Author Topic: The Stumm Organ Dynasty (I)  (Read 4137 times)

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Ian van Deurne

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The Stumm Organ Dynasty (I)
« on: March 06, 2019, 03:29:48 PM »
As I promised you all some time ago, here is the first part of the history of the Stumm organ dynasty. Since it's going to take some time, I'm going to have to split it into several parts.

Two of the most famous German organ building families of the 17th and 18th centuries are well-known: that of the Schnitger and Silbermann families. However, there is another family of organ builders that became active during this period but seem to be hardly known outside of Germany but are no less important to the development of organ building in Europe. Through no less than seven generations, the Stumm family built around 370 new organs, of which around 140 of them survive today in more or less their original state.

The roots of the family can be traced back to the town of Rhaunen in the Hunsruck, the hilly area to the west of the Rhein gorge. In 1659 Johann Nikolaus Stumm was born there who was to continue working the family blacksmith's forge in the town. His eldest son, Johann Christian Stumm was to have a son who became the founder of the organ building dynasty called Johann Michael Stumm. He originally studied to be a goldsmith before he married Eulalia Gertraude Laux in Sulzbach in 1714, to which town the newlyweds would then move to. From there he established an organ building workshop which was to serve the family for almost two-hundred years. His own extensive family was to comprise of six sons and two daughters. Apart from being trained first as a goldsmith, it would appear that he had always been fascinated with organs, for just after his marriage he had bought at an auction, a small one-manual house organ that he set about renovating. Apart from this small snippet of information, we have no other details about where of with whom he was to take on an apprenticeship in the trade, or indeed who or what would be the inspiration for the style he was to ultimately adopt. The known organ masters active at that time in the Rheinland include Johannes Irrlacher, Johann Hoffmann, Johann Jakob Dahm and Otto Richard Menzenius who are all possibilities, but as yet none of these have definately proven to have been his teacher. At any rate, he was first acknowledged to be a master organ builder in the contract for building the organ at Munstermaifeld in 1722. This would tie in nicely for the normal apprenticeship length of seven years, given that he would have started between 1714-15 shortly after first moving to Sulzbach.

The style adopted by Johann Michael Stumm show French influences, especially in the reeds. A typical two-manual organ would contain a Hauptwerk and Ruckpositiv, with the case design being characterised by three round towers on both sides and in the middle with or two tier flat stories between. This design can ultimately traced back to Rheinische influences. The case designs from the second generation of the family were to contain far more flamboyant expansive detail which reached their peak in the organs at Amorbach, Saarbrucken and Frankfurt-am-Main.

First Generation

Johann Michael Stumm, (Rhaunen 10th April 1683 - 22nd April 1747 Sulzbach), was almost an exact contemporary of Gottfried Silbermann (1683-1753), who merged the French, or more properly, the Alsatian, southern German and Austrian organ-building principles with the mid-German style into a perfect independent synthesis. The selection of the very best materials for construction, including the use of high quality oak which was stored for 15 years at the Stumm workshops before use, was already regarded in the 18th century as a guarantee of the best possible quality. The specification of the house organ that Johann Michael had acquired at the auction had been built by the aforementioned Johannes Irrlacher and obviously contributed to his inspiration. This small organ contained the following stops: Burdon 8', Rohrflot 4', Oktav2, Salcional 2' (bass), Salicional 4' disk and Quint 1.1/2. It is not known whether this instrument contained an attached pedal, but this specification was to form the basis for many of the subsidiary ranks of his subsequent organs. The overall tonal specifications developed at this time remained as standard for all subsequent generations of the family. The company achieved its greatest period of prosperity in the second generation with brothers Johann Philipp and Johann Heinrich Stumm, in terms of superior build quality, popularity and reputation of the highest degree. The later generations followed on from this good reputation and continued with the same principles of organ building conservatively, without making any major changes to the overall tonal structure, complete with the same high build quality and characteristic intonation.

