organ186 - Birmingham Organists' Association

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organ 186

December 2017

4 manuals
55 speaking stops

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Eton College

Chapel of St Mary


Hill, 1885, 1902

HN&B, 1939, 1955, 1960

Mander, 1987


Eton College

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This is the second of two organs featured here that were heard at Eton College during the IAO's 2017 Music Festival (see Organ of the Month 185 for the famous Dutch Organ), played by the college's Organist, David Goode.

The original plans for the chapel by the founder of the college, King Henry VI, were never completed due to the king being deposed.  It is built in the late Gothic or Perpendicular style, although the fan vaulting was only installed in the 1950s after the original wooden roof (there was no money for a vault to be installed in the 15th century) became infested with deathwatch beetle.
The organ was built by Hill in 1885 using some pipework from an earlier, smaller organ  of 1851 by Gray & Davison.  Various changes were made by Hill during the 20th century, initially to increase its smoothness and power and later to add brightness and clarity.  The latest restoration by Mander in 1987 of this essentially Romantic instrument centred around reversing the changes made since the 1902 rebuild by Hill.

Pupil organists play for most of the chapel's services each day. Outstanding among recent Eton organists is Richard Gowers, who gained the FRCO diploma aged 17 while still at the College and went on to become Organ Scholar of King's College, Cambridge.

You can listen to Richard Gowers (aged 16) playing this organ as December 17's Music of the Month.

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