Restoration of George England Gothic revival's organ case for Christ's Chapel of Alleyn's College of God's Gift in Dulwich.
Carved frieze-work showing rocaille ornaments with garlands of flowers, shells and fleurettes
Middle section of the organ case in oak showing the restored frieze-work in position onto a new building frame
Carvings of the flats with C scroll acanthus and garlands of flowers
Bass and middle towers, spires. The foliage grows from the top of the spire to continue growing downwards, the scene shows us the evolution of nature, beginning from bulbs (top) to fully in bloom (bottom)
Cresting carvings situated above the curved shoulder rails
Description of the Gothic revival organ case:
George England (the son-in-law of Richard Bridge) did build this pipe organ in 1760.
The organ case is a rare example representing the early Gothic revival style in organ case design in England. The pipe organ case, with its Gothic proportions, elevates to three spires (fleches) ending with flame finials for the bass and treble towers and a carved pineapple sits atop the middle tower. All of the six façade's imposts are surmounted by pinnacles. The ogival arches are outlining the frames of the pipe shades. The bass and treble towers are connected to the central tower by two curved shoulder rails and two consoles (ailerons) are flanked against the central tower imposts.
George England seemed to have introduced, in this case, a lively and elegant ornamentation in combination with the robust Gothic structure. This gave the organ case its imposing stature.
Combining Rocaille style and Gothic revival style in one organ case:
The two spires located on the top of the bass and treble side of the organ case are decorated with carved Sunflowers and their buds. The middle tower features some carved roses. These wild foliage are growing vigorously throughout the pipe shades.
The flat sections of the pipe work are lightly divided by openwork grillage. This is also to be found at the base of the middle tower. The design of the grillages were here to fulfill an esthetic and acoustical purpose.
Between the towers are the flats and their pipes. It brings our attention to the mouth lines of the pipes in relation to the other three pipe's towers. The two ogee carved panels of the flats are decorated by" C scroll acanthuses" in fashion of the 18 th century.
Standing in front of the console, one can contemplate the middle-section. It is made of a frieze divided into 5 sections; The three sections are in line with the pipe's tower and each have their carved "C scroll" on display. The middle of the frieze, placed above the console shows some carved traceries. Below the flats are the two other areas with their beautifully carved garland of flowers.
A pair of doors with their top rail cut into ogee arches are located either sides of the console's area. They are placed straight under the bass and treble tower thus strengthening the Gothic character of the organ case. There is a sense of harmony in how the two architectural styles are represented. On one hand, there is a fine 18 th century ornamentation contrasting and complementing the robust edifice like structure. Here, the Gothic case was designed following certain geometrical rules: The tradition of building from the ground to reach a higher level can be felt. This is when looking up. In contrast with the wild foliage as they grow from the very top of each spires and continue to grow downwards.
As we look closer to eye level, the ornaments become more defined. This is the 18 th century Rocaille style featuring: C scrolls, acanthuses foliage, shells, cretes de coq and fleurettes. The Gothic and Rocaille style are applying the same rule: Both designs are accurately symmetrical even so they are suggesting two different genders.
Repairing of the organ case:
The organ case and carvings are made of quarter-sawn oak; By looking closely on the end grain, it was obvious that large slow growing oak trees were used to make this pipe organ case. The closest material available for the repairs were a Victorian period wainscoting oak paneling; I could then selected the pieces to match the repairs.
In the history of the instrument, the middle tower along with other parts of the casework, were shortened to suit a low ceiling building. So the pipe organ case was reconstructed to its original lengths. In turn, the organ builders could rebuilt their front pipes accordingly. In effect, the instrument got its lowest notes back in the repertoire. I made three new pinnacles including traceries. I cleaned and repaired the existing carvings, and carved the missing parts of the organ case. I built the missing lower bass and treble sides paneling from selected oak. The organ builders did reconstruct the console area.