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The OrgansThe Grand Organ
On the 19th December 1694 a contract was signed with the eminent organ builder from Germany, Bernard Smith, to supply an organ for the new cathedral. His price was £2,000 (approximately £2,000,000+ at today's cost). The 27-stop instrument that he supplied was placed on a screen in the Quire as was usual at that time. It had three manuals but no pedals. Pedals were added to the organ at some point later and probably in 1721, although these were only 'pull downs', enabling the organist to play the lowest notes on the keyboard with his feet. But in other ways the organ remained relatively unaltered until the mid 19th century.
In 1872, Henry Willis completed an essentially new instrument for the cathedral. Some 200 pipes of the original Smith organ were retained; a handful of these remain to the present day. The original Wren case was divided in half, modified, and placed against the pillars supporting the dome on either side of the Quire, where it remains today. This new organ had four manuals. Father Willis made further modifications in 1897 and 1900. In 1930, his grandson, Henry Willis III was responsible for more changes, including the electrification of the whole organ, a new console, and the spectacular Trompette Militaire placed in the Dome.
From 1972-77 N.P. Mander Ltd reconstructed the whole of the action, soundboards and console, preserving the pipework surviving from the Willis instrument of 1872, but broadening the resources of the organ with much new material.
The rebuilding work was completed in 1977 in time for Her Majesty the Queen's Silver Jubilee. Throughout the re-building programme, the majority of the organ was in operation. Even the change from the old console to the new was achieved between Evensong of one day and the next.
The 2008 rebuild by Mander Organs Ltd consolidated the 1977 work. The opportunity was taken to replace the manual reeds up in the Dome - the new tubas providing a much more brassy effect, whilst the chorus reeds blend well with rest of the dome ensemble. Through the generosity of an individual donor in memory of his father, Harry Gabb (a former Sub Organist at St Paul's), a second, mobile console has also been provided. The organ continues to be tuned and maintained by Mander Organs
Two Smaller Organs
There are two other organs which are used regularly in the cathedral. The Willis on Wheels is an interesting and indeed unique mobile organ built by Henry Willis in 1881. It is most often used as the Choir Organ in double organ masses from the French tradition by Widor, Vierne and Langlais.
The Continuo Organ was built in 1997 by Kenneth Tickell. It is used as a chamber instrument in works such as Handel's Messiah, the Bach Passions and the July Orchestral Eucharists. It is also used to accompany early music in the services in the cathedral.
OBE Chapel Organ
Consisting of 1,300 pipes, 20 stops, two manuals and pedals, the OBE Chapel organ in the cathedral’s crypt has been built by one of the country’s foremost organ builders, William Drake.
The instrument occupies the first bay to the east of the screen on the north side of the chapel. The case is finished with grisaille painted decoration.
The new OBE Chapel organ was blessed and inaugurated on 25thJanuary 2012, with a programme of works by Handel, Boyce, Bach, Wammes and Wallen, performed by renowned British concert organist Thomas Trotter.
Download the organ specifications