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This week I have been researching the organ in our Picture Gallery at Attingham. The organ is very special as it is one of only a few surviving examples of an organ built by Samuel Green. He designed organs for King George III and some of his organs are installed in places such as Westminster Abbey and Canterbury Catherdral. Noel Hill, 1st Lord Berwick commissioned Samuel Green to build the organ which was created in 1788 just after Lord Berwick’s new home was completed in 1785.
 
1788 Samuel Green chamber organ in the Picture Gallery at Attingham

1788 Samuel Green chamber organ in the Picture Gallery at Attingham. The pipes on the front are for display only and the real pipes are located inside.

We believe the organ was originally located in the Drawing Room at Attingham. George Steuart was the architect for Lord Berwick’s new house and his plan shows a design for two organs situated in that room.

c.1782 plan for the Drawing Room at Attingham

c.1782 plan by George Steuart for the Drawing Room at Attingham featuring two organs.

Between 1805-7 John Nash, the Regency architect built a large Picture Gallery for Thomas, 2nd Lord Berwick. At this point the organ must have been moved to this new space as it is mentioned in the 1827 bankruptcy sale cataloge as ‘a noble brilliant-toned finger organ, by that celebrated Maker, Samuel Green.’ The description continues: ‘the above organ would be a valuable acquisition to any church, chapel, or concert room, as its fine qualities, and body of tone, are rarely to be met with.’ 

The organ in the Picture Gallery at Attingham

The organ is situated at the east end of the Picture Gallery at Attingham and was not sold in the 1827 sale.

 

The 1st Lord Berwick had six children and his eldest daughter, Henrietta was particularly musical. Henrietta (1769-1831) married Charles, Marquess of Ailesbury in 1793. She was in Italy with her mother and two younger sisters and he rescued her from a serious riding accident.

Henrietta, eldest daughter of 1st Lord Berwick of Attingham Park

Portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence of Henrietta, eldest daughter of 1st Lord Berwick.

The organ would have provided great atmosphere to the house, and still does today via a recording of the organ that we have made. Visitors today hear a selection of music that would have been played in the 1780s which really adds to the atmosphere in the Picture Gallery. You can listen to some of the music played here.

When the Picture Gallery roof project takes place in 2013 and 2014, the organ will need to be protected in situ. To ensure it stays safe, it will be vacuum wrapped to prevent any dust getting inside. We will keep you informed of the roof project through our mansion blog so look out for our future posts.

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