The Organ at Christ Church

Christ Church 3 Manual remote organ

A brief history

Christ Church was built in 1875 and initially the singing was accompanied by an American organ that stood in the trancept until 1893, when it was moved to the south side of the chancel. In 1911 this instrument was replaced by a Norman and Beard 2 manual organ, installed in the recess on the north side of the new chancel at a cost of £400. The well known philanthropist Andrew Carnegie promised to pay one half of the cost of the new organ, provided the congregation raised the remainder by the 31 August 1911 on which date the offer expired. This gave them a year to raise their portion, which they succeeded in doing. The Norman and Beard organ was of good tone but had limited resources, and for many years the organist and choirmaster Arthur Starke worked and planned for a rebuild of the instrument to a comprehensive tonal scheme. In 1991, following the generous pledge of funding by Dr John Waring, Michael Farley was contracted to carry out a rebuild in consultation with Philip Drew, the Diocesan Organ Advisor and Arthur Starke. The Norman and Beard pipework was not altered but the new project served to enhance it immeasurably and create an outstanding instrument of a quality that regularly attracts organists of an international standard to the church. The instrument was further enhanced by the addition of a positive organ in 1993.

 

The organ chamber within the Chancel of the church

 

The following extract is from an article in the winter edition of ‘The Organ’ magazine and is reproduced here with the kind permission of John Matthews DL BA(Law)

The History of the Norman and Beard Pipe Organ at Christ Church, Totland Bay

For many years the singing at Christ Church was accompanied by an American Organ that stood in the transept until 1893, when it was moved to the south aisle of the new chancel.

The Norman and Beard Pipe Organ from 1911 to 1991

The present instrument was installed in the recess on the north side of the new chancel in 1911 by Norman and Beard at a cost of £400. The well known philanthropist Andrew Carnegie promised one half of he cost of the new organ provided the congregation raised the remainder by 31st August 1911 on which date the offer expired. This gave them a year to raise their portion and it is gratifying to note they succeeded. The instrument consists of two manuals and pedals, 13 ‘speaking stops’, tremulant and 6 couplers, the compass of manuals CC – C is 61 notes, and of pedals CCC – F is 30 notes. The action is tubular pneumatic and blowing is by an electric motor installed in 1939.

Music at Christ Church and the Early Organists

From the opening of the new Church in 1875 until 1911, there was no pipe organ. Music was provided by an American Organ. The organist in 1911 was E U Morey who had played since 1881. The choir did exist. Clearly, the parishioners felt that musical standards should improve. A contract was entered into with the firm of Norman and Beard to construct an organ chamber and build a small organ at the cost of £400. A grant of £200 was obtained from the American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, on the condition that the instrument was to be completed by September 1911 and that the remainder of the cost was raised by the parish within a year.

The organ was ready by June 1911. By happy coincidence, a new vicar, the Rev J W Hall was to be inducted on the 20th June 1911 and it was decided that the new organ should be dedicated at the same service. Unfortunately, the dedication had to be postponed as the Right Rev James MacArthur, Bishop of Southampton,who was to carry out the induction and the dedication, had no time for the dedication, as he had to induct another vicar on the same day, at Shalfleet, a village about 8 miles away. It does not appear that the organ was ever dedicated, but almost certainly it was first heard at the induction service on the 20th June 1911 when it was played by E U Morey.

The Original 1911 Organ Specification was:

GREAT– Open Diapason – 8, Clarabel – 8, Dulciana – 8, Principal – 4, Flute – 4.

SWELL– Open Diapason – 8, Rohr Gedacht – 8, Viola D’Gamba – 8, Celeste – 8, Geigen Principal – 4, Horn – 8.

PEDAL– Bourdon – 16, Bass Flute – 8, Great to Pedal, Swell to Pedal, Swell to Great, Swell Octave to Great and Tremulant.

The result was a good quality late romantic small church organ typical of its era. It was quite serviceable for normal church use, but was not an obvious instrument for recitals. The Church still had some difficulty in completing its fund-raising and in September 1911, a recital on the organ was given by Miss Edith Scadding of Brooke (a village about 5 miles to the south). William Scadding had a small organ building firm in Newport. He was Organist of St Thomas’s, Newport, and also Organist at Osbourne House to Queen Victoria. Another member was A W Scadding, Organist of St John’s, Newport 1890 – 1912.

