Friends of St Cuthbert's Church
Clungunford, Shropshire
Patron: Sir Roy Strong
St Cuthbert's Clungunford

Organ & Music

The Organ

The Organ

The organ at Clungunford Parish Church was presented to the church by John Charles Levenson Rocke. It was dedicated on 19 October 1895 by the Archbishop of York at a service attended by the Bishop of Hereford, when the recently restored church was rededicated.

James J. Binns of Leeds was chosen to build the organ, because of the high reputation for the quality of his work. His organ at Clungunford is made of the finest materials, finished to a very high standard, with an oak case containing some of the spotted metal pipes of the Great Open Diapason. The instrument uses Binns’ own Patent Pneumatic Action; the bill for construction and installation was £758 5s.

Because of its high-quality construction, the organ has needed much less maintenance than other instruments of the same vintage. Based partly on the writings of Frank Mitchell, on pages 88-92 of The Organ in April 1982, we have established that the organ has undergone three restorations of varying degree:

1. In 1928, the organ received its first cleaning and overhaul, and the fitting of tuning slides (to avoid the damage inherent in “cone-tuning”), by William Andrews & Sons of Bradford, at a cost of £77 10s.

2. In 1949, an electric blower was installed.

3. In 1981, the instrument was sympathetically cleaned, overhauled, and restored by Terence Aistrup of Horncastle, Lincolnshire, who was an expert in tubular-pneumatic action. The cost was £2,789.43, and this sum was raised largely due to the efforts of Gordon Hayes, who lived with his wife, Marion, at Bentley House.

Wisely—and in a relatively rare sequence of events—all of the above work was conducted without any tonal alterations, such as those that have marred many other instruments (at considerable expense) during the “neo-baroque” craze of the 1950s and 1960s.  In other words, the instrument still remains an honest-to goodness English parish church organ. It is now maintained by Nicholsons of Malvern.

The St. Cuthbert’s J.J. Binns organ is a fine instrument, whose sound is greatly enhanced by the remarkably resonant acoustic of the church. The individual stops are beautifully voiced and offer a wide range of tonal colour, from gentle strings and flutes to a weighty Open Diapason and fiery Trumpet on the Great organ. In combination the stops provide the player with a wide variety of sounds, from distant echo effects to a very grand full organ.

The 100th anniversary of the organ was commemorated on 8th July 1995 by a concert given by the Ashbrook Singers (directed by the late Tom Baker) and Jim Wilkes, who illustrated the various tonalities of the instrument and also played a selection of “old favourites.”  Jim (now a resident of Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A.) was an evacuee from Southampton during World War II, living with his grandmother in nearby Wistanstow.  Jim first visited St. Cuthbert’s in 1944, with his neighbour, Graham Jukes, who was then organist at the church.

The organ has two manuals and twenty-two speaking stops. Its specification is given below:

Sample Music

Click the link above listen to 'Prelude in G Major BWV 550' by J. S. Bach. Played by Rev. Barney Bell at the Clungunford Village Choir concert "European Journey" on Saturday 25th June 2011.

Click the link above to listen to 'Were you there when they crucified my Lord' perfromed by Clungunford Village Choir and friends at a Holy week Workshop in church in April 2011.

Click the link above to listen to Psalm 47 to the tune "Old Foster" performed by Clungunford Village Choir at a concert in church in July 2010.

Click the links above to listen to recordings made on Friday 5th October 2012. Played by Prof. Jim Wilkes.

The Organ-2


Bourdon – 16
Open Diapason – 8
Hohl Flute – 8
Dolce – 8
Principal – 4
Flute Harmonique – 4
Piccolo – 2
Trumpet – 8


Right stop jamb
Right stop jamb.
Left stop jamb
Left stop jamb.

Geigen Principal – 8
Lieblich Gedact – 8
Echo Dulciana – 8
Gamba – 8
Unda Maris – 8
Salicet – 4
Dulciana Mixture – III ranks
Oboe – 8
Horn – 8


Bourdon – 16
Contre Bass – 16
Quint – 10 2/3
Octave Bass – 8
Flute Bass – 8


Couplers: Great to Pedal, Swell to Pedal
Seven Combination Pedals, Swell to Great
Reversible Pedal Great to Pedal
Balanced Swell Pedal

The Bells

The Bells

The bells that make up our tuneful ring of six bells were cast over a span of 600 years.  There were three bells in Clungunford in mediaeval times, and until 1895 they hung in a turret at the west end of the nave.  The lightest of the three was inscribed, in Latin, “John’s bell will ring for ever”.  It was recast by Isaac Hadley of Leominster in 1703.  When the present tower was built in 1895, the three bells were hung in it, and because this bell had become cracked it was replaced by Taylor’s of Loughborough.  The mediaeval inscription does not appear on it.  It is now the fourth of our present ring of six.

The fifth of our present ring is the oldest bell, and it has been sounding out its message over the village and the surrounding countryside for over 600 years.  It was cast by the Gloucester foundry in the second half of the fourteenth century, not long after the nave was roofed.  Its Latin inscription is translated as “Sent from heaven, my name is Gabriel”. The largest bell, the Tenor, is also mediaeval, and weighs 7½ hundredweight.  It was cast by the Worcester foundry in the early fifteenth century and its Latin inscription means “May it sound sweetly and pleasantly by the prayer of St Cuthbert”.

In 1980s there was renewed interest in the bells, and funds were raised to buy two second-hand bells that were tuned to match the existing three bells.  One was cast in 1889 and the other was cast in 1870.  Further fundraising made it possible to add an extra steel frame in the tower to hang these two bells in 1996.  In 1997, a generous gift enabled us to ask Taylor’s to cast a new bell to be the Treble of a ring of six.  It is inscribed “My song is love unknown”.

There is a pamphlet in the church describing the bells in more detail.

The bells are rung every Thursday by a band of local ringers, who also ring them before church services. A Quarter Peal is rung to celebrate special occasions.  Groups of ringers from further afield sometimes come to ring at Clungunford and anyone wanting to ring here should contact the Churchwardens.

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