Pipe organs have been used in English parish churches for more than a thousand years. Early organs were often small and portable. Their use changed radically at the time of the Reformation. Later organs grew in size, becoming permanent features of church buildings with architectural casework and increased numbers of keyboards and pipes. In the nineteenth century, the design and manufacture of organs was transformed by technological innovations, and the influence of changing musical taste and ecclesiology. The talk will consider particularly the evolving liturgical role of the organ in the English parish church and the architectural treatment of the organ case.
This talk is given by Nicholas Thistlethwaite who has written extensively on the history of the English organ and other aspects of church music, and his books, The making of the Victorian organ (1990) and Organ-building in Georgian and Victorian England (2020) are recognised as standard works. He has acted as consultant for the restoration or rebuilding of organs, including those in Christ Church, Spitalfields, Thaxted Parish Church, and St Edmundsbury Cathedral, and he has served on a number of fabric committees including the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England, Westminster Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral. He is Honorary President of the British Institute of Organ Studies. Dr Thistlethwaite is an Anglican Priest and currently a Chaplain to HM The Queen.