The Church is large enough to enable a variety of musical events to take place whilst offering plenty of seating capacity for the audience. Events that have taken place include many instrumental and choral performances. St Cuthbert’s Church in Norham has a magnificent organ.
MUSICAL EVENTS IN ST CUTHBERT’S CHURCH.
There have been a number of very successful and varied performances in Norham Parish Church in the last couple of years, encompassing a wide variety of tastes in music from serious to silly, classical to folk, and of course a very dramatic Dracula in September 2015!
If you would like to receive information about the programme for 2016, please email [email protected] and your name can be added to our mailing list.
Some upcoming events:
Norham St Cuthbert’s Church Organ
A General Description and some of its history as well as the story of its restoration.
It is known that there was an organ in Norham Church prior to the present one. It stood in the north aisle and apparently had a fine case. Nothing further is known about it.
The present organ was built by the firm of J J Binns of Leeds in 1897. It is a fine example of Binns work, with two manuals and pedals. When it was built, the organ was transported in sections to Norham by train, taken from the station to the church by cart and installed in the newly built chamber on the north side of the church. A newspaper report at the time is printed below and stated that it was “an extremely handsome instrument and is worthy in both appearance and tone to the noble church it adorns”.
100 years on, no-one would disagree with that assessment of the instrument, but over the years it has suffered a considerable amount of wear and tear, some rain damage from a leaking roof, and some accidental damage.
Organs being made entirely of natural materials – leather, felt and some metal – parts had worn out and needed to be replaced. As the entire wind supply works through a pneumatic system there was a considerable amount of leather to be replaced.
Julian Bonia, who has been organist at Norham since 1983, undertook the restoration, working in such free time as he could spare over a period of about ten years. During part of that time the organ which is now in service in St John’s Parish Church, Spittal, was used instead.
Some tonal alterations were also made, making the instrument as versatile as possible, both for service accompaniment and for concerts and recitals. The original quality of the instrument has been preserved and its sound gives much pleasure to organists and audiences. The specification of the organ is shown further down this page.
Here are a few pictures showing some details of the work that was done during the restoration. On the left some of the reeds are being cleaned. The picture on the right shows the tops of some of the 16′ pedal pipes.
Below, replacement tracker wires are shown being made. The wide-ranging scale of work is, perhaps, well illustrated in the two pictures on the right showing Julian’s daughter (then aged 7) standing beside the largest box pipe while holding the smallest pipe from the organ. The close-up taken beside the mouth of that large box pipe, clearly shows the difference in sizes between the great and the small!
Newspaper Article from circa 1895
“The New Organ of Norham Church”
The new organ in Norham Parish Church, to be dedicated by the Lord Bishop of Newcastle on Monday next, the 21st inst., stands in the north-eastern corner of the edifice in the organ chamber, which was added when the church was so admirably restored in 1885, under the Rev. Canon Waite D.D., the present Vicar. It is an extremely handsome instrument, and is worthy in both appearance and tone to the noble church it adorns. It has been built by Mr. James J. Binns of the Bramley Organ Works, Leeds. The case, which was especially subscribed for, is of fumigated wainscot oak, of a beautiful and simple design, eminently in harmony with the character of the building. It also was made by Mr. Binns from a design furnished by Canon Waite, somewhat on the lines of the case of the old organ. The central part of the case is in the form of an ornamental arch of carved tracery work, and is elevated above the portions on each side. It is surmounted by the figure of an angel in oak, holding a gilded trumpet. All the pipes in the case are gilded, and the effect of the gold with the fumigated oak is singularly happy and successful. Nor is the work inside the organ and mostly out of sight at all inferior to that envisible. Down to the minutest details, Mr. Binns has bestowed the most scrupulous care. The result is an instrument of a very high standard; one which, by the extreme sweetness of its tone, the clearness of its articulation, and the beauty of its appearance, cannot but add to the builder’s already excellent reputation. The organ has two manuals, and an uncommon feature has been introduced in placing part of the great organ under expressive control, enabling the organist to obtain some of the effects of an organ with three manuals. The action is the system of tubular pneumatics, patented by the builder, and used with much success throughout the country. Its operation is most ingenious and effective, whilst it does away with the old arrangement of trackers. “