Kent County Organists’ Association

August 2013 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

 

Contents

 

Daniel Marx

From your President

Francis Gordon Chapman

Front Cover

Janus looks West

New Member

Notes from the Netherlands
Review of recent Meetings

    Bishopsbourne & Barham

    City of London

    Horsmoden & Brenchley

    Peterborough Cathedral

    Trottiscliffe & Ryarsh

    Tunbridge Wells & Frant

    Upchurch & Newington

Rainham St. Margaret

Rob Miller

 

 

 

 

From your President

By Nicholas King

 

I AM GREATLY  honoured  to  have been elected as your President for the next two years. Who he?” some may ask. I  was  born,  bred  and  trained  in  East Kent, singing in the choir of Folkestone Parish  Church  under  Reginald  Adams, four times President of the Association, before succeeding him there. My subsequent career has gone in other directions (the August 2011 edition of the Journal has fuller information), but I have always held on to my Kent roots.

 

I t is a considerable privilege to have the opportunity of following in my first teachers exalted footsteps, and I have been glad in recent years to  renew my involvement with the Association, of which my membership dates back forty years. I should like to pay especial trib- ute to the work of my immediate predecessor, Richard Knight, who has worked indefatigably for the benefit of the Association, both in its monthly visits and in the annual Festival, such an important part of our present ministry towards the next generation.

 

I have been glad, too, to meet many members at recent meetings and to form new friendships as well as renewing old. One thing which has come through very strongly is a wish to see more meetings in the eastern part of the county, and plans for the coming year should go some way towards addressing that issue. Almost half of our membership live in that area, and it is fair comment that several of them   feel  somewhat  disenfranchised lately; indeed, most of our losses at annual renewal time seem to reflect this.

 

We shall also be developing the very popular day trips in London, visiting three interesting churches within a close footprint; and those who baulk at the distance involved in the annual excursion further afield may be glad to know that we intend to include comfort breaks and visits on the line of route next year.

 

 

Behind the scenes, whilst our finances are in good shape, thanks to the excellent work of Kevin Grafton, it would be comforting to know that we can increase our reserves so as to maintain existing subscription levels in the future and provide greater support for the annual Festival. We shall be investigating the prospect of registering the Association for charitable status, so that gift aid can be claimed on subscriptions and donations. This will require some small modifications to our Constitution, so ably updated by Roger Gentry during his Presidency, and I hope to bring appropriate proposals to the next Annual General Meeting.

 

I am also hoping to set up a biennial Presidents Recital, to be given in a major local venue by a prestigious visitor (or even the President himself); and a number of other plans are fertilising for discussion by your Committee, the importance of whose input to the Association cannot be over-stated.

 

I look forward to meeting more of you in the coming months, particularly at the Presidents Dinner on 21st September. However, Nigel Durrant, from Eindhoven is one of our members who is particularly in our thoughts at present as he has been in hospital recently for a further serious operation. We send him our good wishes, thanking him for his fascinating articles which are greatly appreciated.


 

Review  of      recent Meetings

Tunbridge Wells & Frant

 

DESPITE the snow on 19th January nearly twenty members made it to St Marks Church, Broadwater Down, Tunbridge Wells, where we were met by the church organist, David Gurney, who gave us a brief talk on its history. Paid for by Earl Abergavenny at a cost of some five to six thousand pounds, and opened by the Countess in 1866, it was built using sandstone from the Earls own quarry, and the ornate foliage on the carved capitals is reputedly based on specimens from his estate. The east end apse exhibits a floral painted wooden roof, and the spire is the tallest building in Tunbridge Wells.

 

To demonstrate the J W Walker organ David called upon the services of Simon Daniels, organist of St Barnabas, Tunbridge Wells, who played Master Talliss Testament by Howells. The organs specification is: Great organ, 16 8 8 8 8 4 4 2 111 8; Swell organ, 16 8 8 8 8 4 11 8 8; Choir organ, 8 8 8 4 8; Pedal organ, 32 16 16 8 8, with usual couplers. The rich and weighty sound of this 1867 Walker organ suited the music well, and Simon made good use of the orchestral colours and loud Tromba found on the choir manual, which was added in 1928 by Rushworth & Dreaper.

