The Lastingham Group of Churches

Lastingham, Hutton-le-Hole, Appleton-le-Moors, Rosedale & Cropton


      York  35 miles   ·   London  242 miles

Lindisfarne 130  ·   Walsingham 190  ·  Canterbury 310  ·  Rome 1140  ·  Constantinople 1570  ·  Jerusalem 2290

 Whitby  28   ·  Scarborough 23   ·   Pickering 7   ·   Kirkbymoorside 5


"Bringing new life and music to an ancient church"


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"The sound of the organ brings joy to the sorrowful soul, evokes the happiness of the heavenly city,
rouses the lazy, refreshes the watchful, induces love in the just, and brings the sinner to repentance.
                                                       - Cardinal Bona, De Divina Psalmodia (Paris, 1663)

The Lastingham organ is now complete. It was dedicated on Sunday 13 November 2011 by the Archdeacon of Cleveland, the Venerable Paul Ferguson FRCO. We would like to say a big thank you to all who have supported the Project. 





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This section is being revised.  Relevant sections from the previous edition are retained
for the time being.


The old organ was unplayable and beyond restoring. 

We needed a good versatile instrument: 

·       to accompany choir and      congregation

·      for concerts and recitals

·       to support and encourage present      and future organists

·        as a resource for musicians of all       ages

We have taken over a pedigree instrument originally built in the 1870s by Peter Conacher for St Olave's church in York, subsequently moved to St Lawrence's. It  has been completely restored, and enlarged to an enhanced specification.  Pipework from the existing Lastingham organ has been included. The builder is Principal Pipe Organs of York, who rebuilt York Minster organ in 1992/93.  The total cost will be £83 000.


We are proud that we soon exceeded the original target figure of £75 000.


The pipe organ dates far back into pre-Christian times, and  Mozart called it the King of Instruments. In almost every church in the West the sound of the organ has been heard. This is the sound so many people associate with their visits to church – with the singing of familiar hymns at Christmas and Easter, Harvest Thanksgiving, funerals and weddings. 

At the present time so much of this is under threat.       

Lastingham Organ Project will enable good music, encourage organists, and be a resource for younger musicians. All this will help to renew our musical and liturgical heritage at a local level, with a musical interest taking centre stage. It should be a wonderful investment – a legacy for future generations to enjoy.




Pipes: 1080  Speaking stops: 22   Cymbelstern

Mechanical action to manual and pedal keys

Electro-magnetic action to drawstops§

Solid state piston combination action§




Open Diapason


Open Diapason




Rohr Flute


Hohl Flute






Voix Celeste (C13)


Flauto Traverso






Super Octave †


Fifteenth #




Mixture 15.19.22**




Sesquialtera 12.17**






 Swell to Great









   Great & Pedal    Combinations Coupled

Compass of manuals
   CC-A (58 notes)

Compass of pedals
   CCC-F (30 notes)

Principal *


Flute *


Fifteenth *


Trumpet ‡


 Great to Pedal


 Swell to Pedal


*     ex Forster & Andrews, 1859.

†     ex second-hand Willis Fifteenth introduced 2003.

‡     18 pipes ex second-hand J.J.Binns introduced 2003, 12 new pipes.   

§     existing Conacher Fifteenth, new Nineteenth and Twenty-second.

~     existing Conacher Twelfth, new Seventeenth.

#     the Fifteenth forms part of the Mixture though draws separately.

¶     new five–rank pedal slider soundboard, mechanical action.






& Technical Information

A very short history of the organ

The organ is one of the oldest of musical instruments, dating back to Ancient Greece. Pipe organs have been used in churches in the West from the tenth century. The one in Winchester Cathedral from ad 990 is said to have had 400 pipes. The oldest still in existence dates from 1429, and is in the Cathedral at Valère-sur-Sion, Switzerland.  

Mozart called the organ the King of Instruments. It had reached more or less its present form by the 16th century, although after that time its construction and repertoire developed differently in France, Germany and England.

The Baroque era in Germany produced the master composer of organ music, J.S.Bach, and heard the wonderful sound of the German Baroque organ built in the Werkprinzip tradition.

In the same period the different religious and cultural environment of France produced the elegant ‘French Classical’ composers such as François Couperin. After the long recovery from the French Revolution of 1789 came a counter revolution, and this era heard the ‘French Romantic’ sound of the famous ‘symphonic’ organ builder Aristide Cavaillé Coll, and the ‘mystical Catholic’ composers from César Franck to Olivier Messiaen.         

In England, the Reformation and the ensuing conflict wrought havoc to both the organ and the liturgy it supported. Beautiful instruments were destroyed during the Civil War. With the revival of the English Church in Victorian times, an 18th century-style ensemble of stringed and wind instruments with a choir, often in a gallery, were generally replaced with an organ and a robed choir in a ‘restored’ chancel. The mainstream Anglican hymnbooks appeared: Hymns Ancient and Modern in 1861 and The English Hymnal in 1906. English organ composers include Henry Purcell, John Stanley, Orlando Gibbons, Jeremiah Clarke (C17-18), and Samuel Sebastian Wesley (C19).

