Gray Organ

1793 organ – Robert and William Gray

2012 restoration by Martin Goetze and Dominic Gwynn

 

One of the highlights of 2013 at St Patrick’s has been the first organ recital series for at least one hundred years. The restoration of the Gray organ was completed in January 2013, and the organ recital series commenced on 8 May, with the inaugural recital performed by Martin Baker, Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral.

The organ was built by brothers Robert and William Gray, noted organ-makers of the time. It was built for the first chapel on the site and therefore pre-dates the current 1891 Italianate church building. An inventory file of 1794 states that that the Roman Catholic Chapel housed “a capital organ, long octaves in a mahogany case. Two sets of keys, great organ and swell, and one octave of double diapason pipes. Made by Messrs Grays.” In addition, “It is apparently the first recorded Double Diapason in English organ history provided independently on the pedal keys, which were also a rarity.” (Musselbrook, 2008)

Today it remains an important instrument, not least because it is one of the very few early Roman Catholic organs surviving in England, and the only one in a public church. In addition, it is on this organ that some of the earliest Roman Catholic music written in England would have been performed by previous organists at St Patrick’s, most notably by Samuel Webbe and Vincent Novello.

The Gray organ is a unique feature of the church, and following the beautiful restoration of the church building in 2011, it contributes to completing the restoration of all the remarkable and historical features in the church.