The overall design and sound conception of the Stumm organ underwent very little change through the generations and were only slightly modified for reasons of the spatial conditions and the size of each instrument. Of the 30 different case designs which can be seen throughout the Rheinland during this period, half of which are due to the Stumm family alone and especially to the second generation, whose cases would slowly develop up until about 1830. Some of them would also serve as a model for other organ builders. While Johann Michael preferred the inclusion of a Ruckpositiv for the second manual, his descendants would usually incorporate this into the main case below the Hauptwerk as an Unterpositiv. For the third manual, Johann Michael developed this department as an Echowerk, in addition to the Ruckpositiv which was then placed as close to the floor as possible in the base of the main case behind the console. The pipes were enclosed in a wooden box with holes drilled into the front side and the top of the box was removable to provide access for tuning. This department was never conceived to be under expression with louvres connected to a swell pedal as it would become later, but rather as a soft section for emphasising quiet moments in the music or for accompanying the choir. According to the traditions of the middle Rhein area, the Pedal compass was at first only 1.1/2 octaves (C,D-g = 18 notes), omitting bottom C# as in the manuals which had a compass of either C,D- C''' (48) or-d''' (50). Pneumatic cone windchests were not used until the fifth generation of the family, and from this time on the case designs became either neo-Gothic or neo-Romanesque, often, as was customary from this time onwards, predetermined by the church architect rather than the organ builders themselves.

List of Works by Johann Michael Stumm            In the descriptions, a large P indicates a independent Pedal, a small p indicates an attached pedal.

1717   Kirchberg, St Michael.   I/P-14
This is the first organ known to be built by J.M. Stumm. According to the contract it was based on a Principal 4'.
The Pedal contained just a Principalbass 8'. 
This organ was taken down in 1753 with a new organ replacing it by Richard Nollet a year later.

1722   Munstermaifeld, Collegiate Church   II/P-22
The first contract that describes Stumm as a master organ builder.
The organ was built with a Ruckpositiv which has disappeared.
Replaced by a new organ in 1864 by Ludwig Hund. Only the main original case survives.

1723   Rhaunen, Ev. Church   I/P-13
Console situated at the rear of the organ
In the 19th and early 20th centuries various reconstructions, including by Gustav Stumm (see later).
Loss of the original Quint 3, Terz (1.3/5), Trompet and Vox Humana registers.
1934  Enlargement and action renewed by Oberlinger, increasing to II/P-17.
1977-78  Restoration and reconstruction of the original keyboard, playing and register action
Reconstruction of the Trompet and Vox Humana and removal of the 1934 additions by Johannes Klais.
There still remains a very high proportion of original pipes.



Principal 8
Hohlpfeiff 8
Oktav 4
Floth 4
Quint 3
Superoktav 2
Terz (1.3/5)
Cornett 4 fach
Mixtur 3 fach
Trompet 8 (bass/disk)
Vox Humana 8 (bass/disk)


Subbass 16
Principalbass 8

c.1723  Weiler bei Monzingen, Pffarkirche   I/p-7
Originally the console was at the back but was moved to the side sometime during the second generation
In the early 20th century Terz (1.3/5) and Crumhorn 8 (bass) and Trompet 8 (disk) were replaced for a Geigenprincipal 8 and Salicional 8.
1917 the case pipes were taken to make bullets for the war effort.
1992  Reconstruction of the original specification by Klais, with the original stops; Hohlpfeiff 8, Flot 4, Quint 3, Oktav 2 and the remaining inner pipes of the Principal 4,
integrated with the new case pipes for Principal 4, Mixtur 3 fach, Crumhorn 8 (bass) and Trompet 8 (disk) copied from other Stumm pipes.
The side console remains complete with the original attached pedal (C,D-c'), probably the oldest surviving original.

Hergenfeld, Catholic Church   I/P-11
Built for the Catholic Church at Stromberg.
1863  Transported to Hergenfeld and rebuilt by a local builder Johann Schlaad with a new case and side console which meant the original Principal 4 was lost.
In the early 20th century the original Quint 3 and Terz (1.3/5) were replaced with Salicional 8 and Aeoline 8.
Eight original ranks remain.