Hitherto the English organ had been simpler in construction than those of Germany and France, usually lacking a pedal division. The great Victorian era of organ building then took in features of organs on the continent. 

Valuing a living tradition

Since the 1960s, different styles of music have increasingly been used in worship.  Sometimes this has had the unfortunate effect of marginalising the organ and its repertoire.  But organ and choral music still represent a living and lively tradition, and are today’s expression of a centuries-old heritage. Many young musicians choose this route, and new music for traditional resources is still being written.

A report by the Church of England Liturgical Commission (GS 1651, 2007) speaks of the rich variety of music and its potential in mission, and asks: ‘Are there particular lessons to be learned from the growth of pilgrimage ministry and liturgy in recent years, and can they be applied in settings outside the cathedral?’  In Lastingham we are ideally placed to explore this question.

Pipe organs at Lastingham 

The now defunct organ goes back to 1859, 20 years before the Pearson restoration. It was a one-manual and pedal instrument by Forster & Andrews of Hull with six stops.

Mysteriously, the Revd Richard Easterby, Vicar of Lastingham 1850-1890, refers to an organ in earlier times, which he says ‘like many other parts of that ancient fabric was allowed to fall into decay’. We have not yet found a record of this instrument.

The 1859 organ was probably good of its kind, but small and limited in its tonal variety.  In 1963 it was enlarged.  Experience has shown that that decision was a mistake.  The musical results were disappointing and with the years a number of mechanical problems appeared.

In 2003 a spirited low-cost attempt was made to remedy the tonal deficiencies by substituting some second-hand pipework, including a Trumpet stop. However, the underlying mechanical and electrical problems were not dealt with, and after a further two years it became clear that the instrument could not be tuned.

This, together with the lack of tonal variety, persuaded a cathedral organist and two other professional organists to advise that it was not worth spending further money on it.

The replacement organ

The fact that the existing organ is unplayable and past restoration provides a challenge and an opportunity. Our church has been here for 13 centuries (read its history), and we’re very much a working church, with a choir and several concerts each year. It was felt that the replacement instrument should be superior to a basic village church ‘sing-along’ organ. It should be suitable for recitals and also be able to serve as a teaching instrument.  

Principal Pipe Organs of York (who had rebuilt the York Minster Organ) were invited to look out a suitable replacement and submit proposals for its restoration and adaptation to our needs.

The organ we’ve been offered was originally built in 1874 by Peter Conacher for a church in York. Selected pipework from the existing Lastingham organ is to be re-used: from the 1859 Forster & Andrews organ, and also from the pipework introduced in 2003 (the Fifteenth by Willis and most of the pipes from the Trumpet). Some new ranks will be added  There will also be a new piston capture action, which will  permit the player instant and flexible control of the drawstops. Although this apparatus is costly, it will help players of modest as well as of expert ability, and its absence nowadays can be considered a significant drawback.

Why pipes and not electronic?

In electronic or pipeless organs, an electrical signal is generated and fed to loudspeakers.  Electronic instruments have improved since their invention decades ago, but their tone is still typically less satisfactory and their components can wear out. A well-designed and maintained pipe organ is far more gratifying for player and listener, and will last for a very long time.  We have an added bonus at Lastingham in that we are able to give a historically-significant organ a new home.

Breakdown of costs

The actual purchase of the second-hand Conacher organ will be for a nominal sum. The cost of the subsequent work is as follows.

Restoration and rebuilding

40 000

New work (pedal slider soundboard, drawstops, piston capture action, electro-magnetic soundboard drawstop action; new ranks: Great: III rank Mixture, II rank Sesquialtera, Pedal: Trumpet 16ft, new bass octave)





27 200

Voicing and tuning

2 900

Campaign costs



3 150


   75 000





In these secularised times it is worth remembering that most organ music of significance is sacred music from Western Europe. The Spirit of the Age does not like hearing this!

The Eastern Orthodox Church has not used instruments in its worship, and it is surely as a consequence of this that composers from Russia and Eastern Europe have produced very little music for the organ.

Everyone has heard of J.S.Bach as the master of organ composition.  But note that other great composers of the classical and romantic period, such Haydn and Beethoven, wrote little or no organ music.  Mozart wrote a little.

Like it or not, it is hymn tunes that people mainly associate with the organ. This is not as philistine as it might seem. Many of the ancient plainsong melodies, the great Chorales of Northern Germany and some beautiful French tunes, have been used in the greatest organ pieces. Bach’s music is rooted in the Chorales. 

Here is a grid to show the names of the better known organ composers. Some of them composed only a little.


