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By DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP, Reporter
Sunday, April 15, 2012
A rare 1808 pipe organ has been lovingly restored and rededicated in a north Norfolk village after a fund-raising appeal was launched to bring the instrument back to life.
Based in the north aisle of St Botolph’s Church, Trunch, the historic organ, built by William Gray of London more than 200 years ago, had been rebuilt in 1957 by the Trunch organ builders Williamson and Hyatt.
And now pipe organ builder and restorer Richard Bower, of Bower and Company, has spent the last three months bringing it back to its former splendour.
Mr Bower, 64, started playing the instrument at the age of 15 and had admired the Georgian Trunch beauty describing it as a “very telling little thing to play.”
“I had looked after it before we restored it and it was getting worse and worse,” he said.
“I know how great it was and how great it could be so I’m pleased I had the opportunity to restore it as it is really gorgeous.”
Mr Bower believed it is one of only three left in the country and said it had been originally brought from Birmingham. Over the last three months he had refitted the main soundboard, changed the wind systems and stripped, re-polished and cleaned each pipe one by one.
After completion of the project Mr Bower was invited to perform for the rededication recital last night (Saturday) as part of the series of Trunch concerts, which helped fund-raise towards its restoration.
Audiences were treated to a programme which included music from the period of the building of the organ by Stanley and Samuel Wesley, a selection of music playable on the organ as rebuilt in 1957 by Mozart and Bach, and finally twentieth century music including Yon and Young, topped with pieces from Sweelinck and Widor to illustrate the what the organ now offers.
Co-organiser of the concerts Peter Mason said: “They are extremely dependant on the good will of the performers and the audience as well.
“The concerts raise between £1000 and £1500 for restoration and sometimes people come from abroad and sometimes they come from the local area to perform for the concerts.
“2008 was the bi-centenary of the organ so we decided to start an appeal to raise funds for it’s restoration, which cost £12,000.”
The money was raised through On Organ Fund, The John Jarrold Trust, Leche Trust (for the case work), Babara Whatmore Charitable Trust and a large sum was privately donated.
The pipe organ is one of the many projects included in St Botolph’s Church restoration project. Since 1998 the concerts have raised over £10,000 and all concert proceeds will continue to be donated to the project.