 

A few miles south lays the village of Frant, where St Albans church had a little more snow than St Marks, but was just as warm inside. Organist Peter DeCroos gave us a short talk on the church  before  demonstrating  the  organ with an enthusiastic Hornpipe Humoresque by Rawsthorne, followed by an improvisation. The present church, by John Montier, replacing a small medieval church and completed in 1821,

    

 

Broadwater Down, Walker Photo A Curtis

 

was enlarged in 1867. There is an ornate railed gallery at the west end where the first organ by William Pilcher stood in 1848 before it was replaced by a new organ built by Gern in 1891. This was sub- sequently moved to its present position in the north chancel chamber, but after it failed on Christmas Day 1966 the new organist, Leonard  Lazell,  discovered  its historical importance and Wood Wordsworth & Co. of Leeds restored and enlarged the organ adding the classical Positive division and extending the pow- erful Trumpet rank. The organ was most recently rebuilt by F.H. Browne in 2007 with new solid state action technology.

 


 

August Gernnameplate, Frant Photo C Clemence

 

I ts specification is: Great organ; 8 8 8 4 4 22/3 2 11 8 4; Swell organ, 8 8 8 4 2 111 16 8; Positive organ, 8 4 2 11/3 11 (Ses.) 8 8; Pedal organ, 32 16 16 8 8 4 16 16 8 4, with usual couplers.

 

Wales and the West Country had suffered heavy falls of snow, and its rapid westerly progress fortunately halted as it reached the Kent border allowing Tunbridge Wells to escape with just a picturesque dusting: it was reported that West Sussex was less fortunate.

 

 

Bishopsbourne & Barham

 

THE  QUI N TESSEN T IAL  English villages of  Bishopsbourne and Barham nestle quietly in the Elham valley some four miles south of Canterbury; under cold grey February skies they struggled to give of their best, although their intrinsic character and charm is difficult to conceal.

 

On 16th February Rev Stephen Hardy welcomed us to St Marys Church, Bishopsbourne, with its many and varied historical features, including mediaeval stained glass and remains of early 14th Century nave wall paintings. However, Bishopsbournes most noted claim is that Rev Richard Hooker was Rector from 1595 until his death in 1600. Hooker played a significant part in the development of Anglicanism, championing a middle way’ between Puritanism and Catholicism. Partly written at the Bishopsbourne Rectory, his eight-volume work, The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity includes commentary on Cranmers Book of Common Prayer. After his death, he was buried in the chancel, and a  memorial was provided by William Cowper.

 

In common with many English churches, the Victorian period brought new pews, a redesigned sanctuary, and a new organ. This one-manual and pedal instrument by J W Walker was installed at the west end of the church in 1865, before being moved to its present  position  in the north chancel transept in 1887. I t retains its original tracker action and trigger Swell pedal, and with fine quality spotted metal front pipes has a specification of: 8ft open diapason (unenclosed); stopped diapason 8, dulciana 8, principal 4, flute 4, fifteenth 2, (enclosed) pedal bourdon 16 with manual to pedal coupler. The pedal- board of 25 notes is straight and flat.

 


 

 

Bishopsbourne, J W Walker Photo  C  Jilks

 

 

Barham, F H Browne console Photo C Jilks

 

It was demonstrated for us by St Marys organist, Julia Lister, who played Presto from Handels Organ Concerto Op.4 No.5 in F major.  Using  the diapason  chorus  of diapason,  principal  and  fifteenth,  Julia produced music of instant delight, bringing   Handels   skipping   rhythms   and cadences to life with bright early English tonalities blossoming in the building. As members tried the instrument for them- selves,  the  organs  gentle  dulciana  and warm  flutes  revealed  yet  more  tonal beauty from this petite English treasure. Set among Barhams winding village lanes,  with  their  country  cottages  and gardens neatly trimmed in readiness for spring, St John the Baptist is a mediaeval church  that  has  evolved  and  changed over the centuries; including an effective heating  system,  which  was  not  to  be sneezed  at  on  a  cold  February  day. However,   St   Johns   first   organ,   a Victorian instrument by J W Walker set in  the  north  transept,  was  rebuilt  and enlarged in 1916 by Brownes of Canterbury. In  2004,  with  further  changes  to  the church, the organ was removed from the north transept for the installation of an office and choir vestry, which included a gallery, where the rebuilt organ was then installed.  The  instrument  acquired  an impressive specification utilising pipework on the extension principal, set on new soundboards with electric action.

