St Mark's Anglican Church
Menangle Street West, Picton

FIRST ORGAN: Wordsworth & Co., Leeds, UK, 1893
Installed 1894
2 manuals, 8 speaking stops, mechanical action
Damaged in 2016 floods

PRESENT ORGAN (PROPOSED): J.J. Binns, Bramley, Leeds, 1903, for All Hallows Church, Mitton, Lancashire, UK
2 manuals, 12 speaking stops, mechanical (manuals) & pneumatic (pedals) action
Restored and installed 2018 Peter D.G. Jewkes
Pty Ltd, Sydney



St Mark's Anglican Church, Picton
[Photograph by Trevor Bunning (May 2006)]



Historical and Technical Documentation by Graeme Rushworth, Peter Meyer, Kelvin Hastie, Peter Jewkes and others
© OHTA 1988, 2006, 2012, 2018 (last updated February 2018).


Edmund Blacket, the distinguished 19th-century Sydney architect, designed St Mark's Church, Picton. The first section of the nave was opened in 1857; this was lengthened in 1872 and transepts were added in 1886 by Blacket's sons.1



St Mark's Anglican Church, Picton
[Photograph by Trevor Bunning (May 2006)]

First Organ.

The first organ at St Mark's, built by Wordsworth & Co. of Leeds, was installed in the south transept. It remained unaltered from the original. A catalogue of organs built by Wordsworth & Co, Leeds, mentions two organs for Australia, this one for a Captain Lassetter, and the other for an Independent Chapel, Sydney. Graeme Rushworth has suggested that the other Wordsworth organ, for an 'Independent Chapel' in Sydney, was possibly for the Unitarian Congregational Church, Liverpool Street, which was destroyed by fire in 1936.2

Henry (Harry) Beauchamp Lassetter was born in Sydney in 1860, and sent to England to be educated at Cheltenham, Eton and Sandhurst. He served in the 80th Regiment in the Nile expedition of 1884, and was given the rank of captain in 1887. In the following year, with the rank of Major, he returned to Australia and raised and trained the New South Wales Mounted Rifle Brigade.3

He resigned his commission as Captain in the South Staffordshire Regiment in 1892, but was granted permission to retain the title:

Major H.B. Lassetter, commanding the NSW Mounted Infantry, has resigned his commission as captain in the South Staffordshire Regiment, receiving a gratuity and permission to retain his rank and uniform.4

On the basis of Lassetter's designation as 'Captain' (rather than 'Major') in the records of Wordsworth & Co., it has been suggested that the Picton organ was ordered between 1887 and 1888.5

A precise dating, however, can now be established from newspaper articles.

In November 1892, The Sydney Morning Herald reported a three-day village fair "in aid of St Mark's Church and its organ fund",6 and the decision to purchase the organ was announced in March 1893:

At a meeting of members of the local Anglican Church, Picton, held last week, it was decided to purchase a small pipe organ, and Major Lassetter has kindly undertaken to purchase the instrument during his visit to England, supplementing the cost with a liberal donation.7

Major Henry and Mrs Elizabeth Lassetter sailed to England and returned in December 1893,8 having ordered the pipe organ from Wordsworth of Leeds.

When the organ was ordered in 1893, Lassetter was simultaneously a British Captain and a NSW Major. In ordering the Picton organ in England, it appears that he simply used his British rank.



Casework of the Wordsworth & Co. organ at Picton
[Photograph by Trevor Bunning (May 2006)]






Console of the Wordsworth & Co. organ
[Photographs by Trevor Bunning (May 2006)]

 

A record held by St Mark's Church indicates that the organ was installed in 1894 and cost £193.9

An appeal for the restoration of the organ was underway by at least November 2010.10

Kelvin Hastie has noted that, apart from electric blowing, the organ remains in unaltered condition, retaining its cone-tuned pipe work, mechanical actions, soundboards, console fittings and heavily-worn ivory key surfaces. In late 2011 the Heritage Branch of the NSW Department of Planning awarded St Mark's five thousand dollars to assist in costs associated with the re-leathering of the double rise bellows".11

The work was undertaken by Peter D.G. Jewkes Pty Ltd. The first stage, completed in 2011 included re-leathering of the double-rise bellows. The hand-blowing feeders and apparatus were not re-instated due to financial constraint, but were (at that stage) conserved within the organ.12 Further work in 2016, funded by a small grant from the Wollondilli Shire Council, allowed for attention to the severely decayed cork "bung" tuning stoppers of the Swell Lieblich Gedackt.13

In a disasterous flood early in June 2016, the organ was severely impacted when water rose to a level of two meters inside the church. The instrument was removed to the workshop of Peter Jewkes in Ermington, and there were expectations that it could be fully restored.14 By 2017, however, a sad decision was taken in consultation between the parish, insurers and the Jewkes firm that the church's fine Wordsworth organ would simply be too costly to restore, and must therefore be 'written off' as an insurance loss.15

The specification is as follows:

Great
Open Diapason
Stopped Flute
Harmonic Flute

Swell
Geigen Principal
Lieblich Gedackt
Gemshorn
Oboe

Pedal
Bourdon

Couplers
Swell Octave
Swell to Great
Swell to Pedals
Great to Pedals

8
8
4


8
8
4
8


16















TC










Mechanical action
Balanced swell pedal
Compass 58/30
Lever Swell pedal.16

 

 

 

 





Stop jambs of the Wordsworth & Co. organ
[Photographs by Trevor Bunning (May 2006)]






St Mark's Anglican Church, Picton
[Photographs by Trevor Bunning (May 2006)]

Present (proposed) Organ.

