Organ Project 2013

Cornwood organHistory of Cornwood organ

The present organ was installed in March 1876 by Henry Speechly. It replaced an earlier instrument that was there in 1847. A temporary organ was installed in March 1875, pending the arrival of the new organ. It is possible that parts of the previous organ were incorporated as there are peculiarities of construction which suggests that the organ was not as it now stands, built from scratch. It was restored in 1910, at which time the oak casework was given by Miss Deare of Blachford. This may indicate that the organ was turned or repositioned at this time.

Dr Nigel Browne, Diocesan organ Expert, commented: " It has been altered on at least one, and possibly more occasions and ranks of pipes substituted. The result is an organ that now lacks proper choruses, and although some of the individual stops are pleasant, in aggregate they lack balance and cohesion."

The organ of Cornwood Parish Church

The history of this organ is somewhat uncertain, as noted above. What is clear is that the instrument that we have in church today was built as a much smaller organ of roughly half the size when new. The best way to describe the present organ to a layperson is to use the analogy of taking the front half of one car and welding it onto the back half of a completely different make and model of infinitely inferior quality. If this were not enough, parts from each half were then swapped with parts from the other half. If the original organ from the 1870’s had survived it would be worth undertaking a full historic restoration. This would still leave us with an instrument that could not lead the singing of a full congregation or make a worthwhile contribution to the various aspects of our music making in church. Our organ has given us good service with its limited choice of sounds but the time has come when we have to either spend a considerable sum of money on it or replace it with something that will be reliable and really add something to our worship.
David Green – Organist Cornwood Parish Church

St Phillips Weston Mill OrganWeston Mill Church Organ

This organ is also something of a mystery. The national Pipe Organ Register lists it as being by Wills & Sons, but this is surely an error. St Philips Church history attributes it to William Hill, probably 1870, provenance unknown. It does seem certain that it was installed at Weston Mill in 1912, the gift of Sir John Jackson, almost certainly by Hele & Co. Two of their builder's plates are fixed to the front of the organ. The case, although similar to Cornwood in general design, is also of better quality, with handsome panelling at the sides reaching to the same height as the crossbar on the front. It is of stained pitch pine instead of the oak at Cornwood, and zinc front pipes instead of spotted metal.

Dr Nigel Browne commented: "Although the histories of both instruments are obscure at present, the Weston
Mill instrument is considerably better than that at Cornwood."

The cost of removing the organ from Weston Mill Parish Church, restoring and installing it into Cornwood Parish Church is estimated to be in the region of £9,000 + VAT

An  Organists view of both instruments

St Phillips Weston Mill OrganI first heard the organ at St Philips, Bridewell Road, some 30 years ago when attending a funeral there; as an organist, I was enchanted by the mellow and ethereal tone of the organ, which gave the church a feeling of antiquity beyond its tender age.  In recent years I have been privileged to play there for most weddings and funerals, and consider the organ to be one of the finest small instruments in the area.  Its various stops (or instruments) are of fine quality (as befits its famous builder, William Hill) and blend together so well.  The mechanical action is precise and easy.  It has a far wider range of tone colours, and a much more exciting ensemble than the current Cornwood Organ.  It is much more reliable and a delight to play.

I can think of no better or more suitable instrument for Cornwood Church
Mike Hodge - Organist

Who will do the work?

Michael Farley Organ-builders have been chosen to dismantle the organ at St Philips and install it at St Michael’s, Cornwood.  Michael Farley MIMIT FISOB A Cert.CM, established his company in 1985 and has over 37 years of organ building and restoration experience. He has also been a parish church organist and choirmaster for 40 years, the last 27 of which have been as organist at the Collegiate Church of St Mary at Ottery St Mary.  Prior to running his own company he spent 10 years working and learning the trade with John Eustace of Eustace & Aldridge of Exeter, a vastly experienced tradesman. Michael employs 6 full and other part time staff and operates from his workshop in Colaton Raleigh, near Budleigh Salterton where he has lived for 50years.

David Green and Mike Hodge and other members of our community will help with loading and unloading of the new organ. It will be transported in Derek & Jeremy Dennis's cattle lorry!


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