 

Its pipes were drawn from many sources: some of the original Walker, the 1916 Browne, and a Trumpet and mixture from St Peters Church, Limpsfield, all played from a modern two-manual and pedal stop key console obtained from Holy Trinity Church, Crockenhill. The console is sited on the south side of the nave opposite the organ, and a functional, if utilitarian, organ case  was added a few years later when further funds were available. The organs specification is now: Great Organ, 8 8 8 4 4 22/3 2; Swell Organ, 8 8 4 4 22/3 2 11 16 8; Pedal Organ, 32 16 8 8 51/3 4 16 8, with usual couplers and electric balanced Swell.

 

St Johns organist, Jim Bryant, made us very welcome, and after a few words from their Vicar, Jim spoke on the instruments history and design. He demonstrated it for us with a well prepared recital of music chosen to reveal the organs abilities. He began with the first movement of the Bach/Vivaldi Concerto in A minor BW V 593, using clear diapasons and mutations brushed with  baroque colour, the Swell organ reflecting the Great chorus with engaging echo effects. Then in complete contrast, he played four movements from Percy Whitlocks Plymouth Suite: Lantana, Chanty, Salix fin- ishing with Allegro Risoluto. The music came over well played with a conscientious precision, the organ respectably managing this wide repertoire, although with its mongrel tonal design it lacks any true character or lineage the proverbial curates egg: good in parts.

 

A generous tea was provided by St Johns ladies and there was time for members to try the organ for themselves, many commenting on the comfortable console. However, to conclude our visit to St Johns, the organ was used in its true guise, to accompany a service: on this occasion a simple evensong and members were provided with words and music for the hymns, canticles and psalm. A small choir of four ladies and three gentlemen from St Johns sang the anthem, Lord for Thy tender mercys sake by Farrant. We are grateful to our member Matthew Young, who not only sang in the choir, but arranged the whole afternoon for us.

 

 

Horsmonden & Brenchley

 

SET   I  the  heart  of  the  Kentish Weald, the villages of  Horsmonden  and Brenchley are undoubtedly havens of picturesque tranquillity, although for our visit  on   the  16th   March   they  were shrouded   in   winters  cold   iron-grey gloom.

 

Nevertheless, St Margarets Parish Church, Horsmonden, offered many attractions, especially its warm sand- stone chancel and church members, Liz Barr and Jane Gerrad-Pierce who together gave a short talk on the interesting history of this charming 14th century church, whilst gleefully demonstrating the rise and fall of the chain suspension holding an impressive oil-filled brass chandelier, which lights the centre of the nave.

 

Mark Bromley, St Margarets Organist and Director of Music, was equally welcoming with a detailed description of the 1837 William Hill organ. This was originally a one-manual instrument which was enlarged to a two-manual and pedal organ by Forster & Andrews in 1886. Gray & Davison undertook some work in 1961 and a complete overhaul, with action and a stop changes, were carried out by Martin Cross in 2009. Thankfully, the delicate tonal delight of this organ has been preserved, together with its tracker action and ratchet Swell box mecha- nism. Swell Sub octave and Super octave couplers, which were later additions, have been removed, restoring key touch lightness. The one tonal change made in 2009 was to remove a late Victorian 8ft Gamba stop and replace it with a Tierce 13/5. This may seem out of place in an early Victorian  organ, but, with careful voicing, blends well with the Great chorus adding an engaging baroque tonality complementing the warm English flutes and diapasons. The organs specification is now: Great Organ, 8 8 8 4 4 22/3 2 13/5; Swell Organ, 8 8 8 8 4 8; Pedal Organ, 16 with Swell to Great and Manual to Pedal (Gt to Ped) couplers. The manuals are CC-G 56 notes and pedals (straight and flat) CCC- E 29 notes, the Swell is Tenor C com- pass, with a bottom octave 8ft stopped bass. The original stencilled and painted front pipes form an attractive and decorous case.

 

In a stone cold church, Mark played with an engaging dexterity demonstrating the nuances of this interesting organ in an appealing short recital: Bachs Vater unser im Himmelreich BW V 737; Arabesque by Jean Langlais; Tierce en taille by Du Mage; and Fugue in C BW V 545 by Bach. With warm applause and thanks  from our President for a fine recital, there was just time for members to try the organ for themselves before moving on to Brenchley.

