To all intents and purposes, Saint John's, Smith Square contains an oversized instrument by Klais, which has been unceremoniously stuffed, tardis-like, into an unsuitably small eighteenth century case and placed on a gallery in this elegant concert hall. Originally built as a church, it was completed in 1728. The architect was Thomas Archer - or perhaps not. Folklore has it that Archer enquired of Queen Anne what she wanted the church to look like. Apparently she kicked over her footstool and announced peremptorily "Like that!" It must be said that, viewed from the exterior, the four corner towers do give the building some resemblance to an upturned footstool.
Saint Giles, Cripplegate (Mander, III/P). The tutti is bright and clear on this English version of a neo-Classical organ, complete with a large Great Organ and a Choir Organ in its own case behind the player. Although mostly on mechanical action, 'Father' Henry Willis' G.O. reeds (on higher pressure) were retained, placed on electro-pneumatic action and made available, together with the G.O. Mounted Cornet, on the Choir Organ. The nucleus of this instrument formerly stood in the Church of Saint Luke, Old Street and was brought to Saint Giles' Church in 1971, where it was comprehensively rebuilt by N.P. Mander & Co.
Saint Alban's, Holborn (Compton, III/P). This organ is widely regarded as the loudest church instrument in London (comparative to the size and cubic volume of the building in which it stands). After many years of perfecting the art of constructing organs which were to be sited in chambers, Compton apparently found the transition to an open, west end site somewhat problematical. Apparently, at one point, thick wood baffles were installed around the pipework of the G.O., simply as a desperate measure to avoid listeners being plastered against the east wall of the church with their hair and general appearance looking as if they were testing a wind tunnel for British Aerospace.
Saint Luke's, Chelsea (Compton, III/P). This vast three clavier instrument is one of the most successful essays in the extension principle which is known to me. Compton's careful experimentation and thoughtful design (and inspired voicing) resulted in a large, colourful organ with a great personality. I had occasion to play it for service-work whilst I was a student. The only malfunction which happened whilst I was playing for a service was that, on the luminous light-touch console, the Contra Posaune cyphered. I was able to persuade this stop to retire gracefully about three seconds prior to the start of Howells' Collegium Regale setting of the Nunc Dimittis. (For those who are unfamiliar with this work, a 32ft. reed at this point would be about as desirable as being trapped in a lift with a dead horse.)
Since I last played this organ, I notice that the large luminous light-touch console has been moved from its former easterly position on the south gallery (with the player facing west), to a new site at the west end of the north gallery, with the player now facing north.
Saint Stephen, Walbrook (Hill/HN&B, III/P). This instrument is situated at the west end of this comparatively intimate church. However, the acoustic ambiance is glorious. This building, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, may have been used as the prototype for Saint Paul's Cathedral - the one common architectural feature being a central dome (although the treatment is rather different to that at Saint Paul's). The organ is a fair-sized three clavier instrument, basically Romantic in character. The full organ is quite powerful enough for its location - aided by the superb acoustics.
Saint Anne's, Limehouse (Gray & Davison, III/P) received a sympathetic restoration in 2006, at the skilled hands of the late William Drake. It still has the original console, but the tutti, which is largely dominated by G&D's superb Pedal and G.O. reeds (Grand Bombarde 16ft., with Posaune 8ft. and Clarion 4ft.), is breathtaking.
The Temple Church (H&H, IV/P). Sir George Thalben-Ball was Organist and Choirmaster here for many years. This organ (installed after WWII, to replace the Rothwell instrument which became 'rebuilt' courtesy of the Luftwaffe) was originally constructed for the ballroom of Lord Glentanar's private residence in Scotland. It is a large and colourful instrument . It has recently gained four stops on the G.O., which has been re-arranged as two divisions, the Great Secondary being transferable to the Choir Organ. Whilst alterations made to the Choir and Swell compound stops in 2000 have been reversed, thankfully the re-casting of the former G.O. Harmonics as a [quint] Mixture (19-22-26-29) has been retained. The revoicing of the G.O. reeds on a lower pressure (and their removal from the Solo expression box), which took place in 1989, has also been preserved.
All Saints', Margaret Street (H&H, IV/P). This church is a fine example of the type of architecture favoured by the Tractarian movement. In this comparatively small building, Arthur Harrison installed a large four clavier instrument, replete with a 32ft. Double Open Wood on the Pedal Organ, a colourful, enclosed Choir Organ, a family of (enclosed) Trumpets at 16ft., 8ft. and 4ft. pitch on the G.O. and a thrilling Orchestral Trumpet 8ft. played from the Solo Organ. It was restored recently, again by Harrisons, who again altered the composition of the mixture stops - including, I believe, re-instating the G.O. Harmonics.
All Souls, Langham Place (Willis/H&H, IV/P). This large organ stands in the west gallery of this, the 'BBC' Church (so-called, because of its close proximity to Broadcasting House). It is generally used for the broadcast of the Daily Service, on British radio. The instrument is tonally very complete, spread over four claviers, with two 32ft. ranks on the Pedal Organ (one being a Contra Trombone), a Positive Organ, large G.O. and Swell and a colourful Solo Organ, culminating in an unenclosed Tuba and a Fanfare Trumpet. The only possible drawback is that the building possesses an acoustic ambiance which makes the Royal Festival Hall sound warm and fluffy.
Saint Augustine's, Kilburn (Willis/H&H, III/P). This moderately sized instrument has a fairly complete G.O. and Swell. However, the Pedal Organ (as was often the case with FHW) consists of only a handful of stops - although one is Willis' trademark Ophicleide - a veritable thunderbolt. The Choir Organ has seven registers, including a Clarinet. The Solo Organ has never been installed. The instrument is sited on the north side of this large edifice, designed by John Loughborough Pearson (who was also the architect for Truro Cathedral, in Cornwall).
Saint John's, Upper Norwood (Lewis, III/P). This fine instrument was restored sympathetically by Harrisons, a number of years ago. It is an excellent example of the work of T.C. Lewis and produces a magnificent sound in a reasonably favourable acoustic.