©Whitbourne Baptist Chapel 2017

Whitbourne Baptist Chapel

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The Organ

It has been believed for many years that our present pipe organ originally came from Longleat House, but the Librarian there, Dr Kate Harris, wrote to us on 27th March 1996 saying that she could not verify the fact. She knew that the present organ arrived in the Chapel in 1909 and that it bears the nameplate of a local organ builder in Frome. (There is in the Chapel a photocopy of the 1909 programme of the organ recital given in order to celebrate the new organ.) However, the organ stop details do not conform to what is known of the organ ordered for Longleat in 1877.
The original Longleat organ was built by William Hill, a well-known firm in London. It was ordered on 30th May 1877 and was to cost £258. 10s. This was for a two manual instrument with an oak case for the private chapel at Longleat.
There is an inventory of heirlooms in Longleat library and, on the subject of their organ, an entry for August 1896 has a pencil comment in the margin “sold” and “Chapel dismantled owing to dry rot and the worm in wooden walls.” Another copy of the inventory is also interesting as it suggests that the Longleat organ might not survive in its original case. In pencil to the right of the entry appears “(dismantled)” and below “(& woodwork destroyed)”.
From all this, the conclusion would be drawn that the Frome builder provided a new case for the Longleat organ which then came to Whitbourne. Might he have altered the stops too? However, a further complication is that Pastor Doel writing in 1890, i.e. 19 years before the arrival of our present organ, says: “There is an organ in the end gallery which stood for many years in Longleat House.” Any further information would be much appreciated.