 

The muddy lanes between Horsmonden and Brenchley appeared dormant, still awaiting signs of spring, although a few rabbits with their white bobbing tails were seen gambolling among the trees. All Saints Church, Brenchley, dates from circa 1233 though with its broad open chancel, Victorian inscriptions and large transepts, feels more modern. Following a talk on the church history by Ann Rabbit, our attention turned to the All Saints organs. There is a small one-manual chamber   organ,   built   by  Osmond  of Taunton in 1970, in the South transept with a specification of 8 4 2 - 8 4 22/3 derived by extension from just two ranks: a gemshorn 8ft and a stopped flute 8ft. The voicing is classical in style with a very ‘chiffy’ flute and a purring gemshorn that blossoms in the church acoustic. David Hughes, who had arranged the afternoon for us, played the Earl of Salisburys Pavane by William Byrd, a suitable piece to demonstrate the instrument for us.

 

 

 

Brenchley, 1913 Norman & Beard Photo C Jilks

 

However, the main organ is a 2-manual and pedal 1913 Norman & Beard, standing imposingly in the West gallery, and members were able to view the organ while a generous tea was served. This Norman & Beard instrument, with its exhaust pneu- matic actions, is typical of the period, although fifteenths have been added to both Great and Swell choruses, providing some welcome brightness amid the Edwardian warmth. I ts specification is now: Great Organ, 8 8 8 4 4 2; Swell Organ, 8 8 8 4 2 8; Pedal Organ, 16 16 8, with usual couplers. As this was the one hundredth anniversary of the organs installation, David Hughes had arranged for a special commemorative recital to be given by Alistair Curtis, our member from Wadhurst.

 

Alistairs recital was wide ranging in style, opening with Bachs Dorian’ Toccata BW V 538, then music by Nicholas de Grigny, 1672-1703, a French organist and composer in the Baroque tradition whose music, although almost contemporary with Bach, feels earlier.  Alistair  played his Verbum supernum, Fugue and RÚcit de Basse de Trompette, the lower octaves of the Swell horn providing engaging flamboyance and character. Then more Bach: choral prelude Christum wir sollen loben schon BW V 611 with fetching use of the tremulant. This Norman & Beard organ had interpreted the Baroque period well, but with its luscious flutes and full diapa- sons was obviously more suited to the ate Victorian/Edwardian period. Francis Jacksons The sweet rivelet came over well, as did Edward Elgar’s Salut dAmour, in an organ arrangement of a piano transcrip- tion. This had Alistair slipping effortless- ly from manual to manual bringing flow- ering counter melodies to life in enjoy- able Palm Court Orchestra’ style. He fin- ished with Gigouts Toccata 1v in B minor with excitingly controlled rhythms lead- ing to a stirring grand finale. This had been a most delightful and pleasing recital, Alistair extracting the very best from the organ.

 

The recital was particularly enjoyed by Gary Tollerfield who was able to make the journey, braving the cold, from Paddock Wood to be with us. Most members have been aware that Garys health has not been as it might be and, consequently, we were especially pleased to see him. His beaming smile and firm handshake conveyed his intense interest and enjoyment of the afternoon. He has been a pillar of our Association and we owe him an incalculable debt of gratitude for his many years service as our Association Secretary and cover photog- rapher with his outstanding knowledge of organ cases.

 

Finally, on this special occasion, our President, Richard Knight, presented a one hundredth anniversary organ cake, with its dates and organ number 1308 inscribed in blue icing, to All Saints Organist, Sheila Harris, to  conclude a full and absorbing visit to the Weald of Kent.


 

 Richard Knight presents the cake to Organist Sheila Harri Photo C Jilks

 

City of London

 

ON 13th April a good number of mem- bers  and  guests  enjoyed  a  superb  visit  to  three  beautiful  City  churches with  fine  organs.  The day had  been arranged by our   President Elect, Nicholas  King,  to  whom  we  extend grateful thanks.

 

St Mary-le-Bow has an 11th century crypt, but the church was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, rebuilt by Sir Christopher W ren 1670-80, severely damaged in W W 2, and restored by Laurence King 1956-64

 

The 2-manual Kenneth Tickell organ (Gt, 16 8 8 8 4 4 2 111 1V 8 8 Tremulant; Sw, 8 8 8 4 4 22/3 2 13/5 11/3 111-1V 16 8 8 Tremulant Bow Bells; Ped, 16 16 8 8 4 16 8) replaces the Rushworth & Dreaper instrument of 1962. I t stands on a gallery over the West door in the handsome 1962 case, has tracker action with electric stop controls, and is tuned to a modified Vallotti system. The opening recital was given by Thomas Trotter on 29th September 2010.

