The Buckingham Parish Church organ, built by Norman & Beard was originally installed at St John’s Church, Aylesbury, with the opening recital given on 30th January 1913, by the legendary Dr. Ley. It was moved to Buckingham in 1969 and overhauled with some tonal alteration. In 2015-16, following well over 100 years of service, the organ was restored, raised and rebuilt by Peter Collins Ltd, including new stops in keeping with ‘Hill, Norman & Beard’ schemes. When the organ was moved from Aylesbury to Buckingham, it was considered fashionable to remove the large Open Diapason on the Great Organ and replace with a lighter sounding diapason and to add a mixture stop. The large Open Diapason has been reinstated and the mixture re-voiced. Additional stops added to the Swell and Pedal organ improve the chorus effect without changing the overall tonal character of the instrument.
Raising of the organ onto a mezzanine platform enables the projection of sound into the building more efficiently than previously. The new platform also allows the front case of the organ to be brought forward of the arches which previously hid part of the case on the South side and this has improved sound projection. The pitch of the organ has been raised to concert pitch (A440 Hz) which also allows more versatility during worship, particularly for choral accompaniment and for use by external choirs and music societies.
A new mobile console includes the stops for a Choir organ to be added in the future, subject to raising funds for the additional wind chest and clarinet; the floating Tromba* is already in place for this division and the other pipes in store, saved from the Norman & Beard at St. Andrew’s, Kettering.
With practical preservation and longevity in mind, the organ remains a fine example of Norman & Beard’s work, especially for the worship needs of the church, and for musical opportunities in the community. The restoration was made possible by the generosity of many individual donors as well as trusts and organisations. Since restoration the organ has been included in the Buckingham Summer Festival, Buckingham Choral Society concerts, and organ recitals. There is further potential for recordings and educational initiatives in the future.
Further details on the National Pipe Organ Register
Robert Tucker, 18/12/2017