7th May 15
The Organ revival…
The Organ in the Great Hall
The organ here at Adlington is without doubt England’s most important surviving instrument from the late 17th century. No instrument from an earlier period and precious few for up to a century after it, remain in such condition. Whilst the organ itself is unsigned and undated it is surmounted by a coat of arms celebrating the marriage of John Legh (1668-1739 to “Lady Isabella Robartes in 1693. This date would concur with the general style of the organ, so it is probably safe to assume that the organ was built in or about that year.
The organ was restored in 1958-9 by Noel Mander, it had most likely been derelict for a century or more. With painstaking work, all but a handful of the pipes were restored and every effore made to preserve this most important organ.
The Handel Connection
Tradition has it that Handel himself once played the Adlington organ, and even composed his famous harpsichord suite, The Harmonious Blacksmith, whilst staying at Adlington Hall. We know that Charles Legh was a firm friend of Handel’s, and it’s virtually certain that the composer stayed at the Hall in 1741-2, if not at other times. It therefore seems safe to assume he did play on the organ – the family would have asked him to, and he would certainly have been keen to do so.
A few years later in 1747, the Gentleman’s Magazine published Charles Legh’s ‘Hunting Song’, and four years later, Handel set the song to music and presented it to Charles as a gift. The original manuscript can still be found in the Hall, complete with Handel’s signature too.
Hear the organ at its finest
On Saturday 1st August 2015 we are lucky enough to have the fabulous organist Gordon Stewart playing our fabulous organ as “Music for a Summer Afternoon”. Gordon Stewart is one of the UK’s most popular and adaptable organists; he has played Celebrity Concerts in such places as St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral, the Laurenskerk, Alkmaar and at Symphony Hall in Birmingham, Leeds Town Hall, Melbourne Town Hall, Pietermaritzburg City Hall and Johannesburg Cathedral. His large repertoire means he can design concerts suitable for most organs and audiences. Playing regularly on the 1860 Father Willis organ at Huddersfield Town Hall, where he has been resident organist for over 20 years, he has built a large and enthusiastic following.
Tickets for the recital are £20 per person which includes a cream tea served in the fabulous Hall courtyard (weather depending). Tickets can be booked on the number 01625 827595.