Church Organ Restoration - Completed June 2014
The parish of St Mary's, Brompton Regis, discovered in 2012 that its creaking, dusty and decrepit organ was in fact a classic instrument, and decided to embark on the exciting and challenging project of restoring it to its former glory. Experts were surprised and delighted to find in a Somerset village church a structurally unspoilt example of the work of the leading and technically innovative Victorian practitioner, T.C.Lewis, describing it as “a hidden gem” and “a Rolls-Royce of an instrument”. It has outstanding power and tonal quality, and has been awarded a Historic Organ Certificate by the British Institute of Organ Studies.
Lewis built it in London in 1872 for “a gentleman” whose identity remains unknown, and 24 years later it returned to his workshop in part exchange for an even more powerful instrument. It then came to Brompton Regis through a great fund-raising effort by the parishioners, as their chosen way of commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. It was appropriate that we initiated our restoration project in the same Jubilee year of our own Queen's reign.
That effort by our predecessors was led by a dynamic new Vicar, the Rev William Batchelor, who knew Lewis from his previous incumbency at Horsleydown in Southwark, close to the organ workshop. Friends and sponsors from there came to Brompton Regis along with church dignitaries for a grand installation service on Easter Monday, reported in great detail in the West Somerset Free Press published on April 24th, 1897. An inspiring sermon on the importance of music in worship was preached to a packed congregation by the Head Master of Eton College, Dr Warre, who spent his holidays at nearby Baronsdown and was a benefactor of St Mary's (notably through his endowment of the altar window). After the service the bells were then rung during a celebratory tea for all parishioners and guests.
Generous funding received from charitable trusts, individual donations and local activities produced within a year the full £28,000 needed and enabled us to go ahead with a complete and authentic restoration, involving the total dismantling, refurbishment and reconstruction of the instrument. The work began in January 2014 and took five months. It was carried out by the organbuilder Michael Farley and his team, of Budleigh Salterton.
A brilliant celebratory recital was given to a packed church in July 2014 by Andrew Daldorph, a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists and director of the East Devon Choral Society and the Exeter Chamber Choir. He covered the range of music from Bach and Widor to jazz and popular songs, and the work of his hands and feet was projected on to screens set up in the church.
If you are an organist and would like to come and play the instrument, or if you are a pianist living in our area who would like to try your hand at it, you would be warmly welcome. Please contact William Rees on 01398 371128 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org