AFTER 145 years of continuous use, the organ at St Mary’s parish church in Titchmarsh is to undergo a complete restoration, thanks to an £86,900 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The organ, made and installed in 1870 by the renowned Victorian organ builder Thomas Christopher Lewis is a fine early example of a Romantic organ. Independent organ expert and the project’s advisor, William McVicker said “The Titchmarsh Lewis is quite superb; a stunning example of his work, and unusually, in almost original condition. To find such a gem in a parish church in a rural Northamptonshire village is remarkable, although its condition is now understandably fragile”.
Work is scheduled to start mid 2016, and will be carried out by Durham based organ builders Harrison & Harrison. The re-installation is expected to be completed by the end of 2016. The restoration will be the focus of an innovative children’s education programme and will provide a rare opportunity for local schools and the community to learn about the complex workings of a top quality Victorian church organ. An outreach programme will also encourage individuals and local village groups to become involved during and after the restoration.
When reinstated the organ will not only serve the parish of Titchmarsh for at least another 100 years, but it has also been earmarked to become a venue for first class organ recitals and an important teaching aid for international students of the organ through the Oundle for Organists programme.
Vanessa Harbar, Head of HLF East Midlands, said: “For nearly 150 years, this organ has provided a fitting accompaniment to some of Titchmarsh’s most joyous and reflective moments. What really excited us about this project was the chance to ensure, thanks to National Lottery players’ money, that many more people will be able to hear this rare instrument played for another 100 years.”