Raising roof for Spilsby’s historic church organ

Organist Margaret Cook with church warden Trevor Howsam.at St James Church, Spilsby.. ANL-170328-182417001
Organist Margaret Cook with church warden Trevor Howsam.at St James Church, Spilsby.. ANL-170328-182417001

Organists will soon be raising the roof at a series of special events in a church at Spilsby to celebrate a historic restoration.

The William Hill organ in St James Parish Church has recently been renovated and to mark this the organist laureate of Lincoln Cathedral, Colin Walsh, will be giving a recital there in June.

William Hill – one of this country’s community of renowned organ builders - was born in Spilsby in 1789 and died in 1870.

A stained glass window in the south aisle of the church is dedicated to him.

He inherited his father in law’s workshop in St Pancras, London, where his sons joined him later.

The organ was built by William Hill in 1840 for the west gallery of St James – the parish church of the Hill family.

It was a one-manual instrument, which his firm enlarged to two manuals (by adding a Swell) in 1866. In 1879, following the Victorian rebuilding of the church, the Hill company moved the instrument to its present position on the south side of the chancel.

The Rev Peter Coates said: “The history connected to William Hill is why we wish to celebrate restoration of the organ in St James Church.

”Our organ was getting in a serious state - the leather had dried out and was splitting and air was escaping when the organ was being played.”

The restoration was undertaken by Chris Hind of Aistrup and Hind of Lincoln. Organist Margaret Cook said: “It sounds much clearer now. Every one of the 1,000 pipes were taken out and cleaned.”

The former headteacher at several schools in the area said she has been playing the organ ‘off and on’ for 40 years.

She said: “Now the organ has been renovated we want as many organists as possible to come along and play it, which is why we are holding a series of special events. Hopefully then we will be able to have more recitals in the church.”

Events are being held at St James Parish Church to celebrate the renovation of the William Hill organ.

Organists or anyone interested in church organs are invited to go to St James Church and play the organ on Saturday, May 13, between 12noon and 4pm.

As well as enjoying the experience of playing a William Hill organ, tea and coffee will be served.

Organist Laureate of Lincoln Cathedral, Colin Walsh, will be giving a recital at St James on Friday, June 30, at 7pm. Tickets for the recital by Mr Walsh will be sold prior to the event or at the door at £10 each.

Then on Saturday, July 1 there will be choirs and organists playing in the church during the day, followed by a concert by Zero Degree.