Gosport church’s Handel Organ to be restored

For the past five years, Holy Trinity Church in Gosport, Hampshire, has been trying to raise the £150,000 ($245,000) necessary to restore their 18th century organ, once caressed by the nimble fingers of George Frederick Handel. They’ve been able to raise £42,000 from their Adopt-a-Pipe program and small individual donations. Last November they applied for a £150,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to jumpstart the process and ensure they have all the funds they need for the projected £200,000 ($327,000) restoration costs.

Now the Heritage Lottery Fund has come through with a grant of £167,000 ($273,000), bringing the kitty up to a £209,000 ($342,000).

“We are so pleased that the HLF has generously supported this project,” said Church Reverend Andy Davis.

“It is further evidence of the quality and heritage significance of this organ, the actions of which are now 110 years old and need urgent work. It is a credit to the church that so much has been raised during five years. An impressive regular concert programme has attracted musicians and listeners to the church from near and far in large numbers.” […]

Local organ builder Andrew Cooper, who has kept the hallowed centrepiece in working order for several years, will be entrusted with the craftwork.

I’m sure he’ll be relieved to have more supplies than duct tape at his disposal. Seriously look at some of these “temporary repairs”:

Cooper will have to repair soft metal pipes that have bulged over time, wooden pipes that have split and been poorly patched, yards of lead tubing that has been leaking for years, dried and cracked leather parts.

Originally built for James Brydges, the 1st Duke of Chandos, in 1720 when George Frederick Handel was his musician in residence. Handel not only played it once it was installed in the Duke’s Cannons estate, but probably consulted with the builders, Abraham Jordan and son, on the organ’s design.

After the Duke died in 1744, his son found the estate so riddled with debt that in 1747 he held a twelve-day demolition sale during which the entire contents of the estate, from furnishing to the very structure of the building, was sold at auction. Holy Trinity Church purchased the organ at that auction for £117 ($191) and hired Abraham Jordan’s son to install it in the west gallery.

Later it would be moved to the east gallery and enlarged. A restoration in 1897 replaced the 18th century workings, leaving only eight of the original Jordan stops from 1720. Raise the volume as high as you can to listen to this not-so-greatly recorded example of the same sounds Handel once produced.


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