organ145 - Birmingham Organists' Association

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organ 145

July 2014

2 manuals
13 speaking stops

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St Giles


Hill, Norman & Beard, 1955

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The village of Whittington contains the 18th century church of St Giles, which also gives its name to an adjacent, well-known, hospice.  The church is the final resting place of Thomas Spencer, co-founder of Marks & Spencer plc, buried here in 1905.

Its first organ is believed to have been a single-manual tracker-action instrument of five stops by The Positive Organ Company of London which, using a patent of Thomas Casson (1842-1910), built many such small instruments in the early years of the 20th century. They were noted for ingenious devices such as the "Melodic Bass", which duplicated the lowest note played by the hands on a 16ft Bourdon, simulating the effect of a Pedal Organ.

The present organ, which uses pipework from the Casson Positive, was built in 1955 by HN&B to a design by Ambrose P Porter, then Organist of nearby Lichfield Cathedral.  Presumably to minimise costs, it makes considerable use of borrowing and extension.  The pipes were moved to a West gallery and an electric-action console supplied at ground-floor level where the original organ stood.

Last year the organ was rewired and provided with a digital capture system.  The villagers of Whittington (population only about 3500) raised £26,000 to fund this and the addition of a Fifteenth 2ft to the Great division.

You can listen to a recently restored Casson Positive organ as July 14's Music of the Month

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