Pulling out all the stops

After nearly 20 years of virtual silence from the organ, James Parsons skillfully coaxed it to fill Christ Church with music on Sunday afternoon.

Considering that the organ has not been tuned or maintained in all that time, it was the most incredible sound… goodness knows how amazing it will be when the work on it is complete!

James Parsons at Christ Church. Photo source

After an intense few weeks of clearing, dusting and pew polishing, at last we were ready to welcome our loyal supporters of the project and new visitors who were keen to hear our historic William Gray organ. The pews quickly filled as our nerves mounted. For the first time in all the years we have lived here, I climbed the stairs to the pulpit to address the audience (which Victor thought was ‘hilarious’ ~ you can always rely on your children to tell it as it is!)

James began his recital by appealing to the audience to search for hair clips, rubber bands, blu tak etc. in their bags which may be required for emergency repairs during the performance… Karl and I were all too aware of how serious he was and were praying the organ would go the distance.

Thankfully it did and James put on a most professional, talented performance. The church was literally vibrating to the tunes of Bach, Mendelssohn, Peter Maxwell-Davies, Percy Whitlock, Thomas Arne, John Bull, Herbert Howells and Arthur Wills. B E A U T I F U L .

It was a little overwhelming as the performance closed to rapturous applause. A momentous afternoon for Christ Church; a wonderful celebration of the heritage of the organ and the realisation on our part of a long held vision of bringing Christ Church back to life by bringing people together within it’s walls.

We are hugely grateful to James for freely and enthusiastically giving up his time to help launch the organ restoration fund. We were hoping to raise a couple of hundred pounds… through the amazing generosity of the audience we raised just over £700. Absolutely amazing! THANK YOU!

The donations will enable us to get the organ fully tuned and get an assessment of the work needed to bring the organ up to concert standard. We have nearly 20 years of organ maintenance to catch up on!

Photographs of the organ by Mike Slater at Seren Web

For more information on James Parsons please go to