Cathedral receives £1 million donation towards our organ appeal

We are delighted to announce that work has begun to plan the restoration and rebuilding of the Cathedral’s historic organ following a gift of £1,000,000 from the Harry Crook Foundation, the largest philanthropic gift since the rebuilding of the Nave in the 1860s.

For nearly 900 years, the walls of Bristol Cathedral have been alive with sound; sacred choral music, rich teaching, sell-out concerts and whispered words of private prayer. The Cathedral’s renowned organ consists of an historic Renatus Harris case from 1685 and a 1907 Walker instrument that sits inside, built in the Edwardian era by master craftsmen at their height of their powers and creative expertise. Since 1907, there have been various phases of repair and restoration. However, despite these best efforts the increasing fragility of the organ is beginning to disrupt services and concerts, and the instrument is becoming much harder for organists and visiting recitalists to play.

“The best analogy is that of a vintage car, which instead of being driven on occasional Sunday afternoons in the countryside, is driven every single day, usually for over 20 hours each week and even more in the run up to Easter and Christmas.” Mark Lee, Master of the Choristers and Organist

Carrying out work on such a beloved and historic instrument is always complicated. The Cathedral is working with nationally recognised experts and national bodies to ensure that the project has the best possible guidance.

“This is one of the most significant projects that Bristol Cathedral will have embarked upon. The Harry Crook Foundation has given us a gift that will transform our work and worship.  We can restore one of the great cathedral organs.  We have been encouraged and supported.  We are immensely grateful and we are delighted that the life and work of one of Bristol’s great servants and ambassadors will now always be linked with the cathedral and its music.”  The Very Revd Dr David Hoyle, Dean of Bristol

Harry Crook set up his Foundation in 1963, endowing it with shares from his Kleeneze Brush Co Ltd, famed for its door-to-door brush salesmen. He served Bristol City Council as an alderman for 25 years and in 1955 was the city's Lord Mayor, during which time he welcomed HM The Queen to open the newly built Council House, now City Hall. During his lifetime he supported a large number of charities in the city, particularly youth organisations. The trustees of the Foundation have been honoured to follow in the founder's footsteps and to support charities serving Bristol.

“My co-trustees and I are delighted to support this wonderful project which we are sure Harry Crook would have been excited to be part of. Harry loved to support the city and people of Bristol and had a great fondness for the Cathedral and for its outstanding choral work.”  Richard West, Chairman of the Trustees and great-nephew of Harry Crook

Thanks to the exceptional generosity of The Harry Crook Foundation, as well as other local trusts, foundations and individuals, the cathedral has already been able to raise almost £1.5m of a £2m target. Much of the fundraising effort is being led by Bristol Cathedral Trust, the separate charity which raises money for the upkeep of the cathedral building.

“I am absolutely delighted to hear that the Harry Crook Foundation is making this donation and commitment to our organ refurbishment.  As a boy in the late sixties I worked during school holidays at the Kleeneze Brush Company in Hanham and so I knew first hand of Harry Crook. He was a committed Bristolian, and in his lifetime he loved and supported Bristol Cathedral, so how wonderful and appropriate that the Trustees of the Harry Crook Foundation now continue to support projects and institutions he held dear to his heart. Our hope and ambition is that our fully operational organ accompanies the Christmas carol singing of 2020. Everyone can play a note in this appeal. No donation is too small or too big and I do hope that you will join us on the exciting journey ahead.”  Stephen Parsons, MBE, DL, Chair of Bristol Cathedral Trust

Find out more about Bristol Cathedral’s organ appeal or contact Naomi Miller, Development Director,, 0117 946 8184

Make a donation towards to the organ.

Posted on 6th August 2018