 

 

St Mary-le-Bow, Kenneth Tickell Photo A Curtis


 

 Walbrook, George England 1765 Photo A Curtis

 

 

Matthew Power, the Parish Secretary, organist of St Andrews, Highgate, and a member of the music staff at St Mary-le- Bow, gave an admirable stop-by-stop demonstration of the organ using a radio microphone. The Great has bright full toned flutes, a gamba voiced like an open diapason 11, a pungent cornet, French style cromorne, and a powerful trumpet, the whole adding up to a full chorus very suitable for Buxtehude and Bach as well as later music. The Swell, on the other hand, shows French influence, with a colourful range of mutations, rich sounding strings, boldly voiced reeds, and a most effective swell box.  Matthew concluded his demonstration by playing J S Bach Fugue on the Magnificat BW V 723. There was a steady stream of those wishing to play, many commenting on the light tracker action, and although there was a feeling that full organ could be overwhelming for any length of time, this very versatile organ sounds magnificent in this resonant church with a 2-3 second echo.

 

Our first visit of the afternoon was to St Stephen, Walbrook, another Wren church notable for its beautiful dome, a forerunner of that at St Paul’s, and the earliest domed church in Britain. At the instigation of Lord Palumbo there was a controversial transformation of the spa- cious interior 1978-87, when the pews were removed, much necessary structural remedial work carried out, and a central altar carved by Henry Moore was installed.

 

We were welcomed by the Organist, Joseph Sentance , who spoke about the organ and church, and reminded us that the Samaritans were founded here in 1953 by the Rector, Chad Varah. The original phone Mansion House 9000 is on display.

 

The 3 manual organ (Gt, 16 8 8 4 4 2 111 8 4; Sw, 8 8 8 8 4 4 2 111 16 8 8 4 Tremulant; Ch, 8 8 4 4 2 111 8 4; Ped, 32 16 16 16 8 8 16 8 4) is at the west end and is housed in a superb George England case of 1765, although at some time it has been brought forward on the gallery and pedal pipes installed on both sides. Over the years Gray, Hill, Walker, and Hill, Norman & Beard have worked on the organ. The console has been moved from the gallery to the NE corner of the church, and moved again in 1970 to the west end. The last rebuild was by HNB in 1987.

 

Like St Mary-le-Bow, the organ speaks clearly into a resonant building, and as one  might  expect  has  a  warm  English sound suited to the more Romantic repertory. To demonstrate the organs character Mr Sentance played AD1620 from Sea Pictures by Edward MacDowell, which rose to a splendid climax, and the Norman Cocker Tuba Tune, showing that this piece can be effective using the Tromba in the absence of a tuba. Again, many members were keen to play this lovely instrument.

 

Our final visit of the day was to St Michael, Cornhill, where we were warmly welcomed by Jonathan Rennert, who has been Director of Music since 1979. The church stands above the remains of a great Roman basilica dating from the 1st century AD, and was rebuilt after the Great Fire in 1669. I t became the most Victorian of the City Churches when it was remodelled by Sir George Gilbert Scott 1857-60.

 

The organ is the largest of those visited (Gt, 16 8 8 8 8 4 4 22/3 2 13/5 111 8 8; Sw, 16 8 8 8 8 4 4 2 1V 16 8 8 4; Ch, 8 8 8 8 4 4 22/3 2 11 8 Tremulant 8 8; Ped, 32 16 16 16 16 8 8 8 16 16 8 ) and contains 6 ranks of pipes by Renatus Harris dating from 1684 or 1704. Over the years major organ builders of the day have worked on the organ, including Green and Hill, and it was moved by Joseph Robson to its present position in the NE corner of the church in 1859. Major work was carried out by Rushworth & Dreaper in 1925, 1960, and 1995, and a most successful rebuild by Nicholson in 2011 has returned it largely to the 1925 specification, with solid state action.

 

Records show that a choir existed in 1375, and a proud tradition of choral music still continues. Over the years many distinguished organists have served the church, including William Boyce (1736-1768), Richard Limpus (1849-1875), founder of the Royal College of Organists, and Harold Darke (1916-1966) who   gave   1833   Monday   lunchtime recitals.

