As Mayor of Colchester one hundred years after it was built, Cllr. Nigel Chapman realised that the organ was deteriorating rapidly and vowed to get it working again. Following a public meeting in November 2008, ‘The Friends of the Moot Hall Organ’ was formed to continue the work started by Cllr. Chapman.
The objectives of Friends of the Moot Hall Organ are:
- To ensure that the pipe organ in the Moot Hall, Colchester, is properly maintained so that it can be heard and enjoyed by people of all ages
- That relevant outreach work takes place
- That live music is able to be enjoyed in that building by future generations
The Friends of the Moot Hall Organ’s immediate aim was to bring back into use the Edwardian organ in the Moot Hall. In March 2013 The Friends were delighted to hear that Colchester Borough Council had been successful in securing a substantial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, with a magnificent sum of £416,000 awarded for the restoration of the organ and related outreach programmes involving local schools, residents and Colchester’s musical community.
The Friends also undertook their own fundraising scheme with various activities including several organ concerts, a curry supper, and an ‘Adopt a Pipe’ scheme, so that, with generous grants from two local trusts (The Hervey Benham Trust and the Essex Heritage Trust) their fundraising target of £35,000 was achieved.
In May 2020, following advice from Harrison & Harrison and in consultation with Dr William McVicker, the Borough Council agreed to install a modern humidifying unit to support the existing equipment. It is of a type not usually used in organ lofts but has been found to be very satisfactory at, for example, Truro Cathedral. The total cost of just under £5,000 was met by The Friends.
Fundraising continues to support their objectives into the future. In particular, the opportunitity exists for supporters to sponsor a Tuesday recital; these, which have an average attendance of 150+, are a key element in the musical life of Colchester and are traditionally free to encourage as wide a range of attendees as possible. There is a retiring collection towards use of the Moot Hall, visiting musicians’ expenses and the printing of the programme and publicity material, but sponsorship is very welcome in helping us offer the most exciting recital series possible – sponsors receive a grateful mention in the recital programmes. Please contact the Friends of the Moot Hall Organ for further details.
Join us: become a Friend of the Moot Hall Organ.
We shall again be supporting Colchester’s Heritage Open Day with a ‘Meet and Play the Moot Hall Organ’ event on Sunday 12th September 2021 at 12 noon. Following a brief introduction to the organ, its history and its recent restoration, there will be an opportunity for anyone to play this splendid instrument!
The Committee of Friends of the Moot Hall Organ
Cllr Nigel Chapman (chairman), Cllr Mike Hogg, Hon Alderman Sonia Lewis, Jennifer Perry, Ian Ray (Hon. Borough Organist), Mary Chapman (secretary), Allan Blundell MBE, Derek Lorkin and Dr Michael Vernon.
Treasurer: Alison Smith
- Lord Petre
- The Mayor of Colchester (Cllr Robert Davidson)
- Sir Bernard Jenkin MP
- Sir Bob Russell, High Steward of Colchester
- Will Quince MP
- Ashley Grote (Master of Music Norwich Cathedral)