The Great Organ

Occupying the east wall of the Great Hall, Adlington’s Great Organ is a breathtaking example of the organmaker’s art, and is arguably one of England’s most important 17th century musical instruments.

Interestingly, the organ is undated but we believe it to have been made around 1693, as it bears a coat of arms celebrating the marriage of John Legh to Isabella Robartes in that year, and the style is in keeping with that date. The maker is also unknown, though some clues point to the well-respected German organmaker, Bernard Smith.

There are rumours that people used to jump from a trap door above the pipework, squishing the pipes and subjecting the organ to centuries of neglect! Because of this, the organ was painstakingly restored by Noel Mander in 1958-9 and music lovers can once again enjoy the organ in all its glory. Look out for our organ recitals and come and see for yourself.

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.