St Mellitus Church, in London’s Stroud Green, has at last fulfilled a long-held ambition to restore its historic First World War memorial organ.
In 2019 the church received a generous grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to repair the organ and implement an ambitious plan of community activities and events. Additional contributions have been generously donated by the St Mellitus congregation and supporters.
A Catholic church since 1959, the organ was commissioned in 1920 by the New Court Congregational Chapel, who had built the church in 1871.
The organ dates from the golden era of respected organ makers Alfred Hunter & Son of Clapham. It was built as a memorial to 221 men associated with New Court Chapel who went to fight in the First World War. Of these men, 46 died and 175 returned.
It’s only fairly recently that current parishioners learned of the historical and musical importance of the church’s organ, which had fallen into disrepair.
The St Mellitus Organ Restoration Project has restored the organ to its former glory and we celebrated the centenary of its original dedication in December 2020 with an online concert. In accordance with the wishes of the parish’s forefathers 100 years ago, the organ is once again a permanent memorial: “a constant reminder of those we would honour”.
An ambitious programme of activities accompanied the restoration, including podtours, new music commissions, concerts, schools resources and a film about the project made by young people. We also created a digital archive telling the stories of the men commemorated by the organ.
The organ is now in regular use for worship and for concerts, and we welcome everyone to come and hear its magnificent sound and to share our local and musical heritage.