Miss Scadding’s program is interesting in its reflection of taste at that time. She played ” a long programme in accomplished style, demonstrating to the full the beautiful tone of the new organ” Her pieces included “He shall feed His flock” from Handel’s Messiah, Salute dAmour (Elgar), Serenade (Widor), Osbourne March (Scadding – her relative), Marche Roumaine (Gounod), Andante 2 (Batiste) and Trumpet March (Jude). Also playing in the recital was Miss Gertrude Good on the violin. Organ and Violin played Andante Religioso (Thome) and Ave Maria (Gounod).

Within 2 weeks of the recital, E U Morey resigned as Organist and was replaced by Miss Scadding, who was married in 1913 and as Mrs Frank Osbourne, continued as Organist until 1947. The debt was finally paid that month with a donation of £5 from Lady Steiner.

Later History of the Organ

Little occurred between 1911 and 1991. The organ was tubular pneumatic. The hand blower was replaced by electricity in 1939. There was one overhaul and one cleaning operation. The 1939 blower was replaced. The only tonal change occurred in the 1960’s when a Fifteenth stop was replaced on the Great replacing the 4 foot flute. This was carried out by Norman and Beard.

By the 1980s the organ was in poor shape. The leather of the primary pneumatics was in a precarious state and it was only a matter of time before notes began to fail at an increasing rate. Probably all the leather was original, but despite its age, it functioned with minimum trouble up until the rebuild. The pipework and the instrument generally were in a particularly dirty state due to debris falling during the replacement of the Church roof in recent years.

The Expansion and Rebuild of the Norman and Beard Organ – Part 1 – 1991

The following extract of an article from the winter edition of ‘The Organ’ magazine is reproduce here with the kind permission of John Matthews DL BA(Law)

Introduction

An imaginative rebuild of a Norman and Beard organ has recently been undertaken at Christ Church Totland Bay, Isle of Wight by the organ builder Michael Farley of Budleigh Salterton, Devonshire. The effect is to preserve in its entirety the original specification whilst adding a considerable number of additional stops and 3rd manual. The rebuild is not finished, but already the organ is in use as a recital instrument. The scheme has been drawn up by the organist of the church, Arthur Starke, and Michael Farley in conjunction with Philip Drew, The Portsmouth Diocesan advisor.

The Organ Rebuild 1991

A new scheme was devised by Arthur Starke in consultation with Michael Farley and Philip Drew. The tonal quality of the original Norman and Beard work were recognised and retained, but with a vast addition of new stops to make the instrument more in tune with the late 20th century. At the suggestion of Philip Drew each of the original Norman and Beard stops are labelled “N” on the stop knobs of the new console. At a cost of £38,000 the work was carried out by Michael Farley, in whose care the organ had been for some time. The necessary funds were raised over a period of two years, much of it through the single-minded efforts of the then Vicar, the Rev Kenneth White, who with his wife, Norah, and many parishioners took a very keen and active interest. Indeed they assisted with many aspects of the rebuild from painting the internal frames to accommodating and feeding the organ building staff.

The Organ Specification after the 1st stage of the rebuild in June 1991 was:

Great – Open Diapason – 8 (N), Clarabel – 8 (N), Dulciana – 8, Principal – 4 (N), Fifteenth – 2, Mixture 19,22,26 (prepared)ΙΙΙ, Trompette (from positive) – 8.

Positive – Trompette – 8, Sub Octave – (8 stops prepared for).

Swell – Open Diapason – 8 (N), Rohr Gedacht – 8 (N), Viola D’Gamba – 8 (N), Celeste 8 (N), Geigen Principal – 4 (N), Fifteenth – 2, Mixture 22,26,29 ΙΙΙ, Horn – 8 (N), Double Trumpet – 16, Trumpet – 8, Clarion – 4, Octave, Sub Octave, Tremulant.

Couplers – Swell to Pedal, Swell to Pedal – 4, Great to Pedal, Positive to Pedal, Swell to Great – 16, Swell to Great, Swell to Great – 4, Swell to Positive, Positive to Great,  Great and Pedal combs. Coupled.

