Organ Restoration

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A Vision for a One of Kind Instrument...

The unique pipe organ at St Stephens, Norwich

Your hearts will rejoice as when people playing pipes go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the Rock of Israel. The LORD will cause people to hear his majestic voice…..Isaiah 30 v 29-30
May the pipes of St Stephen’s wonderful TC Lewis organ sing again in beauty and clarity for all to hear and we will rejoice.

Open Pipes Leaflet

Please click here to download the Open Pipes project leaflet which includes some background to the project and history of the organ


The Organ 

St Stephen’s has a rich musical heritage and continued to prosper through the centuries. A Victorian restoration included a new organ.  The previous instrument, which had served the church since 1814, was originally in the west gallery but was later moved to the north transept.

  • The prominent London firm of TC Lewis was commissioned to build a new, larger, three manual instrument. It was opened in 1869 at a service, with an especially composed anthem, and sung by a large choir.
  • The church’s organist from 1861 had been Charles Noverre, a member of the musical family of Swiss origin. Like the other “Strangers” before them, they found a welcome in the city for their talents. His elder brother was a violinist with an extensive teaching practice, who with another brother also ran a dance academy, associated with the nearby Assembly House. As well as being prominent members of St Stephen’s, the family were also very active in the musical life of the city.
  • In 1887 the organist, Walter Lain, reported that the organ required an overhaul, and it was decided to move the organ from the transept to a position against the east wall of the north aisle in what had previously been the Brasyer family chapel.
  • St Stephen’s continued to feature prominently in the city’s musical life. St Stephen’s Musical Society gave their first concert in the Assembly Rooms in December 1887, with FWB Noverre leading a double quartet of strings.
  • In 1935 a few tonal alterations were added to the organ, with a new console and an electric blower. The only later tonal alteration was the substitution of the clarionet stop (war damaged) for a nazard.

Repairs and Restoration Needed  

  • In 2009 a water leak was discovered. It weakened the foundations, causing a crack in the chancel wall. This led to closure of the church for three years.
  • This upheaval did however provide the opportunity for complete renovation and improvement – a new stone floor, an office and a new kitchen to better serve the now popular café, and the replacement of the old pews with chairs for greater flexibility not only for services but for other events.
  • It became clear, however, on resuming worship in St Stephen’s, that the organ had become unreliable and was really no longer fit for purpose.
  • Although a new electronic piano presently serves the worship adequately, it has always been the aim that the organ should be restored.

TC Lewis, our organ builder

  • Lewis, the maker of our organ, was an organ-builder steeped in the German romantic organ building school of Schulze, and Schulze’s origins can be traced back to the time of Bach.
    Find out more here
  • The German romantic style of our Lewis organ coupled with the German neo-baroque Collins organ in our sister church of St Peter Mancroft makes for a wonderful lineage. It is an opportunity to create something unique in our community here in Norwich and in the UK.
  • A voice is any sound that resembles or reminds us of the human voice. To this end the finest organ builders throughout history, from the french 17th century builder Dom Bèdos de Celles to Schulze and Lewis, held this principle in every organ pipe they made.
  • Beauty and clarity in the colour and speech of every stop in our Lewis organ allows for a high level of artistry in performance and sensitivity in playing to support prayer and worship.
  • The low wind pressure and German principles of pipe speech possessed by our Lewis organ achieve this. Our Lewis organ is a ‘living,’ breathing instrument full of organic wonder that can transport the listener and inspire new audiences.
  • These excellent qualities will provide St Stephen’s Church and the city of Norwich with a first class instrument that will encourage the next generation of organists.
  • The Southwark Cathedral organ stands to serve as the finest example of Lewis’s organ building. With relatively few large examples in the rest of the UK of his work, we have a wonderful opportunity to add to that list, and become a new destination point for people from across the UK and internationally.
  • The voice of the Southwark Cathedral organ:
    Here is a YouTube video demonstrating the TC Lewis sound and explaining the attraction of both this organ and organs in general – in worship and as a recital instrument.
    Elgar Organ Sonata Movt 1
    (The organ “noises” you hear in this video will not be on St Stephen’s renewed/renovated instrument – since a new state-of-the-art organ console and pedal-board are being made).
    Jonathan Hope: Final Hymn and Closing Improvisation at Southwark Cathedral