16th/17th century

17th/18th century

Classical’ or ‘Baroque’

19th century


20th century

Germany* Denmark* Holland*

Michael Praetorius

Jan Sweelinck

Dietrich Buxtehude

Samuel Scheidt

Johann Pachelbel

Vincent Lübeck

George Böhm

Nicolaus Bruhns

Johann Walther

Johann Krebs


Felix Mendelssohn

Franz Liszt

Julius Reubke

Johannes Brahms

Robert Schumann

Joseph Rheinberger

Max Reger

Sigfried Karg-Elert


France (and Belgium)

Jehan Titelouze

Johann Froberger

François Couperin

Nicolas de Grigney

Louis Clérembault

Jean d’Andrieu

‘French Romantic’ organs by Aristide Cavaillé Coll

César Franck

Charles-Marie Widor

Camille Saint Saëns

Charles Gounod

Nicolas Lemmens

Maurice Duruflé

Jean Langlais

Charles Tournemire

Joseph Jongen

Jehan Alain

Louis Vierne

Marcel Dupré

Olivier Messiaen

Naki Hakim
(b. Beirut)


Girolamo Frescobaldi




England*  **

John Bull

John Blow

Henry Purcell

William Croft

Maurice Greene

John Stanley

William Walond

William Boyce

Orlando Gibbons

Jeremiah Clarke

Samuel Wesley

Samuel Sebastian (‘S.S.’) Wesley (both brothers of John and Charles)



Countries affected by the Reformation. ** England suffered serious religious and political turmoil – and, later, indifference – following on from the Reformation and/or Henry VIII’s Break with Rome (1533).  Many instruments were destroyed under Oliver Cromwell in the Civil War (1642-1651). 




The five pipe organs in the Lastingham Group

St Mary Lastingham   The proposed replacement organ is an 1874 two manual and pedal instrument by Peter Conacher of Huddersfield. It would have 21 speaking stops, 1180 pipes and a piston capture action. Some pipework and other parts from the existing organ are to be re-used. The stoplist, as proposed, is given in the first column in the table below. 

St Chad, Hutton-le-Hole  1860s one-manual instrument, no pedals, tracker action, seven speaking stops, by Albert Horsley. Front pipes are ornamental. Came from a Methodist Chapel in Scarborough, but was probably originally a chamber organ in a private house.  

Christ Church, Appleton-le-Moors  1866 Forster & Andrews, one manual and pedals, later enlarged to two manuals. Tracker action, 10 speaking stops. Renovated 1977 by Rushworth & Draper.  Unusually, it is the pipes of the lower manual that are in the Swell box, and the upper manual has only one speaking stop, the Open Diapason. Eccentric instrument, but well-toned and lovely oboe.

St Mary & St Laurence, Rosedale  1899 one-manual and pedals by Peter Conacher. Tracker action, eight speaking stops.  One hundred years later, in 1999, this organ was restored.  The organ is very conducive to hymn singing and to the music of the church generally.  

St Gregory, Cropton  1899 Harrison & Harrison acquired from Kettlewell Parish Church in 2003.  Two manuals and pedals, tracker action to manuals, new electropneumatic action to pedals, three speaking stops on each manual.    

Classified list of stops

D = Diapason type   
F = Flute type   S = String type

M = Mutation stop   Mx = Mixture

    R = Reed stop   C = Coupler

ham (
as proposed)













Speaking stops













Open Diapason 8  (Fr:Montre)

A family of ranks, which gives the basic ‘organ sound’, often called the Diapason Chorus or Principal Chorus.







Principal 4 (Fr:Prestant)







Fifteenth 2

Super Octave 2

Gt Sw




Dulciana 8, Dulcet 4

Smaller diapason-style pipes.




Bourdon 16

Lieblich Bourdon 16

The basic pedal stop, like a wooden stopped Diapason. Bourdon means ‘buzzing’.







Stopped Diapason 8

Flute 8

Usually of wood, mellower than Open Diapason.







Lieblich Gedact 8

Lieblich Flute 4

Like Stopped Diapason (below).




Gemshorn 4

Soft flutey sound, conical pipes.



Hohl Flute 8,

Suabe Flute 4

‘Hollow flute’, metal or wood.




Rohr Flute 8

(Chimney Flute)

‘Reed flute’, of stopped metal, but ‘reed’ here refers to not to the metal in a reed stop but the thin tube through the stopper.



Flauto Traverso 4

Supposedly sounds like an orchestral flute, which is played transversely.



Piccolo 2 (Flageolet)

Metal or wood.



Salicional 8

Small Diapason-style pipes but more string-toned.





Voix Celestes 8

Like Salicional, but tuned slightly sharp, to give a wavy, out-of-focus effect – to be played with Salicional.




Gamba 8, Bell Gamba 8

(Viol da Gamba)

Delicate pipes, tapering then widening.





Violin Diapason 8


Small, diapason-style pipes, but more string-toned than Dulciana.



Twelfth 22/3 Nazard 22/3

One octave and a fifth higher than normal pitch.




Seventeenth 13/5

Two octaves and a third above normal pitch.

In Gt Ses-quial-tera


Nineteenth 11/3

Two octaves and fifth above normal pitch.

In Gt Mixture



Two octaves and a minor seventh above 8 foot.

In Gt Mixture


Sesquialtera (12.17) II

2 ranks, Twelfth and Seventeenth.



Mixture (15-19-22) III

3 ranks: Fifteenth, Nineteenth and Twenty-second.



Oboe 8

Medium powered reed stop.




