Our Village Everything About Brompton Regis

The Church Organ at Brompton Regis : Restoration of a Historic Instrument

Mike Farley and his Restoration Team    x

The stained glass window in the south transept, donated by Stuckley Lucas,  was clearly on display when the organ was removed for restoration.

Place your cursor over the photo of the window to see a bigger image.

The photo below shows the south transept without the organ in place

Restoration of our historic church organ

                                                   – completed in June 2014

The History

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. After an overhaul 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.

The Restoration

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, and 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.  Excerpts will be available here soon.

On August 3rd 2014 the organ was re-dedicated at a united benefice service led by the Archdeacon of Taunton, with the participation of the choirs from Dulverton and Brushford, and with a large congregation drawn from those churches and from Skilgate and Upton as well as Brompton Regis itself. The sermon drew on the text of the address given at the original installation in 1897, and the sense of historic connection with our predecessors in the parish was further strengthened as the Dulverton organist, David Knight, played a stirring Mendelssohn voluntary included in that service 117 years ago.

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 (who is currently part-time organist and would like to build a small team of players).

Address : Old Rose Cottage, Brompton Regis, Dulverton, Somerset TA22 9NL

Tel : 01398 371128         Email : whrees@btinternet.com

Pipe Cleaners at Work  x

Acknowledgements to Bill Rees