Emily, the Edwardian organ at St Mark’s Church, showed off her versatility in a concert on Saturday, July 20, to celebrate her restoration.
Emily, named after the eccentric local benefactor Emily Mangles who left money to the church in 1912, was celebrated in a light-hearted evening during which John Mansfield, Geoff Willis, Stephen Lacey, Rob Goldfinch and Frances Whewell of the North Hampshire Organists Association (NHOA) performed a varied programme which ranged from Bach’s Toccata in D minor to Gershwin’s I got Rhythm, with vocal accompaniment by singer Wendy Edwards. There was also a demonstration of how an organ works using props worthy of Blue Peter, and some surprises in how individual stops work. We learned some of the background to when and how Emily was built in 1912 and why she needed restoring, and there was even an interview with Emily Mangles herself – in the form of the original Emily’s great-great-great niece.
Emily Mangles the younger told the audience about the family who lived in Poyle Park (near Tongham) and who numbered among them an MP and serious collectors of plants from overseas. There is even an Emily Mangles rhododendron and the family introduced garden designer Gertrude Jekyll to architect Edwin Lutyens, a partnership responsible for some of the country’s most beautiful houses and gardens. The modern Emily Mangles had brought with her a copy of a poem written by her Victorian predecessors called The Hubbub of Poyle which features Emily as ‘Daddy The Good’, referring to her good works in the parish and her love of playing the organ and leading a choir, as well as her passion for pigs and love of crumpets.
While admitting to feeling slightly spooked by seeing the words ‘In Memory of Emily Mangles’ on the organ itself, Emily said how amazed she was at the affection shown for the organ. That was something that shone through the whole evening. There was affection not just from the musicians, but from the large audience, some of whom had known the organ many years ago and had come back to see and hear her, and some of whom were discovering her for the first time.
Emily the organ was made in Hastings, installed in the church in 1912 and is now sounding as good as ever thanks to the restoration by Dean and Shawn from FH Browne & Sons. However, that restoration hasn’t been entirely paid for. At the end of the concert Lesley Crawley told us that, during the course of restoration, new problems had been found. Dean and Shawn had continued the work, trusting that the church would raise the money, so a new appeal has been launched to raise £2,000 more. Details of the appeal appear here and you can give via our JustGiving page by clicking here.