The Organ

All Saints contains a pipe organ with two manuals + pedals, 20 speaking stops, and pneumatic action throughout.  

The organ is situated above the choir stall on the south side of the Chancel. The pipes above it are hidden by a grill as Temple Moore (the architect) felt pipes were obtrusive and spoilt the symmetry of the church. Despite this, the organ’s warm rich tone sounds well in the body of the church.

The organ was built by Alfred Hunter & Son of Clapham around 1916.  It is said to have been standing as a complete instrument in Hunters’ workshop, which at this time had been turned into a munitions factory in support of the war effort.  The then Rector of Basingstoke, Canon H. W. Boustead, had been searching for an organ for the newly built All Saints’ church.  On discovering that this instrument was available he secured it, but due to the on-going munitions work it could not be installed in the organ gallery at All Saints until 1919.


We can only speculate in what form this organ stood in Hunters’ works.  The “Choir Organ” feature, whereby a subset of the Great stops can be selected separately and played from the same manual, is unusual.  This could have been a means to demonstrate the firm’s ingenuity; or perhaps Canon Boustead desired a three-manual instrument, and the feature was added as a compromise.  The design of the key action does not demonstrate the advances Hunter had made in pneumatics by this point in time, which points towards the organ either being earlier than suggested or assembled from older parts.

BDC Jan2024.mp4

"Harvest-Home" by Richard Lloyd

The organ has provided the “soundtrack” to weekly services in addition to weddings, funerals, and other special occasions, ever since its first use in 1919.  During the intervening years, various works to maintain the instrument have taken place.  An electric blower was provided in 1939.  Shortly after, in 1940, J. W. Walker & Sons cleaned the organ and carried out several alterations, including a change to the specification (the Great Fifteenth and Clarinet are shown as Piccolo and Trumpet, respectively, in the original spec).  Additional coupling machines were installed to provide Swell Octave to Great and Swell Sub Octave to Great functionality, as the original Swell Octave couplers do not “play through”.  Re-leathering of various components has taken place as and when needed, with the last overhaul being undertaken by Nicholsons of Malvern in 1999. 

Tuning and maintenance is now carried out by Harrison & Harrison of Durham, largely due to their understanding of pneumatic actions and ability to deal with faults.  A week’s worth of work in December 2023 was designed to investigate what improvements might be achieved in terms of the key repetition and inform the direction of future overhaul work.