Pedal – Accoustic Bass – 32, Violone – 16 (*), Bourdon – 16 (N), Principal – 8 (*), Bass Flute – 8 (N), Octave Quint – 5¹⁄³(*), Bombarde (ext) – 16 (**), Trompette (Pos) – 8 (**) Double Trumpet (Swell) – 16, Trumpet (Swell)  – 8, Clarion (Swell) – 4.                                 

Stop Markings – (N) – Original Norman and Beard stops, (*) – Stops formerly in Broadclyst Parish Church, Devonshire. (**) – Stops formerly from house organ in Leicestershire. The unmarked items are new pipework by Farley.

Accessories – 8 thumb pistons to Swell Great and Positive and Generals, 8 toe pistons to Pedal, 8 toe pistons duplicating Swell, Thumb piston reversers to all unison couplers and Bombarde, 6 toe pistons reversers to Couplers and Bombarde, Switch for Generals on Swell toe pistons, 64 level capture system, 15 stage General crescendo pedal, Electro-pneumatic action throughout, Compass Manuals CC-C 61 notes, Pedals CCC-F 30 notes, Pitch A=440, Pressures: Swell 3¼, Great 4, Pedal Flutes 4¾ (Except Bourdon and Bass Flutes 3¾) Trompette / Bombarde 6. The console is moveable.

At this stage, the rebuild is not complete. The Great Mixture is still in preparation stage. The Positive manualonly consists of the one Trompette stop at present and 8 more are projected. A final decision has not yet been taken as to specification but the stop list is likely to include: Stopped Diapason – 8, Nason Flute – 4, Nazard – 2²⁄³, Principal – 2, Tierce – 1³⁄5, Stifflote – 1, Cymbal – 33.36, Krummhorn or Clarinet – 8.

The cost of completion is likely to be £15,000. Even in its present incomplete state though, Totland has a fine organ which not only embellishes the music of its worship but is also one of the leading recital instruments on the Isle of Wight. There are about 5 which would regarded of first rate quality. The rebuilt organ was dedicated on the 3rd May 1991 by the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Right Rev Timothy Bavin. The Bishop, a fine amateur organist in his own right, played the first hymn at the service.

 The Expansion and Rebuild of the Norman and Beard Organ – Part 2 – 1993

In 1993 the final work on the Organ Positive was completed.

The Final Organ Specification On Completion of the Rebuild in 1993 is:

Great – Open Diapason – 8 (N), Clarabel – 8 (N), Dulciana – 8, Principal – 4 (N), Fifteenth – 2,    Mixture 19,22,26 –  ΙΙΙ, Trompette (from positive) – 8.

Positive – Chimney Flute – 8, Flute (ext) – 4, Nazard – 2²⁄³, Principal – 2, Tierce – 1³⁄5, Larigot – 1¹⁄³, Sifflote – 1, Cymbol 33,36,39 – ΙΙΙ, Clarinet – 8, Trompette – 8, Clarion – 4, Tremulant.

Swell – Open Diapason – 8 (N), Rohr Gedacht – 8 (N), Viola D’Gamba – 8 (N), Celeste 8 (N), Geigen Principal – 4 (N), Fifteenth – 2, Mixture 22,26,29 ΙΙΙ, Horn – 8 (N), Double Trumpet – 16, Trumpet – 8, Clarion – 4, Octave, Sub Octave, Tremulant.

Couplers – Swell to Pedal, Swell to Pedal – 4, Great to Pedal, Positive to Pedal, Swell to Great – 16, Swell to Great, Swell to Great – 4, Swell to Positive, Positive to Great,  Great and Pedal combs. Coupled, Swell Octave, Swell Sub Octave, Positive to Great – 4, Positive Octave, Positive Sub Octave, Positive Flues on Great.

Pedal – Accoustic Bass – 32, Violone – 16 (*), Bourdon – 16 (N), Principal – 8 (*), Bass Flute – 8 (N), Octave Quint – 5¹⁄³(*), Bombarde (ext) – 16 (**), Trompette (Pos) – 8 (**) Double Trumpet (Swell) – 16, Trumpet (Swell)  – 8, Clarion (Swell) – 4.                                 

Stop Markings – (N) – Original Norman and Beard stops, (*) – Stops formerly in Broadclyst Parish Church, Devonshire. (**) – Stops formerly from house organ in Leicestershire. The unmarked items are new pipework by Farley.

