ORGAN OF THE MONTH 50: August 2006

Private Chapel of St James, Great Packington
(Thomas Parker 1749, Snetzler 1759?, Mander 1968)

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This month sees yet another anniversary for our "Organ of the Month" series (organ number fifty) and, with the kind permission of Lord Guernsey, we are able to feature the historic instrument in his private chapel.

Part of this instrument (the Great Organ) remains exactly as specified by Handel himself in 1749: even the stop-labels are original.  It achieved world-wide recognition when CBS of America chose it, after a Europe-wide search, to record the sixteen Organ Concerti of Handel to celebrate the bicentary of the composer's death in 1959.  The recording features E Power Biggs with the LPO conducted by Sir Adrian Boult.  More recordings and BBC broadcasts have followed.

The Great Organ was specified by Handel "without reedstops... because they are continually wanting to be tuned... " but a Chaire division (as was the contemporary practice, there is no Swell Organ) was added soon after by Snetzler.  It was hand-blown until the CBS recording, when two miles of electricity cables were required to power an electric blower, as the hand-blowing mechanism was too noisy.  In 1968, Noel Mander performed a restoration which included the permanent installation of the CBS electric blower.  There is no Pedal Division.

The original correspondence from Handel (together with many more details) may be seen via the following link to a .pdf file (Adobe Acrobat Reader software required): moldenhauer/2428129.pdf

Lord Guernsey asks us to point out that, as the chapel is normally locked and not open to members of the public, anyone wishing to see the organ must first make an appointment by contacting Packington Hall.

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Last modified: July 31, 2006