1728   Karden, St Castor   III/P-29
The first three-manual organ by Stumm (with Echowerk).
1763  Johann Phillipp and Johann Heinrich Stumm enlarged the organ with Posaunenbass 16 in the Pedal and Crumhorn 8 in the Ruckpositiv.
1901  Lauren Broecher from Merzig altered the tonal specification according to the taste of the time.
1933-35  Organ rebuilt by Johannes Klais. This included replacing the action with electro-pneumatic and providing a new three-manual detached console.
1973 Klais attempted a reconstruction of the original organ complete with a ghastly modern mechanical action console, totally out of keeping with the historic Stumm case.
Only seven complete and seven partly complete stops by Stumm remain, but the original case complete with Ruckpositiv has been preserved.
In the quoted specification of today, it will be seen that in this first provision of an Echowerk, the specification follows closely to the original one-manual house organ built by
Johannes Irrlacher which Stumm had purchased at the auction in 1714. This leads me to the conclusion that Irrlacher is the best candidate for teaching Stumm the trade.


I. Ruckpositiv

Hohlpfeiff 8
Diskantflot 8 (c')
Principal 4 (case)
Rohrflot 4
Octava 2 
Quint 1.1/2
Trompet 8 (throughout)

II. Hauptwerk

Grossgedackt 16
Principal 8
Viol di Gamba 8
Hohlpfeiff 8
Octava 4
Flot 4
Quint 3
Superoctava 2
Tertz 1.3/5 (sic)
Quintflot 1.1/2
Cornet 4 fach (diskant)
Mixtur 4 fach
Cromhorn 8

III. Echowerk

Hohlpfeiff 8
Rohrflot 4
Salicional 2/4 from c'
Octava 2
Quint 1.1/2
Mixtur 3 fach
Cymbel 2 fach
Vox Humana 8


Sub Bass 16
Octav Bass 8
Posaune 16
Trompet 8
Clarin 4



1728  Schwarzheindorf   Kirche   II/P-25
This organ has travelled around. Originally built for the Franziskanerkirche in Koblenz
c.1803 Purchased by the St Clemenskirche in Mayen.
1875 it went to Nachtsheim before coming here in 1936
1966-68  Restored by Johannes Klais, and again in 2007 by Schimmel.
Alhough the case survives virtually intact there remains just one rank of original pipes by Stumm.

c.1735  Traben-Trarbach   Ev. Kirche St Peter   I/P-12
1880  Rebuilt, builder unknown.
1957  Reconstruction and complete rebuild by Oberlinger, now II/P-23.
1984  Further rebuild by Gustav Cartellieri when it was enlarged to three manuals
Only the original case by Stumm remains

1737  Hottenbach, Evangelical Church   I/P- ?
1782  Rebuilt by Johann Nikolaus or Johann Friedrich Stumm.
1904  Radical rebuild by Gustav Stumm.
The original case survives intact but only five stops remain from the original organ.

1737  Alzey, Kleinkirche   II/P-19.
1882  The Pedal was enlarged with two stops by Karl Landort.
1950  Rebuilt by Forster & Nicolaus, losing the original Viol di Gamba 8.
1998  Restortion by the same firm who retained all the original stops except for Hw. Salicional 4, now Salicional 8 (diskant)
and Ew. Cromhorn 8 (diskant, now Trompet 8 (diskant),

1738  Leutersdorf, St Laurentius  III/P-28
I can happily report that this instrument has survived completely intact as Stumm left it

1738  Mulhelm an der Eis, Schlosskirche   II/P-24
This organ has had various stops replaced oer the years, including the Trompet 8, Crumhorn 8 and Vox Humana.
The keyboards and pedalboard have also been renewed.
This organ is the only one built by Johann Michael Stumm that contains a Gemshorn 8 in the Hauptwerk.

1739  Armsheim, Zum Heiligen Blut Christi   II/P-20
Another Stumm organ that remains exactly as the original builder left it.

