The Chapel Organ lives On
Some of our viewers will remember the old bellows operated pipe organ, that led the singing in the Mersham-le-Hatch Chapel services for many years. A few may remember playing it. Others may remember pumping the bellows pedal/s. It is unlikely that this organ arrived from the Mote days via Hyde House as it was in private ownership in 1944, but we do know that it was 'retired' from permanent Caldecott service sometime late 1960's, early 1970's to be replaced by an electric device.
What then? I hear you ask.
Thanks to the magic of the internet, and special thanks to the website of Messrs Goetze and Gwynn, (1) we now know a little more.
Under the heading David Hindle Restoration of 1754 John Snetzler Bureau Organ some the following information can be found:-
It is not known for whom the organ was originally made. The original name label which Snetzler habitually pasted at the back of the pallet box of the soundboard had been chopped out and placed in a frame on the front above the keys. It gives the date 1754, the same date as a bureau organ now in the Horniman museum, formerly in the Dolmetsch Collection.
In about 1800 it had been turned into a chamber organ, rather crudely, with quite a good keyboard, but a slapdash pipe front.
At some point it came into the possession of a Captain J. Lane (a keen collector of organs), and in 1944 was photographed in his house (possibly in Wanstead, London) by photographer Andrew Freeman (2), as shown in image (left).
Captain Lane gave the organ to the Caldecott Community, (possibly circa 1950) where it became a fixture in the Community Chapel at Mersham-le-Hatch.
In 1975 the unit was neatly extended, with a pedal board and a free reed, by C. R. Oliver of Plymouth. The date approximately coinciding with the introduction of an electric organ that finally took over the main role in the chapel.
After the Community vacated Mersham-le-Hatch, the organ was sold to a David Hindle in 2006. It was he who, presumably, initiated the restoration by Messrs Goetze & Gwynn that was completed around 2015. The photo (left) is of the completed restoration.
(1) Thanks to Messrs Goetze and Gwynn for the information about the organ history and restoration (more on their website), and for permission to use the image of the restored organ.
(2) Thanks to the British Institute of Organ Studies, and the Cadbury Research Library at University of Birmingham, for permission to use the Andrew Freeman photograph.