The Father Willis Organ

    Latest news: Work on re-leathering the 5 large reservoirs and bellows has been completed. We are still fund-raising to keep the organ in top condition. Remaining work includes re-positioning the pedal ophicleide stop, renewing the pneumatic stop-action, refurbishing the console, cleaning the great and swell organs and replacing the humidifier plant. Any donations you can make will be gratefully received.

    We have recently received a generous donation to the Arthur Mathews organ fund for new cameras on the console and pedal board to enhance the visibility of the organist at our recitals.

St Mary’s is honoured to have a large and quite superb ‘Father’ Willis pipe organ of three manuals and pedals, built in 1889 by “Father” Henry Willis – one of the greatest of English organ-builders in the Nineteenth Century – to a specification [see below] and quality closely similar to the renowned organ ofTruro Cathedral (built two years earlier by the same distinguished Company). It was taken from the church of St Augustine, Highbury, London and installed here in 1975 after the fire of 1973, in which our original ‘Father’ Willis instrument was destroyed. The instrument is comparatively little-known, despite its prestigious origins.

Hear Vierne’s Carillon De Westminster being played by Simon Gregory on the Father Willis (from a CD by Emanuel School, used with permission; CDs are available to buy in church):

Concerts and recitals are a feature of Parish life; a regular series being arranged throughout the year.

The Organ Fund

There is an ongoing appeal to raise money for the organ fund.

Much of this money has been spend on major repairs. We have renewed the diode switching system (£6.000) with a life expectancy of 60 years. We have repaired the swell keyboard which was failing (£15.000), with life expectancy 80 years. We have replaced the presets, increasing from 9 to 500, which makes the organ much more flexible for complex recitals and services (£3.000). We have also replaced the valve leathers (£3.000) and performed various minor repairs (£5.000).

Further major work is urgently needed, with the risk of the bellows failing if repairs are not made. So we continue to fundraise! All contributions to the fund are gratefully received. Please get in touch to find out more.

Specification of the ‘Father’ Willis organ at St Mary’s

Great Organ Swell Organ (enclosed) Pedal Organ
Double Open Diapason 16 Lieblich Bourdon 16 Open Diapason 16
Open Diapason 1 8 Open Diapason 8 Violone 16
Open Diapason 11 8 Lieblich Gedact 8 Bourdon 16
Claribel Flute 8 Salicional 8 Octave 8
Principal 4 Vox Angelica 8 Bass Flute 8
Flute harmonique 4 Gemshorn 4 Ophicleide 16
Twelfth 2 2/3 Flageolet 2
Fifteenth 2 Mixture 17.19.22 3rks Choir Organ
Mixture 17.19.22 3rks Contra Hautboy 16 Dulciana 8
Double Trumpet 16 Hautboy 8 Lieblich Gedact 8
Posaune 8 Vox Humana 8 Claribel Flute 8
Clarion 4 Cornopean 8 Gamba 8
Clarion 4 Concert Flute 4
Tremulant Piccolo 2
Corno di Bassetto 8
Orchestral Oboe 8

Couplers: Great Reeds on Choir – Great & Pedal Pistons – Swell to Great – Swell Sub-octave – Swell to Choir – Swell to Pedals – Swell Octave – Choir to Great – Choir to Pedals – Great to Pedals – Great Reeds on Pedal – Generals on Toe Pistons
The general and divisional pistons have been upgraded by Solid State Organ Systems in November 2008 from 8 to 512 channels enabling the resident organists and visiting recitalists greater flexibility in preparing registrations.