Church wins National Lottery grant

Just Regional
Sep 21, 2015 3 mins read

All the stops have been pulled out for an exciting project at Aylsham Parish Church with a £74,800 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in addition to £50,000 already raised by the Parish to restore the historic 1911 Norman & Beard organ.

The project will enable this fine instrument to continue working for another 100 years and will provide for an organ scholar each year and give young and old enjoyment and appreciation of this unique organ.

The organ will be dismantled and fully restored to its original 1911 specification, in total around 1,137 different parts will be releathered, its three keyboards repaired and its pipes cleaned. The will ensure it is a reliable instrument for Church worship, major public occasions and recitals by visiting organists. The restoration also provides the opportunity to involve the wider community; through working with our local schools and offering musical family learning days.

The organ was recently awarded a Historic Organ Certificate Grade 1 from the British Institute of Organ Studies. It is a unique instrument and the largest surviving one of its kind in the country.

Built by local internationally renowned organ builders, the organ has a number of interesting and unique features. One of these is its special disk and button system inspired by Alfred Hollins, a blind organist of the period. Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind will visit to find out more about the organ’s links with the musical figure and a tactile trail will be created around the church.

The church will work with the Aylsham Care Trust to produce a multi-sensory pack for use by volunteers supporting people with dementia.

The story of the instrument and the organists who have played it over the past century will also be told and a travelling exhibition will visit Aylsham Heritage Centre, care homes and public spaces.

Robyn Llewellyn, Head of HLF East of England, said: “An integral part of Aylsham Parish Church for more than a century, the organ has a long, entertaining and often surprising story to tell. Now, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, this project can ensure its future role in the church and share its heritage with both familiar faces and brand-new audiences.”

The Right Revd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich said: “Aylsham Parish Church is a vibrant centre of Christian worship and community life. It is a “connected” church since it is a Wi-Fi hub but it hasn’t neglected its fine history. Part of that history is a remarkable organ, now a century old, which is being fully restored with wide community involvement. Aylsham has become a centre of education in church music and in the craftsmanship which makes our pipe organs such treasures. All those involved in this project deserve huge congratulations.”

The Revd Canon Andrew Beane, Vicar of Aylsham said: ‘We are delighted that thanks to the HLF and to the enormous generosity and hard work of those involved with the Church we are able to undertake this exciting project; not only restoring musical history, but having the opportunity to develop and inspire people to make new music for 21st century. I should like to offer my sincere thanks to our Organ Restoration Project Team which has driven this Project forward and will now take the lead on the Restoration.’

Reverend Andrew Beane who is delighted with the news

Reverend Andrew Beane who is delighted with the news

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