1738-40   Heimbach-Weis, St Margaretha   III/P-37
Originally built for the abbey at Rommersdorf
1809  After the secularisation of the abbey the organ came here.
Originally built as a two-manual instrument in 1738, the Echowerk was added by Johann Michael Stumm in 1740.
1942  The church was severely damaged by an incendary bomb, which took most of the Ruckpositiv case and its pipework with it.
1962  After the church had been repaired work started on the restoration of the organ by Johannes Klais.
They built a new Ruckpositiv case, identical to the original and replaced the pipework that could not be saved with faithful copies of the originals, although only around 20% had survived.
A new free-standing modern console was placed directly behind the Ruckpositiv, abouut 2 meters from the main case with mechanical playing and electric register action.
This was the first Stumm organ that I ever visted and played and its wonderful sound has left an indelible impression on me ever since.
It was also to become the nearest Stumm organ to our family home, which is situated only 2.Km away so it has almost become an extension to our family as I and my two
eldest daughters have visited and played it regularly since this first time. Another Stumm organ at Sayn Abbey is almost as close.

1740   Bad Sobernheim, St Matthias   II/P-25.
1876  The organ was rebuilt by local builder Johann Schlaad, although not drastically.
1972  The organ was renovated and the Pedal enlarged by Paul Ott of Gottingen which increased the size of the organ to 30 stops.
20 ranks from the original organ remain either partly or wholly intact.
2003-05  The organ was painstakingly restored by Rainer Muller of Merxheim.
The Ott enlargements were removed leaving the disposition once again as Stumm had left it.


Getact 8 (sic)
Solicinal 8 (disk)
Principal 4
Rohrfloth 4
Octav 2
Quint 1.1/2
Mixtur 3 fach
Cromhorn 8
Vox Humana 8


Getact 16
Principal 8
Getact 8
Violdigamb 8
Octav 4
Floth 4
Solicinal 4
Quint 3
Superoctav 2
Terz 1.3/5
Cornet 4 fach
Mixtur 4 fach
Trompet 8 (bass/disk)


Subbass 16
Principal Bass 8
Posaun Bass 16

Manualcoppel (shove coupler)

1739  Spabrucken, Maria Himmelfahrt   II/P-26
Originally the console was at the back of the organ. The second manual pipework is situated in the base of the main case and is specified as an Unterpositiv as it has no Echo box.
1896  The organ was rebuilt and the action converted to pneumatic by a local builder Johann Stockhausen. 15 original stops in either complete or part condition remain.
1988  The organ was restored. The pneumatic action removed and replaced once again with mechanical action by Oberlinger.
2011  An attempt was made to recover the original sound and Stumm intonation by Raab-Plenz Orgelbau of Bad Kreuznach.

1741  Waldlauberstein, Martinskirche   I/P-14
The manual pipework remains completely original
The organ was originally built with only an attached pedal but in the late 19th century a Grosshohlpfeiff was added, standing on its own windchest at the back of the organ
by Johann Schlaad.

1743   Lotzbeuren, Ev. Kirche   I/P-9
Another instrumant that has survived the ravages of time and remains completely original.

1743  Finkenbach-Gersweiler  Pfarrkirche  I/P-10
1919. The organ was replaced by Walcker (II/P-15).
1962  That organ was replaced by Oberlinger
Only the original case by Stumm survives.

1743-45  Kirchheimbolanden, Wehrkirche   III/P-45
In terms of the number of original stops, this organ is the largest remaining original instrument by Johann Michael Stumm,
containing I. Unterwerk, II. Hauptwerk, III. Echowerk and Pedal, situated in two large pedal towers on each side.
1778  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart gave an organ concert here and thereafter the organ became known as the "Mozartorgel".
1971  The organ was given a complete restoration by Oberlinger and still sounds as wonderful as the day that Stumm built it.

1746  Sulzbach, Ev. Kirche  II/P-23    The last organ known to be built by Johann Michael Stumm.
In 1800 all the Stumm pipework was ripped out of the organ and destroyed by French soldiers.
The organ remained silent until 1820 when all the pipes were replaced by a subsequent generation of the Stumm family according to the original specification,
except that the Unterwerk was slightly altered.
1934  Restored by Oberlinger.
1980-82  Another restoration by Johannes Klais.
During this time a spare slide on the Hauptwerk chest was filled by a Clarin 4'.
The original chromatic Pedal windchest behind the organ was reconstructed with Subbass 16, Oktavbass 8' and Quintbass 6'.

Thus we come to the end of instruments built by Johann Michael Stumm, the first generation of of this prolific family of organ builders
I will gladly continue with this another time if anyone thinks that it's interesting enough.

