TWELVE years ago I was passing through Gosport and noticed Holy Trinity Church, set in a tree-lined space close to the Gosport Ferry terminal and esplanade.
I popped in and the visit changed my life.
Many Gosport residents have yet to discover what I found – a treasure on their doorstep.
The church is home to a fabulous organ built for the composer George Frideric Handel in 1720 when he was composer-in-residence to the Duke of Chandos at Canons, his extravagant home at Edgware.
Handel was influential in the design of the instrument and composed many of his famous pieces on it.
The organ was acquired by Holy Trinity in 1748 when Canons was demolished and all its artefacts sold to pay off the Duke’s debts.
When I first played the organ, it was in poor condition, yet the sound of the 300-year-old pipework was enchanting.
In a moment of madness, I committed myself to its restoration.
With the support of the vicar, Father Andy Davis, and the congregation, I set about organising the restoration which – with the help of the National Lottery Heritage Fund – was finally completed in 2013, eight years after my first visit to the church.
The restoration and its promotion cost nearly £200,000.
The organ is used to enhance the worship at Sunday services and for recitals. There is a concert on the first Sunday of each month at 3.30pm, which often includes the organ, and an organ recital on the third Monday of each month at 1pm.
Students can have lessons on the organ and eminent organists from near and far come to play.
I love teaching and if you are a competent pianist of any age who aspires to learn the organ, then do get in touch with me at Holy Trinity.
The story of the Handel organ and its restoration has now been told in a new 32-page, fully illustrated colour booklet which is available to buy in the church for £5, with all profits going to the continuing maintenance of this magnificent instrument.
A DVD is in preparation and a CD will follow.