Lottery win for St Margaret's Church Organ
Upton is celebrating after securing a £72,800 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) on 25th July 2016 for the restoration of its historic church organ.
The Victorian organ, built in 1865 by the noted organ builder George Maydwell Holdich, will be carefully dismantled before being painstakingly cleaned, repaired and restored to its former glory.
It is one of only 50 surviving Holdich organs out of the 400 he built and is mostly in its original state.
School children and the local community will be finding out more about the heritage of this important and valuable instrument over the next year and getting a hands-on opportunity to learn to play the organ too.
Revd Canon Nick Garrard, Rector of Upton, said the project was as much about safeguarding the future as preserving and restoring the past. “Upton is well-known for its lively community-run pub and shop, but also deserves to be celebrated for the remarkable organ in its parish church, a largely original instrument from the golden age of British organ building.
"We will be working with seven primary schools in the Acle area to involve the project within the curriculum. We want to encourage young people to develop keyboard skills and learn to play the organ. We will be organising a series of workshops and will be awarding an organ scholarship, which will be a great opportunity for a young organist to develop their skills.”
Robyn Llewellyn, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund, East of England, said: “HLF is pleased to support St Margaret's Church organ restoration project. Thanks to National Lottery players the Victorian Organ will be preserved for the people of Upton for years to come. The project will also engage the local community and encourage people to discover the hidden heritage behind this important instrument.”
Norfolk organ builder Richard Bower, who has worked on several other Holdich instruments, will mastermind the restoration work.
"Holdich was a sensational organ builder whose instruments produced a really colourful and bright sound. He was working at a time when organs were being introduced more widely to village churches and this must have transformed church services for lots of congregations," said Mr Bower.
"I am thrilled that we can now restore the vibrancy of this wonderful organ built by an excellent Victorian craftsman."
The project has been awarded a grant of £72,800 from the HLF and around £10,000 has been raised by the local community, with further funding from ChurchCare with funds raised via the Pilgrim Trust.
A series of concerts is also planned at St Margaret’s Church once the restoration is complete.
The Rt Revd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, described the grant as "wonderful news."