Proposed work on the organ

  • The present tubular pneumatic key and stop action has become outdated, and it is proposed to replace it with an electropneumatic action with a multiplex note switching system. This will improve the promptness of speech. The modern technology will save space, and also allow the pipes to be displayed in a rather more attractive and contemporary way, replacing the somewhat plain organ case.
  • Whilst the original Lewis stops will be preserved it is proposed to include a small number of additional stops which will make the organ more accessible and versatile, while still preserving the authenticity of the organ’s original design.
  • The new technology will also enable a new console to feature many cost-effective playing aids, such as a record/playback facility, useful for practice and teaching.

The console will be small enough to be mounted on a platform, capable of being moved around the church, to be connected to the organ by a cable plugged into selected points, giving a choice of location for services, concerts and other events.

  • The organ renovation and slight expansion we are bringing into being will re-establish our St Stephen’s TC Lewis organ as Southwark Cathedral’s little sister (appropriate for the size of St Stephen’s church) in an appropriate and stunning new look/design and with state-of-the-art electrical connections and console moveability.

Architects drawings

6247 – 03A Proposed elevations
6247 – 02A Proposed plans

  • The restored organ will be in the same position in the church, at the east end of the north aisle, but will be brought further forward. This will help to project the sound into the body of the church.
  • This will also allow the memorials in the Lady Chapel to be viewed.
  • The relocation will create a very useful space behind the organ for the church.
  • The church boiler room is immediately below this space. The repositioned organ will be away from the heat rising from the boiler room.
  • The new casing for the organ will be in natural unstained oak which will match the framing of the meeting room at the east end of the south aisle.
  • The visible pipework will be of polished metal which will bring brightness to the overall appearance
  • Specification – the specification for the restored organ is shown in  the “sponsor a pipe” section under Cost of Restoration Project below. If you would like to see the actual specification document submitted for faculty approval, please ask the church office for it to be sent to you.

Cost of Restoration Project  

  • The full cost of the restoration project is £175,000 including VAT recovery. However we expect to recover £12,000 of the VAT.
  • Would you consider being part of the restoration project?
  • Any financial contribution would be very welcome however small or large.
  • You might be interested in sponsoring one or more of the approximately 1,200 pipes. The cost varies considerably just as the size of the pipes varies. The range is from £15 to £1,500. Other parts of the organ, manual keys and pedals can also  be sponsored. There are a number of other sponsorship options shown here: Please see the tables here. If you would like to sponsor any part of the organ, please contact the church office: CONTACT
  • If you would like to make a contribution please speak to a member of the church staff in the office for church bank details. If you are able to Gift Aid your donation, it will increase the gift by 25 per cent. Forms are available in the church office.
  • A cash or cheque payment to St Stephen’s Church PCC in an envelope marked ‘organ restoration’ will be gratefully received. Please give to church staff or put in the donations churn. Thank you.
  • If you prefer to give using your credit or debit card, please use the following link: link to direct payment
  • We would be happy to provide more detailed information, organ specification, expert opinions etc. Please ask if you are interested.
  • Progress towards our total will be updated here on the church website which can also be accessed from

Target:                                     £175,000

Given, promised:                     £33,823.60

Gift aid to be claimed:                 £955.90

VAT recovery anticipated:     £12,000

Still needed:                           £128,222.50

We need to raise £175,000

Revelation 3:20

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

Find Us at

St Stephens, Rampant Horse Street, Norwich, NR2 1QP


Office Telephone: 01603 617697

Charity Number: 1147706

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