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Edward FitzGerald’s organ ‘found’ in Essex church

October 20, 2014

Garry Garrard was visiting St Mary’s Church in Saffron Walden, Essex, when he ‘discovered’ the organ that Edward FitzGerald had in his home in Woodbridge.  Here is his report.

On the back of the small organ is the following caption. ‘This organ was built by Bevington around 1870 for Edward FitzGerald of Woodbridge (famous for originally translating the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam).  Following his death it was moved to Woodbridge Roman Catholic Church where it accompanied weekly services until 2000 when it was moved (here) to St. Mary’s, Saffron Walden. It is on loan to the church and is jointly owned by Andrew Malcolm and Peter De Vile.’

Thomas Wright, one of FitzGerald’s earliest biographers, describes…an organ on which he often played, always from memory, songs from old operas and glees – little pieces from Handel or Mozart. “We often”, says one of [the boys who read to FitzGerald] “passed an hour in that way, especially in the summer twilights, instead of with books.” It was a kind of David’s harp to him – driving away melancholy. “He could get,” says Archdeacon Groome, “such full harmonies out of it as did good to the listener.” ‘

The pictures below show the organ as it is now and a cartoon image of FitzGerald playing the organ, drawn by his friend Charles Keene.

EFGorganFitz by Keene













The specification for the organ is: open diapason 8; stopped diapason treble 8; stopped diapason bass 8; dulciana 8; principal 4; flute 2. Bevington and Sons, Organ Builders, was based in Rose Yard, Rose Court, in London, but later moved to Greek Street, Soho. It was started in 1794 by Henry Bevington, who had been apprenticed to Ohrmann and Nutt, successors to the famous Snetzler. In 1851 the firm employed 8 men, 3 boys and 1 apprentice. Bevingtons was severely damaged during the ‘blitz’ of 1941, and was bought by the organ firm of Hill, Norman & Beard in 1950.

The organs of St. Martin’s in the Fields, St Paul’s Church Covent Garden, the Foundling Hospital, St Canice’s Cathedral, Kilkenny, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, were also built by Bevington & Sons, as well as those in many provincial churches and even private homes! There is a renowned (and untouched) Bevington organ in St. Mary’s Church, Rock Gardens, Brighton. A Bevington organ was installed in the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst in 1878/9.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Garry Garrard permalink
    October 20, 2014 5:46 pm

    That’s fine. Hope everyone enjoys it.



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