Cornopean 8

Similar to Trumpet.



Trumpet 16 (8)

Louder reed stop.



Great to Pedal

The Couplers



Swell to Pedal


Swell to Great


Pedals to Keys





British Institute of Organ Studies:

Conacher & Company, organ Builders and restorers:

Harrison & Harrison:

Institute of British Organ Builders:

National Pipe Organ Register:

Royal College of Organists:

Royal School of Church Music:



Go to Organ Menu & Main Menu


Lastingham Organ Project:

 Some FAQs

The story so far.

1.      For a history of the existing instrument, which dates from 1859, a paper was written for the PCC: ‘St Mary Lastingham’s Organ: History & Notes’, compiled for the PCC meeting of 9th May 2005.  See summary.   

2.     By mid-2004 it was clear that the organ, although rebuilt and enlarged in 1963, was in a bad way. There are two distinct sets of problems: musical, and mechanical-electrical. 

3.     Although a low-cost attempt to remedy the musical problems had been undertaken in 2003, the organ was persistently out of tune. Independently, we were advised not to spend any more money on it, and to replace it. Other professional organists concurred. We were invited Principal Pipe Organs in York to give their recommendation.  A visit was made in March 2005, and after submitting their report were invited to look out a suitable replacement organ. 

4.     The first available instrument fell though, and it was not until November 2006 that it was confirmed that the Conacher organ in St Laurence, York, would be available to us. An invitation was given to draw up proposals for rebuilding it at Lastingham, adapting it to our needs.

5.     A copy of the Proposals document was delivered to each PCC member, the organist, other keen musicians, some of the concertgoers, and the Concert Secretary. 

6.     A PCC member then proposed ‘a complete report on the whole concept of replacing, or restoring, the existing organ, containing the full facts, arguments and financial details of all the possibilities – restoration, a small choir accompaniment organ, or a recital organ.’  Here it is – updated in September 2007.  I’ve called it ‘FAQs’, because it is a compendium of questions I’ve actually been asked, or which might reasonably be asked.  

7.     In June 2007 the faculty was obtained, and the PCC agreed to go ahead with grant applications and to look into how else to raise funds . The scheme would be called ‘Lastingham Organ Project.’

8.     In August an ‘Organ Barbecue’ was held at the Vicarage. Jozef Mycielski, Director of Fundraising at Ampleforth College, gave a talk on fundraising, and after supper the Choir sung African and other music.   The task that lay ahead was the organisation, launching and management of the Appeal.  



1.  Why do we need to replace our organ?  

It was a mere 40 or so years ago that the 1859 organ was rebuilt and enlarged, and in 2003 some new pipework was acquired in an attempt to correct tonal deficiencies (see below).  However it then became clear that there were serious underlying problems which had not been addressed. There are two main factors that had to be taken in to account.

w        Deterioration in mechanical and electrical components, leading to:

–  unreliability

–  the impossibility of tuning the instrument  

w        Pipework with a limited tonal range, lacking variety and clarity.

‘The organ in effect consists of a chorus of flutes’ (Hunter, Diocesan Organ Adviser, to David Haddon-Reece, 12 October 1993), making the expensive repairs that would be needed not worth doing. 

 This is confirmed by the following.

w        It may be remembered that in February 2005, at a concert given by the choir of Chelmsford  Cathedral, with its organist Robert Poyser, part of the programme had to be abandoned due to the poor performance of the organ. 

w        On 14 March 2006 GC wrote:  As you may well have found from your own experience, the instrument has deteriorated significantly since my last visit. In particular,

          a number of the stop sliders on the Great Organ are failing to register adequately, so that many of the pipes are short of wind and either do not work at all or produce a very pale sound. In consequence, their tone and tuning is quite unacceptable and I would imagine that your organists will be unable to use these stops.

          further notes on the Swell Organ are also now out of action by reason of additional perished pneumatic motors and valves which supply them with wind. This, too, makes use of these stops impossible or extremely problematic.

In short, the organ has reached that stage where so much of the pipework is effectively out of action that the overall musical viability is called into question. You know from the previous reports that nothing can be done to improve the situation and that the decline is terminal, so to speak.

Please could the PCC have a fully independent assessment? 

Robert Poyser’s experience, together with GC’s advice, may well seem to put the need for a replacement beyond argument.  We do have, however, four additional independent assessments.   

2.  What is the long-term future of Lastingham Church

What do we want for our church?  Or, as this sort of question is sometimes posed,  ‘What is God’s will for this church?’  This rhetoric emphasises the idea of something beyond our present vision – and our very understandable attitude of caution.    

Those concerned will surely want to formulate their own vision. Here are some ideas:

         traditional Church of England village church

         thriving church, with good music and liturgical contribution from other mainstream churches

         concert hall

         heritage site and tourist attraction

It may well be asked whether St Mary’s can survive these days purely as a ‘traditional C of E village church.’  I have to say I doubt whether it can. There are several factors here:

         the demographic changes in the countryside

         the retreat of Christendom in the West

         possibly an impending financial crisis of the C of E

         the rapid growth of independent churches.

         a desire for ‘things to be done properly’.

