Category Archives: Church History

Bevington & Sons : Victorian Organ Builders

Probably the name of this firm will be unknown to everyone in the church, but everyone will have heard what it was they manufactured – our organ.
The firm was founded by Henry Bevington in Soho, London in about 1820 and continued until 1950. During this time they built just over 2100 organs. After Henry Bevington’s death in 1839 the firm was carried on by his four sons, Henry, Alfred, Martin and Charles and was continued by subsequent generations. They not only built organs in Great Britain but also exported them to Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean, USA and other places. Just imagine exporting an organ to Australia when the only method of doing so was a sailing ship. Such a journey would take
about four months. Long before IKEA they sent their organs abroad in flat pack! Every part was carefully labelled and colour coded. On arrival the organ would be assembled by a local craftsman following the very detailed instructions. Most of their organs were comparatively small. I believe the largest organ they built was a three manual (keyboard) for St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields, London.

Our organ was built in 1883 for Marylebone Presbyterian Church, London and was a two manual instrument of 19 speaking stops. That church then wanted a larger organ and had a new organ built by Hele’s of Plymouth in 1898. Glenorchy bought this organ the same year and part of the front wall of the church was removed to create the organ chamber to accommodate it. Subsequently more stops have been added and it now has 30 speaking stops. These are what the organist uses to control the sound coming from the individual pipes. Altogether, our organ has just under 1400 pipes.

I learnt some of this information from a book I recently bought about the Bevington family and their organs. I don’t think I’ve ever read such a discursive book! Every time a person or firm which the Bevingtons had contact with there’s an account of their life.
David Lee