Wymondham Abbey’s historic organ to undergo repairs

One of Norfolk's most historic organs will be receiving the autumn equivalent of a spring-clean just in time for this year's Christmas services.

Maintenance work is due to take place on the magnificent 18th century organ of Wymondham Abbey throughout October.

Its 2,500 pipes will benefit from a thorough dusting, while the perishing cotton insulation around its electric wiring - which has barely been touched since the 1950s - will be replaced.

The specialist repairs, which are expected to cost about �40,000, will be funded thanks to a legacy left by a relative of one of the organ's former players.

Work will commence shortly after the abbey's rousing Last Night of the Proms concert on September 24 and should be completed in November.

Howard Thomas, director of music at Wymondham Abbey, who has been playing the impressive organ for almost 20 years, said it was testament to the workmanship of the electricians all those decades ago that no repairs have had to take place until now.

'It does need doing because although the voltage in the current that goes through the wires is not high, it could cause sparks. It's amazing it has not had to be done before. That sort of work was being replaced in the early 1980s so it was done very well,' he said.

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Wymondham Abbey was founded in 1107. However the organ was not gifted to the abbey until 1793, when Miss Ann Farmer provided the needed funds with the condition that the parish should appoint and pay an organist.

The instrument cost almost �690, including cartage and beer for the carters, and was built by James Davis of Preston.

In more recent times it has undergone major restorations in the mid-1950s - when electric bellows were first installed - and in the 1970s, while its casework was completely cleaned in 2007.

Although many smaller organs still exist from the period, the near-complete survival of its extensive pipework in an instrument of such a size continues to make it a point of historical interest today.

On playing the organ, Mr Thomas said: 'I absolutely love it. I played a Father Willis organ in London for 27 years but this is a finer instrument then that.'

A smaller stand-in organ will be used during services while the maintenance work takes place.