Upton’s rare church organ restored and working
2017: The 150-year-old Holdich organ from St Margaret's Church in Upton, has been returned to the church following an £82,000 restoration project.
After hundreds of hours of painstaking work, the Victorian masterpiece has been returned to its former glory and has be re-installed in the church in Upton, near Acle. The restoration was carried out with the help of a grant of £72,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £10,000 raised by the local community.
The instrument, built in 1865, is thought to be one of just 50 remaining organs made by G M Holdich of London. However, its aging condition sparked an 11-year project to restore the instrument, which was first brought to the Upton congregation in 1903. Now, after 12 months of work by Norfolk organ builder and Holdich expert Richard Bower, it has finally been returned to its former glory. The team rebuilt the organ bellows using 11 sheepskin leather skins. A completely new pedal board was also made.
Revd Canon Nick Garrard, rector of Upton, said “I am delighted that after 11 years of planning the project has come to such wonderful fruition. The sound of the organ has been transformed and perhaps we are hearing it now as Holdich intended in 1863. The project has gathered in help and great goodwill from the community. I’m excited by its huge potential for concerts, worship and training a new generation of organists.”
A week of celebrations marking the restoration is currently underway, and on Saturday, September 30, at 7.30pm, Anne Page will perform the organ’s inaugural concert. Tickets are £10. Call 01603 270769 or 01493 752237 for tickets.
Last Saturday there was a free community day when visitors could explore the history of the instrument and the village, play Edwardian games, follow a village trail and explore a collection of historical artefacts. This was followed on the Sunday by a Thanksgiving and re-dedication service from 11am, with a recreation of the original 1903 service. During the week, there was a performance by St Edmund Youth Orchestra and visits by the local primary schools.
Pictured, top, are Richard Bower (seated at the organ), Ivan Barnard, Chris Bond, Joyce Warren committee members, and Revd Nick Garrard, Rector of Upton and chair of the project committee.
The photos are by kind permission of Simon Finlay Photography.
This story has also appeared at EDP24.
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