Cumbrian Society of Organists

Review : Visit to Solway Churches : 15 April 2023

Eight members and two guests arrived at Christ Church, Allonby on the Solway Coast on a sunny spring morning and were warmly welcomed by the two churchwardens who kindly provided coffee and biscuits. One of them gave us an interesting short talk on the history of the church and the organ. The church building dates back to 1845 and it was later enlarged by the addition of two transepts. The organ by Alfred Monk of London is situated on the east wall of the south transept. It originally had 3 stops on the Great, 3 on the Swell, including a lovely Gamba, and a quiet Bourdon on the pedal. In 1993 it was refurbished and enlarged by the addition of three further pedal stops, thanks to a donation from Professor Denis Scotter who had learned to play the organ there.

Marjorie Harrison, who plays there regularly and organised our visit, had warned that the organ would be a challenge but, whilst not everything worked as expected, members enjoyed playing and hearing music by Zipoli, Bach, Handel, Walton, Howells, Willan and others.

Lunch was booked at the Allonby Tea Room and we enjoyed a variety of food from their extensive menu. Their friendly welcome and efficient service were appreciated.

The afternoon visit was to the ancient church of St Mungo at Dearham, which is tucked away down a narrow lane behind the more modern village streets. This little known but beautiful country church has a 2 manual tracker action organ by C. H. Walker of London, 4 stops per manual and a pedal Bourdon. It stands in the north west corner of the building.¬† Some attractive sounds were coaxed from¬† it by our members with pieces by Sweelinck, Bach, Festing, Franck, Karg-Elert, Boellmann and others.

Grateful thanks to Marjorie for introducing us to two interesting organs in churches not previously visited by the CSO. We hope that these instruments will be cared for and preserved for the future.