organist, and suggested he came to him for lessons; Roy had his lessons with Joe on the organ at St Bartholomew’s Hospital Chapel, just off Chatham High Street.
Joe Levett was well known in the Medway Towns and was the Organist and Choirmaster of St Mary’s Parish Church, Chatham where they had a superb choir. Roy joined the St Mary’s choir and assisted at the organ, deputising for Joe when he was required to play at the Cathedral. He gained a wide experience here and things worked particularly well, leading to him to take the appointment as Organist & Choirmaster at St Luke’s Church, Gillingham at the age of just seventeen. St Luke’s was very ‘high church’ Anglican, but with a notoriously
difficult vicar, although there was a committed choir of some twenty voices including fourteen boys providing a good balanced SATB ensemble.
Mr H A Bennett, then Rochester Cathedral’s Organist and Master of the Choristers, would, on occasion, call on Joe Levett to perform at the Cathedral with very little notice and Roy remembers touring the Medway Towns with Joe in his car trying to find somebody to play for Roy at St Luke’s so that he could play for Joe at St. Mary’s. Regrettably, the vicar’s reputation at St Luke’s was not without foundation, which proved rather discouraging, so Roy moved on to St. Margaret’s Church, Rochester as Organist & Choirmaster and, after a further period, he played at All Saints’ Church, Chatham.
When the Bank moved Roy to Thanet, he found that St. George’s Parish Church, Ramsgate already had an organist and a deputy, so he assisted at St. John’s Parish Church, Margate until 1971 when a vacancy occurred at Holy Trinity Church, Ramsgate, which had a very good organ and a reasonable choir. There was, in time, a change of vicar, apparently not for the best, and
Roy took a sabbatical before playing at St. Lawrence in Thanet; he later returned to Holy Trinity Church, continuing to play until 1982 when he decided to retire from the full-time organist’s position.
From Roy’s earlier days in the Medway Towns he had always played for the GSS (Guild of the Servants of the Sanctuary) accompanying their monthly plainsong Guild Office. He particularly enjoyed these services as they moved to a different church every month and he had, when he was younger, the opportunity to try a wide variety of organs. Roy transferred to St. Mildred’s chapter of the GSS when he moved to Thanet and still continues in this position to this day.
Although he had retired from fulltime playing, Roy learnt that Father Stanley Evans, the Chaplain at St. Saviours Church, Westgate on Sea, had no organist and was gamely endeavouring to play and officiate himself. Feeling sorry for him, Roy volunteered to help out, just as a temporary measure, of course. Canon Lawson, the regular organist, was ill and in hospital, he eventually returned but, sadly, was almost immediately readmitted and later passed away, leaving Roy to continue at St. Saviours for a further 16 years. He played for Father Stanley and then the late Father John Richardson, right through to the present incumbent, before he retired — for a second time, in 2003, although not completely, as he is now freelance.
When Roy joined our Kent Association, in the late 1940s, his sister played at St. Werburgh Hoo, and was a pupil of C Kenneth Turner at All Saints’, Maidstone before he moved to Llandaff Cathedral. Our Kent Association was still in its infancy, when Mr Warriner and Mr Rowles were joint secretaries and Roy particularly remembers, when serving on the committee, the scrumptious teas provided by Mr Warriner after the meetings at his residence in Boughton Monchelsea.
Regrettably, seven years ago Roy lost his wife, Irene, after forty-eight happy years of marriage; they were married at Gillingham Parish Church in 1957. During her working life, Irene was employed in the Town Clerk’s department in the Municipal Buildings at Gillingham Corporation, where his sister also worked as the Deputy Town Clerk’s Secretary. Roy and Irene had three children, who produced six fine grandchildren — who now look after him!
After more than sixty years as an enthusiastic and committed member of our Association we are delighted to have been able, finally, to publish Roy’s ‘Short Profile’ revealing just some of his many talents and countless accomplishments over the years. His self-effacing modesty, courtesy and old world charm has, perhaps, at times veiled his true service to our Association, but for those of us who have had the pleasure to come to know him well, it has been a most fortunate privilege.
Anthony Tunstall - Strasbourg
This leading French recitalist will be at
St Peter-in-Thanet to present a varied and
Saturday 20th October at 7.00 p.m.
Advance tickets and further information call
Photographs As marked
Sub Editors: Brian Moore & David Brock
"THE KENT COUNTY ORGANISTS' ASSOCIATION welcomes new members with an
interest in the organ and its music. Also those who enjoy visiting churches
with an appreciation of architecture and heritage. Membership of the Association
is not based on the ability to play; we welcome equally those who enjoy
listening, as well as those who enjoy playing".