St. Bartholomew's, Armley

The Schulze Organ Story



For a few years Mrs. Kennedy played the Schulze organ in its original setting at Meanwood Towers for her own enjoyment and to the delight of her guests and sometimes of villagers of Meanwood who listened outside, but unfortunately she became unwell and was advised to abandon playing on her favourite instrument.  In addition, the wooden structure in which the organ was housed began to need repair and Edmund Schulze warned Mr. Kennedy that the organ would certainly suffer from damp if allowed to remain in the building.  Also, although central heating was provided, it had never been easy to maintain a reasonably constant temperature, with the result that the organ was frequently out of tune.  Mr. Kennedy therefore felt obliged to part with the organ for its preservation and offered it for sale.

The organ was purchased by two maiden ladies, the Misses Carter, daughters of Nicholas Carter of Spring Bank, Harrogate, one of the foremost pioneers of the development of Harrogate as a Spa in the early 19th century.  The Carter family had taken a great interest in the building of St. Peter's Church, Harrogate, and the sisters lent their Schulze organ to the church which had previously used a small instrument lent by Mr. Walker Joy, the Leeds musical amateur.  The organ was duly installed in the south transept of the church under the supervision of Edmund Schulze, in its original case and with its original pneumatic lever action, on the understanding that the loan would become a gift on the decease of the surviving donor.

The organ was inaugurated on 16th August, 1877, with fully choral services sung by the choir of Leeds Parish Church, Mr. R. S. Burton, organist of that church presiding at the instrument, as indeed he did on other important occasions.  The anthems sung were "The Wilderness" (S. S. Wesley), "If with all your hearts" (Mendelssohn) and "Hallelujah Chorus" (Beethoven).  The "dulcet tones" of the organ were greatly admired during the softer passages of these anthems, whilst:

. . . the strength and capacity of the instrument, amply sufficient for a much larger edifice, were apparent enough as –
in vibrations which seemed almost to shake a strong building – it pealed forth language of triumphant exultation’

The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, Leeds Mercury, 17th August, 1877

The organ was, in fact, too large for the church and, according to Allbutt who once heard it in its second home, it did not sound as well as at Meanwood, being rather suffocated.  The acoustics of St. Peter's Church are much less favourable to organ tone than those of St. Bartholomew's Church, Armley.

The vicar of St. Peter's, the Rev. L. E. W. Foote, was unwilling to accept the organ as a loan to the church in spite of the clear understanding that the loan would ultimately become a gift, and he gave the Misses Carter the option of either making the instrument a gift outright, or of removing the organ.  The ladies, no doubt to his surprise, took the latter course and had the organ removed!  When the vicar related this story to that authority on Schulze, the Rev. J. H. Bum, he seemed to be rather sorry for himself.

In spite of all this unpleasantness, the Carter sisters were determined  that St. Peter's Church should have a Schulze organ. Therefore the Misses Leonora, Arabella and Rebecca Anne Carter ordered a small two-manual and pedal organ from J. F. Schulze & Sons, with the following specification:

The new organ was inaugurated on 28th June, 1879, at a special service on the Vigil of St. Peter, when the church choir was augmented by members of the Leeds Parish Church choir, Mr. R. S. Burton again presiding at the organ. The Press Report of the opening is interesting:

Many who have been accustomed to the grand tones of the old organ, may regret its removal; but we confidently assert that the new instrument, though smaller in structure, does not fall short of it in sweetness, or in the full swell of its deep diapason tone . . . The smaller organ . . . is in fact the last work upon which Mr. Schulze bestowed his personal care and ability, prior to his lamented death a few months ago.”

Actually this organ was probably completed by Eduard Schulze after Edmund's death.  The spotted metal front pipes were provided by Brindley & Foster of Sheffield, who erected the organ after removing the four-manual Schulze instrument to Armley.

In 1891, this second Schulze organ was rebuilt by Abbott & Smith of Leeds when, in order to accommodate a new swell box, the instrument was moved from the south side of the church to the north aisle of the chancel, formerly the vestry, where it now remains and a new vestry was built at the north-east angle of the church.  The whole of this work was carried out at the expense of Messrs. Nicholas and Richard Carter, who were brothers of the donors of the organ, then deceased. Further additions were made to the organ by J. J. Binns of Bramley, Rushworth & Dreaper of Liverpool and, in 1952, J. W. Walker & Sons of Ruislip rebuilt the organ completely with a new four-manual console, electro-pneumatic action and many new stops, but retaining most of the Schulze pipes.  The opening recital was given by Dr. W. N. McKie of Westminster Abbey on 11th September, 1952.

