St. Agnes, Cawston, Norfolk
St. Agnes, Cawston, Norfolk
St. Agnes, Cawston, Norfolk
Open Diapason 8
Stop Diapason 8
Principal 4
Flute 4
Twelfth 2 2/3
Fifteenth 2
Sesquialtera 17.19.22
Stop Bass 8
Open Diapason 8
Stop Diapason 8
Principal 4
Hautboy 8
Bourdon 16
Ratchet Swell pedal


The Evolution of this Historic Organ.

Seventeenth century. At its heart is a two manual organ great organ, and choir by communication (borrowing); a style used by Renatus Harris. It still has the soundboard and much of the pipework from this organ. The soundboard is of oak and originally had many more pallets than the 54 now in use. There were originally double sliders, side by side, to each stop. Where this organ was, or what it looked like we do not know.

1813. The organ claims to have been built by G P England in 1813 for St Stephen’s church Norwich from whence it came.

Interesting markings on the soundboard faceboard tell us a little more.

1836. Christ John late of Grays London put the - - bellows 1836. (somewhat illegible).

1851. This organ was cleaned and the action repaired attended by Samuel Street Organ Builder Norwich Aug 1851.

1870. Removed and fixed in Cawston Church Jan 20th 1870 by W C Mack of Gt Yarmouth. (this also inscribed on the inside of the faceboard).

From the evidence of the organ it would seem that GP England did not build a new organ, but rather reused an old organ and added to it, also adding the new swell organ in its “Nag’s Head” swell box. Inside the oak case is an earlier pine case with more Georgian lines. The swell organ would have projected out of the back of this case as it now does again. The pedal section would have likely been a later addition as is the fine Victorian Gothic Oak casefront. In 1813 organ compass usually commenced at low GG, four notes lower than the present CC of the keyboards – so this compass is not original and can only date from around 1850. The inference is that the oak case and the console with CC compass were fitted at St Stephen’s circa 1850.

1984; Bower & Company restore the great organ only, soundboard and pipes, and have to disconnect the swell organ and pedal organ because of lack of funds.

1998; Bower & Company historically restore and enhance the organ and move it into the Nave aisle. The enhancement is the making of a full a pedal board of 30 notes of straight and parallel design in keeping with the organ, and the combining of the 18 old Bourdon pipes with a new stopped bass which also discreetly and mechanically complete the gamut G the swell organ with a Stopped bass. Before our work the bottom 18 swell keys only back coupled to the great. By placing the 10 biggest Bourdon pipes outside of the original case, we have restored the early case line with the swellbox projecting above the back case as it did when England added it.

The historic pipework has all been reset and it retains its cone tuning. The chorus, apart from the open diapason dates back to probably pre-Restoration times. The swell pipework uses many of the pipes once on the old soundboard as the choir by communication. The Stop Diapason gives the clue that G P England was involved with the swell organ. The swell stop is the old choir treble, but as five extra pipes had to be taken he provided five new metal flutes for the great amongst the wooden pipework. These are of similar construction to that of his organ in St George Colegate.

An interesting discovery is that the swell organ compass extends only to e 53 without any pipes soundboard or action existing for the top keyboard note f 54. As this is entirely historical and intervention would be necessary to add pipes and soundboard space for note 54 we have not done this and have instead weighted the keyboard top key so that it does go up and down without sounding.

OBSERVATIONS; much information has been observed throughout this interesting work. The organ compass of CC – f 54 has probably been that since Samuel Street rebuilt the “England” organ in 1854.

The great organ, though not a major part of the work, was again been looked at. It definitely was once a soundboard for great organ and choir organ by communication. It once had a GG compass and two pallets per note (great & choir) with two slides for several of the stops. Within the upperboards of these stops are communication chambers complete with fly valves. The pipework is of the same age as these stops, 100+ years before GP England. Interestingly on the main framework rails is the site of earlier choir organ trundles marked Ch1 Ch2 and Ch 3. In its previous to Cawston form with the pipe and conveyance holes deserted, is an extra note at the bass on the C# side (slider hole, bar and cavity all there), and the lowest principal pipe is marked AA and is cut down. (I would suggest that the key compass was then BB, then CC – e; this with the BB sounding AA).

Click here to see the pipe markings

The great organ stopped diapason is of wood throughout except for six solidly capped metal pipes with long ears. I have long been perplexed by this, but upon looking at another GP England organ I observe that he used this form of metal stopped diapason; in the swell we find the wood pipes that may once have been on the great, which had its own treble above middle c, hence the need for extra pipes for the tenor octave. Before the work I was of the belief that GP England added the swell organ but at the restoration was surprised and mystified by the swell pipework. The swell open diapason has the lowest 4 pipes of 19th cent. construction – the rest are much older with markings more akin to the great organ (samples of markings have been recorded).

The casework. I have always stated that the older pine case is significantly intact behind the oak front case. The side panels even now are from the older case. More details were found of part of the shapes of the older decorations and photos have been taken of some of these details. I cannot say whether these belong to 1813 or earlier. On looking at a picture of Winchester organ case by designed by Edward Bloore in 1830s I see many similarities to the Cawston Façade. Is it then that the Cawston case façade was designed by Bloore? (It seems he died in 1879).

The organ has a fascinating history but much still remains for future unravelling. The present restoration has preserved everything historical that it can and nothing significant dating from earlier than the 20th century has been removed in the present work apart from the bulky 18 note pedal soundboard and action parts of late 19th century construction.