All Saints' Organs


As "Cathedral of the Canals", All Saints' is fortunate to have a cathedral specification organ to match. The Makin digital organ started life at Ripon Cathedral before coming to Braunston after a rebuild by Makin's. Though the specification was simplified a little from its Ripon days, it still boasts five keyboards - four known as manuals, played with the hands and one with the feet. Each manual has five octaves (61 notes) and there are 32 pedal notes. There are 54 speaking stops, each producing a different sound quality chosen from a number that have been digitally sampled from high quality pipe organs.

Each keyboard and stop can be played on its own or in combination with the others, giving a huge range of possibilities. To help manage this, combinations of stops and keyboards can be preset in the organ's computer and operated by five sets of eight "thumb pistons", four sets for the stops on each manual and one set to combine manuals, pedals and all the stops required. There are over 100 memories for storage of different sets of presets.


The first All Saints' organ was by Bevington and can be seen as you enter the church. Dating from 1852, it is listed by the British Institute of Organ Studies as being of historical interest. The only modifications have been to replace the hand pump with an electric motor and to fit electric lighting. It was originally located in what is now the Parish Room and the organist sat in one of the archways into the chancel, so in full contact with the choir.

Much simpler than the modern organ, the Bevington was typical of those sold to village churches choosing their first organ, with one four octave (49 notes) manual and a 25 note pedalboard, This was permanently coupled to the manual and simply provided a way of playing the bottom half of the manual with the feet, thus playing notes beyond the reach of the fingers. Apart from cathedrals and large churches with so-called "German style" organs, English organs had no pedals before Mendelssohn popularised the music of J S Bach in England in the 1830's. Much of Bach's music is unplayable without pedals and by 1852, everyone wanted pedals on their organs. English composers began to join the majority of European composers writing for at least two manuals and independent pedals but this would have beyond the average village church budget and it took another 20 years for this to become the norm.

For its size, the Bevington has a wide range of sounds from a quiet Dulciana to a very loud, triumphant Cornopean. A number of the stops operate on only half the keys, top half or bottom half. This was quite common at the time. For example, a "bottom half" stop takes over from any quiet stops that would sound quite weak on low notes, A stop usually allocated to an independent pedal today would be too heavy on upper notes unless the organ was being played loudly but is made available on all notes by being split between two stops. To minimise the risk of the organist inadvertently playing outside a stop's range and producing silence, the organ has three foot-operated presets, giving a basic loud, quiet and in between.

While quite limited in the range of music that can be played as the composer intended, the Bevington works well in some types of service and is regularly used at Evensong.

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