£40k grant to refurbish 137 year-old organ in St Guthlac’s church in Market Deeping

St Guthlac’s church in Market Deeping (near Peterborough) has been awarded £40,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help to pay for the refurbishment of its 137 year-old pipe organ.  The grant will also help fund an exciting programme of educational opportunities and musical events for the whole local community. 

The total cost of the project is over £88,000 and the church and its supporters have been busy fundraising since late 2017 for the other £46,000 necessary to complete the work. Just a further £7,000 is now required, and it is hoped that the restoration will be completed by Easter 2019.

The church has a strong musical tradition and the organ is used every week not only for worship and special events but also to provide a lead for the congregation when singing. St Guthlac’s also has a 20-strong choir and throughout the year hosts many musical and choral events, singing anything from early 16th-century pieces to songs from the present day. 

Described by Paul Hale, an independent organ adviser and internationally renowned recitalist as a ‘superb little instrument having enormous potential’; the money raised will be used for a variety of refurbishments including the replacement of the original bellows leather; installation of new pipes that will add to the range of sound that the organ can produce and refurbishment of the keyboards.

Peter Davies, Director of Music at St Guthlac’s, said: “The HLF grant, together with donations both large and small from so many wonderful people, have opened many doors for us. Not only can we now afford the full refurbishment and development of our wonderful Hill organ but it will also sound truly stunning as well as providing opportunities for the training of young organists and for organ recitals.

“The work will ensure the instrument is available for another century, to accompany singers, services and for recitals long after my time! I am immensely grateful for the commitment of so many people and humbled by the generosity of heart, spirit and finance.”

Nigel Bacon, Churchwarden said: “My heartfelt thanks go to the very many people who have supported us in getting to this point.  There have been so many who have helped with the planning, the grant applications, the fundraising events and in contributing financially.  This has been a great team effort, and is testament to the strength of our church community. 

“The generous grant from the HLF has been particularly welcome, and the contribution made by the National Lottery players in this way is greatly appreciated. We can now look forward both to having the organ fully operational once more, and to an exciting series of events in 2019.” 

In seeking a grant from the HLF the project was extended to include various other elements, including the commissioning of a piece of organ music which will be performed by the composer as part of a recital which will be free to members of the local community; commissioning an anthem to be sung by the choir at a service of dedication for the organ and a further concert to be performed by the church choir, pupils from local schools and other local secular choirs.

Children from local primary schools will also be invited to come and see the refurbishment so that they can gain an appreciation of how an organ is built and makes sound.

The church has held many different events to raise money, including: sponsored carol singing, the sale of Advent crafts, quizzes, a barn dance, a fashion show, a sponsored parachute jump, beer and wine tasting evenings and an auction of time and skills pledges.


Notes to editors

The organ was installed in 1882 by the renowned organ builder William Hill, whose company originated from Louth.

Other parts of the HLF grant include:

  • The production of a DVD as part of a technology project for schools. This will aim to show the relationship between the skills used 137 years ago in building the organ and the high level of craftsmanship necessary to refurbish it now.
  • Research of both the choir and the organ using historical documents and with interviews with current and former music directors and choir members. Information gathered from this process will be used to produce a book.
  • Updating of the church guide books to include information on the organ and its refurbishment.
  • Recruitment and training of more church tour guides, who will be provided with the necessary information to speak knowledgeably about the organ. 

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk.  Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported.