Rebuilding complete! -
The rebuilt organ

Work started in September 2003 with the removal of the organ and the rebuilding was completed in July 2004.

For pictures of the removal of the organ for rebuilding follow this link

The organ has now been used for services and concerts and has been received with critical acclaim for its greatly improved sound.

For pictures of the work on the organ at Nicholson's factory click this link

For pictures of the rebuilding of the organ in the Priory follow this link

The Inaugural Recital was given by

16 October, 2004
        Bach             Fantasia & Fugue in G minor BWV 542
        Flagler          Variations on an Old American Air
        Locklair       Rubrics
        Widor          Allegro vivace (from Symphony No 5)
        Mathias       Toccata Giocosa
        Elgar            Vesper Voluntaries
        Wagner       Overture: Rienzi  arr. E H Lemare

Why was the organ rebuilt?

Great Malvern Priory was founded over 900 years ago, and there are records of organs in the Priory since 1551. The present organ is based on a instrument built in 1850, originally with two manuals. In 1862 a 'Choir' manual was added, followed by a 'Solo' manual in 1880. In 1927 the organ was completely rebuilt, incorporating much of the earlier pipework, and the magnificent oak case was added. The most recent major work on the organ was in 1977, when an  overhaul of as much of the instrument as was accessible was undertaken. (More details may be found in the Organ History section).

Manuals Although the organ had been regularly maintained, it had deteriorated considerably. An April 2000 report by Nicholson and Co., who maintained the organ, concluded that ' it is in a very poor state and we are having difficulty containing the situation' . Over the past few years, the reliability of the instrument became unacceptably poor.

Several major problems were identified:


Follow this link to see the Inside of the Organ before removal to the workshop

The Rebuilding

Following discussions with our organ consultant, Adrian Lucas (Organist and Master of the Choristers at Worcester Cathedral), and with various organ manufacturers, the Priory PCC adopted the following, which was considered to be an achievable, cost-effective and long-term solution which best met the musical requirements of all the Priory’s activities.


To see the specification of the organ, go to Organ Specification

The Cost

The cost of the rebuilding was about £380,000.

The Contract was awarded to Nicholson & Co., the world-renowned Malvern firm of organ builders. They have a long history of making fine organs and have an unequalled reputation for the quality of their work. Recent examples include Portsmouth and Gloucester Cathedrals, and Christchurch Priory. The Priory project was the first to be completed in their new, extensive factory near Malvern.

Organ History

This section is taken mainly from 'History of Organs at Malvern Priory', an excellent booklet written in 1979 by Richard Dacey, the Priory organist from 1977 to 1980. This booklet, although out of print, contains fascinating details and specifications of all Priory organs for the past 200 years.

The first record of an organ occurs in an inventory of 1551 which listed 'a Peyre of Organyes' (pair of organs), the phrase used in those days to denote a single instrument. It would probably have stood upon a screen at the entrance of the choir. Towards the end of the 18th century, a gallery was erected at the west end of the church for the "psalm singers". In 1817/18 the church bought an organ by the English builder Samuel Green, which is thought to have come from the Concert Room in The Opera House, Covent Garden, where it had been installed in 1794. This was subsequently sold in 1850 to the United Methodist Church at Dudley Port, Birmingham, and replaced by a new two manual instrument from Nicholson's of Worcester.

In 1861, during the restoration of the building by Sir Gilbert Scott, this instrument was moved from the west end to a gallery position under the south arch of the central tower, the position of the present organ. A third manual (Choir) was added at this time, and in 1880 a fourth manual (Solo). The gallery was then removed and the console placed at floor level. With the addition of lever pneumatic action, the organ was now 'an imposing instrument', but its great size required three men to operate the bellows! By 1904 the organ was in serious need of repair, but work had to be postponed because of the First World War.

Dr Louis Hamand FSA (organist 1910-1945) was responsible for the specification and also raising nearly £6,000 for the  four manual organ. This was built by Rushworth and Dreaper Ltd in 1927. A portion of the existing pipework, mostly from the organs of 1861 and 1880, was incorporated in an otherwise entirely new instrument. The oak case, which was added in 1932, was designed by Mr W D Caroe, the Priory architect. It was made by Messrs Haughton Brothers of Worcester from wood grown in Malvern Chase.

The organ loft (i.e. the oak screen around the organ console) was erected in 1961 in memory of Dr Hamand, who not only master-minded the specification and fund-raising for the 1927 organ, but also meticulously supervised the storage of the Priory's mediaeval glass during the Second World War.

In 1977 a complete overhaul was undertaken by Rushworth and Dreaper Ltd, the builders.

Follow this link to see the complete list of Priory Organists since 1818.