Bells & Organ

The Bells

Now a ring of 6, the oldest bell today is the 4th (10cwt 0qr 14lb) by Henry Jefferies, who was a mid-16th century Bristol founder. In 1544 the Church received a bequest from William Webb ‘To mayntance and reparacyon of the bellys 12d.’ This presumably means there were at least two pre-reformation bells. Two bells are dated 1626, the 3rd (6cwt 3qr 3lb) and the 5th (12cwt), and the tenor is dated 1628 (14cwt 1qr 6lb). John Pennington, an itinerant founder, known to have cast the 11th at Gloucester Cathedral in 1626, cast them.

The bells were rehung about 1850, by Isaac Gose of Newent who left space for a treble to make up a ring of six.

In 1901 an appeal for the sixth bell announced that the tenor was:  ‘A really grand bell for her weight, undoubtedly a recast of an older bell (without any additional metal to make up for waste) as she is two or three cwt lighter than she ought to be in proportion to the other bells, but notwithstanding this she is one of the very best bells in the country, and the whole of the ring if made up to eight bells would be equal, if not superior, to the grand ring at the Cathedral, the musical note being the same (E flat)’.

The appeal continued: ‘Last and least comes the treble, quite a youngster among her big sisters, but she is equal to them in tone, which is not to be wondered at as the A.R. on her denotes that she came from the celebrated foundry of Rudhalls at Gloucester. She is very lonely with an empty cradle by her side. When may we expect to see a little stranger to swing in it? ’ It was not until 1926 that the ring was augmented to six by the addition of a treble, (5cwt.1qr.4lb) cast by Gillett and Johnston of Croydon, who at the same time recast the original 2nd bell by Abraham Rudhall I in 1715.

The ring now is:

1 C 5cwt.1qr.4lb 1926
2 Bb 7cwt.1qr.6lb 1715
3 Ab 6cwt.3qr.3lb 1626
4 G 10cwt.0qr.14lb mid 16th century
5 F 12cwt.0qr.0lb 1715
6 Eb 14cwt.1qr.6lb 1626

The Organ

church 15The organ is believed to date from the first half of the 19th century, but there are no records of its history before it arrived at Hartpury in 1899, gifted to the church by Mrs Gordon Canning of Hartpury House. Opinions differ as to whether it was originally one or two manual, but if one, then it must have been substantially rebuilt and the soundboard replaced before it came to Hartpury, (pictured here before the late 2004 restoration) when the specification was recorded as:


GREAT ORGAN

Diapason (wood) 8ft
Stopped diapason 8ft
Dulciana 8ft
Principal 4ft
Wald flöte 4ft

SWELL ORGAN

Violin diapason 8ft
Lieblich gedact 8ft
Principal 4ft
Oboe 8ft

PEDAL ORGAN

Bourdon 16ft

COUPLERS

Swell to great
Swell to super-octave
Great to pedal

During the early years of the 20th century the organ was maintained by Sweetland of Bath, so it may have been supplied by them, although no records of this exist. Hartpury then had a large choir and in 1906 the organist’s annual salary was raised from £10 to £20. Such lavish expenditure was made possible by a generous yearly contribution from Mrs Gordon Canning. She was daughter and joint heiress of Welsh ironmaster Crawshay Bailey, who in 1879 had rebuilt the Parish Church of Llanthewy-Skirrid. The family was clearly in the habit of supporting the church and its music.

By 1911, parish records reveal dissatisfaction with the organ. It was not replaced however, as intended, but rebuilt by Price of Cheltenham and moved in 1926 from the chancel to its present location at the west end of the nave. It was at this time that various alterations were made to ‘romanticise’ the instrument. The 4ft.principal was removed from the Swell and replaced with the 8ft.salicional, and pneumatic action to the Great open diapason was fitted. The placing of these zinc pipes on the side of the organ detracted from the original case and also concealed the wooden pipes bearing attractive stencilling, that may previously have formed a facade. Nonetheless the case was thought worthy of discussion by Rev. Andrew Freeman in an article in the October 1938 issue of ‘The Organ’. He records the specification after the 1926 enlargement as:


GREAT ORGAN CC to F (54)

Open diapason 8 54
Dulciana (tenor C) 8 42
Lieblich gedact (tenor C) 8 42
Stopped Bass 8 12
Principal 4 54
Wald flöte (tenor C) 4 42

SWELL ORGAN: CC to F (54)

Violin diapason (tenor C, grooved) 8 42
Stopped diapason 8 54
Salicional (tenor C) 8 42
Oboe (tenor C) 8 42

PEDAL ORGAN: CCC to F (30)

Bourdon 16 30*

COUPLERS

Swell octave
Swell to great
Great to pedal


2 composition pedals
Concave and radiating pedalboard

*actually 29 until extended in 2004

In 1958, Osmond & Co. of Taunton overhauled the instrument, and took advantage of the recent installation of an electricity supply to the church by fitting an electric blower to provide wind to the bellows. Unfortunately this necessitated cutting into the lower panelling of the organ case. Osmonds continued to maintain the organ and again overhauled it in 1985 including carefully re-palleting the soundboard.

In 1999 John Bleney of Worcester overhauled the instrument, paying particular attention to the Great pipework and rackboards, but it was becoming clear that major work was necessary if the organ was to continue to serve the village into the new century. After extensive consultation the decision was reached to commission a complete rebuild, giving thought to reversing a number of the 1926 alterations. At the same time, the fine early Victorian neo-Gothic organ case would receive the benefit of long overdue attention. Many of these fine cases have been discarded over the years and it is rewarding to see one returned to its original glory. Further research may even disclose the original builder, because identical stencilled designs were to be found on pipes of a former organ at St Peter, Upper Gornal, Dudley.

2004 restoration

church 16Trevor Tipple of Worcester undertook the work. church 16 MED In 2004 his firm completely dismantled, repaired, cleaned and rebuilt the instrument. At the same time the opportunity was taken to undertake certain modifications intended to give the organ the brighter sound that would have been apparent prior to the 1926 work.The specification after the 2004 rebuild:


GREAT ORGAN CC to F (54)

Open diapason 8 54
Lieblich gedact (tenor C) 8 42
Stopped Bass 8 12
Principal 4 54
Twelfth 2⅔ 54
Fifteenth 2 54

SWELL ORGAN: CC to F (54)

Violin diapason (tenor C, grooved) 8 42
Stopped diapason 8 54
Principal 4 54
Oboe (tenor C) 8 42

PEDAL ORGAN: CCC to F (30)

Bourdon 16 30

COUPLERS

Swell octave
Swell to great
Great to pedal

RestorationHuning Decorations of Bath uncovered and restored the true beauty of the case, assisted by local cabinetmaker Roy Rhodes of Ashleworth. The damaged elements on the front panel and pinnacles of the organ case were repaired or replaced using casts taken from surviving elements and the entire casing regrained in the style of the original. church 18The decorative front pipes were regilded church 18 SM using 23½ carat gold. Designs in red and black were found on the pipes, underneath bronze overpainting, and these designs were recreated on the newly gilded pipes.

A new side panel was constructed replacing the panel that had been cut to take the blower. At the same time a pillar was added to the right, which provides a better fixing for the horizontal bar supporting the zinc pipes of the Great Open diapason. The appearance of these pipes had been unsatisfactory and the mounting insecure from the time they were added. The pillar now provides a better balance as well as increased stability. A colour was selected for the large pipes to minimise their impact, which had detracted from the splendour of the front face. A design found on the pipes that had previously formed this facade was gilded onto their mouths, with an additional small motif added to the tops.