Our inaugural concert

Renowned organist Anne Page (right) put the Upton Holdich organ through its paces in a superb opening recital on 30 September. 

Anne's programme celebrated the Golden Age of Victorian organ building, to which GM Holdich belonged, and delighted the audience with a panorama of music from the era of the classical English organ to works popular in 1903. Composers included Handel, Bach, Mendelssohn, Buxtehude, Russell, Chipp and Lefébure-Wély. 

Revd Nick Garrard, Rector of Upton, congratulated Anne Page on a magnificent recital which used every single stop on the restored organ. "I think we now are hearing the organ as Holdich himself intended it to be heard," said Mr Garrard. 

Anne paid tribute to the work of organ builder Richard Bower and to those who raised the money for its refurbishment and hoped that she might be invited to give another concert in the future.

After the inaugural concert, Jeanette Monument (left) was thanked for her 60 years of dedication as organist at St. Margarets and presented with a bunch of flowers.

Posted 23.11.17

Getting into the spirit!
Loads of volunteers and committee members got into the Edwardian spirit for the community day held to celebrate the return of the Holdich organ on September 23rd. 

In the meantime, the Eastern Daily Press carried an excellent full page article on the organ and BBC Radio Norfolk broadcast an interview with Revd Canon Nick Garrard about the recital on Saturday 30th September. The interview can be heard until 24th October (starts at 40'17").

Posted on 26.9.17

The Holdich Organ returns - a week of celebrations

The past meets the future in Upton this September when our Victorian masterpiece comes back to life in our medieval church, ready for its new role in the 21st century.   The organ will now be the centre piece of concerts and recitals, as well as church services, and will be used by young organists learning to play the instrument. 

A week of celebrations to mark the restoration of the Holdich organ begins at the church on Saturday, September 23rd, with a free community day at St Margaret's, celebrating the life of Upton and its church organ in 1903. It will include Edwardian games, an artist in residence and a living history recreation of the historical characters Miss Harwood and Miss Gentleman, who were head teacher and assistant teacher at Upton school in 1903. This has been put together by Natalie Butler, our historical researcher.

A Thanksgiving Service follows on Sunday 24th September at 11am in which the organ will be rededicated and a specially composed piece of choral music will be premiered. 

There will be a concert by the Acle St Edmunds Youth Orchestra on Tuesday 26th September, at 6.30pm and 'WOOFYT' (Wooden One-Octave Organ for Young Technicians) workshops for local school children on the science and art of organ music on Thursday and Friday, 28th and 29th September.

The culmination of the week's celebrations will be an Inaugural Recital on Saturday, 30th September, at 7.30pm, to be given by Anne Page, one of the UK's leading organ recitalists (see below). 

Our organ scholarship scheme is soon to be launched, so please watch this space for details.

Posted 15.9.17
Anne Page
Inaugural Organ Recital
to celebrate the restoration of our Victorian Holdich Organ: Saturday, 30th September, 2017 at 7.30pm 

Anne Page, internationally renowned recitalist will celebrate the golden age of Victorian organ building and the master craftsmanship of J. M. Holdich at the inaugural organ recital at St Margaret's Church, Upton on Saturday 30th September.

This wonderful recital will feature a panorama of music from the era of the classical English organ to works popular when St Margaret's organ was built in 1863.

Tickets are just £10, and are available from Suzy Strowger at The Rectory, South Walsham, NR13 6DQ, 01603 270769 or by email, or from Joyce Warren on 01493 752237 and Upton Community Shop.

Anne Page says: "I’m very honoured to have been asked to inaugurate the Upton organ, by a fine builder from the 'golden age' of the Victorian organ. I worked extensively on the Historic Organ Sound Archive from 2005-7 and this style of instrument was very forward-looking for its time and in fact is the foundation of the modern-day organ. I'll be playing a programme which gives a panorama of music from the classical English organ which went before, through to works which were popular at the time of building St Margaret's organ and are still well-loved today. Composers will include Handel, Bach, Mendelssohn, Buxtehude, Russell, Chipp and Lefébure-Wély."

Anne Page taught organ students at the UEA for several years when Peter Aston was head of the Music Department and lives for part of the week in Norwich.