 

Very appropriately, Jonathan Rennert demonstrated   the   organ   by   playing William  Boyce  Voluntary in D,  Harold Darke A Meditation on Brother James’ Air, and finally  Tuba Tune by Reginald Porter Brown.  The  organ  has  all  the  right colours  for  this  music,  from  the  early Boyce to   those specified in the Meditation, surely written with this organ in mind, and the rumbustious Tuba Tune. Members were able to enjoy playing this fine organ made so familiar through many broadcasts, recitals and recordings, and now restored to full health. After a wonderful day we departed in high spirits, not dampened by the rain which had set in.

 

St Michaels Cornhill Photo A Curtis

 

 

Peterborough Cathedral

 

COMPLETED in the year 1237, the Great  West Front of Peterborough Cathedral,  with  its  three  majestically curving arches, dominates the Cathedral close,  dwarfing  its  surround  of  small irregular  stone   houses.  Entering   the Cathedral  through  the  west  door,  the vista of Norman nave arches, with their flowing curves, extends gracefully to the Cathedrals   central   quire;   then   on, undaunted,  to  the  far  distant  east-end sanctuary  where  the  hallowed  stone- canopied  high altar sits in  a soft  shimmering light filtering through leaded windows, bestowing an ethereal luminescence on its ancient stones.

 

 

 

The Quire Peterborough Photo C Jilks

 

The Cathedral was completed  to  the west end of the nave, including its central tower, in 1193, and the wooden decorated nave ceiling added between 1230 and 1250. This is unique in Britain and is one of only four such ceilings in the whole of Europe: the wooden painted nave ceiling at Ely Cathedral is entirely Victorian.

 

Arriving on the morning of 18th May our coach party included the choir of St Bartholomews Church, Otford, Kent, who, augmented by a few KCOA members, had come to sing evensong under their Director of Music, Kevin Grafton, our KCOA Treasurer, with Nicholas King, our new President, playing the organ. But first, we made our way to the quire to be greeted by Andrew Reid, who was Peterboroughs Director of Music until September 2012, and is now Director of the Royal School of Church Music. After some back ground history of the William Hill organ and the Cathedral, Andrew demonstrated the organ for us with a captivating performance of Franz Liszts Prelude and Fugue on BACH, utilizing the full colours and dynamics of the organ. The piece opened with majestic tonal richness, the full Swell, with its spectacular 16-8-4 high pressure reeds, growling like a caged tiger, then singing diapasons and gentle flutes, with a dash of tremulant. Following the Liszt, Andrew freely improvised, exploring every facet of this exceptional four-manual and pedal Hill organ demonstrating each department, including the effectiveness of the Swell, Solo and Choir boxes. Strangely, at the console, the Swell box is the middle pedal, positioned between the Solo and Choir.

 

The organ was originally built on a choir screen by Hill in 1868, but with the removal of the screen in 1894, it was moved to the north triforium. In  1930 Hill, Norman & Beard rebuilt the organ extending it into three triforium bays. Harrison & Harrison  fully  restored  the organ in 1982, installing a new transmission and returning it nearer to its 1894 tonal design. A disastrous fire in 2001 in the north transept caused extensive damage to the east facing choir organ and the complete organ was subsequently dismantled, restored and rebuilt, but not completed until 2005; the opening recital was by Olivier Latry in September 2005.

 

 

 

President, Nicholas King, at the Peterborough organ Photo C Jilks

 

Understandably, many members wanted to try the organ for themselves, but as time was limited before the evensong rehearsal, each had only four and a half minutes; all frustratingly short. However, the four-manual and pedal console is beautifully laid out and comfortable, positioned on the south side of the quire some twelve feet from the ground, opposite the organ. Its flutes and strings are undeniably Hill, as were diapasons and softer reeds. The high pressure Swell reeds had a Harrison brightness as did some of the mixtures, but the whole instrument is a delight, perfectly suited to the building. I t has a specification of: Great organ 19, Swell organ 18, Solo organ 13, Choir organ 12, and Pedal organ 15, plus a further six stops extended from the manual stops. The organs pitch is a quarter tone sharp to A 440.

 

There was just time for some lunch before the choirs evensong rehearsal, which allowed other members to visit and try the organ at the Parish Church of St John the Baptist, just outside the cathedral close. We were welcomed by Stephen Barber, Organist  and  Director of Music. The organ is by Forster & Andrews built in 1871, but subsequently rebuilt with additions in 1917 by Harrison & Harrison; it has since been overhauled in 1980 by Cousans. This three-manual and pedal organ is positioned, rather unsympathetically, behind the choir screen on the north side of the chancel and earlier reports had been less than flattering. Nevertheless, on trying the organ we found much to enjoy, the 1871 Forster & Andrews mid-Victorian voicing full of character, eschewing the company’s later tonal corpulence.

 

 

The Otford Choir with Director Kevin Grafton and  KCOA singers Photo C Jilks

 

However, the rather robust Great large open diapason and other 1917 additions were tonally typical of their Edwardian period; also the organs actions are in need of restoration. Yet, these criticisms aside, with sympathetic restoration, new actions and a tonal design completed to include a Great mixture and Pedal reed, it would be a worthy addition to Peterboroughs collection of organs. Its specification is: Great organ 10, Swell organ 10, Choir organ 7, and Pedal organ 5, with usual couplers. Stephen Barber explained that, alas, the future of the organ is uncertain, as St Johns has difficulty raising funds and interest, which is inevitably drawn to the glamour of Peterboroughs magnificent Cathedral. Nevertheless, before returning for evensong, many members were able to try the organ, enjoying its many delights.

 

Returning to the Cathedral, Nicholas King was sympathetically improvising in preparation for evensong. The introit was a beguiling Listen, Sweet Dove by Ives, then the opening responses by Bertalot, which were clean and crisp, bringing the cathedral acoustic to life. Psalm 48 was sung to a chant by Beechey and the canticles were Brewer in D. The anthem Come, Holy Ghost by Thiman, with its flowing melodies and harmonies, built stirringly to a fulsome final amen, its pellucid resonance ringing among the Cathedrals ancient vaulting. The organ voluntary was a resounding Festival Toccata by Malcolm Archer. The service was enjoyably sung and the organ accompaniments, by Nicholas King, beautifully played and sympathetically balanced against the choir, bringing to a close a rewarding and enjoyable day at Peterborough Cathedral. We particularly thank our retiring President, Richard Knight, and Kevin Grafton, together with his Otford choir, for making it all possible.

 


 

Peterborough Cathedral Nave Photo C Jilks

 


 

 William Hill Organ, Peterborough Cathedral Photo C Jilks


 

 

Upchurch & Newington

 

VISITI NG  North Kent on 8th June, history unfolded in unexpected ways in the village of Upchurch, near Sittingbourne, just north of Watling Street, the old London to Dover Roman road. The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin revealed a little known link with the Spanish Armada, as the Vicar of St Marys from 1560 to 1567 was Rev Edmund Drake, the father of Sir Francis Drake. Situated only a short distance from the River Medway, once home to the Royal Navy, maritime history has invariably touched this fascinating church, with its distinctive candle snuffer octagonal pyramid steeple.

 

We were welcomed by Rev Canon Alan Amos,  Vicar  of  Upchurch.   He  introduced  us  to  their  Director  of  Music, Helen  Osborne  and  Sue  Rossiter  their organist  of  twenty-five  years.  Helen spoke of the history of this 12th century church, founded in 1187, revealing some of  its  14th  century  plaster  work,  preserved on the south nave wall, together with medieval wall paintings and tiles in the  raised  chancel.  There  is  still  some medieval glass in  the church and a fine ring of six bells in the tower, cast in 1640.

 

St Marys two-manual and pedal organ, set on the north side of the chancel, was installed in 1905. I t was built by Morton & Ellis of Sevenoaks and has tracker key action and electric pedal action (original- ly pneumatic). I ts voicing suggests an 1885-90 vintage although its case appears a lit tle later, but without knowledge of its previous home and history this is an esti- mate. I t was overhauled in 1980 by Wood Brown and more recently by the company of Henry Willis. I ts specification is: Great Organ, 8 8 4 2; Swell Organ, 8 8 4 11; and Pedal Organ, 16 8, with usual couplers. Some tonal changes have been made in more recent years with the removal of a Great dulciana, and addition of a 4ft principal, 2ft fifteenth and a two-rank mixture to the Swell; it has a radiating concave pedalboard.

