Norwich Cathedral’s newly-rebuilt organ was blessed by the Bishop of Norwich at a special service to celebrate the conclusion of a once-in-a-lifetime project to preserve the historic instrument for future generations.

The blessing took place from the organ loft at evensong on Sunday November 26 after organ experts Harrison and Harrison – who completed the £1.8m project – symbolically gave the cathedral back the keys to the organ which is one of the biggest of its kind in the country.

The service followed a series of Organ Reborn! concerts which finished on Saturday night when internationally-renowned concert organist Thomas Trotter played music by Bach, Guilmant, Willan, Dove, Karg-Elert and Mendelssohn to a 1,000-strong audience that had packed out the cathedral.

Ashley Grote, the cathedral’s Master of Music, said: "It has been wonderful to celebrate the return of the Cathedral organ this weekend, after so many years of planning and hard work.

Eastern Daily Press: The blessing of the Norwich Cathedral organ

"The completion of the organ project marks an exciting new chapter in the musical life of our cathedral, which we hope will touch the lives of people right across our community, bringing high quality music and opportunities to people of all ages."

The Dean of Norwich, the Very Rev Dr Andrew Braddock, said: "We are very grateful to all who have supported the project. We have an instrument of national importance which will be at the heart of supporting and inspiring the many services and other events that draw thousands of people to the Cathedral each year."

The rebuild project was the instrument’s first complete overhaul since it was rebuilt in 1942, following a fire which partially destroyed the instrument in April 1938.

Eastern Daily Press: A special service was held at Norwich Cathedral to bless the refurbished organ

The practical work started back in May 2022 when scaffolding was put up to enable most of the organ’s several thousand pipes to be removed and taken to organ specialists Harrison and Harrison’s base in Durham for further work.

Meanwhile gilders Robert Woodland and Debra Miller set about re-gilding the show pipes, crown and star that decorate the organ’s exterior.

Most of the organ’s working pipes were returned to the cathedral in early 2023 before each and every one of the 5,767 pipes was ‘voiced’ – or tuned – by Harrison and Harrison in situ between May and July this year. The vast number of pipes range in size from about the length of a pencil to an incredible 32ft (almost 10 metres).

Eastern Daily Press: The blessing of the organ at Norwich Cathedral