Saturday recital to mark 200th anniversary of Thaxted organ

A man wearing yellow stands in front of a large organ in a church

Robin Walker will play the Thaxted organ to mark its 200th anniversary. Photo: Will Durrant - Credit: Archant

The Lincoln Organ at Thaxted Parish Church celebrates its 200th anniversary this year.

As part of Thaxted Festival, organist Robin Walker will lead a recital to mark the anniversary this Saturday (June 26).

Robin said it was important to celebrate the uniqueness of an organ, which has an important place in the history of English music.

He said: "Playing this organ - because there aren't other organs like this - gives you a real insight into how to play the music of the 1820s.

"Listeners have quite a different experience of what an organ means at Thaxted.

"This organ isn't flamboyant like you would find in many cathedrals, this has a different character, and can sound a bit odd at first."

Robin said Thaxted's organ bridges a gap between the classical and romantic movements - between the 18th and 19th centuries - and is one of the few from the 1820s which survives.

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Henry Cephas Lincoln built the organ for St John's Chapel on Bedford Row, London, where it stayed from November 1821 until 1858.

St John's fell into disrepair and the organ was bought for £150 and moved to Thaxted, where it was inaugurated by John Frye, the organist at St Mary's in Saffron Walden on June 9, 1858.

Thaxted Church is the spacious setting for the Thaxted Festival

Thaxted Church is the spacious setting for the Thaxted Festival - Credit: Thaxted Festival

It underwent a £320,000 restoration, completed in 2014.

Robin said: "Anyone who has got 200-year-old furniture in the house will know it takes a lot of caring for, so with something like an organ, it's an achievement to keep it in the beautiful condition that it's in."

Thaxted Festival runs between Thursday June 24 and Sunday, June 27, then from July 1-4.

The festival dates back to 1916, when composer Gustav Holst founded an Easter Festival.

Holst's melody, 'Thaxted', is part of his The Planets suite and is used in the popular hymn, 'I Vow to Thee, My Country'.

Andrew Jenkins, Thaxted Festival's artistic director said it was important to incorporate the organ's anniversary into this year's event.

He said: "We are lucky to be going ahead with the festival this year."

A full programme is on the Thaxted Festival website: https://www.thaxtedfestival.co.uk/

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