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'
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.
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
Large Open Diapason
Small Open Diapason
Full Mixture 19-22-26
Swell to Great
Choir to Great
(added July 1999)
Viol di Gamba
Swell to Choir
Swell to Pedal
Great to Pedal
Choir to Pedal
Added in 2001
West Great ON/OFF
96 memory channels for each of general pistons and 16 for divisional
pistons, settable separately
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
A History Of The Organ at Portsmouth
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
phase was completed in 1994 by Nicholsons of Worcester (the company directly descended from John Nicholson's). The opening recital was given by Dame
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.
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.
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.
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).
case and artwork on the doors
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
circle interconnects with references to two other circles above
and below. Interconnecting circles have also been used as an illustration
of the Holy Trinity.
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.
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