 

Organist, Sue Rossiter, demonstrated the organ for us with Vesper Voluntaries Op. 14 by Edward Elgar. The organ has a pleasing timbre with its warm singing diapasons, gentle lieblich flutes and a satisfyingly woody stopped diapason. The Pedal bourdon provides firm support, although speaks with discretion allowing the organ to deliver a cordial English tonality throughout the church. There was time for members to try the organ, finding a light sensitive  key action and comfortable pedalboard. We are most grateful to Sue Rossiter for demonstrating the organ and Helen Osborne for speaking so engagingly about St Marys Church and its history.

 

Newington Parish Church, also dedicated to St Mary, is less than half a mile from Watling Street and closer to Sittingbourne. I t was built between 1163 and 1177 by Richard de Lucy, with additions being made in the 13th and 14th century. The church has been subject to many changes of ownership; Lesnes Abbey at Erith laid claim and, in a lawsuit in 1281, judgement was indeed given in  favour of Lesnes Abbey. With the sup- pression of the Abbey by Cardinal Wolsey in 1525 the church passed to the Cardinals new college at Oxford, then to the Crown at Wolseys fall and finally, during the reign of Elizabeth, to the Provost and Fellows of Eton College. Newington like Upchurch is now within the Diocese of Canterbury under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

 

 

Arthur Wallis at Newington Photo C Jilks

 

There is still much of antiquity and interest in the church with a wall paint- ing in the north aisle of The Last Judgement c1340, also traces of a large painting of the Nativity at the west end of this wall.

 

As we arrived, strains of Mozart and Bach could be heard, not from the organ, but played by a wind quartet comprising a flute, two clarinets and a bass clarinet. Grouped in a semicircle just in front of the chancel, attired in Dinner jackets and bow ties, they played delightfully for us. The Klaritet Clarinet Quartet had been rehearsing for an evening concert and Rev Alan Amos asked if they would play us in’. Play us in they did,  their music beautifully phrased and balanced, before Rev Amos spoke a lit tle of the church and its finer points of interest. However, turning his attention to the organ he quite surprised us by climbing on to the stool and demonstrated with a few bars of Flor Peeters, bringing the organ vividly to life. This two-manual and pedal instru- ment was originally built by Henry Jones in 1864 and enlarged in 1906; George Osmond of Taunton installed a modern detached drawstop console in 1961, set at the front of the nave, just in front of the pews. The organ is positioned behind an obscuring arch south of the chancel, its ample case almost completely hidden from view. I ts specification is: Great Organ, 16 8 8 8 4 4 22/3 2; Swell Organ, 16 8 8 8 4 111 13/5 8; Pedal Organ, 32 16 16 8 4, with usual couples, which include Swell Sub and Super Octave couplers. Alas, much of its generous sound is lost, struggling to get out into the church; however, it has fine mid Victorian diapasons and flutes with some more recently voiced reeds. I ts specification uses a lit tle extension work, with the Great open diapason 8ft extended to form the principal 4ft, but with an independent twelfth and fifteenth.

 

This is an engaging instrument  with gentle character and colour, the availability of  octave  couplers  providing  full  Swell effects, adding to the warm Great organ sonority. Members were able to try the organ for themselves while a lavishly tasty tea was served at the back of the church. This had been an absorbing visit to this now quiet backwater of Kent, for as well as its organs, it had revealed a glimpse of a fascinating  history. Thinking back to the time of Rev Edmund Drake at Upchurch in 1560, this was towards the end of the Sp÷rer Minimum, 1480-1560, when, with the suns low activity and very few sunspots, temperatures were considerably lower than today. In the period of 1645-1715, the Maunder Minimum and the “little ice age caused the river Thames to freeze completely each year, allowing fairs and buildings on the ice, with the inevitable hardship for farmers and country people huddled in their cottages. Upchurch and Newington would have been typical, and our visit revealed just a lit tle of this ebb and flow of histo- ry recorded in these historic churches. A thought-provoking afternoon for which we must thank Rev Alan Amos, for most graciously inviting us, and Ian Payne for arranging it.

 

 

Trottiscliffe & Ryarsh

 

THE  VENUES  for  our  meeting  on 6th July, which included our Annual General Meeting, could not have been better chosen; two attractive village churches full of history and interest only a few miles from the County Town of Maidstone. We were guests of our member David Shuker whose wife, being the incumbent, allowed us full access to the churches, organs and parish hall for tea.

 

St Peter