Rare Heydon pipe organ being restored

The organ at Heydon Parish Church is to be restored thanks to a grant of £33,600 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Work in progress on the restoration of the organ at Heydon Parish Church. Photos: Revd. Andrew Whitehead

Combined with the £15,000 already raised by activities in the village, the lottery funding has allowed the work to begin following the church’s Easter services.
The organ was donated to the church in 1883 by General Edward Bulwer in memory of his wife, Belle, who had died aged 45.
General Bulwer was a member of the family (now Bulwer-Long) who have owned the Heydon Estate and have lived at Heydon Hall since 1756.
One of only about a dozen English villages that remain predominantly family-owned, Heydon became one of Norfolk’s first conservation areas in 1971 and now attracts many visitors each year.
The organ was awarded a Grade II certificate in 2014 by the British Institute of Organ Studies as it includes an unusual reverse console, which permits the player to look out into the church instead of facing inward.
Since its installation it has been regularly played and has given 135 years of reliable service with a minimum amount of maintenance, except for a clean and overhaul in 1922, the replacement of the blower in 2014 and regular tuning.
The organ has been listed in the National Pipe Organ Register as “an instrument of importance to the national heritage and deserving of careful preservation for the benefit of future generations.”
In recent years, the organ has become unreliable and difficult to play, and in 2014 the Heydon Parochial Church Council (PCC) decided it needed a full renovation.
Funds for this purpose have been raised by residents from their two main annual events: a tug of war and an open gardens day (which are both expected to take place again in 2022).
As part of the organ restoration project, there will be awareness and fundraising activities including visits for local schoolchildren to see the work in progress; a new church guide booklet; a flyer on the organ restoration (aimed at children); and a celebratory concert.
The Revd. Andrew Whitehead, Team Vicar, said: “Organs remain an important part of Christian worship in many English churches, and this is certainly the case in Heydon where the organ supports our weekly worship as well as weddings and funerals in the church.
“It’s amazing to be granted these funds, raised by National Lottery players, and we are grateful, too, for all the village fundraising, which has made this project possible.”
For further information, contact: Charles Shippam, PCC Organ Restoration Project Co-ordinator. Tel: 01263 587865. Email: cngs@oldcot.co.uk

Organist Mathew Martin at the console.

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