Organs at Littlemore Church

Littlemore Church has had at least four organs since its consecration in 1836. An early sketch of the interior (right) dating from 1839 shows what appears to be a small chamber organ on the north side, where the pulpit is now, perhaps a temporary instrument borrowed by Newman for the opening of the church. During Lent 1840 Newman wrote to his curate John Rouse Bloxam ‘The children are vastly improved in singing and, now that the organ is mute, their voices are so thrilling as to make one sick with love’. Was the organ mute because it was not used during Lent, or because it was in a poor state of repair?

In his “Scudamore organs, or practical hints respecting organs for village churches and small chancels on improved principles” (1858), the Revd John Baron tells us that a one-rank prototype organ was installed at Littlemore in 1843 by J.H. King of Exeter College, Oxford, an amateur organ builder. Perhaps this was acquired through the help of Newman’s friend John Brande Morris, a fellow of Exeter College. The name “Scudamore Organ” derives from the village of Upton Scudamore, Wiltshire, where Baron was Rector in the 1850s, and refers to a simple instrument without pedals in a shallow case, suitable for a narrow church or chancel – in effect a 19th century successor to the earlier chamber organ. This cannot be the instrument shown here – the picture is too early. Littlemore Church in 1839, showing what seems to be a chamber organ on the left side towards the east end.


Some time after the enlargement of the church in 1848 an organ was installed in what is now the outer vestry, speaking through a narrow arch into the chancel. Little sound would have permeated through to the body of the church, though it would have been adequate to accompany the choir which sang in the new chancel stalls. The maker is unknown, but the specification is typical of the mid 19th century.

Littlemore Church, c.1860

 

  1. Pedal Bourdon 16
  2. Open Diapason 8
  3. Stop Diapason Bass 8
  4. Stop Diapason Treble 8
  5. Dulciana 8
  6. Principal 4
  7. Flute 4
  8. Fifteenth 2

manual compass C – f3, 54 notes
pedal compass probably C – f1, 30 notes
manual pipes enclosed in a swell box

Looking east in c. 1910. The rood screen has yet to be installed, and the organ is inside the chancel arch on the left


The next organ was built in 1930 by James Ivimey of Southampton. It was located in the southeast corner of the nave, from where it could be heard throughout the church. It suffered serious damage to the windchests during the drought of 1976, resulting in many irreparable runs and ciphers.

Littlemore Church, 1930

A picture of the rood screen taken sometime after 1930, showing the Ivimey organ on the right.

Pedal1Bourdon16

Great2Open Diapason8

3Claribel8

4Dulciana (1-12 from 3)8

5Principal4

Swell6Horn Diapason (1-12 from 7)8

7Lieblich Gedacht [sic]8

8Gemshorn4

9Oboe8

couplers: Sw-Gt, Gt-Ped, Sw-Ped
manual compass C – a3, 58 notes
pedal compass C – f1, 30 notes
tubular pneumatic action


The present organ was moved to the church by Tim Gardner and Richard Vendome from the neighbouring Littlemore Hospital, when the chapel there was closed in 1988. It is a fine example of the work of G. M. Holdich of London, and was built in 1882 for the London County Asylum, Stone (near Dartford, Kent), and moved to Littlemore in 1905. It is situated in the northwest corner of the nave, from where it floods the church with sound.

Littlemore Church, 1988
(previously at Littlemore Hospital)

1 Bourdon (12 pipes C-B)16

2Open Diapason Bass (1-12)8

3Open Diapason Treble (13-54)8

4Stop’d Diapason Bass (1-12) 8

5Clarabella (13-54) 8

6Principal4

7 Flute (1-12 added in 2004) 4

8Twelfth3

9Fifteenth2

manual compass C – f3, 54 notes
pulldown pedals C – e, 17 notes
pipes enclosed in a swell box (shutters removed).