St Mary's Organ Appeal

Patron: The Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans

Preserving the music tradition of St Mary's for the next generation

Stop press
Update - 16 January 2020 The organ is now almost complete. We now look forward to our Gala Inaugural Organ Recital by our organ consultant Paul Hale on Saturday 14 March at 7:30pm
Update - 19 October 2019 The west-facing display pipes have been mounted marking the completion of the construction phase. There now begins the tuning and regulating of the 2250 pipes
Update - 22 September 2019 Most of the pipework has now been installed
Update - 9 September 2019 The console has been delivered and it was blessed by the Bishop of St Albans at our Patronal Festival on Sunday 8 September
Update - 20 August 2019 More pipework including the north arch display pipes has been installed
Update - 23 June 2019 The swell box, positive soundboard, unit chests and the bottom pipes of the 16-foot violone have been installed
Update - 15 June 2019 Building work has begun with the installation of the bottom octave of the 16-foot trombone, 16-foot bourdon
Update - 7 June 2019 Work is done on the organ loft and the large 16-foot pipes have been delivered
Update - 23 May 2019 The old organ has been removed
Update - 11 May 2019 More pipeword has been delivered
Update - 7 March 2019 Henry Groves and Son has delivered the first items after refurbishment - the Positive Soundboard and Positive and Great pipework

Why does St Mary's need a new organ?

Our current organ is older than the church! It was built in 1885 for the old St John the Baptist church (located where the War Memorial now stands). When St Mary's was built in 1915 it was installed as a temporary measure. The last major work was done in 1991 and the organ is now in need of major repair:

  • Much of the pipework has collapsed and is beyond repair
  • The wooden components have warped
  • The shutters on the swell box no longer close properly
  • Many notes no longer sound and others stick (meaning the sound lasts after the key has been released)
  • It is becoming increasingly difficult to tune and maintain with some pipes being untunable
  • The piston action (which controls combinations of stops) is unreliable
  • The console is falling apart

After taking expert advice from our Organ Consulant, Mr Paul Hale (ex-Organist at Southwell Minster), and the Diocesan Organ Adviser, Mr Andrew Lucas (Master of Music at St Albans Abbey), the PCC has decided not to repair our current instrument. It has given faithful service to our parish for over 130 years but it has come to the end of its life and repair would be expensive and not a good use of our funds.

Fortunately a perfect instrument has become available and this will be transferred to St Mary's by Henry Groves and Son during 2019 at a cost of just over £97,000 ex-VAT.

The new organ

The new organ is currently located in St Alkmund and St Werburgh's church in Derby. It was built in 1888 by TC Lewis and then rebuilt in 1972 by JW Walker and Sons, both organ builders of high repute. St Alkmund's no longer requires the organ so it is available. It is a fine instrument which will work very well in St Mary's excellent acoustic and is the sort of instrument which would have been installed had St Mary's been completed to its original design. It will substantially increase interest in the musical life of the church, providing opportunities for recitals and concerts, as well as contributing considerably to the church's worship.

Some basic stats

Number of pipes:2,250
Number of keyboards:3
Number of stops:50
Length of largest pipe:18 feet
Length of smallest pipe:3 inches

How you can help

Over the last decade or so we have raised a staggering £100,000. Thank you to everyone who has so generously contributed. However we still need a further £10,000 to cover VAT.

By contributing you will be helping to ensure the future of our musical tradition for God, our church and our town.

You can help in many ways:

  • Buying a pipe (£20), an octave of pipes (£100) or a full rank of pipes (£1,000)
  • Visiting our EasyFunding site where you can donate while shopping
  • Offering accommodation or meals for the organ builders whilst they are on-site
  • Above all, remembering the organ project in your prayers

If you would like to make a donation you can do so electronically ('PCC of Potters Bar', a/c 20712337, sort code 20-92-54, please use the reference 'Organ Appeal') or, if you would like to pay in cash of via a cheque please download the Appeal Leaflet and complete the form on the last page.

If you would like to know more about our Organ Appeal please email to