The Willis organ in Chitterne Church has recently been tuned, cleaned and updated by an organ-builder who was trained by the original designer of the instrument.
Our organ was built in 1968 for Laleham Abbey Convent, Middlesex. The secondhand organ was offered to Chitterne Church in 1993, installed, and dedicated on 26 February 1995 by the then Bishop of Ramsbury, the Rt Rev Peter Vaughan.
This Willis Junior Development Plan Organ was designed by Henry Willis 4, the fourth Henry of the Willis family of organ builders. I know very little about organs so here I will quote AC who carried out the recent work and let him explain what the name means:
” “Junior” because they (the organs) were designed by Henry Willis, 4, who was then Junior to his father who was running the firm up until 1968. “Development Plan” because they were a series of models which started as a one manual organ with two stops and no pedals, and could be developed in stages to a two manual organ, a little larger than the Chitterne instrument, as and when funds became available. The Willis nameplate on the console IV-LVII denotes Henry Willis, 4, then the Opus Number. Opus 57 started as a one manual and pedal instrument. It gained the Swell organ, which I worked on in the early 1980s. “
The Chitterne Willis organ has been updated with a computer that enables recordings to be made. The recordings can be used at future services when no organist is available. I have heard a recording of AC playing the instrument and it sounded beautiful.