St Vigor's & St John's

St. Vigor’s Historic Pipe Organ

As part of our vision to make St. Vigor’s a church at the heart of our community, prior to the ultimate decision to close, the historic pipe organ originally located in The Knatchbull Chapel has been relocated to the Church of St. Paio in the parish of Requiexo, Aveiro, Portugal. Do visit their Facebook page!

View the gallery about the organ’s journey here or watch two videos of some of the final pieces of music to be played on the organ at St. Vigor’s and two pieces played during and after reassembly in Portugal here.


The organ was installed in St. Vigor’s in May 1995 and dedicated by Bishop Richard Lewis of Taunton at a special service of thanksgiving in December of that year. Bishop Richard noted how St. Vigor’s seemed then to be a magnet for notable pipe organs, the church having previously been the home of the historic George IV organ originally built for The Prince of Wales New Pavilion at Brighton. Unfortunately, that organ was damaged by rainwater leaking through the roof in 1969 and the cost of repairs were far beyond the congregation’s means. It was therefore sold and shipped to America. Following repairs to the roof and other lengthy renovations during which time small portable electronic organs were used, The PCC set about finding a replacement pipe organ.

The one chosen, came as a gift from Mr & Mrs Percy and friends, following closure of their Methodist Church at Folly Gate, a village near Oakhampton in Devon. It was thought that the organ had originally been built by Henry Dicker in about 1858 for Exeter Cathedral but documented details of its exact origins are yet to be proven. In 1880 it is purported to have made its first move to the Wesleyan Church at New Road, Oakhampton. From there it made its way to Fairplace Wesleyan Chapel in 1903, where is underwent a major overhaul in 1950. Then in 1963 it travelled on again to Folly Gate, where it stayed until 1995. The organ has pipes of decorative spotted metal, denoting an organ of quality.

Sadly, but in common with many such fine organs, the organ had not been played regularly since 2006 when the last ‘full-time’ organist retired. It was then played on an increasingly less regular basis until 2013, since when it had not been played apart from the odd funeral and special occasion. However, a report in September 2019 indicated that the organ was in a reasonably good state of repair and relocation would only entail servicing it in its new home as part of the reassembly. The PCC felt that should the organ remain in place, not played, it would have deteriorated without regular maintenance, and it was not seen as prudent to pay for that maintenance if the organ was not to be played. Therefore, in-line with our vision and by agreement of The Diocese of Bath & Wells, it was time once again for this splendid organ to find a home befitting of its quality.

In September 2021, the organ was listed with the Institute of British Organ Building and in October, we were contacted by Bartelemy Janus, who preserves such organs as working instruments by relocating them. Working with William Smyth over a period of 4 days, the organ was dismantled and packed into the tranport van for its long journey south, driving some 1,400 miles through France and Spain, to its new home in the Church of St. Paio in the parish of Requiexo, Aveiro. It arrived safely on Wednesday 27th October and was lovingly reassembled in the organ loft of the church. The organ was dedicated at a special service on the 19th of December 2021 and so lives on. Not only that, it is very well loved and the parish are extremely happy with it. William often gets nice messages from the parishioners, and visiting organists too that go there!

Review – September 2022.

Life really has the most interesting things, I remember when I was a child telling my parents “I would love to play on those large organs like in the sanctuary of Fatima, but in my parish”. I told Fr Hélder (PP of Requiexo) 2 years ago how much it would fulfill my dream, and be a huge honour to have a pipe organ in the parish of Requiexo, I wanted a great instrument so as to play all the organ music I learnt from my Teacher Deacon Fernando Reis at every liturgical Celebration. And here we are!!! After all these years I have fulfilled a childhood dream, a dream that seems impossible to many, but to me was never in vain. This was not possible without the dedication and work of organ builder William Smyth, thank you for all of you help! 

Organist Carlos Pires


St. Vigor's Pipe Organ - 01 Front View
St. Vigor's Pipe Organ - 02 Spotted Metal Pipes
St. Vigor's Pipe Organ - 03 Spotted Metal Pipes (Close Up)
St. Vigor's Pipe Organ - 04 Keyboard
St. Vigor's Pipe Organ - 05 Stops Left
St. Vigor's Pipe Organ - 06 Stops Right
St. Vigor's Pipe Organ - 07 Foot Pedals
St. Vigor's Pipe Organ - 08 Looking Up
St. Vigor's Pipe Organ - 09 Manual Pump
St. Vigor's Pipe Organ - 10 Blower Box
St. Vigor's Pipe Organ - 11 A final view in place (20th October 2021)
St. Vigor's Pipe Organ - 12 The first panels removed
St. Vigor's Pipe Organ - 13 The first wooden pipes removed
St. Vigor's Pipe Organ - 14 A view from the back with many pipes removed
St. Vigor's Pipe Organ - 15 A range of just a very few of the lead pipes removed
St. Vigor's Pipe Organ - 16 The smallest pipe
St. Vigor's Pipe Organ - 17 All pipes removed
St. Vigor's Pipe Organ - 18 The final pieces come down
St. Vigor's Pipe Organ - 19 The top cassing removed
St. Vigor's Pipe Organ - 20 The blower box assembly - the final piece
St. Vigor's Pipe Organ - 21 All done and tidied up! (Sunday 24th October 2021)
Igreja de São Paio - 22 The church in Portugal
Igreja de São Paio - 23 The church in Portugal
Igreja de São Paio - 24 Unloading
Igreja de São Paio - 25 First components in place
Igreja de São Paio - 26 Progressing with the build
Igreja de São Paio - 27 Lower assembly
Igreja de São Paio - 28 Lower assembly with some pipes in place
Igreja de São Paio - 29 Upper frame
Igreja de São Paio - 30 The Swell Box in place
Igreja de São Paio - 31 Keyboard
Igreja de São Paio - 32 Some of the stops
Igreja de São Paio - 33 A view of the organ loft
Igreja de São Paio - 34 Rebuild Complete
Igreja de São Paio - 35 The Dedication
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Music Videos


Vocals by Filomena Mendes


Easter 2024

Sunday's Services in the hall
21st January

Unfortunately, the heating at St. John’s Church, Chilcompton, has broken down and the 9:00am and 10:30am services will be held in the Church Hall. Further, this means we will be unable to deliver the 10:30am service via Zoom. You may like to join with the Church of England’s Online Service.

We apologise for any inconvenience.

Thursday 2nd November

Planning to visit St. John’s Church, Chilcompton? Please note that the building will be closed to visitors on Thursday 2nd November to enable further work to the refurbishment of the chancel floor to be carried out safely. Thursday’s Holy Communion will be held the Church Hall. The church will be open again to visitors from Friday 3rd November.

We apologise for any inconvenience.