Foxearth History Society – The Willis Organ, Foxearth Church.

“Loud organs His glory tell forth in full tone” says the hymn: well, we certainly had some of that on Tuesday evening 13th September when the Society broke new ground with a meeting in Foxearth Church for a lecture/recital on its famous Father Willis organ. This really was an occasion to remember as Tony Percival, of Christ Church, Ipswich and his colleague Ian Smith talked about the instrument and fully displayed its capabilities. Chairman Alan Fitch introduced Tony describing a long career in which he has recently celebrated 50 years association with the United Reform Church in Chappel. Tony gave a brief account of Henry Willis, the most renowned English organ builder of the 19th century whose enormous creations are still in use in the Royal Albert Hall, St Pauls and Winchester cathedrals and many others. The appellation “Father” indicates the esteem in which his contemporaries held Willis – and the firm is still in business! Ian dealt with the history and construction of organs over the centuries. He demonstrated different pipe sounds and showed, with models, the action of an organ. Interspersed with the explanations Tony played a variety of pieces by Bach, Purcell, Mozart, Wesley and Stanley which aptly illustrated the different effects the organ could produce in his masterly hands and feet! A novelty duet by Tony and Ian provided some amusement and the evening ended with Tony performing the rousing Toccata from Boellmann’s Gothic Suite.

This was a most entertaining event appreciated by about 40 members and guests – as a retiring collection amounting to £62 for church funds indicated. Tony and Ian were warmly thanked by the Chairman.

Next Meeting:- Saturday October 8th – Visit to P & A Woods, Rolls Royce Specialists at Great Dunmow.

Ken Nice

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