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Portsmouth Cathedral Organs

The Tickell Chamber Organ 2007

Our new Chamber Organ (built by Kenneth Tickell) has been commissioned and built in memory of David Ritche and was blessed at Evensong on Sunday 13th May 2007

Stopped Diapason 8'

Flute 4'

Fifteenth 2'

 

The Nicholson Organ(1861, 1994 & 2001)

The new West Great Organ was opened to great acclaim on St Andrew’s Day, 30th November 2001 by the Organiste Titulaire de Notre Dame de Paris, Olivier Latry . It was blessed by the Lord Bishop the following Sunday at the Advent Carol Service.

This was the long awaited completion of a project started in 1994 to furnish the cathedral with a first class instrument. The organ is used on a daily basis within our worship and to accompany our cathedral choirs.

 

 

EAST GREAT

Bourdon
Large Open Diapason
Small Open Diapason
Stopped Diapason
Gamba
Principal
Gemshorn
Stopped Flute
Harmonic Flute
Twelfth
Fifteenth
Tierce
Larigot
Full Mixture 19-22-26
Mixture 26-29
Trumpet
Clarion
Tremulant

Swell to Great
Choir to Great



16
8
8
8
8
4
4
4
4
2 2/3
2
1 3/5
1 1/3
III
II
8
4

SWELL

Bourdon
Open Diapason
Stopped Diapason
Gamba
Celeste
Gemshorn
Stopped Flute
Fifteenth
Sesquialtera 17-19-22
Oboe
Double Trumpet
(added July 1999)
Cornopean
Clarion
Tremulant



16
8
8
8
8
4
4
2
III
8
16

8
4

CHOIR (enclosed)

Stopped Diapason
Clarabella
Dulciana
Viol di Gamba
Voix Celeste
Gamba Octave
Flute
Piccolo
Clarinet

SOLO (unenclosed)

Flute
Ophicleide
Tremulant

Swell to Choir



8
8
8
8
8
4
4
2
8



4
8

PEDAL

Sub Bass
Open Wood
Bourdon
Violone
Principal
Bass Flute
Fifteenth
Flute
Bombarde
Trombone

Swell to Pedal
Great to Pedal
Choir to Pedal



32
16
16
16
8
8
4
4
32
16

WEST GREAT
Added in 2001

Open Diapason
Stopped Diapason
Chimney Flute
Principal
Fifteenth
Mixture 15-19-22-26
Trumpet
Clarion

Cymbelstern

West Great ON/OFF




8
8
4
4
2
IV
8
4
   

96 memory channels for each of general pistons and 16 for divisional pistons, settable separately

ACCESSORIES

8 pistons and cancel to each of Swell, Great and Choir
8 toe pistons to Pedal
8 toe pistons to Swell or General (switchable)
8 General pistons

Reversible thumb pistons to all couplers
Reversible thumb piston to Pedal Sub Bass 32
Great to pedal reversible toe piston

Mechanical key action to manuals and pedals
Electrical key action to:
Pedal Open Wood, Bourdon, Sub Bass, Bombarde, 2 Solo Stops & West Great
Electrical Stop Action
Switchable electrical assistance to Swell manual couplers
Mechanical swell box action

A History Of The Organ at Portsmouth

In 1861 John Nicholson built a sizeable three manual instrument for Manchester Cathedral, notable for its specification and action for, in both these and other respects, he was breaking new ground. The two Great Mixtures (quints only) with separate Tierce and Larigot are unusual for the period (and unique amongst his own work) and the provision of an en chamade Ophicleide was quite a spectacular departure from the common practice. It would also appear that this instrument was his only foray into pneumatics – the original specification listed pneumatic lever as the action, although it was not clear as to which departments of the organ this applied. The installation cost £900.

The previous organ in the cathedral was itself a war veteran of World War II and the story surrounding its survival merits retelling. The cathedral organ had been put in storage in St Michael’s Church for safe keeping during the war, although this ultimately proved to be an insecure location. When the church was hit by a German incendiary bomb, the cathedral instrument was almost entirely destroyed although, ironically, St Michael’s own organ remained largely intact. The church was so badly damaged that it was decided to demolish it, rather than try to rebuild it. The remaining instrument was merged with the remnants of the Cathedral instrument – fortunately they were both built by J W Walker in the 1870s and were thus very similar tonally – to form the small but versatile three manual instrument which then served St Thomas’s for so many years. Despite a limited rebuild in 1973, it became clear that the hybrid instrument was not up to the demands made since the completion of the Cathedral in 1991 and solutions were investigated which might bring together the needs of an active choral tradition, as well as preserving the historic Abraham Jordan case which was built for this church in 1718.

In the quest for an existing instrument which might form the centre of a new scheme, only two visits were made; the first to St Andrew’s church in Cambridge, whose instrument now graces Chelmsford Cathedral; the second to Holy Trinity church in Bolton discovered the glory of what is now our new organ in Portsmouth.

