History

Thaxted’s Lincoln Organ was built in 1821 by Henry Cephas Lincoln, one of the Lincoln family of organ-builders based in High Holborn, London. Although at one stage able to call himself ‘Organ builder to the King’, he seems to have fallen on hard times by his death in 1864, at the age of 75.

This organ was built when the Lincoln firm was in its hey-day, and installed at first in the recently-extended St John’s Chapel, Bedford Row, London. Lincoln was always keen to be at the forefront of organ design, and this instrument was ambitious for its time.

In 1856, the roof of St John’s Chapel started to collapse, and the building had to be demolished. Parish records show that the organ was purchased for Thaxted church in 1858, for the sum of 230. Surprisingly, it was not altered at the time, even though organ design had by then moved on. Possibly the parish at the time could not afford to spend more than the purchase price. More surprisingly, it remained little altered in the following hundred or so years of active use, although inevitably there were some minor repairs, and a couple of pipes have vanished.

While not in regular use, the Lincoln organ has gently deteriorated, in particular low humidity has caused drying out of the wood and leather, and dirt has entered the pipes. It is still (just) playable, but its full range of sound cannot be appreciated. The point has been reached at which restoration in necessary to prevent more serious decay.