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Topics - Mike Manners

Whenever a church is made redundant, I am uneasy. Whenever one hears about a CHURCH PLANT, one becomes anxious.

St Peters York Place Brighton East Sussex is one such church plant.

Charismatic evangelicals have little to no use of pipe organs, even when their church organ is a fine four-manual Henry Willis instrument, at St Peters York Place Brighton.

My fears that the Church Plant would neglect the instrument at York Place proved correct. The Willis is no more. It has been broken up.

The interior of this beautiful Regency-era neo-perpendicular gothic building has been transformed into a boutique pop music gig stage, where happy clappers meet to do their thing.


UPDATE to this post:

Contrary to my post above, it appears that Harrison Organs of Durham, have rescued this 1889 Willis instrument in its entirety, and is to be incorporated into a new 67-stop instrument Harrisons are building for the chapel of St John's College Cambridge University. The new organ is to replace the current Mander organ.

This is a happy outcome for a lovely Willis instrument that I loved to play each week in the 1960s.

Further information may be seen at Harrison's here:

Apologies if I duplicate those suggested elsewhere.

Buckfast St Mary's Abbey Church

Its a shame, but as many here will already know, the large Walker-Downes instrument is no more.
I loved playing it, and it could sound very beautiful in the wonderful acoustic of the Abbey Church

The good news is that the current electronic is temporary, and two new substantial 4 manual and pedal pipe organs are on order from Italian firm Ruffatti.

This is a big scheme with big budget,  and consists of a large Quire Organ in cases behind the north and south Quire Stalls, and an enclosed division in the north triforia.

At the west end there will be a smaller instrument will be a big nod to Cavaillé-Coll with a Bombarde division - and with its own 4 manual console.
The Quire Organ is to have a mobile 4 manual console. I imagine that the mobile console will have simultaneous control of both instruments, at least in part.

And for anyone up to a challenge: city of Plymouth !

Plymouth Minster The Civic and Parish Church of St Andrew:

A large (did I say large?) R&D instrument from 1957.

Organ divided in North & South transepts in architectural cases:
Swell, Great, Pedal open flues, independent reeds in North Transept;
Choir, Solo and Pedal stopped flues in South Transepts. There is some borrowing and extension, giving a total of 77 registers.

A recently departed chum of mine was holidaying here with me and giving a recital on this and Exeter Cathedral, just two years before his sudden death.
Asked his opinion of the Plymouth job, he looked me in the eye and said with a grin "it can sound very nice".
"I enjoyed playing it" he added. Ever careful, ever the diplomatic.
Greetings Folks,

I suspect that most organists over 50 will remember an instrument which inspired earlier. Whether they were, with hindsight, ordinary or not, there can be no doubt that our earlier influences can be strong.

Three instruments I played regularly in my teens were two by Joseph Walker: Erith Kent, and Holy Trinity Church KIngsway Holborn London; and a 1889 Willis at St Peter York Street, Brighton East Sussex.

The Erith Walker is playable but needs conservation; and the Brighton York Street Willis is, in my view, under threat since the church was made redundant and taken over by an charismatic evangelical plant of Holy Trinity Church Brompton.

As for the Walker instrument at Kingsway (Holborn) London, was lost in a fire in 1960s and a replacement was provided for the west gallery. This was a neoclassical hotchpotch based round the pipework and case of the Green and Gray instrument previously in the Ballroom, Buck House and installed at Kingsway by Hill Norman Beard in 1969.
I enjoyed playing this in the very big acoustic of Holy Trinity. Alas the church was closed and demolished save for its west facade and the HNB instrument was sold to a school, and was subsequently sold to a church in Germany where it is still cherished.

Two other instruments I enjoyed were the Lewis at Saint Alban, Teddiington;, destroyed by Vandals, and the large Willis at Saint Jude Thornton Heath now somewhere in Japan, I gather.

Please share your special memories of those important organs in your life.