This instrument has a modern mechanical action and soundboards (the old ones were cracked, worn and badly soiled by years of soot inhaled from the surrounding atmosphere) and the option of electrical assistance for coupling. There is electric stop and piston action with sixteen channels for generals and manual pistons (changeable separately) and the new console is positioned en fenêtre within the 1718 Jordan case. This casework was previously in a very poor state of repair, having lost its sides and original plinth, as well as being coated by the Victorians in a thick black lacquer. In the process of surveying the casework, small quantities of gold leaf were discovered highlighting some of the carved detail and a decision had to be made as to which parts of the case might receive this adornment in the finished article. The results are quite spectacular and many people commented on details which they never knew existed before. Indeed there were some in the regular congregation who thought that the restored case was completely new!

All the existing pipework from Bolton has been included in the instrument and a number of stops, which were removed in 1874 and 1905 have been replaced. The Tierce and Larigot on the Great and the Gamba Octave on the Choir are new pipework, using metal from some of the redundant Portsmouth pipework and have been voiced and scaled as closely as possible to the style and fashion of the 1860s.
In addition, the two 32’ stops on the pedal are adapted from former Portsmouth ranks (Open Wood 16’ and Bombarde 16’) as well as the two 4’ pedal ranks and the Bass Flute.

This first phase was completed in 1994 by Nicholsons of Worcester (the company directly descended from John Nicholson's). The opening recital was given by Dame Gillian Weir.

The Nave Organ

Between 1994 and 1996 plans were conceived for a new independent two manual nave organ. However, it was soon realised that the costs for this would be unnecessarily prohibitive and in any case, there was not room for second organ of this nature.

And so, in 1996 plans were made with Nicholsons for a new division to be built behind the restored organ, facing into the nave with the west stops playable from the existing console. The new pipework to be installed behind a new case of imaginative and contemporary design.

It was made clear from the start, that the primary role for this new division was to support congregational singing. Many of the services held in the nave are done so by the Cathedral on behalf of the bishop and for the diocese. Major cathedral services at Easter and Christmas entail the use of the entire Cathedral, and thus, singing a hymn in the nave could be a highly unsatisfactory experience. In planning and voicing the instrument, the organ advisors and builders always held this core task in mind. The organ has already proved its worth in this regard at a number of major diocesan occasions.

The Nave Division has been designed and voiced to become partner of the greater instrument and so, the West Great blends superbly with the Swell (which has always projected well in the nave) and with the Pedal Division (just behind the new division).

The case and artwork on the doors

Integral to the project was the design of the case itself. After much discussion, the prevailing view was that this important piece of furniture and artwork in itself should speak of the part of the building in which was set. And so, Didier Grassin was asked to submit a design.

The new case on the west side of the organ, overlooking the nave, comprises a set of doors, which can be opened and closed, and which will hide the majority of the pedal pipework. We envisage the doors being shut during Advent in Lent (when the cathedral itself is also stripped of colour and embellishment) and when the nave is used for secular functions.

The design the artwork on the doors is by Patrick Caulfield RA. When the doors are open, the design complements both the organ itself, and the Nave into which it speaks.

The organ is in the middle of the design – enfolded by a circle. This speaks of unity of sound and glory. It is a universally accessible symbol, as was specified in the artist’s brief. They themselves echo the Grassin case design which features a fish (or Ickthus) motif on the front of the closed case. The four fish – two on the left and two on the right are Christian symbols which, in turn, enfold the circle within.

The left side depicts night. On the left is a stylised depiction of a lighthouse shining on the sea. Here, there is a particular and universal reference. The particular reference is to the motto of the City of Portsmouth ‘Heaven’s Light our Guide.’ The universal reference is to God in the mandala (or lozenge) shape at the top of the lighthouse. This shape is used in Orthodox iconography to encompass Christ in Glory. The universal in the particular can also be described theologically as Incarnation.

The right side depicts day. On this side is the sun, and a depiction of the hull of a fishing vessel. The Portsmouth fishing fleet uses the identification P. It is also a play on the Christian monogram- Chi-Rho – the first two letters of Christ in Greek.

Underneath the organ is the Peter Ball Christus figure. Byzantine iconography of the cross often depicts the sun and the moon above the cross, to either side. This symbolizes the passage of time around the cross, or the cross at the centre of time.

The central circle interconnects with references to two other circles above and below. Interconnecting circles have also been used as an illustration of the Holy Trinity.

The Caulfield design helps in the evolving understanding of the Nave. It helps to “baptise” and include the Nave. As a design, it beckons within, in an Eastward direction, and also speaks in the Westward and outward direction.

The Cathedral hosts weekly lunchtime organ recitals on Thursdays at 1.10pm. Please see the events page for details of performers.


Think about the things that are true and honourable and right and
pure and beautiful and respected…And the God who gives peace will be with you.

PHILIPPIANS 4:8-9