Historic Pipe Organ on the move again?

As part of our vision to make St. Vigor’s a church at the heart of our community, The Diocese of Bath & Wells have granted permission for the pipe organ to find a new home.

St. Vigor’s Pipe Organ – 01 Front View
St. Vigor’s Pipes 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

This will free up the Knatchbull Chapel and in due course we hope to turn it into a space for use by the community.

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. The organ had originally been built by Henry Dicker in about 1858 for Exeter Cathedral. In 1880 it 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 has 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 has not been played apart from the odd funeral and special occasion. However, a report in September 2019 indicates that the organ is in a reasonably good state of repair and relocation now 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 will deteriorate without regular maintenance, and it is not seen as prudent to pay for that maintenance if the organ is not to be played. Therefore, in-line with our vision and by agreement of The Diocese of Bath & Wells, it’s time once again for this splendid organ to find a home befitting of its quality.

If you are interested, please contact The Editor for further details.


14 July 2021