The Bernard Aubertin Organ

Download organ brochure PDF

Commissioned by The Davey Consort CIO for the Church of St Birinus, Dorchester-on-Thames

The small, beautiful Catholic Church of St Birinus was commissioned by local land-owner John Davey and opened for worship in 1849. Designed in the Gothic Revival style by William Wardell (a protege of Augustus Pugin), the church has recently undergone a complete restoration, instigated and overseen by the current parish priest, Fr John Osman.

The organ campaign

Currently the church has no pipe organ. In order to secure the musical future of St Birinus and firmly establish an educational legacy for the benefit of generations to come, The Davey Consort has taken the decision to commission a new 13.5-rank instrument from one of the world's leading organ builders, Bernard Aubertin. An organ of this quality and versatility will attract attention from far and wide, and – through the increased possibilities for hosting recitals and concerts – allow music at St Birinus to become financially self-supporting.

To bring this project to fruition, we are seeking to raise £330,000. As of March 2019, we have raised £130,000 towards this target. Further details about how to donate to our campaign can be found overleaf.

Donate to the organ fund

"I heartily commend Bernard Aubertin's proposed new organ for St Birinus. With ingenuity that is such a hallmark of this builder, Mr Aubertin has produced a design ideally suited to the worship and architecture of the church. His tonal design makes the most of a small space, providing two contrasting choruses that can be mixed in various combinations; his proposed pedal pipework, sitting outside the main case, serves as the instrument's tonal foundation and also as a charming and distinctive visual feature. As is plainly evident from his drawings, which stem from a careful and intuitive appreciation of the building's proportions and character, the casework will immensely enhance the architecture of St Birinus. Like a Gothic reliquary, this will provide grand architecture in modest dimensions.

I have witnessed several Aubertin organs develop from initial ideas to brilliant completion in Great Britain. Most recently, it was my privilege to work with Bernard as he designed, built and installed a new organ for the King's Hall in Newcastle University (2017). This instrument surpasses my highest hopes. Through casework of breathtaking audacity Aubertin provided an organ twice the size of its predecessor on a footprint only 50% larger; he has triumphantly overcome the intractable challenge of building for a capricious acoustic; each stop has its own personality, and yet all the stops blend harmoniously together; and organ's responsive mechanical action draws real musicianship from the player. The instrument's installation in the autumn of 2017 sparked enthusiasm and pride among the wider community, as they witnessed the arrival in their midst of an extraordinary, unique and enduring artwork."

Professor Magnus Williamson (Professor of Early Music, Newcastle University)

Organ specification

Great

Principal 8'
Chimney bourdon 8'
Octave 4'
Nasard 3'
Doublette 2'
Tierce 1 3/5'
Mixture III-IV

Positiv

Bourdon 8'
Flûte traversière 4'
Flageolet 2'
Quinte 1 1/3'
Posthorn 8'

Pedal

Bourdon 16'
Bourdon 8' (by extension)

II/I, I/II, I/P, II/P tremblant

"Aubertin stands in the very highest rank of organ builders and his instruments in the UK are revelatory. Using the best of historical principles, but never slavishly, his instruments begin with a thorough musical evaluation of the building and he follows this musicality through to the smallest component of construction."

Professor John Butt (Founder, Dunedin Consort; Gardiner Chair of Music, University of Glasgow)
  • Casework of aged oak and chestnut, naturally seasoned
  • Pipes, hand-planed, made from tin, lead, oak and chestnut
  • Built-in console
  • Mechanical suspended action
  • Manuals (CC– g''') 56 notes
  • Pedal (CC– f') 30 notes
  • Manual keyboards made of chestnut with boxwood veneering
  • Parallel, oak pedal keyboard
  • Pull-down manual couplers
  • Oak bench with height blocks
  • Oak framed rollerboard with wrought iron rollers
  • Wooden trackers, leather buttons
  • Wooden turned stop-knobs (boxwood, pear wood, walnut)

Donate to the organ fund

"It would be easy to see Bernard Aubertin simply – but impressively – as a successor to the great 18th-century French organ builders. That's as may be. What's more striking is his interest in creating organs with distinctive contemporary identities, reflecting his personality and genius. His instruments are not historical facsimiles but modern works of art, exciting in appearance, tonal colour and responsiveness."

Professor Edward Higginbottom (Emeritus Organist & Fellow, New College; Emeritus Professor, Oxford University)