7 Annotations

First Reading

Larry Bunce  •  Link

Organs for home use have always been for the well-off, but pipe organs come in sizes small enough to be carried around. I tried a search on 17th century English organs, and found this site for an organ building and restoration firm that has worked on organs of Pepys' era. One example given here looks like the entrance shown in a picture of the Bridewell Prison. The organ shown in the organ restorer's site is a bit awkwardly proportioned, with the facade pipes contained in a Palladian window sort of an opening. I was confused by Pepys' description at first, but now that I see this organ, I am amused by Pepys' apt and clever description of the organ's form.
On this page, there is a link to restoration projects. The 2nd organ on the top row of pictures was built a century after Pspys' time, but change was not quite so rapid in those days.
The organ itself dates to ancient times, where the well-furnished Roman villa included a hydraulis for entertainment. The Hydraulis, or "water organ," used air to sound the pipes, but steadied the wind from a pair of pumps shaped like large bicycle tire pumps, by means of an inverted funnel contained in a water tank. Air pressure in excess of that which sounded the pipes forced water out of the funnel, and then water pressure kept air flowing into the pipes when the pump was on its intake stroke.
This system actully provided a better wind supply than was possible until the 1820's when a system of feeder and reservoir bellows was invented.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Organ restoration was needed due to the post-1649 assault on the arts in England. "Beyond the confines of the court the Puritans removed organs from places of worship (so that in 1660 there were more in taverns than in churches) and closed the playhouses. More than 100 years later Horace Walpole, the aristocratic author of Anecdotes of Painting in England (who, like a good eighteenth-century Whig, slept with a copy of Charles I's death warrant above his bed), commented that `the arts were, in a manner, expelled with the royal family from Britain'. " http://www.nytimes.com/books/firs…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... the organ, which is handsome ... and makes me mighty earnest to have a pair at our church"

Pepys' use of "pair" to refer to an organ caught Paul Chapin's attention in 2010, so he went a-Googling, and found the following passage on page 33 of The Art of Organ Building by George Ashdown Audsley, complete with a reference to Pepys Diary of April 21, 1667:

'The term "pair" has no relation to the number of keyboards, or to the tonal divisions of the instrument, notwithstanding the fact that certain authorities believe it has. The Organ with two keyboards was, in olden time, properly called a "double Organ," or double Regal."

Mr. Albert Way, in "Promptorium Parvulorum" (Camden Society publication), remarks: "It appears that the usual term 'a pair of Organs' has reference to the double bellows, whereby continuous sound was produced." He overlooked the fact that the term "pair" was applied to other musical instruments that had no bellows.

Douce, an authority quoted by Way, tells us that a pair of Organs means an instrument "formed with a double row of pipes." This is incorrect; for the term was applied, as in the inventory above mentioned, to both single and double Regals.

Pepys, in his "Diary," describing his visit to Hackney Church, on April 20, 1667, says: "That which I went chiefly to see was the young ladies of the schools, whereof there is a great store, very pretty; and also the Organ, which is handsome and tunes the psalm and plays with the people; which is mighty pretty, and makes me mighty earnest to have a pair at our church, I having almost a mind to give them a pair if they would settle a maintenance on them for it." The use of the singular "it" is significant. Rimbault says: "Some authorities tell us that 'a pair of Organs' meant an Organ with two stops. But this could not have been the case; as, in Henry the Eighth's Household Book we read of 'a payer of Virginalls with four stoppes.'

The truth is that 'a pair of Organs' meant simply an Organ with more pipes than one. ... Jonson, Heywood, and other of the older poets, always use the term 'pair' in the sense of an aggregate, and as synonymous with 'set': thus we have 'a pair of chessmen,' 'a pair of beads,' 'a pair of cards,' 'a pair of Organs,' &c. When speaking of a flight of stairs, we could say a 'pair' of stairs. Therefore this ancient form of expression, although obsolete in most cases, is still in use at the present day."

Thank you, Paul.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

During the English Commonwealth, organs were removed from both College and Parish Churches; the instruments were sold, hidden or partially and totally destroyed. An ordinace dated 9 May, 1644, prohibited music in divine worship except for the singing of psalms and stipulated "that all Organs the frames and cases wherin they stand in all Churches and Chappels aforesaid shall be taken away and utterly defaced."

With the Restoration enthusiasm for organs "revived in a bewildering burst" and it became a matter of prestige to dignify sanctuaries, meeting places and even homes with them.

One organ built in 1637 and initially housed in Magdelen College, Oxford, escaped the 1644 ordinace and was moved to Hampton Court Palace by order of Oliver Cromwell sometime between 1654 and 1660. According to tradition John Milton played on this organ.

FROM: https://www.artwarefineart.com/ga…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula today houses an organ which was completed in the reign of William III (1689-1702) but had been commissioned by Charles II (1660-85) for Whitehall Palace by Bernhardt Schmidt.
It was moved to the Tower in 1890, from the Banqueting House in Whitehall.

A picture of a lovely carving on the organ case depicting cherubs' faces can be seen at https://www.bridgemanimages.com/e…

When Pepys says, "This day the organs did begin to play at White Hall before the King." -- Sunday, 17 June, 1660 -- I assumed it was in the Whitehall Chapel where Charles II regularly attended services, not the Banqueting House.
Perhaps the answer is that in time there were more than one organ at Whitehall -- or that it was portable.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Turns out I assumed correctly. Over time there were several organs in more than one location at Whitehall. In 1660 the first was in the Chapel.
More information about the organ at Whitehall Chapel can be found at

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.