Posted 14.9.17
Excellent progress with the rebuilding
The latest set of photos shows the specialists from Bower & Co piecing together the main sections of the organ casing, which are now attached to the organ frame.

The restored and refurbished bellows are positioned on the first sections of the frame.

The quality of the workmanship is there to be seen as the Holdich organ begins to take shape once again.

Posted 15.5.17

Richard and his team will spend the next few weeks rebuilding the whole instrument and an inaugural concert is expected to take place in the autumn.

Posted 28th April 2017
Rebuilding starts!

Richard Bower and his team of expert restorers from Weston Longville have begun the painstaking job of rebuilding the Holdich organ at St Margaret's Church in Upton.

Their first job was to transport the larger component parts, including the restored bellows and the pipes, which they did just after Easter. As you can see from these pictures, it was not an easy job!

Celebrating the English Garden... 

...with Hexachordia, strawberries and a summer evening picnic "All in a Garden Green": Saturday, July 1st, from 6.30pm, at St Margaret's Church, Upton.

As part of the festivities to mark the return of the restored Victorian organ to Upton church, we will be celebrating the English garden in music, song and words in the company of Hexachordia, a group of early music specialists. 

They play authentic copies of original medieval and Tudor instruments, such as the harp, recorders and lute, and intersperse their music with readings, reflecting on the evolution of the English garden from its origins to the 17th century.

The evening starts with the first part of our picnic (outdoors, weather permitting) and includes an hour-long concert, followed by strawberries and cream. 

Tickets, including all food and soft drinks, are £10 for adults with accompanied under 16s free. 

Please bring your own drinks if you prefer something stronger and let us know of any dietary requirements.

Booking is essential - please ring Nick or Helen on 01603 270769 or email  

Posted 12th April 2017
Researcher Natalie Butler joins the team

Natalie is a freelance Historical Researcher and Heritage Consultant with over ten years experience of working in the Heritage Sector. She has recently been appointed as the Independent Researcher for the Upton Organ Discovery Project. She studied at the University of East Anglia where she completed a BA in History and History of Art, and an MA in Landscape History. Before becoming freelance, she worked for the Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service and the National Trust. 
She now works on a range of exciting projects throughout East Anglia from interpretation and design to research and building histories.

As part of the Upton Organ Discovery Project, Natalie will be conducting research into the role of music, sacred and secular, in the development of community and church life in parish of Upton between 1875-1925. This will include research into the history and use of the 1865 Holdich organ in St. Margaret’s Church, Upton. She will be getting local groups, schools and the community involved in aspects of the research. If you have any information, old photos, stories or memories that you think may help me with her research, please get in touch with Natalie. 

Posted 12th April 2017
Restoration Group Visits Aladdin's Cave

The finishing touches are being made to St Margaret's Church organ which will soon be on its way back to Upton after six months of restoration and renovation. 

Members of the committee which raised funds for the project went to the workshops of organ builder Richard Bower in Weston Longville recently to see the progress for themselves.

"We had a fascinating visit," said Revd Nick Garrard, chair of the committee. "Richard's premises is an Aladdin's cave of organs - he counted fifteen in various stages of restoration or construction."

Our Holdich organ dates back to the mid-Victorian period. Only 50 of them remain and the restoration of the Upton one, which was originally made for St Andrew's Church in Norwich, has been achieved with the help of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. 

Also in group who visited Weston Longville were Upton organist Jeanette Monument, archivist Ivan Barnard and historical researcher Natalie Butler. They saw all the different parts of the organ at various stages of restoration. 

"The organ has been faithfully restored along the lines of Holdich's original construction, down to the red ochre colour scheme he used internally and the Scotch glue that would have been used in 1865," said Nick.

Once restoration in the workshop is complete, Richard Bower and his team will start transferring the sections of the organ to Upton for rebuilding. 

An inaugural concert is to be held on September 30, 2017, when Dr. Anne Page, one of the UK's leading concert organists, will give the opening recital. More details of this concert to come but for now, save the date! 

