Bridgeman-Sutton discovers a
curiosity in the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill
to the website of the Rieger
in the Christchurch Town Hall,
Musings & Amusings
Palace and Elsewhere
fictional town of Wallingford......
to dine with the vicar. Couldn't get out of it. He wanted to cry
on my shoulder about the church organ which apparently needs vitamin
shots and a top dressing with guano * (see addendum) and all sorts of things. But
nothing, I told him, that a good village concert won't cure."
Do Butlers Burgle Banks?
Door lock at Blenheim - copied from one on the gates of Warsaw.
real and very substantial Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire.....
birthplace of Winston Churchill has, in the long library, a large
Willis organ built 1892: (it was overhauled recently and thus is
in need of neither vitamins nor guano).
In 1931 a Welte
player attachment was added which, unlike many of its kind, gives
no readily visible clue to its presence. Many rolls have been especially
recorded on this organ by players like Lemare, Hollins and Dupre.
The organ in Belnheim Palace to-day.
on photo above to view larger image
working on the Blenheim organ in 1892.
From the archives of Cedric William Laycock - thanks to Dr John
Click on photo
above to view larger image
of Marlborough, owners of Blenheim, occasionally enjoyed sitting
at the console and apparently "playing" to guests, to
whom the secret is revealed only after applause! On one occasion
cover was blown, when the Welte mechanism started prematurely while
the Duke concerned was still some distance from the organ. History
does not record what he said about it.
house (though "house" is hardly the right word) gardens
are open to the public and every effort is made to cater for special-interest
groups if prior notice is given. Details are to be found at the
The country house setting of another PG Wodehouse novel also had an
organ with a player attachment. A character was engaged in one of
the those usual Wodehousian nocturnal activities of puncturing hot-water
bottles, purloining compromising memoirs or raiding the larder for
steak-and-kidney pie. On arrival downstairs and relieved at having
reached apparent safety, he felt secure enough to switch on a light.
Unfortunately, he chose the wrong switch and the organ burst into
life with a rousing Sousa march. Interested residents, enquiring about
his identity and motives, arrived from all quarters.
Can anyone remember which book contains this incident? ~
King's Deverill - (not Bertie Wooster's favourite spot).......
The vicar "a
tall, drooping man, looking as if he had been stuffed in a hurry
by an incompetent taxidermist" .... seemed low spirited ...."
His theme was the Church Organ, in aid of which these grim doings
[a village concert] had been set afoot. The Church Organ, he told
us frankly, was in a hell of bad way. For years it had been going
around with holes in its socks, doing the Brother-can-you-spare-a-dime
stuff, and now it was about due to hand in its dinner pail. There
had been a time when he had hoped the pull-together spirit might
have given it a shot in the arm, but the way it looked to him at
the moment, things had gone too far, and he was prepared to bet
his shirt on the bally contrivance going down the drain and staying
P. G. Wodehouse: The Mating Season.
video (OSV 507) and a CD of Carol Williams at the organs of Blenheim
are available: CDs of a player -organ by the US Aeolian Company in
auto mode are produced by Dinmore Records (DRD 003 and DRD 003B).
The Administrator of Blenheim Palace assures M & A that no
guano was used in the recent overhaul of the organ.
1 and 2: thanks to the Administrators of Blenheim Palace for the
pictures and for permission for their reproduction.
free to email with
questions or feedback
David Bridgeman-Sutton, 2003
in Views and Reviews: