News 5th February 2024
Work begins on our Organ Restoration Project
Throughout 2024 and 2025, the Bristol Cathedral organ is being restored and refurbished. Come and view live restoration in action!
Bristol Cathedral is embarking on an significant restoration of its historic organ. An organ has been housed in our building since at least the 1300s and the instrument is a cornerstone of the Cathedral’s musical heritage. The current organ was built in 1685 and has been heard by centuries of people. The last major repair was in 1989 and the need for a comprehensive restoration has surfaced to ensure it is enjoyed for years to come.
“We are thrilled to have started this long awaited restoration of Bristol Cathedral’s organ. The work will preserve this exceptional instrument for the future enjoyment of musicians, worshippers and fans of organ music.”– The Very Rev’d Mandy Ford, Dean of Bristol
Led by expert organ builders Harrison and Harrison, the restoration project aims to preserve the organ’s original brilliance and secure its place in the Cathedral’s future. Boasting 83 stops and 3855 pipes, this huge instrument will undergo a comprehensive renewal, with plans to add more pipes and stops to enrich its tonal range. From deep resonance of 32ft pipes to the delicate 10cm notes, each element will be taken apart and cleaned.
The organ’s pipework – the part of the instrument that produces its remarkable sonority – is to be treated with great care and restored to speak as it did in 1905. Some later alterations have been reversed or revised and new technologies will allow a flexibility in performance which enables the organ to be at the service of music written since 1905, as well as the repertoire for which it was created.”– William McVicker, Harrison & Harrison
Organ music is integral to Cathedral services, such as Evensong and the Eucharist, to accompany the choir and congregational hymns. In a normal week, the organ is played for over 20 hours. During the restoration period, an electric organ will temporarily take over, ensuring continuity in services.
Bristol Cathedral will have an exhibition on display throughout the project and plans to host behind-the-scenes tours during the restoration, allowing the public to witness the craftsmanship involved. This unique opportunity will offer a glimpse into the intricate process of reviving a centuries-old musical treasure as well as a rarely seen perspective of our Cathedral from the scaffolding.
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