The Organ

Built by Robert Postill of York. He built at least 166 organs across the UK, with 2 exported to South Africa. In his time (1835 – 1882) he was well respected and trained a number of organ builders.

The organ in here was installed probably in the mid 1870s (there was a fire in the church in 1873 which would probably have destroyed the organ). The inspection by Harrison and Harrison (who will restore the instrument) suggests it was ‘cobbled together’ from a number of existing instruments (a very common practice at the time to save on the costs of materials).

The organ contains a number of stops (so called as they were introduced to stop a set of pipes making a noise – medieval organs were simply all or nothing).

There are two manuals (keyboards) – Great (the lower one) and Swell (the pipes are enclosed in a box with shutters that can open and shut). They can be coupled together and can also be coupled to the pedals.

Great keyboard

Open Diapason   (the display pipes at the front)

Clarabella             (a flute sound)

Dulciana               (a quiet stop)

Principal               (similar to the open diapason, but an octave higher)

Wald Flute            (an octave higher than the clarabella)

Fifteenth               (2 octaves higher than the open diapason)

Twelfth                  (12 notes higher than the open diapason)

Addition of the principal, fifteenth and twelfth to the open diapason makes the sound brighter and louder.

Swell

Op. Diapason      (quieter than the one on the great)

St. Diapason        (a flute sound)

Viola de Gamba  (a string sound)

Celeste                 (a string sound, tuned slightly sharp so used with other stops)

Principal               (quieter than the one on the great)

Horn                      (the noisy trumpet)

Hautboy                (sounds a bit like an oboe

Pedal

Bourdon               (sounds an octave lower, emphasises bass line)

Please ask for a demonstration!

Report on current condition

The organ is listed by the British Institute of Organ Studies (grade II*) as it has historical value (https://www.npor.org.uk/survey/N13280)

There are a number of faults in the organ:

  • The pipes need a good clean and a number are in need of repair. Some have been ‘fixed’ with gaffer tape.
  • The pedal Bourdon stop is not playable as one note is jammed on.
  • The missing middle D on the Great was fixed by the Organ Advisor using a bent paper clip. A permanent repair needs to be made!
  • The Swell box lever needs replacing as the wood is worn away.
  • The blower probably needs replacing.
  • The case for the organ needs cleaning and substantial repair.

The full report from Harrison and Harrison is available along with the PhD Thesis by Maximillian David Elliot (Univ York, 2020) which describes Robert Postill and his contribution to the development of organs in the 19th Century.

Robert Postill

Sadly (due to changing fashions) only 10 of his organs are known to exist which are:

  • Holy Trinity, Blacktoft, Goole
  • St Thomas of Canterbury, Arbroath
  • St James the Less, Forest in Teessdale
  • St Nicholas, Tuxford, Notts
  • St John The Evangelist, Folkton, Nr Scarborough
  • Blenheim Palace Chapel
  • St Mary Magdalene, Hart, Co Durham
  • St Helen’s Wheldrake, Nr York
  • St Michael and All Angels, Sutton upon Derwent, Nr York
  • and of course, Killingworth, the only Grade II* listed Postill organ.

Your organist plans to cycle to them all (though he is likely to get a lift back in the car from Elizabeth!).

A recording of the organ may appear on YouTube (details to be confirmed).