The three manual, romantic, organ at St Mary’s was built in 1921 by Hele and Co. of Plymouth. It was originally built with pneumatic action and incorporated sliderless chests, popular at the time. The action was partially electrified with solid-state switching in the 1980s. A major rebuild of the organ was undertaken in 2011.
The 2011 rebuild was carried out by Trevor Tipple of Worcester and included the replacement of all leather work untouched in earlier restorations; replacement of an unreliable piston system with a capture system; replacement of the keyboards and associated action; revoicing and regulation of all pipework.
The opportunity was also taken to bring about a few changes to the tonal scheme (which had remained pretty much as it was when the organ was built). The rebuild has been highly successful and the instrument is now in a better state than it has ever been; well equipped for its primary purpose of leading worship at St Mary’s and accompanying our excellent choir.
The chamber, to the south of the chancel, in which the present organ sits was built in 1873. Sitings of previous organs have been a gallery over the south porch (1862-73) and before that (in the early 19th century) in a loft at the base of the tower.
The organ’s benefactor, a Mrs. Edith Purchas, died soon after its dedication and it was at her funeral that the instrument was first played.
The present organ incorporates a small amout of pipework from two earier instruments; one installed by Lincoln in 1826 which was subsequently rebuilt and enlarged by Eustace Ingram in 1886.
The organ is in use on a weekly basis throughout the year at all the main choral services and is used regularly by choral and orchestral groups in concerts throughout the year.
You can find a detailed history of organs in St Mary’s in the guide to the church which you’ll find in the History section of this page