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...St Mellitus now

Visitors to St Mellitus will be able to hear the historic First World War memorial organ resound again on 16 and 17 September, when the church is part of the 2023 Open House Festival (12-4pm Saturday and 1-4pm Sunday).

A busy programme of events includes two organ recitals on Saturday, by Elizabeth Valentine and Ronan Cormacain, and one on Sunday, by Charlotte Pomery. 

There will also be talks by parishioner, peace campaigner and author Valerie Flessati; Karen Brookfield, a member of the St Mellitus Organ Restoration Project’s volunteer research team; and Jerry Tate, a local architect and parishioner. 

Valerie will be speaking about the restoration of the organ, which was unveiled in 1920 in memory of the 221 men of the parish who served in the First World War. This historic ‘king of instruments’ was restored to its former glory, with generous support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, in time for its centenary in 2020. 

Karen’s talk will be on the history of the building, which opened in 1871 as New Court Congregational Chapel and became a Roman Catholic Church in 1959, and Jerry will be discussing its architecture. Designed by Charles Gray Searle, New Court was, like many Congregational churches, designed for oratory, hence the wonderful acoustic that can be experienced during the weekend’s recitals.     

For the past three years, the research team have been uncovering the stories of the soldiers commemorated by the organ, and Open House weekend offers a chance to step back into the history of their lives and this remarkable building.

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