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The Trottiscliffe Barrel Organ

Trottiscliffe Barrel Organ

In 1865 the church of SS Peter & Paul Trottiscliffe bought a second-hand barrel organ from Meopham church. The organ was used until 1937 when it was replaced by another second-hand organ, this time from Leybourne. The barrel organ remained in the church until 1950 when it had become unplayable. The organ was restored by the noted London organ builder, Noel Mander so that it could be displayed at an exhibition of Kent Music in Rochester in April 1950 after which it was displayed for a while in the Cathedral. Eventually it was stored, dismantled, in the Rochester Guildhall Museum. The barrel organ still belongs to the Trottsicliffe Church although there is no room in the church to display it permanently.

Restoration of the organ to playing condition was undertaken by David Shuker at his workshop in nearby Birling so that it could be used at a British Institute of Organ Studies (BIOS) day-conference on Saturday 13 July 2013. The work was complete in time for the AGM of the Kent County Organists’ Association, held at Trottiscliffe on Saturday 6 July. A demonstration of the barrel organ was given to all the pupils at Trottiscliffe C of E Primary school on Tuesday 9 July and a further demonstration was given on Sunday 14 July, which was open to all comers.

The Trottiscliffe barrel organ was made around 1830 by Theodore C Bates and Son of Ludgate Hill, London. It has six stops: Bourdon, Open Diapason, Stopped Diapason, Principal, Dulciana and Fifteenth (although the Dulciana was originally a Twelfth, a change that may have taken place when the organ was acquired by Trottiscliffe in 1865). The organ originally had six barrels, each pinned for ten hymn tunes (the list of all sixty tunes is still on the organ), although only one barrel, No 5, now survives. The Trottiscliffe barrel organ is quite a large instrument and still has a rich sound often commented upon by visitors to the church when the organ was still in use. This barrel organ is a rare survival from a time in the early-to-mid-nineteenth century when hundreds of such instruments were used in village churches throughout the country. A recording of a hymn tune on the Trottiscliffe barrel organ can be heard on YouTube.

Trottiscliffe Barrel Organ