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Organ restoration

The project to refurbish the organ at St. Mary’s has been in progress since 2016. Periodic updates are published below – please scroll down to read about this important project.

April 2023 Update

In the last update we referred to some remedial work which came, and could have only come to light, when the organ was removed; that work was to repair damage to the organ’s swell box, and also to the vestry rafters, both caused many decades ago by a leak in the roof. 
The Diocesan Architect and a structural engineer, in consultation with the Churchwardens, confirmed that the vestry rafter remedial work had to be carried out but could only be done before the organ was replaced. Unfortunately all this has added to the overall cost of the project.  The unfortunate knock-on effect is that there will be a delay in the completion date and the organ will not be available until after Easter
This means that the planned 9th April Easter Sunday service at St. Mary’s (with refurbished organ) will move to St. Michael’s and the Palm Sunday service on April 2nd (piano) will be held at St. Mary’s. If there is a silver lining it is that the “settling in” period, which all pipe organs need after rebuilding, will ensure that the instrument can reach optimum performance before the next important church festival service.
As explained in our previous update, the window for donations remains open and anyone wishing to make a donation specific to the organ fund can still do so, either directly to St. Mary’s or via Friends of St Mary’s. The contact details for both can be found in the Parish Magazine.  As always, thank you to everyone who has made the refurbishment of the organ possible

January 2023 Update

As all regular churchgoers are now aware the project to refurbish the pipe organ at St. Mary’s is well underway. The organ builders, Manders, started work on 7th November and have dismantled the instrument. The transportable components have been taken to Manders’ workshop in Canterbury, while the rest are stored in the church. As the organ was removed it had been anticipated that there would be some additional remedial work, which was allowed for in a budgeted contingency fund.

The planned date for completion is still Easter 2023. While the organ should be usable for services on Easter Sunday, there will be a “settling in” period, which could be up to six months, for the instrument to reach its optimum capacity. However, there are plans for an inaugural concert in the Autumn, when we can all celebrate the joyful return of organ music to St. Mary’s.

The largest proportion of the funding for the project has come from personal donations from parishioners and others. Trusts and charity organisations too have contributed generously. Friends of St. Mary’s (FOSM) have also agreed to help with the funding, either directly or through donations for the Organ Fund made via them.   

The window for donations does remain open and anyone wishing to make a donation specific to the organ fund can still do so, either directly to St. Mary’s or via FOSM. The contact details for both can be found in the Parish Magazine. All additional funding from now on will reduce the amount provided by FOSM.

Thank you to everyone who has made the refurbishment of the organ possible.

October 2022 Update

After the initial technical report and planning stages the first funds were raised in 2019. The pandemic and lockdowns restricted active fund raising until the end of 2021 and, as during the interim, the organ builder originally selected became unavailable, fresh tenders for the work were sought.

Mander Organ Builders was identified and terms were agreed. Mander had the added attraction that the group includes F.H. Browne, the company that has serviced St. Mary’s organ for many years.

The project cost, including a 10% contingency and allowing for payment of VAT is £55,952. With £54,492 raised and the modest shortfall underwritten by an anonymous donor, St Mary’s Organ Refurbishment Committee advised St Mary’s Parochial Church Council it would be appropriate to commence the refurbishment and, in August, a contract was signed with Mander.

The funding received through personal donations from parishioners and others represents the largest proportion of the sums raised, including Gift Aid 42%. A further 22% was gifted by Trust and Charity organisations and events raised 18%. The Friends of St. Mary’s (FOSM), an organisation established to support the church buildings and fabric, have pledged the remaining 18%.

The St Mary’s Organ Refurbishment Committee will seek to recover the VAT from the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme (LPWGS) and any sums received from this source will be used to reimburse the underwriters.

Work on the organ begins on 7th November with a two-week period during which the instrument will be dismantled. As many of the components will be stored in the church, the building will only be unlocked for church services and will remain closed at all other times. Anyone needing access to the church is asked to contact the Churchwardens (details on page 2).

It is expected that the project will be completed by Easter 2023, to be followed by a period of “settling in”. When this is completed and the organ is fully functional there are plans for an inaugural concert, probably in early Autumn 2023.

The Committee wishes to thank all who have made a financial donation, worked to ensure that fund raising events have been successful and have been active in any form of fund raising. Without the support of many willing volunteers projects such as the St. Mary’s organ refurbishment will not happen.

December 2019 Update

Hopefully you will know already that following the receipt and consideration of independent professional advice, the church is looking to restore our 100 year old organ to full working condition.  Some parts are not functioning and other parts are deteriorating over time.  If nothing is done, the organ could at some stage cease to function.  The proposed comprehensive restoration will include a clean and overhaul, soundboard restoration and re-leathering of bellows and pneumatic actions.   

The estimated cost of the restoration is £35,000 but as with the way of these types of projects, the full cost will not be known until the organ is taken apart and so with this in mind we have included what we hope is a suitable contingency figure.  Included in the costs is the VAT but we hope that at the end of the scheme we can be successful with an application to the recover the VAT from a dedicated grant scheme for listed places of worship.

We have with lots of support from the village started to raise the funds steered by a committee composed largely of PCC members and the Friends of St Mary’s.  In particular, the Murder Mystery Evening at Hartsfield Manor in early October was a great event; those attending not only enjoyed the evening but raised £1000.  The May Fayre next year will also raise funds and we are very grateful that the village is putting its weight behind the project.

So far with grants, funds from events and personal legacies we have raised £12,100 which is either money already received or a grant commitment to be paid when the order is placed. Of that figure, £1500 is a legacy, £8300 promised in grants and £2300 from events such as the Murder Mystery and recent Coffee and Craft Morning.  We are awaiting the result of further outstanding grant applications and exploring what other funds may help us. If there are suggestions for other fund raising events, please let us know as well as any ideas for how the restored organ can be used for the benefit of our church and community.