Home > Inside the Priory > The Priory Organ

History of the Organ

National Pipe Organ Register N09762

Early History

The 1613 Churchwardens’ Accounts tell us that an 'organ player of Ludlow' was paid for 'his paines to come to see the organes'. It seems that an organist's yearly wage in 1638 was £10. All we know of the organ is that it was destroyed in the Priory fire of 1699.

A replacement was purchased in 1737, which was repaired and improved in 1797 by Messrs Avery of London at a cost of £95. The instrument, originally in front of the west window, was now moved toa gallery in front of the east window. A Mr Peene, the organist in 1805, applied to the Corporation to have his salary increased 'on account of the high price of provisions and for other reasons' and he was given a generous extra £5 on a salary now approaching £25 a year.

In the mid-1800s, when the church was re-ordered by Sir Gilbert Scott, the organ spent 13 years banished to the east bay of the north aisle of the Norman nave. Only when this work was finished did it return to its position in front of the east window. During all this time the 1737 case had been retained, with its console beneath the shining array of ‘mock’ pipes.

The Evolution of the Present Organ

Built in 1924 by Nicholson & Co (Worcester) Ltd, to a specification by Dr J C Bridge, organist of Chester Cathedral, this organ was again housed in the 1737 case. It was now placed in the south aisle, set to face into what is now St Paul’s Chapel. Added to this was a new matching face to the west, and oak paneling to the rear. The only parts of the older instrument retained at this time were pipes of the 32' pedal stop.

In 1947 the organ was overhauled, some additions made, and the old console was replaced by a new remote console in its present position beneath the second arch of the Norman south arcade. The Swell and Choir balanced pedals were mechanically connected to their shutters via a 50 foot trench under the then chancel. The instrument was reopened in 1950 with a recital by Dr J Dykes Bower of St Paul's Cathedral, London.

In the last few years major refurbishment has taken place.


Photographs reproduced by permission of The Dutton Studio, Etnam Street, Leominster