It might well be argued that we ought to seeking to become part of a wider network, the wider church, which is both firmly based within historic Christianity and also prepared to think in a more global dimension. This is indeed the vision we are endeavouring to bring about. 

We would supplement and enhance this by developing other sides to our church life, as we are managing to do, thanks to the choir and the concerts and some unusual services and other events. 

We would therefore need to consider an organ that is better than a simple ‘sing-along’ instrument. 

It is assumed that church life, i.e. regular prayer and worship within the mainstream Tradition must continue to be the backbone of who we are and what we do. We are very aware that Christendom is retreating in Western Europe. What we would not want to see, then, is St Mary’s lapsing into a mere part of the heritage industry.   We are proud of the concerts we run, and we know that this is helping to keep the church functioning.  Yet liturgy and worship must still be in the forefront.

Taking all this into account, we can identify for a new organ project the general aim of building up a good musical tradition, and in particular: - 

         to accompany the liturgy, as opposed to mere hymn-singing – both choir and congregation

         to provide concerts

         to attract good organists

         like one of the purposes of introducing the piano (which has been on loan to us since 2004), to encourage local musicians generally, including those who would like to learn the organ. You never know what may come of this.

         to host liturgical/singing workshops 

Someone has said the church has never been more used. This suggests that at least some of these aspirations are actually happening. We are speaking of  more than mere survival.

Geoffrey Coffin of Principal Pipe Organs writes: I am sure that you are absolutely right to explore and develop every avenue of use for the church as well as its direct liturgical function if it is to survive in the future.  Just because the building lends itself so well to musical use, then this is an obvious avenue to pursue.  The church’s musical tradition is rich and varied and an instrument with adequate resources will provide an excellent medium for its realization in all sorts of ways. 


3.  As a small village, how could we manage to sustain a programme of concerts and other events?

With regard to organ recitals and other concerts, how many could there be in a year? 

         At present there are about six.  Some are given by professional musicians, their fees often being paid by a local trust, while in other cases they give a ‘charity concert’.  Profits have gone to the PCC. 

What would be our relationship with Ryedale Festival?  

         It is to be hoped that a good replacement organ at Lastingham would be a welcome resource for the local music fraternity.  We already host a ‘Coffee Concert’ each year. There could be organ recitals.

         In 2006 the Ryedale Festival’s Artistic Director approached me to ask whether we might host the annual Festival Eucharist. This was an honour, but with the present organ the answer must certainly be no! 

If the annual number of concerts is to be increased further, how is a small congregation in a small village going to cope with the organisation of all the concerts, if the time comes when the existing organisers could not carry on? 

We are building up a group of people who are willing to carry out the tasks – publicity, printing programmes, moving chairs, lighting etc; and also providing hospitality to musicians. Many of these are outside the circle of regular churchgoers and PCC members, and include the choir and the concertgoers.  This is now spread quite widely – the Rosedale organist lives near Cambridge!    


4.  Granted that we do have to replace our organ, what are  the options?

The options are

(a)   a small ‘sing-along’ organ like Cropton’s

(b)   the Conacher organ in question, restored and enlarged as in the present proposals

(c )   something in between (a) and (b)

(d)    an electronic/digital organ

Why not a small ‘sing-along’ organ like Cropton’s?

It has been suggested that Lastingham doesn’t need a large organ, and that the cost of a smaller replacement organ (about the size of Cropton’s) would not be more than the cost of transporting and installing an old give-away organ.  Here are three responses to this.

(1) Issues of availability

We’ve already had a long wait – almost two years – for the organ that is now proposed.  Smaller ones are in even shorter supply.   

(2) The need for proper restoration

Most of the stock of redundant instruments is a century old and you cannot just move one in from elsewhere without properly restoring it first.   

(3) Musical issues

The size of an instrument needs to be related to the building in which it serves and, especially, to the tonal resources which are judged adequate to suit its liturgical and musical uses.

An instrument as small as that at Cropton has no developed musical ‘choruses’. It will accompany hymns at a very basic level but the limited choice of stops will restrict musical use, even at the hands of an enterprising player.  It would certainly not be able to accompany choirs adequately, nor provide the resources for solo use to the degree that you have asked for at St Mary’s.

The scheme we have discussed for St Mary’s will provide the musical resources that you need both for now and in the future.  

What about an instrument in between (a) and (b)?

A case for accepting (b) has been set out above:  in GC’s covering letter and elsewhere in this paper, which takes the line that it is the right instrument for the building. This is supported by Frank Sutcliffe, the Diocesan Organ Adviser. 

It may nevertheless be objected that £75 000 is considerably more than the £45 - £55 000 figure mentioned in the report of 15 March 2005.  Answers:

         Again we must think of availability.  As mentioned above, smaller organs are in short supply and we have already waited two years.   

         The Forster & Andrews organ that turned out not to be available was indeed a little smaller than the Conacher.

         As explained below, the cost of registration aids increases the cost by almost £13 000.

         The question of the increased cost is further discussed below.