Until then, with best wishes,


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Re: The Stumm Organ Dynasty (I)
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2019, 07:57:23 AM »
Interesting post Ian.  Have you considered publishing it in book (or booklet or e-book) format?

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Ian van Deurne

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Re: The Stumm Organ Dynasty (I)
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2019, 10:44:15 PM »
Thank you very much Tony for your kind comments.

I will continue with the subject of the family Stumm, mainly because I believe that the people who know and love
the organ will benefit from knowing more about this wonderful instrument and the very talented people that have
contributed to it's history and development over the last 400 years.

I don't think that I'd ever want to write a book, but I had at one time considered the history of the Stumm family
as a pertinent subject for a PhD thesis, because now that I've actually retired from building organs I might have
far more time to devote to it. Although at the moment I'm not too sure because it would involve a great many
visits back to the Rheinland to closely study many of the extant Stumm organs from each generation
(i.e. pipe scales for each building, cut-ups etc, although I had done some of this long ago when still an apprentice
organ builder), which may prove to be too exhausting, but I haven't yet dismissed this idea completely.

But rest assured, I will continue writing about the second generation of the Stumm family here in due course.

With very best wishes,


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Re: The Stumm Organ Dynasty (I)
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2019, 09:07:22 AM »
Thanks Ian.
I look forward to the next installment when you have time.

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David Pinnegar

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Re: The Stumm Organ Dynasty (I)
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2019, 12:23:17 PM »
Dear Ian

Thanks for bringing this wonderful and interesting account to the forum. It's certainly stimulus to the ears when we hear organs unaltered from the 18th century, there being a paucity in Britain and even in France ravaged by the French Revolution. I'm aware there of just one instrument from 1715 and another from 1775 with a couple of 1790 and 91 in the Savoie.

The continuity that the German heritage displays is amazing.

Best wishes

David P

Ian van Deurne

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Re: The Stumm Organ Dynasty (I)
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2019, 05:28:27 PM »
Hi David,
The main reason why there are so many old organs that still remain in more or less their original condition seems to be due to one important issue: Lack of money.
This is true for most European countries, especially in Germany, the Netherlands, France and of course Great Britain.
It's a strange fact that recession favours the retention of so many old organs, although of course this does have its downside.
Many valuable old organs have simply been dismantled or sold for scrap because of total lack of any routine maintenance,
and I've sadly found this reason to be very prevalent in Britain.

I actually started my organ building apprenticeship in England with Hill, Norman & Beard after I left high school and worked with them for almost three years until I moved to Germany.
I spent a great deal of that time with one of their tuners covering the counties of Kent, East Sussex and south east London.
It was saddening to see so many old organs crying out for some tender love and care, but if we informed the church of this, the usual reply came back;
"We'd love to be able to do something, but we haven't any money"!
This might be all fair and well but......if only it was true!
One particular church in Kent (I'd better not say where) had an old two-manual and pedal organ, no magnificent masterpiece but more than adequate for the task that it had been built for
around 1875 it adequately fulfilled the role for which it was assigned: to accompany the choir and community in singing hymns plus performing the usual "Voluntary" before and after the services.
One day whilst rummaging around in an old box near the console that contained various old music scores and other bits and pieces I found the old tuner's book, the first entry was dated 12th May 1909.
There then followed the usual series of notes by the organist and the tuner of the time, saying what faults had been found during playing and the tuner's response, ticking the fault as being repaired,
then recording the temperature of the building and date of the visit. All the usual stuff.
Glancing through this book further, I actually found the date recorded when the organ had last received a proper clean and overhaul: 25th August 1928!
The book was in current use all through the war and long after before it was filled, the last entry date being 23rd May 1956.
The current tuner's book had started on 12th February 1958, but since the organ was tuned only once per year this would seem to be a direct continuation from the last one.
The date of our visit then was mid July 1972, which meant that this poor old organ had not had any proper attention given to it for 44 years. No wonder it was falling apart, with so many wind leaks,
various unmusical noises permanently contributing to the sound, plus a tremulant that, once you managed to get it to operate by banging the stop knob in and out a few times, virtually shook the whole instrument, building frame and all, with a chuffing noise like a steam train! And to top it all, the instrument was so incredibly dirty, its a wonder anything musical was able to emulate from it at all!