Accessories – 8 thumb pistons to Swell Great and Positive and Generals, 8 toe pistons to Pedal, 8 toe pistons duplicating Swell, Thumb piston reversers to all unison couplers and Bombarde, 6 toe pistons reversers to Couplers and Bombarde, Switch for Generals on Swell toe pistons, 64 level capture system, 15 stage General crescendo pedal, Electro-pneumatic action throughout, Compass Manuals CC-C 61 notes, Pedals CCC-F 30 notes, Pitch A=440, Pressures: Swell 3¼″, Great 4″, Pedal Flutes 4¾″ (Except Bourdon and Bass Flutes 3¾″) Trompette / Bombarde 6. The console is moveable.

 

                                                

 

On-going Organ Recitals At Christ Church Following  The Organ Rebuild

Arthur Starke first began running Organ Recitals in the West Wight from 1959, first at All Saints’, Freshwater and then later at Christ Church. After the rebuild and now with such a fine specification and reputation as a recital organ, Christ Church was able to attract some of the countries finest artists. Following on from the opening recitals by Prof Ian Tracey, Organist Titulaire of Liverpool Cathedral in 1991 and Jeremy Spurgeon, Organist and Director of Music at All Saints Cathedral, Edmonton Canada in 1992, annual recitals have continued to be a strong feature in the musical calendar for Christ Church. Joan Gregson, Organist at Christ Church, carried on this tradition for about 15 years, welcoming many of this country’s finest organist to play at Christ Church on nearly 50 occasions. The year 2000 saw the 50th anniversary of recitals in the West Wight and in 2011 Christ Church celebrated the Centenary of the installation of the original Norman and Beard Organ in 1911. Over this period such notables as Prof Ian Tracey, Jeremy Spurgeon, Roy Massey, Gordon Stewart, Peter King, Paul Hale, Stephen Disley, Nigel Ogden, Roger Sayer, Sarah Baldock and Carlo Curley (for whom the seating had to be extended to 300) have all been able to demonstrate the qualities and capabilities of this remarkable instrument.

Organists At Christ Church 1880 – 2017

The names of Organists at Christ Church, Totland Bay taken from the monthly church magazines are given below.

The list was originally compiled by Mr W R Blackmore with additional information from Arthur Starke and has now been updated.

Arthur Starke modestly described himself as Acting Organist, but as he held that post for many years, everyone else had no hesitation in regarding him as the Organist. However, much of the information is incomplete.

1880 – 1911                                              E U Morey

1911 – 1947                                             Mrs Edith M V Osbourne (nee Scadding)

1947 – Jan 1965                                      Cyril Arthur Fleming

Feb 1965 to Sept 1971                          Arthur Starke (with assistants Mrs Uzzelli, Mrs Shaw, and B Bourne)

Sept  1971 to May 1974                         B Bourne

May 1973 to Dec 1976                          Arthur Starke

Jan 1977 to Oct 1977                             B Bourne

Nov 1977 to Dec 1978                           L Evans

Jan 1979 to 1996                                    Arthur Starke (Assisted by Richard Anderson 1979 to 1983 and Mrs Joan Gregson 1987 to 1996)

1997 to 15th April 2012                        Mrs Joan Gregson (Assisted by Dr Neil Walker 2005 to 2012)

2012 to date                                           Dr Neil Walker

Official Diocesan Organ Quality Rating – Norman and Beard Pipe Organ – Christ Church, Totland.

The Diocesan Organ Advisor, Mr Philip Drew writes:

“I can confirm that the rating for the Christ Church, Norman and Beard Pipe Organ given in the Diocesan listing is ‘Commended‘. This means that the organ’s musical qualities (and that it contains important historical material) are recognised but since it has been significantly changed and expanded it does not have a graded listing as an historic instrument. This may seem unfair, given that your instrument is one of the finest and complete instruments in the diocese, but the listing was carried out in reaction to a prompting from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport which suggested that all dioceses should have a list of organs that were of historic importance and largely unaltered. Having produced a list of historic instruments Graded in like manner to buildings (Grades I, I* and II), I went further and added the ‘Commended’ category so that instruments that did not satisfy the critera for historic importance, but were important musically, would be recognised.”