The Organ Appeal 2022

Our plan is to replace the 1976 organ with a 3-manual instrument by Henry Willis and Sons based around 18 ranks of original ‘Father’ Willis pipework dating from 1877 (around 5 years after the first permanent organ was installed in St Barnabas).

This is an ambitious scheme that will stretch the parish’s fund-raising resources, however it is also ambitious enough to attract national rather than just local attention. The ‘Father Willis’ sound is deeply distinctive and in most places, institutions and organ builders have striven to preserve it. 100 years ago many of the major churches and chapels in Oxford resonated to it. But in Oxford in particular most of these historic instruments were replaced by modern instruments (often themselves exceptional examples of a different type of organ).

So the ‘Willis sound’ is no longer much heard and many of the iconic pieces of early 20th century church music written for e.g. Christchurch, New College are not regularly performed today in Oxford with the accompanying sound quality that was originally envisaged. (Two small Fr Willis organs survive in St Peter’s and Wadham College chapels and two larger instruments in the non-liturgical settings of Balliol College Hall and the Town Hall). Many organists (including the current St Barnabas team) would be highly enthusiastic about restoring this heritage to Oxford in a way that allows for regular liturgical use, particularly in the distinctive Eucharistic worship that characterises St Barnabas.

If you wish to know more, or would like to support the project, please download our brochure which gives detailed information on the plans ahead.