The Dia-Octon is common to many Holdich organs. It normally features 12
extra pipes for each of the 8 and 4ft stops but here we have an early
example where the extra keyboard notes are provided at the top. The organ
has been returned to its original form of cone tuning; the form of unequal
temperament tuning used by Holdich has also been recreated.
Holdich must have built this chamber organ in the early 1840's. It is
younger, by a trifle, than his organ at nearby Southwick but older than
those of his that this firm has restored at Wiveton, Norfolk (built for
the great exhibition of 1851), and at Frilsham Berkshire, of the mid
1850's. More recent history shows that the organ was at Stibbington
near Peterborough before being moved to Laxton in the 1920's.
Interestingly George Holdich's brother was rector of Bulwick long before
this organ came to Laxton.
The organ had suffered over the years -
before the 2000 restoration the Twelfth stop was missing, the lowest 5
notes, GG - BB had been removed, as had the pedalboard, its hole covered
over by a piece of wood. The casework had become shabby and the gold leaf
on the ornate front pipes had given way to silver paint. Celluloid had
replaced the original ivory covering of the keys. All of these points have
been restored and the original musical nature of the organ tone has been
carefully recreated. Music found in Laxton's church chest must have
accompanied the organ in its past travels.
A volume of "The
Organists Companion" is inscribed "Given to Jane Holdich from her brother
GM Holdich June 26th 1841 Maidwell Hall". (Holdich's father was rector of
Maidwell). In one of the pieces is a hand registration written in
"Principal Bass" - this organ has that stop and such is quite a rare name.
Does this mean that this organ could have been in Maidwell Hall, the place
of the builders birth?
Restoration of the missing pedalboard
involved research; both Southwick and Wiveton were examined in great
detail to arrive at the exact nature of the original.