         I have during this past year searched for other instruments. There have been none in the diocese. There were two Harrisons said to be available further north, with a spec. similar to the Conacher, but I did not manage to find out whether they were actually available.  I revisited the websites of the British Institute of Organ Studies (BIOS), and also the Institute of British Organbuilders’ (IBO) List of Redundant Organs, to see whether we were missing a Harrison or Cavaillé Coll nearby!  Well, there were various two-manual organs, including a promising one in Bristol.  But who has time and energy to trudge to Bristol, or the knowledge to make an assessment? And what would we tell our present organ builder?

         It would arguably be negligent of the PCC not to go for the best possible option. As Archdeacon Paul said at his visitation in December, there’s a lot going on here at Lastingham and we deserve something good.


Why not an electronic/digital organ?

According to an independent survey (in the annually published Organ Builder Magazine) the average life expectancy of electronic/digital organs is currently in the order of fourteen years.  (One particular electronic installation lasted only 2½ years!)  We know that the circuitry of electronic organs (as indeed of certain types of pipe organs as well) does not take kindly to the damp atmosphere of country churches and one manufacturer told me that their sound quality deteriorates from day 1 (as it also does for any hi-fi system).  This is because the card used in the loudspeakers hardens and distorts the sound.  The York Diocese will only grant a faculty for an electronic instrument in unusual circumstances.

The Royal School of Church Music comments that the quality of singing is ‘listless’ in churches with electronic organs.

The sound quality of all but the most expensive electronic/digital instruments is generally disappointing or poor.  They provide a useful medium for practice instruments in the home or for entertainment but there are few in churches which can be considered serious and successful musical instruments.

Three more questions connected with the options above

(1)     How did Cropton assess the replacement of their organ?  

Consultation with Diocesan Organ Adviser, then a paper compiled by ASF and circulated to PCC members.  


(2)     Should there not be a second quotation for a replacement pipe organ? 

      The quotation we now have is for a particular instrument, and one that has been looked after by the organ builder giving the quotation. 

      As already mentioned, such small instruments are in short supply, and the one proposed has taken two years to find.

      Suppose we did approach other organ builders, asking them to look out a suitable instrument, or for a quote to restore and adapt one sourced by ourselves. Comparing like with like, we could fairly easily predict a quote by Harrison & Harrison being more, and by our previous organ builder less. But who is going to do this?  And would the answer affect our decision? 

      I have been told that an independent report would have to be paid for, and I do believe we now have enough of these – see main question 1 above.)        

(3)     What will happen to the existing organ?  

The following parts be re-used, assuming no serious problems are encountered.


w      Fifteenth by Willis (acquired 2003) – all 56 pipes

w      Trumpet by Binns (acquired 2003) – bottom 18 out of the 56 pipes

w      Open Diapason, Principal, Stopped Diapason (Forster & Andrews 1859) – in each rank the lower 30 out of the 56 pipes

      The pedalboard (made for the 1963 rebuild)

      The oak case, made c.1963

      The blower (new in 1963)

Other parts, I understand, are not worth salvaging.


5.  Matters of space and appearance, and some technical issues

(1) Would the Conacher organ fit into the available space?  Where will the additional pedal pipework be placed?

       [The] present chamber was surveyed at an earlier stage to ensure that the instrument would fit successfully.  The storage area in the Flower Vestry would remain as at present. 

The new Pedal slider soundboard is planned for the Western side of the organ chamber. It should therefore be feasible to express some of the Principal 8ft basses (painted the same colour as the fronts on the North facing case).


(2) What is the history of the replacement organ proposed? 

It was built for St Olaves’s Church in York by Peter Conacher of Huddersfield in 1874. It was moved to St Laurence’s in the early 1900s, and it is believed that no tonal changes were made in that move. 

Conacher trained in Leipzig, where he was an apprentice organ builder and voicer, then worked for Hill & Sons and later Walker & Sons. In 1873 he started his own business and Springwood Organ Works in Huddersfield was opened. A number of French organ builders were brought to join the family firm, some of whom may well have trained under the famous Aristide Cavaillé Coll.  The organ works was said at the time to be the largest and best equipped in England, and with its large steam engine, full compliment of machinery and eighty craftsmen, built around thirty large organs each year.

(3) I have heard that the tuning problems are simply due to temperature fluctuations in the building. Is this possible?  If so, it will surely be a problem with any instrument.

Michael Fletcher in a letter to me dated 13 June 2004 does allege that the tuning problem may be due to temperature fluctuations because of the stone vaulted roof. He cites an article in Organist’s Review of June 1991, page 110. However, this may not be relevant. GC says:  As sound travels faster in warmer air than in cold, the tuning of all musical instruments is affected in some way or another by temperature fluctuations.  In general terms, the different flue stops of an organ (i.e. all except the reeds) move up and down with changing temperature reasonably together.  Problems can arise if the extremes of temperature between Summer (heat off) and Winter (heat on) are excessive but, assuming a thermostatically controlled heating system giving out even warmth, then the tunings in Summer and Winter will cope with any adjustments needed.  

