Organists will play every hymn in the book to raise funds for church appeal

Fiona Law
Fiona Law

Resident organist at All Saints’ Parish Church in Misterton, Fiona Law, will lead a group of keen players for a ‘Hymnathon’ - working their way through the church’s hymn book, playing at least one verse of all 766 hymns on the church’s 1875 organ in aid of the church’s organ fund.

Organists will be at the keyboard on Saturday April 29 and Sunday April 30 from 10.00am to 4.00pm, and on Monday 1 May between the hours of 10.00am and 2.00pm.

Fiona is looking for sponsors – and, for a £5 donation, will play a ‘request’: perhaps a hymn played at a wedding or other special event.

Visitors are invited to drop in and hear Fiona and guest organists play.

And anyone able to play the organ (not necessarily with the ‘fancy footwork’ and sight read is invited to sign up for the schedule of organists. Call Fiona on (01427) 890632 to book a slot.

All funds will go towards the Church’s organ appeal. The unique pipe organ has been played at weddings, funerals, and services, for over 140 years. It is almost entirely in its original condition. A pedal mechanism broke last year and was repaired at a cost of £2500. While carrying out repairs, a further £3800-worth of urgent work to the sub bass (the deep, low-register that gives the organ its distinct quality) was identified.

Both these unplanned repairs have been paid from the Church’s Organ Fund – a pot of money that local parishioners have paid into for 15 years.

But now the Organ Fund is now exhausted and yet more work is needed to overhaul the rest of this magnificent instrument, costing an estimated £14,000.

Pictured at the organ’s keyboard is All Saints’ resident organist, Fiona Law.

Anyone able to help with the appeal should contact Hazel Duffner, the Church’s Treasurer, in confidence on (01427) 890877.

The organ has an interesting pedigree: it was built by Brindley & Foster in Sheffield. The business was set up by Charles Brindley in 1854, joined by Albert Healey Foster in 1871. They began to manufacture complex organs, concentrating on the production of orchestral effects. The business was bought by Willis in 1939, one of the oldest organ-building companies in the world today. Willis organs are in Salisbury and Truro cathedrals, masonic and concert halls, and numerous parish churches. There are over 2500 Willis organs in use up to the present day, from Norway to Nigeria to New Zealand.

It is believed that Misterton’s organ was modernised with an electric motor in the 1960s. But the original hand pump remains in place.

The organ was a gift to the village from the Misses & Mr Wells in 1875. The Wells were local benefactors, who, in the same year, instituted the Wells Charity, with local funds in Misterton and West Stockwith. In Misterton the Wells Charity was set up to provide educational grants (for “eleemosynary purposes”) and “exhibitions” (to fund higher education). The Wells Charity is still active today (and applications for small sums can be made to the Vicar, Rev David Henson).