St Giles Houghton in the Dale
St Giles Parish Church, North Norfolk, is a small church within the Benefice of Walsingham, Houghton and The Barshams, which also encompasses the world renowned Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.
Toward the end of 2015, a twenty-five year old Wyvern electronic organ sadly came to the end of its working life and the church had to use a small electronic keyboard to accompany its Sunday Mass, for 20 – 30 people, while it considered the future. To repair and rebuild, using existing casing, was quickly ruled out, as was the suggestion to dismantle, move, re-build an ancient chamber pipe organ from another church within the Benefice!
An initial visit and discussion with Cookes Pianos in Norwich, distributors for Johannus, Viscount and Makin organs indicated the church needed a budget between £6,000 and £7,000. A daunting task but prayer does work and a benefactor came forward with a donation £10,000! So now the challenge was to select an appropriate (for the size of the church, congregation, etc.) and realistically priced instrument. A number of organs were tried both at Cookes and neighbouring churches but immediately the Viscount Physis sound stood out to an organist with fifty-six years experience of both pipe and electronic instruments. Sampled sound was good in the past but now Physis must be the way ahead. Our choice was the Viscount Envoy 35-FV which, after Diocesan faculty approval bureaucracy, was delivered and set up in May 2016.
The sound in a small church, using only its internal speakers is, in the words of most of the congregation, “phenomenal, magnificent, astounding and inspiring”.
The many features of this two manual 35 stop instrument are well described in the brochure but the alternative voice pallets, alternative voices, record & play facility and, not least, the tracker action are both exciting and stimulating. Also, and of great importance to small parish churches, my assistant organist (an accomplished pianist who doesn’t play the pedals) loves the AP (Automatic Pedal) button because it makes her sound like an organist!
Finally, I must comment on the excellent after sales service of both the distributor, Cookes of Norwich, and Viscount Organs. Firstly, following the first Sunday service I received a phone call as to ‘how did it go.’ Subsequently, there have been a number of minor user queries to which Cookes and Viscount Organs have followed up promptly by both email and a phone call, while I was sitting at the organ!
My title for this testimonial of ‘SOUND INVESTMENT’ really says it all. The sound is SUPERB and the value is EXCEPTIONAL.
Graham Howard JP