August Gern, c1880
Geoff Jones, 2004
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St Jude's Walsall is part of the Free Church of England. This is an episcopal church founded in 1844 when a number of (mainly Low Church) clergy and congregations separated from the established Church of England in response to the practices being introduced as a result of the Oxford Movement. There are currently just twenty such churches in the country organised into two dioceses.
The other special interest here is the organ: a delightful instrument by August Gern which, appropriately enough, BOA members visited last August.
Gern (1837-1907) trained in Berlin and became foreman to Cavaillé-Coll from 1860 to 1866, after which he settled in London. Although he built over a hundred organs, few have survived in this country in such original condition as this example.
Although modest in size, possibly having been installed as a house organ in the 19th century before arriving at St Jude's in 1900, the church's generous acoustic and the organ's unenclosed location contribute to its production of beautiful and satisfying sounds. A real gem hidden in the residential streets of Victorian Walsall!