organ176 - Birmingham Organists' Association

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organ 176

February 2017

4 manuals
142 speaking stops

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Downside Abbey


John Compton, 1931
Roger Taylor, 2009


Downside Abbey

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The current organ includes some ranks retained from a previous (1905) instrument by Garrad.  Its extraordinarily large number of speaking stops (142) is derived from just 35 ranks of pipes (details) widely duplexed and extended, from which information you might have guessed the builder to be Compton.

The whole of this unconventional instrument is enclosed in three stone & concrete chambers, two of which (containing all but the Tuba) having swell shutters facing upwards, so the organ speaks upwards into the transept vaults.  The casework (by Giles Gilbert Scott) has no pipefronts.

The console (see above), with typically Compton double-touch luminous stop buttons, faces west from the crossing down the north side of the nave.

Wind pressures are high, as is to be expected with such a design, from 6 to 20 inches.  Mutation & mixture stops are derived from the softer foundation ranks, eg the Choir Petite Cymbale ( is derived from the no.3 Diapason, Salicional and Gemshorn ranks.  The Bombarde, with apparent luxuries such as a 12-rank Grand Cornet, is a floating division also available at second-touch on the Great.

You can listen to a recording of trumpet & organ from Downside Abbey as February 17's Music of the Month.

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