After my master had reported this to the organist, the usual reply came back: no money, no money at all, so PLEASE get it to play for a little longer!

Our next visit there was at the end of June 1973 and there we found the organ, just as we'd left it.
Except for one thing.
The church contained a medieval stone pulpit, early 15th century I believe. At our last visit it had been hardly noticeable, just an old grey colour.
Now, however, it had been totally transformed into a picture of beauty. Lovingly restored, with all the medieval tracery and ornaments repainted in their original colours
"Isn't it just beautiful!" beamed the vicar. "We'd been meaning to get this wonderful piece of art restored for ages and now we've succeeded!" he cried.
"Yes it sure is wonderful, but I thought the church had no money for any kind if restoration work." my master replied.
"Oh, we've been collecting for donations and last year's village fête raised quite a considerable amount as well" said the vicar
My master then looked seriously at him. "So how much did it actually cost?" he asked.
"It was very reasonable, considering what had to be done to get it all back in its original state. A little over £1400." came the reply.
I then looked up at the organ sitting on the south transept gallery. Still falling apart with it's sorry condition apparently of no interest whatsoever to the community.

After we'd left, back in the car my master exploded. "That's it, I'm done with the bloody lot of them. We've got no money, we've got no money they cry, then go and spend a
ridiculous amount of dosh on a stupid old pulpit, with the organ, a proper asset that they need to use every week at least still left to rot. They're f.....g out of their tiny minds!"
He was indeed very cross, and so was I as I've never forgotten it.

That's just one small example though, for there's countless others like it. However, I do try to think of the positive side.
Many valuable instruments have survived well with the main reason being due to the lack of money.

The great Van Hagerbeer/Schnitger organ in my home town of Alkmaar has come very close to either been completely destroyed/replaced, or altered beyond belief by people
who were so dumb, they hadn't a clue of what was standing in front of them. The last serious threat came in 1944 when the then organist, a Dr Bonner wanted to install
a new four-manual electric console and place it on the floor of the church. In the space occupied by the original console and mechanics he wanted to create a new swell
department on the fourth manual. Electrification of the entire instrument would also be undertaken. He actually went as to order new ranks of pipes for this department from pipemakers
Stinkens which were duly delivered. However, the organ builder Dirk Flentrop had intervened by this time and subsequently restored the organ as it was with some stops
renewed according to how Schnitger had left it but with other slides left vacant to be determined at a later date. The pipes ordered from Stinkens were never used and remain
in one of the rooms at the side of the organ. This wasn't fulfilled until the full restoration between 1982-87 when money didn't seem to be so much of a problem.
The entire restoration of this magnificent organ cost no less than 3.000.000 guilders!

So yes, we all live in hope.
With best wishws,


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Re: The Stumm Organ Dynasty (I)
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2019, 10:43:58 PM »
"We'd love to be able to do something, but we haven't any money"!
This might be all fair and well but......if only it was true!

The church contained a medieval stone pulpit, early 15th century I believe. At our last visit it had been hardly noticeable, just an old grey colour.
Now, however, it had been totally transformed into a picture of beauty. Lovingly restored, with all the medieval tracery and ornaments repainted in their original colours
"Isn't it just beautiful!" beamed the vicar. "We'd been meaning to get this wonderful piece of art restored for ages and now we've succeeded!" he cried.

I'm afraid that organs generally don't seem to be as highly regarded by the majority of people in this country, or that's how it sometimes seems.

Having said that, I know that there are a number of large cathedral organs in the UK which have recently been, or currently are being, restored at great expense.  To me, that is admirable foresight!

I can't believe that the many historical organs found in most of Europe are not all cared for properly.  Quite apart from their historical value, I get the impression that interest in the organ is stronger in most European countries than in the UK, although perhaps some countries, Spain and Portugal, for example, suffer from lack of money.  Even so, as long as those historical gems are not interfered with there is still the possibility of restoration if and when money becomes available.
A missionary from Yorkshire to the primitive people of Lancashire


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