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Rare Heydon Pipe Organ saved

The organ in the historic village of Heydon is to be restored – thanks to a grant of £33,600 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Combined with the £15,000 already raised by activities in the village, the Lottery funding has allowed the work to begin following the church’s Easter services.

The organ was donated to Heydon Parish church in 1883 by General Edward Bulwer in memory of his wife, Belle, who had died aged 45. General Bulwer was a member of the family, now Bulwer-Long, who have owned the Heydon estate and have lived at Heydon Hall since 1756. Heydon village is one of only about a dozen English villages that remain predominantly family owned.

In 2014, the organ was awarded a Grade II certificate by the British Institute of Organ Studies (BIOS) as it includes an unusual reverse console, which permits the player to look out in to the church instead of facing inward.

Since its installation, it has been regularly played and has given 135 years of reliable service with a minimum amount of maintenance, except for a clean and overhaul in 1922, the replacement of the blower in 2014 and regular tuning. The organ has been listed in the BIOS register of Historic Pipe Organs as “an instrument of importance to the national heritage and deserving of careful preservation for the benefit of future generations.”

However, in recent years, the organ has become unreliable and difficult to play, and in 2014 the Parochial Church Council decided that it needed a full renovation and so funds for that purpose have been raised by those who live in Heydon from their two main annual events – a Tug of War and an Open Gardens Day.

As part of the organ project, there will be awareness and fund-raising activities including; visits to the church for local school children so that they can see the work in progress on the organ, a new church guide booklet, a flyer on the organ restoration (aimed at children) a celebratory concert and it is expected that in 2022 the Tug of War and Open Gardens events will take place again.

The Revd Andrew Whitehead, Team Vicar said: “Organs remain an important part of Christian worship in many English churches, and this is certainly the case in Heydon where the organ supports our weekly worship as well as weddings and funerals in the church. It’s amazing to be granted these funds, raised by National Lottery players, and we are grateful, too, for all the village fundraising which has made this project possible”