When the Wordsworth organ at Picton was deemed in 2017 'too costly to restore', the decision was made to replace it with an organ built by J.J. Binns of Bramley, Leeds in 1903 for All Hallows' Church, Mitton, Lancashire, UK. This instrument had been imported many years earlier by Peter D.G. Jewkes Pty Ltd of Sydney on behalf of the Morgan family, the present owners of Abercrombie House, Bathurst.17 Owing to local council restrictions, however, the organ was not able to be installed as intended in the ballroom at Abercrombie House, and remained in storage.



Abercrombie House, Bathurst
[Photograph from http://www.abercrombiehouse.com.au/]

Abercrombie House was built in the 1870s by the Stewart family. William Stewart was sworn Lieutenant Governor General of New South Wales, second in command under Governor Brisbane, in May 1825, having arrived shortly beforehand in command of the 3rd Regiment. As a reward for doing his job well, he was granted land at Mount Pleasant near Bathurst in 1827. James Horne Stewart, William's eldest son, inherited the property after his father's death in 1854, and commenced building 'The Mount' (later named Abercrombie House) in 1870. It was completed in 1878. Built in Victorian Tudor style, the house is listed on the Australian Heritage Database.18



The J.J. Binns organ in its original location
at All Hallows' Church, Mitton, Lancashire, UK
[Photograph supplied by Peter Jewkes]

Already nicknamed the 'Battleship Binns' during dismantling, the action, pipework and luxurious console fittings of the organ were all found to be of first-rate solid construction. The case is very handsome, of oak, and the console is quite advanced for its time, with angled stop jambs, thick ivory key coverings, concave and radiating pedalboard and balanced swell pedal (all original). This is the first Binns organ to come to Australia, although it is interesting to note that the Adelaide organbuilder W.L. Roberts was apprenticed to this firm.19

The organ is expected to be installed at Picton in the latter half of 2018.

The specification is:

 

GREAT
Open Diapason
Rohr Flute
Dulciana
Principal
Harmonic Flute

SWELL
Geigen Principal
Lieblich Gedact
Viol d'Orchestre
Vox Angelica
Suabe Flute

PEDAL
Bourdon
Bass Flute

COUPLERS
Swell to Great
Swell to Pedal
Great to Pedal

8
8
8
4
4


8
8
8
8
4


16
8





   

2 composition pedals to Sw & Gt.
Compass 58/30
Tracker action to manuals, pneumatic to Pedal




[Photographs supplied by Peter Jewkes]

 






[CAD drawings by Rodney Ford of the Binns organ,
in preparation for its re-siting ]





_________________________________________________________

1 J.R. Maidment, 'Old Churches and their Organs South of Sydney,' The Sydney Organ Journal (March 1978), p. 6, cited in Graeme D. Rushworth, Historic Organs of New South Wales (Sydney: Hale & Iremonger, 1988), p.356.

2 Rushworth, op. cit., p. 356.

3 Bede Nairn, 'Lassetter, Henry Beauchamp (1860–1926)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (Carlton: Melbourne University Press, 1974), p. 67, mostly cited in Rushworth, op. cit., p. 356.

4 The Sydney Morning Herald (16 September1892), p. 5.

5 Rushworth, op. cit., p. 356.

6 The Sydney Morning Herald (7 November 1892), p. 6, cited in Peter Meyer, 'Revised Date for Picton Organ,' The Sydney Organ Journal (Autumn 2012), p. 43.

7 Australian Town and Country Journal (11 March 1893), cited in Peter Meyer, loc. cit.

8 The Sydney Morning Herald (9 December 1893), p. 5, cited in Peter Meyer, loc. cit.

9 Peter Meyer, loc. cit.

10 'Picton Progress,' The Sydney Organ Journal, vol. 42, no. 1 (Summer 2010-11), p. 44.

11 Kelvin Hastie, Unknown source, cited in Meyer, loc. cit.

12 Peter Jewkes, 'Off The Chest: News from Organ Builders,' The Sydney Organ Journal, vol. 42, no. 4 (Spring 2011), p. 44.

13 Peter Jewkes, 'Off The Chest: News from the Organ Builders,' The Sydney Organ Journal, vol. 46, no. 1 (Summer 2014-15), p. 37.

14 Benjamin McKenzie, '"All Fixable" at Picton,' The Sydney Organ Journal, vol. 47, no. 4 (Spring 2016), pp. 36-37.

15 Peter Jewkes, 'Off the Chest: News from the Organ Builders,' The Sydney Organ Journal, vol. 49, no. 1 (Summer 2017-18), p. 44.

16 Specification from Maidment, op. cit., cited in Rushworth, op. cit., p. 356, corrected where possible against photographs by Trevor Bunning (May 2006).

17 Peter Jewkes, 'Off the Chest: News from the Organ Builders,' The Sydney Organ Journal, vol. 49, no. 1 (Summer 2017-18), p. 44.

18 New South Wales Government Office of Environment and Heritage, 'Abercrombie House'. http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=1080302 - accessed February 2018.

19 Comments by Peter Jewkes in The Sydney Organ Journal (Summer 2017-18) and formerly on OHTA's Redundant Organs page.