Survey of Manx church organs now complete

Tue, 28 Jun 2016

The magnificent organ and interior of Trinity Church in Douglas
The magnificent organ and interior of Trinity Church in Douglas

Culture Vannin has just completed a survey of the Island's church organs along with pipe organs installed in private houses.

Some 62 instruments have been photographed and described and these appear along with recordings of some of the instruments, played by Gareth Moore.

The Island has a particularly rich heritage of church organs, some of which date back to the early 19th century and due to the tireless work of local organ builder, Peter Jones, they are all in immaculate condition. Some of the instruments are modest, tucked away in rural churches and chapels, but others are quite spectacular and are fronted by ornate cases, beautifully decorated pipes and are placed in commanding positions in the church.

Each instrument has been photographed in detail, with a general view of the church, as well as close-ups of the keyboards, the pipes, and often the interior mechanisms. The majority of the photography has been done by Peel photographer John Hall, with some additional photographs by Peter Hearsey.

The short history and descriptions of the instruments have been written by Peter Jones who has been maintaining and building organs on the Isle of Man for over 30 years. The Isle of Man must surely be unique in having so many instruments in such a small area, and all in such good condition.

Some of the organs were actually built on the Isle of Man by the company Morgan: Organ Builders of Athol Street, and even as the project was being completed some of the places of worship featured have closed, including Lezayre Parish Church and Croit-e-Caley Chapel, making this survey even more important as a record of a hidden part of the Island’s heritage.

A number of local musicians have had pipe organs installed in their houses, and these are also featured along with the historic Wurlitzer organ in the Villa Marina arcade.

To complete the survey Gareth Moore, Head of Music at King William's College, has recorded short pieces on several of the instruments, and in some cases there are links to videos of the instruments as well.

You can view the complete collection and select the particular instrument you would like to see on our special pages