Experts play their part in musical restoration

It may not be the grandest organ to grace Norfolk's churches - but thanks to the work of a series of local restorers it is once again one of the most beautiful.

It may not be the grandest organ to grace Norfolk's churches - but thanks to the work of a series of local restorers it is once again one of the most beautiful.

And now the challenge is on to find an up-and-coming musician to play the chamber organ at All Saints' church in Hethel - a tiny parish south of Norwich that only sees a service once a month.

Until recently the Victorian organ, which was built for the drawing room at East Carleton Manor before moving two miles south to the church in 1894, had been covered in shabby grey paint.

It had been so badly treated that when Fakenham organ restorers Holmes and Swift came to repair it, they found that many of the pipes had been sawn off - leaving them with a "jigsaw puzzle" to solve.

That team was one of three commissioned to return the organ to its original splendour, with David Bartram of Raveningham restoring the furniture and Joanna Green of Buxton the gilding and paintwork.

Yesterday Ms Green returned to Hethel to inspect the final work, which sees the organ resplendent with royal blue pipes and covered in ornate gold leaf.

Most Read

Marion Wilson, the church treasurer who led the campaign to get the organ restored, said she had been impressed by all the contractors' prior knowledge of the organ and their enthusiasm to work on the project.

"It has been so beautifully restored," she said. "Everyone who worked on it deserves the most enormous praise. I felt it needed to be restored because it is such an attractive organ.

"We knew it had a history, that it was made in the 1860s in Norwich by the cathedral organist and that some of its parts date as far back as the 17th and 18th centuries.

"When we put the work out to tender each of the firms that replied knew about its history and all were enthusing about it."

The Council for the Care of Churches initially gave a £4,000 grant for the organ repairs, and then an extra £3,500 for the repair of its case after commissioning a study which emphasised the organ's importance.

More money was raised by parishioners which allowed the church trustees to hire some of the best local craftsmen to restore the organ.

Ms Green said: "I thought it was a particularly beautiful organ and a fine example of Victorian handiwork.

"But it was in a bad state of repair, hadn't been touched for several years and had been covered with dark grey paint.

"It took me about a month to restore it, it was a big job. I hope people will go to see it now - it's a hidden away church but well worth a visit. I'm told the organ sounds beautiful too, so I look forward to returning sometime to hear it fill the space."