Henry Willis, 1891
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Having spent the morning of the first full day of the 2017 IAO Festival in Merton College (see Organ of the Month 143), the afternoon involved a short coach journey to Blenheim Palace in nearby Woodstock, home to the Dukes of Marlborough and birth place of Sir Winston Churchill.
While touring the palace, we were able to hear this famous 'Father' Willis housed in the Long Library played by one of the masterclass students from our morning session in Merton College, William Fox.
This is the largest organ in a "private" house in Europe, comprising 2300 pipes, including a Tuba on 15in wind. The instrument is now in need of restoration, with several stops no long working. The cost is estimated at over £400,000 and twice-weekly recitals are taking place to raise money through donations.
It was commissioned by the 8th Duke, Winston Churchill's uncle. The inscription above the console reads: "We leave thy voice to speak within these walls in years to come when ours are still."