I would comment that the majority of tuning problems with your present instrument are due to imperfections in the soundboards rather than to anything else.  For example, various notes of the Great Fifteenth 2ft are lacking an adequate wind supply so that their tuning is virtually impossible at present. The proposals for restoring the Conacher slider soundboards already allow for fitting soundboard seals to eliminate any problems in this respect.

(4) What are the ‘tonal changes’ proposed, and why do we need them?

The specification of a mid to late 19th century English organ was not the same as one would want now.  For a recital instrument, or even to accompany singing, extra brightness is expected.  In the present proposals, we have made provision for : –

           two mixtures on the Great Organ

           the replacement of the Oboe 8 with a Superoctave 2, to be formed from our existing Willis Fifteenth, as mentioned above

           extra ranks on a new pedal organ: to provide both flute and diapason,  to be formed from some of the 1879 F&A pipework; and a robust reed stop, formed from 18 pipes from the Trumpet 8 which we obtained in 2003 and 12 new pipes. 


(5) What is ‘piston capture action’?  With the electromagnetic drawstop action it requires, almost £13 000 is added to the cost.  Do we really need it?

The Organ Builder writes:  The scheme allows for the inclusion of electro-magnetic drawstops both at the console and to pull the stop sliders at the manual and pedal soundboards. This will enable the fitting of a solid state piston capture action to permit the player instant and flexible control of his drawstops.  This is certainly not a luxury on an instrument of this size, especially considering the needs of service accompaniment and the repertoire generally.  Indeed, its absence would be seen as a significant drawback.  Just because it will help players of modest as well as expert ability both now and in the future, I think that its inclusion should be regarded as essential. 

(6)I’ve heard that new EU regulations would forbid the use of lead in organ pipes.  Will this affect us?   

It was unfortunate that the DTI has interpreted the EU directive in this way, even though the equivalent foreign bodies have not!  Harrison & Harrison launched a campaign, and before long we were told that the inclusion of organ pipes was an error. So fortunately all is well!


6.  How are we raising the money?

‘Fundraising must be fun’ and  it must also be linked with the raising of awareness. This provides a wonderful opportunity for

        imparting basic knowledge on what a pipe organ is and how it works

        generating lively discussion about the future of the church (see above)

At the beginning of November 2007 we have about £30000 in hand or promised. The is being raised by

w        Appeal, including a ‘Sponsor a Pipe’ scheme

w        Grant aid

w        Concerts and social events (also to raise awareness) such as  

         Charity concerts by professional and amateur musicians

         Dinner-dance in village hall (with live band – already offered)

         Possibly, sponsored hymn singing (in churches, village greens, pubs, with Stape Band, Benefice choir, other musicians), with selection available from our 'menu' (e.g. ‘Starters, a Taste of France, from England’s Lanes...’ etc.

         Car boot sales in the summer of 2008.  May not raise much except awareness, but worth doing for the latter.

w        Sale of organ pipes as souvenirs

w        Page on our website, with Gift Aid form to download

It has been suggested that we enlist the help of a professional fundraiser.  On the Organ Working Group, we are most fortunate to have Peter Bryan, Bursar of Ampleforth College, and as a consultant, Jozef Mycielski, Ampleforth’s Head of Fundraising.  

More ideas for raising awareness

w        Display to be set up in the church

w        Articles in Signpost, website, local press

w        Good quality appeal leaflet

w        PCC, choir and others to visit workshops of Principal Pipe Organs

w        Working parties to help dismantle existing organ

Could the proposed tonal changes jeopardise our chance of being awarded grants?

Frank Sutcliffe (the Diocesan Organ Adviser) has already given his support to the proposals.  It is perfectly reasonable that an instrument being moved from one building to another should need tonal modification to ensure its fitness for a new purpose and acoustic.  Trusts such as the Priestman, Foundation for Sport and the Arts and Pilling are not concerned with historic conservation and will support the scheme without tonal restrictions.  As you will not be seeking grants for the historic conservation of the organ, then there should not be any problems.  You should certainly not approach the Council for the Care of Churches who are only concerned with conservation! 

What is the VAT position?   

The scheme will be zero-rated, because an alteration to a Listed Building is required.

How much, if any, do we have to raise for ourselves before we can apply for grants from charitable grant-making trusts, etc?  

At Cropton we launched the appeal at the same time as applying for grants.  We began with two contributions of £1000 each, and this set the ball rolling.  To the grant-giving trusts, I could then give an estimate of what we would raise:  I said it would be half the money, and invited their response on a pound-for-pound basis. This proved to be exactly how it worked out.  The On Organ Fund, however, require more than half the funds to have been raised and a contract signed before they will consider an application.

 7.  What is the procedure now, and what sort of timescale should we be aiming for?

At Cropton we had all the funds within 11 months of launching the appeal and applying for the grants.

But how to get started?  A chicken and egg situation: PCC members asked what we could expect to get from grants, but we could not apply for grants until we have a faculty in place. So a bit of faith and determination was required to get started!

Once the faculty arrives, what information will Trusts require to decide whether to award a grant?