Posted 12th April 2017
Workshop visit group picture
Visiting the "Aladdin's Cave" workshop at Weston Longville. Pictured (from left) Philip Carriage, chief restorer, Richard Bower, organ builder, Jeanette Monument, Revd Nick Garrard and Natalie Butler.
Workshop visit - keyboard
The refurbished organ keyboard and organ stop casing, showing the old casing which has been replaced.
Workshop visit bellows - with people
Richard Bower, left, explains the work involved in restoring the organ's bellows to Revd Nick Garrard, Jeanette Monument and Natalie Butler. 
Latin mystery unearthed during restoration work

A medieval grave slab hidden from view in Edwardian times has been revealed during work on the organ platform at St Margaret's Church. 

The grave slab still has its brass plate in tact, bearing a Latin inscription. 

It was found under the wooden platform which has supported the Holdich organ since 1904, when it was moved there from Norwich.

The lettering was proving difficult to read but Ivan Barnard has managed to decipher and translate the inscription as:

"Pray for him Thomas Cossey of Upton who died 14 day of December AD 1455 who is in the sight of God."

In the meantime, woodworm infested floorboards have been removed and the platform, which will bear the weight of the organ when it is reinstated, is being rebuilt and strengthened. 

The photos on the left show the latin inscription and the platform in various stages as it was stripped back for inspection and repair.

You can see some more photos of this stage of the work at St. Margaret's on our Facebook page.

Posted on 8th February 2017.

Meet the WOOFYT
Meet the what? Well, the WOOFYT is the Wooden One-Octave Organ for Young Technicians, which Jeremy Sampson (pictured) built with participants at the WOOFYT workshop onSaturday 15th Octoberat St Margaret’s Church, while year five and six pupils from Freethorpe Primary, Fleggburgh Primary and Acle Primary came along on Thursday 13th October and Fairhaven Primary, Lingwood Primary and Reedham Primary built and played the WOOFYT on Friday.

If you missed the workshops, click on the image below to see just how it works.
Making progress

Andrew Hayden visited Bower & Co’s workshop at the end of September and spent an interesting couple of hours discussing various aspects. The boxes on which the pipes stand are stripped down ready to be trued up and the air valves are waiting to be recovered. 
Richard Bower and Andrew also discussed some matters regarding the platform. Richard will be working up some ideas regarding siting of the new blower and how the organ frame is best to be supported on the platform. The main point to note is that where the uprights of the frame meet the ground, the point-loading is over a ton; safer would be one and a half tons. It is vital that these uprights sit on a firm, unyielding base and the idea they discussed is for them to be supported on level concrete pads positioned under the platform. The other matter concerns the blower and the possibility of concealing it in a shallow pit with a cover near to where Jeanette sits to play or at the front of the organ. 

The disc in the picture is the original which went in a stop on the left hand side of the keys. It was found underneath the pedals at the front - it’s amazing what you find when you take things apart!
Work starts

Restoration work on the historic Holdich organ has now started.

Dismantling work started on Monday 19th September 2016, when specialist organ restorers, Bower & Co, moved in to commence installation of a temporary organ in the church and start to crate up the historic instrument to take it to their workshop in Weston Longville for restoration.

Richard Bower, who has worked on several other Holdich instruments, will mastermind the restoration work. He said: "I am thrilled that we can now restore the vibrancy of this wonderful organ built by an excellent Victorian craftsman."

Richard Bower and his team will return it to its state before 1962 when it was altered following work by Storr Bros and later amateur interventions in the 1970s. Restoration will also place it alongside other more widely known monuments to nineteenth century organ building such as St Anne's, Limehouse and St Mary's, Usk, and assure its future for decades if not centuries to come, giving players and listeners the opportunity to experience all that was best about British organs of the time.
Successful first open day

Wedding dresses, flowers and church organ music filled St Margaret's Church when it opened its doors to welcome visitors to its Heritage Open Days events on 10th and 11th September 2016.

The restoration of the Victorian Holdich organ was the inspiration for the open days and activities also included photography and cake competitions. 

There was a display of wedding photos, dated back to the 1920s, of couples who tied the knot at St Margaret's - including church organist Jeanette Monument, who married her husband Bill at the church in the 1960s. 

Revd Nick Garrard, Rector of Upton, thanked all the volunteers who had helped with the event, and said it had been a great success. 

Competition winners: 
Adult photography: Stuart Moore
Junior photography: Summer Cott
Cake: Jessica Garrard

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."
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