The Bevington Organ
The first organ in old St Mary's Chapel was built by Henry Lincoln (1789-1864), who was also responsible for other organs in Brighton in the Music Room of the Royal Pavilion, the Chapel Royal, St George's Church, St James's Chapel and St Nicholas's Church.
In 1858 the firm of Henry Bevington & Sons of Soho, London, replaced Lincoln's organ with a new, two-manual instrument. This luckily survived the old chapel's collapse in 1876 and some pipes from it were incorporated in a much larger, three-manual instrument built by Bevington in time for the opening of the new St Mary's Church in October 1878.
In 1904 the new Bevington was given a thorough overhaul and four speaking stops were added to the swell organ: a soft salicional, and, on a separate additional soundboard, contra fagotto, vox humana and voix celestes. The refurbished organ was reopened at the end of the year by Sir Frederick Bridge, composer and organist of Westminster Abbey.
Today, after several more restorations and additions, the organ is regarded as an exceptionally fine example of a Victorian instrument and especially of Bevington’s work. In 2009 the British Institute of Organ Studies awarded it a certificate of recognition for the important archaeological material of Bevington’s early pipework.
In February 2016, James Richardson-Jones of the Duplex Pipe Organ and Blower Company very efficiently replaced our rattling old Rockingham blower with a sturdy refurbished BOB X10B from the 1950s. This was a major work, which has been funded in large part by a generous donation of £4,000 from the Friends of St Mary's and monies raised from previous organ recitals. But we've still got some way to go before we complete the fundraising, and we have a few tidying up jobs to do on the console as well. If you are a fan of pipe organs please consider making a donation towards the Bevington's care and maintenance. They are not cheap instruments to look after and it is sad that so many have disappeared from Brighton's churches in recent years.
For the organ's full specification, please view our listing on the National Pipe Organ Register (NPOR). For a sample of the organ's sound, listen below to our late organist Bill Sibbey playing How shall I sing that majesty (Kenneth Naylor's Coe Fen). And for a longer and rather beautiful piece that really shows off the organ's range, you can listen to Billl's improvisation on O Praise ye the Lord (Parry's Laudate Dominum).