One of the highlights of St. Marie’s Cathedral is the 1875 T.C. Lewis pipe organ, located adjacent to the main altar. Having recently undergone a major restoration, the organ is one of only three organs (of six hundred) made by Lewis to have no significant tonal alterations since its creation – a living piece of 19th Century history made fit for use in the 21st Century.
Thomas Christopher Lewis (1833-1915) was among the leading organ builders of Victorian England. Based primarily in London, he achieved fame for the excellent tonal qualities of his organs and his skill in constructing large and complex instruments in very confined spaces. Tonally, Lewis organs manage to combine two chief inspirations from the wider organ world – the tonal achievement of German organ firm J.F. Schulze, and the tonal distinctiveness of French organ builder Aristide Cavaille-Coll.
The St. Marie’s organ exists as an especially fine exhibit of Lewis at the height of his skills. Six years after the opening of St. Marie’s Church in 1850, the purchase of a new organ to embellish the church was made possible by the financial backing of the 15th Duke of Norfolk, Henry Fitzalan-Howard, who contributed £1000 of the initial £1095 price. Lewis managed to construct a large organ to fit in a space measuring a mere 10 feet by 5 feet, to sit comfortably between the main altar and Blessed Sacrament Chapel. The organ case, constructed from Austrian oak, was designed by Lewis’ friend and associate J.F. Bentley – who later gained recognition as the architect of Westminster Cathedral.
The completed organ was first played on Christmas Day 1875, to the delight of St. Marie’s architect Mathew Hadfield, who remarked that the ‘splendid’ instrument’s ‘sweet tones...resounded through the church to the joy and delight of the parishioners’, later stating ‘the church now has one of the finest and most modern instruments in Yorkshire’.
Organ of St Marie's Cathedral Gallery
Coinciding with the restoration and redevelopment of St. Marie’s Cathedral in 2012, plans were made to restore the historic organ, whilst keeping it tonally unaltered and preserving its important antique status. The 2016/2017 restoration took place under the leadership of Yorkshire organ craftsman Andrew Carter and the supervision of organ consultant Paul Hale. Nicholson Organs, based in Malvern, were invited to remake the key actions of the organ, with an improved touch for the organist.
The restored organ was first played for parishioners on Christmas Day 2017 – the 142nd anniversary of its first performance. Following this, the restored organ was formally blessed by Bishop Ralph Heskett on 12th April 2018, with performances of the instrument including by the internationally renowned organist Olivier Latry – titular organist at Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.
Great Organ (58 notes)
|3||Small Open Diapason||8|
|Swell to Great|
Swell Organ (58 notes)
Choir Organ (58 notes)
|Swell to Choir|
Pedal Organ (30 notes)
|Swell to Pedals|
|Great to Pedals|
Balanced swell pedal
3 combination pedals to the Great Organ
Choir to pedals