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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.

Tubes connecting organ console to pipes
Tubes connecting organ console to pipes
Organ restorer at work
Organ keyboards
Loose organ stops
Organ restorers at work
Organ restorer with pipes
Organ console
Adjusting console key action
Names of soldiers on commemorative plaque
Metal organ pipes
Metal organ pipes
Organ pipes in soundboard
Loose pipes in wooden box
Organ pipes
Organ restorer at work with large pipe
Organ restorer at console
Organ restorer with large metal pipes
Organ restorer with wooden pipes
Organ keyboards
Organ restorer with pipe
Organ restorer at work
Restorers' hands on organ keyboard
Hands at work on organ restoration
Organ restorer at work
Organ restorer at work
Organ restorer
Organ restorers behind screen at St Mellitus Church
Hands of organ restorer adjusting key
"They were a wall unto us both night and day"
Organ pipe
Tubes connecting organ console to pipesOrgan restorer at workOrgan keyboardsLoose organ stopsOrgan restorers at workOrgan restorer with pipesOrgan consoleAdjusting console key actionNames of soldiers on commemorative plaqueMetal organ pipesMetal organ pipesOrgan pipes in soundboardLoose pipes in wooden boxOrgan pipesOrgan restorer at work with large pipeOrgan restorer at consoleOrgan restorer with large metal pipesOrgan restorer with wooden pipesOrgan keyboardsOrgan restorer with pipeOrgan restorer at workRestorers' hands on organ keyboardHands at work on organ restorationOrgan restorer at workOrgan restorer at workOrgan restorerOrgan restorers behind screen at St Mellitus ChurchHands of organ restorer adjusting key"They were a wall unto us both night and day"Organ pipe

Charlotte Wilson

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