organ163 - Birmingham Organists' Association

Go to content



organ 163

January 2016

3 manuals
44 speaking stops

Click here for full spec




James Davis, 1793

Hill, Norman & Beard,

1954 & 1974


Wymondham Abbey

Pass your mouse over a photo
for a brief description

Click on the photo to obtain
a full-size image

Click here for
Organ of the Month archive
(contains over 160 organs)

Wymondham Priory was established in 1107 as a community of Benedictine monks.  The intention of its founder, William d'Aubigny, was that the church should be used not only by the monks but also by the townspeople as their parish church.  It was perhaps inevitable that this provoked conflict, eventually requiring intervention by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1411. By 1448 the monastic house became an abbey, but only 90 years later the monastery - along with all the other religious houses in England - was dissolved by King Henry VIII.

Worship continued in the western part of the church after the demolition of its eastern half and monastic buildings.  There is little evidence of church music during this period until a new organ was donated and set up on the gallery during 1792.  Its three manual divisions contained 21 stops and over 1800 pipes. The compass was from GG and there was no pedal division.

Contemporary accounts suggest that the Davis organ was considered to have been built "in the completest manner possible",  and apart from the additon of a pedal division its specification remained essentially the same during the 19th century.  From 1880, the organ was in the care of Norman & Beard, and it was that firm which dismantled it in 1902 to allow major restoration of the abbey's fabric.  In spite of plans for its replacement, the old organ was eventually re-installed in 1905 following a petition from parishoners.

A sympathetic restoration and expanding of the Swell and Pedal divisions took place in 1954 by HN&B.  A more fundamental rebuild took place in 1974 involving the redesign of mixture work and the adding of mutations, but some 16 ranks of the original Davis organ were retained and remain to this day.  The instrument was awarded an Historic Organ Certificate in 1999.

You can listen to the choir & organ of Wymondham Abbey as January 16's Music of the Month.

Back to content