Failing organ given new life in Upton

Author: Chris Bond

Published on: 24 March 2017

A successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund is financing the complete restoration of a fine Victorian church organ in Norfolk and an exciting community project.

St Margaret’s Church at Upton,  near Acle, was awarded £72,800 to repair and restore its Holdich organ, built in 1865. Work started in September last year and should be finished by Autumn 2017.

The project was inspired by organist Jeanette Monument, who has played the instrument for more than 60 years. She knew it was deteriorating and needed rescuing for future generations. Around £10,000 was raised locally but a large cash injection was also needed.

To succeed, an HLF bid must include significant community involvement and an element of future-proofing; so a programme of workshops for school children and local people was launched in July 2016. It was not simply a question of restoring the organ but of documenting the history of the instrument, the church and its music, and sharing this with the community.

The project includes the appointment of a researcher to locate and interpret archive material relating to the organ and to present the findings in a meaningful way. And once the restoration is complete, three organ scholarships will be offered to encourage more people to take up the instrument.

The HLF process often seemed long and hard and the first application was rejected for lack of community involvement. But perseverance and hard work paid off and has ensured the future of this fine instrument.

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