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St Helen’s, Bishopsgate, Norwich
St Helen’s, Bishopsgate, Norwich
Specification
Great
Open Diapason 8 Full compass
Open Diapason 8 Tenor G
Stopped Diapason Treble 8 Tenor G
Stopped Diapason 8 Bass
Principal 4
Flute 4 Tenor G
Fifteenth 2
Swell
Open Diapason 8 Tenor G
Clarabella 8 Tenor G
Voil Degam 8 Tenor G
Swell Bass 8 Unenclosed
Principal 4 Tenor G
Pedal
Burdon 16 sic

St Helen’s church is one of Norwich’s great churches, The organ at St Helen’s Hospital, Bishopsgate, was built in 1850 by Mark Noble senior, a Norwich organ builder . He was the best that Norwich has produced (pre the arrival of the Norman family) and an excellent provincial builder. It is suggested that he was apprenticed to Holdich and that fits with his style.

He built two other organs for Norwich churches that survive and a number of organs in Norfolk. The great organ was built in 1850 with the swell added in 1859, this by the organ builder’s son, Mark Noble junior. Other changes were made in the 1870’s to meet the needs of the time. In 1953 restoration work was carried out by Hill, Norman and Beard and an electric blower case added in 1956.

The organ is built into an early Victorian Gothic case typical of the 1840’s - 50’s.The front pipes above the manuals are in in a casing of three “towers” and two “flats”, covered in the original gold leaf with the accompanying pipe shades and decorations being carved in oak, showing oak leaves and acorns.

The National Pipe Organ Register described the organ as having a “delicacy and beauty of tone (that) are defining qualities of this instrument, which lacks reeds but possesses a variety of lovely 8’ flue stops.” An Hautboy was re-created as part of the 2007 restoration but subsequently removed as part of the “de-restoration” as Richard Bower calls it, demanded under the terms of the CCC grant.

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