        Different Trusts may not necessarily need high levels of background material.  For example, I know that for the Priestman Trust it is only necessary to write a letter stating the reasons and aims in reasonably concise form and enclosing a copy of the estimate.  One applicant I know wrote to them just asking for an application form and received a cheque back by return! 

        Your PCC summary is comprehensive and provides exactly the sort of information needed for its members to form a balanced judgement.  I would think that, for normal Trust applications, it would suffice to say that the PCC had considered the matter in great detail, weighed the alternative options of (a, b, c) and, having taken professional advice, concluded firmly that the preferable course of action was (d). They will be more concerned that you have undertaken the research thoroughly without necessarily having to read all of the evidence themselves!   Ultimately, they will want to judge it as a well thought out, reasoned and practical scheme that will provide a lasting investment.  In other words, is their money safe and well spent supporting it!

Out of, say, £75 000 we have in hand £30 000 in hand or promised (at the beginning of November) . 

Initially, it is to be hoped that the present cautious enthusiasm will gather momentum!  We may already have some idea of the level of local response, but there are also those who attend the concerts, and our musicians, which spreads the net more widely. An appeal must be expected to raise funds sooner rather than later. The Organ Builder  writes:

        Trusts often meet at six monthly intervals which might mean waiting 6 to 9 months for a response to funding requests.  (I know that several of them meet in February or March so early application would be a good thing.)  The Priestman (and Pilling?) Trusts will promise any grants initially and send the actual money when the project has been concluded.  

        Probably it is important that, when the trustees read the application, they get a clear idea of what is the (musical) aim and why this is so important to the parish.  They will want to know that, if the money is granted, then this will form part of a long-term investment rather than a short-term expedient so far as the instrument is concerned.  You have already given very clear indications as to how the encouragement of music in the parish will have positive implications quite beside the benefit to the community in general in such a rural area.

        The Diocese will normally expect churches to have raised the funds (or had them promised) in advance of commencement. If totals are elusive, some churches have been able to secure interest free loans from well wishers so that a project can be undertaken before inflation takes it out of reach.  Some have also found that well wishers then treat their loans as gifts when repayment time comes round.  It is always worth sounding out the market!

        Any increments will be inflationary at the review dates mentioned in the estimate ‘Notes’.  If the general economic climate remained as at present, you might allow for a 3½-4% increment annually.

What about the timescale?

The work is scheduled to take around 3½ months.  As many churches have the same problem of not knowing how long fund raising may take, our schedules have to be kept flexible.  In practical terms, we usually ‘pencil in’ a time in the schedule and review this in the light of subsequent fund raising progress.  Presently, we know that 2007 is full and we have contracts for 2008, but not necessarily with commencement dates at present.  We will gladly pencil in a slot for you then if you would like and there is no legal commitment on your part until such time as you have the funds and a contract can be signed.  

8.  So what will be the benefits of getting this organ?

w        Good and inspiring music at church services, including the accompaniment of choir and congregation.

w        An organ for concerts.

w        The education, support and encouragement of present and future organists.

w        A resource for local musicians of all ages.

w        A goal to aim for, bringing people together and involving a larger number of people in the church.




The console of the organ built
by Principal Pipe organs at St Peter’s Church, Formby, on Merseyside, with 21 speaking stops. Ours is to look similar.

The Swell Organ (top manual) has its stop knobs on the left jamb; those of the Great Organ (bottom manual) are on the right. The three at the lower end on the left are the couplers, while the lower three on the right belong to the Pedal Organ (ours is to have five speaking stops – see specification.

Note the thumb pistons below each manual and the toe pistons beyond the pedals – all part of the piston capture action; and the balanced swell pedal near the centre.   





The Forster & Andrews organ at Christ Church, Appleton-le-Moors, built 1866


1866 Forster & Andrews, one manual and pedals, later enlarged to two manuals. Tracker action, 10 speaking stops. Renovated 1977 by Rushworth & Draper. Eccentric instrument, but well-toned and lovely oboe.  

Great (unusually, upper manual)

Great Open Diapason 8



Pedal Bourdon 16



Swell to Great

Swell to Pedal

Great to Pedal 

Swell (lower manual)

Oboe 8

Fifteenth 2

Twelfth 22/3

Principal 4

Dulciana 8

Stopped Diapason 8

Violin Diapason 8



A very short history of the Organ

How an organ works

Valuing a living tradition

Pipe organs at Lastingham

More about the replacement organ

Why pipes and not electronic?

See specification

See breakdown of costs


Sponsor a pipe

Lastingham Organ Project events

Pipe organs in the Lastingham Group

The Organ Repertoire

Looking after the organ


A few more coming soon!




































































































FAQ menu

The story so far

Why do we need to replace our organ?

Long-term future of Lastingham Church 

Can we manage to organise concerts?

Why not a small ‘sing-along’ organ like Cropton’s?

Why not an electronic/digital organ?

What will happen to the existing organ?  

Where would the additional pedal pipework be placed?       

History of the replacement organ

What will the new pipework consist of?

What is piston capture action

Lead in organ pipes

How we are raising the funds

Is there VAT to pay? 

The timescale



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