We are delighted that William Drake Limited have completed installation of the new organ and it will be heard for the first time at Mattins on Sunday 22nd. September 2019
Sunday 13 October 2019: There will be a special service of Choral Evensong to celebrate the New Organ. Andrew, our Director of Music, will give a short recital of organ music at 5.30pm, the service will start at 6pm with a reception afterwards in Petyt Hall. All welcome. 
Subpages (2): History of Organs Organ Specification

The New Organ by Director of Music Andrew Macmillan (2018/19)

Work continues on the new organ and it is now being installed and voiced at Chelsea Old Church.  It’s been fascinating seeing the extraordinary amount of craftsmanship and effort it takes to make the dream of a new organ for Chelsea Old Church come true.

The William Drake workshop near Buckfastleigh in Devon inhabits a converted chapel and adjoining schoolhouse.  The team at William Drake, led by Joost de Boer, has over seventy years of organ-building experience.  Each organ commissioned is carefully crafted in the bespoke tradition. 

There are three main parts to the organ:  the pipes, the action (the mechanism that operates the pipes) and the case.  The casework is finished; wooden pipes are made, and the action is under construction in Devon, while the metal pipes are being handmade in West Yorkshire.  A space has been prepared in the William Drake workshop for all the separate components of our new organ assembled in the New Year (2018).  

The organ will be brought to the point of completion before being disassembled for transport to Chelsea.  Once it has been re-erected on-site, the new organ will receive its tonal finishing. This painstaking process, known also as voicing, involves individually adjusting the sound of each one of the 2,168 pipes to ensure they speak well on their own and in combination with each other.

Joost de Boer has been building organs for over 25 years

Artists impression of the new organ

Music plays a central role in the life of the church, leading worship every Sunday and supporting the many baptisms, weddings and funerals that take place every year. 

The old organ reached the end of its working life.  Built as part of the post-war reconstruction, it used second-hand materials and now obsolete technology. The church was advised that a new organ represented a much better long term investment than renewing the current one.

After a formal tender process, supervised by consultant Dr William McVicker, the PCC has approved a proposal for a new organ.  The proposed organ will be built by William Drake, a British company based in Devon, whose recent work includes a new organ for the OBE chapel in St Paul's Cathedral and an organ for Westminster Abbey Song School.

The new organ for Chelsea Old Church will be
specifically designed to meet all the various demands made on it.  It will not only be fully up-to-date for the 21st century, but also built in a traditional style to last hundreds of years. 

The new case is based upon an organ by the famous builder Renatus Harris, believed to have been at Chelsea Old Church in the 1700s.

Please download the 'Sponsor a pipe form' here.

Building the organ casework down in Drake's workshop in Devon: