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Historical Organ

06 1853 Melbourne St Francis BevingtonThe renewed exterior casing and cleaned pipes on the facade of the organ conceal a fascinating history of the instrument: its building, placement, gradual and most recent embellishments and final move from St Francis Church in Lonsdale Street to St Peter’s Church on Toorak Road.The organ was built by Bevington & Sons, based in London and purchased by Bishop James Goold for St Francis Church in Melbourne, the pro-Cathedral, during his first overseas trip to Rome, England, Ireland and elsewhere from April 1851 to March 1853. 

As early as five years after its installation the organ had undergone repairs, alterations and additions and in July 1858 a concert of sacred music was held in St Francis Church to celebrate the refurbishment.

In 1875, George Fincham supplied new pipes, including a Clarabella and increased the size of the bellows. In 1886, Fincham revoiced five stops, and in 1889 remade soundboards, recovered keyboards and carried out minor repairs. Edward Cornwall Cook took over the maintenance at a lower fee and in 1898 added metal pipes in the Double Diapason from Middle C, altered the Harmonic Flute 8 to 4ft; carried through the Great Mixture 5 ranks through all upper octaves; installed a Rohrflöte, Piccolo and Harmonic Flute on the Choir Organ in place of other stops; supplied a new pedalboard and Choir to Pedal coupler. Major repairs were carried out in 1899 by George Fincham. A hydraulic engine was installed at this time.

Over the next 115 years the organ was in continual use in St Francis Church until the decision was made to install a new instrument. Its future was decided by Fr Brian Leonard, the recently appointed Parish Priest of Toorak. Father Leonard had installed an organ in the newly built St Raphael’s Church in the parish of West Preston which he had left to come to Toorak. He moved swiftly. Thanks to the generosity of two parishioners, Sir Donald and Lady Trescowthick, the organ was purchased from St Francis Church and refurbished and installed in the apsidal baptistery of St. Peter’s Church.

In 2019, during the refurbishment and new extension of the church the organ was removed pipe by pipe in a series of packing cases by Australian Pipe Organs Pty Ltd.

After a thorough makeover, cleaning and some complementary and necessary additions, it was reinstalled in time for Advent 2020 and the lifting of the first Covid-19 lockdown.

organ01 350As part of the restoration of the organ, the console was generously donated by Lady Janette Murray and Peter Murray in memory of Sir Brian Murray KCMG AO.  New music desks were also a welcome addition to the choir area and were generously donated by Professor Phillip Hamilton RFD in memory of Dr Leon Anthony Fennessy.

The removal of all carpet in the church and the laying of a marble floor in the aisles and sanctuary of the church has improved the acoustic sound to a great degree.

During the short periods that the church has been open from Advent 2020 until November 2021 the sound of the organ has lifted immeasurably the celebration of every aspect of the church’s liturgy and worship.