Handel’s organ wins the restoration lottery

RESTORATION The rare Handel Organ
RESTORATION The rare Handel Organ
Paradise Lost. Picture: Danny Payne

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AN HISTORIC 300-year-old organ will be restored to its former glory thanks to a £167,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The organ, at Holy Trinity Church in Trinity Green, Gosport, was originally commissioned in 1720 for the 1st Duke of Chandos while famous composer George Frederick Handel was his composer in residence.

The organ is one of only a handful with a genuine claim to have been played by Handel.

Constructed for the great chapel of Cannons, the 1st Duke of Chandos’ magnificent palace in Middlesex, it was bought by the Holy Trinity parishioners for their own church when the duke fell on hard times in the 1740s.

Reverend Andy Davis, of Holy Trinity Church, said: ‘We’re so pleased Heritage Lottery Fund has generously supported this project. It’s further evidence of the quality and heritage significance of this organ.

‘Some of the pipes are 300 years old. Wooden pipes split and soft metal pipes bulge and need delicate restoration. The work will be entrusted to a local organ builder, Andrew Cooper from Ryde, who has looked after the organ for many years, and kept it going despite its age.

‘It is a credit to the church that £42,000 has been raised during five years by an impressive regular concert programme which has attracted musicians and listeners to the church from near and far in large numbers, an adopt-a-pipe scheme by individual donations, and the support of several charities.’

As part of the project a heritage worker will work with primary and secondary schools, youth clubs, colleges and music groups. And a DVD will be created telling the story of the grade I listed instrument.

A series of concerts will be held to mark the completed restoration, expected to be next Easter.