Some later work to sustain the quality of this organ was undertaken in 1986 when H.E. Prested of Durham cleaned and re-leathered the organ, as well as adding 2 electronic feet pipes. A renovation of the organ was completed in 2002 by Peter Wood and Son, Harrogate. The dangerous cotton-covered wiring of the 1950s was replaced as part of this overhaul and a computerised stop management system was installed.




St. Bartholomew’s Church from the SE (1975) showing the short eastern apse and South Transept clustered round the Tower and the Nave roof ridge to the left.

The present Church of St. Bartholomew at Armley was built to replace an older church, formerly a Chapel of Ease of Leeds Parish Church, dating from 1630 and enlarged in 1737 and again in 1834. Of modest architectural pretensions, this building was demolished in 1909, the foundations alone now remaining to the north of the new church.

The new church, designed jointly in 1872 by Mr. H. Walker, F.R.I.B.A. and Mr. J. Athron, both architects of Leeds, was consecrated on 24th August, 1877, although still lacking the tower, western turrets, porches and choir vestry.  Built in Early English Gothic style, the rather severe exterior is of sandstone with a large nave, shallow transepts, each of a single bay, and a very short apsidal eastern arm, all clinging closely to the massive central tower with octagonal spire and four spirelet pinnacles.

The whole grouping, according to Pevsner, is reminiscent of the Rhineland churches and, standing on a magnificent site on Armley hill, the church can be seen from afar. Internally of warm-toned Ancaster limestone, the lofty six-bayed nave (98½ft. long, 30ft. wide and 73ft. in height to the roof ridge) is separated by rather slender clustered shafts of Greenmoor stone from narrow vaulted aisles. Above a clerestory of large coupled lancets, nave and transepts are spanned by open timber roofs with tie-beams above a coved portion. 

The choir occupies the spacious crossing between massive piers with clustered shafts, designed to give minimal obstruction to the passage of light and sound, and carrying the tower on lofty arches, the vault rising to 59½ feet from floor level. The short eastern apse is also vaulted and alone forms the sanctuary.  Thus, although the sound of the organ is projected from the north transept at right angles to the east/west axis of the church, because of the very shallow transepts, the unusually short eastern arm and the spacious crossing, the acoustics are ideal for the instrument as heard from the nave.

Henry William Eyres, donor of the organ

The Eyres family were benefactors both of the old Armley Church and of the new St. Bartholomew's.  William Eyres (1759-1837) established the firm of William Eyres & Sons as cloth manufacturers at Armley.  Of his twelve children, William (1789-1851) and Samuel (1793-1868) carried on the business at Winker Green Mill, later known as "Eyres Mill," becoming pioneers in the manufacture of worsted by power at Armley.  The firm's mill still exists today (see below, converted to flats; the boatyard has gone!) and several streets in its vicinity carry the name of Eyres.
Samuel amassed a great fortune and had one daughter, Anne Elizabeth, who by her second marriage to the Rev. Samuel Kettlewell, Vicar of St. Mark's Church, Leeds, had three children, the eldest being Henry William Kettlewell, born at his parents' home Armley Grange, on 20th July, 1857, who inherited much of the family fortune and adopted the surname Eyres by Royal Licence in 1878. 

Educated at Harrow School and at Trinity College, Cambridge, from which he graduated as B,A. and LL.B., Henry William Eyres who resided chiefly at 41 Upper Grosvenor Street, London, always had a great affection for the parish of Armley, his birthplace, and took a great interest in its welfare because of the long-standing family connection with Armley.  Wishing to make a worthy gift to the new St. Bartholomew's Church, Mr. Eyres purchased the Schulze organ from the Misses Carter of Harrogate.  
Mr. R. S. Burton being his musical adviser, and presented it to the church as a thank-offering for his forthcoming marriage.  He married Caroline Isabel, daughter of Edward Sharp, at Holy Trinity Church, Bingley, on 20th October, 1880.
Two additional stops were ordered from J. F. Schulze & Sons to augment the Pedal Organ, namely the Sub Bass 32ft. and the open Metal Principal 1 Bass 16ft., as named on the original stop knobs, the latter stop to stand in the new case.

The Organ Gallery and Case

There appears to be no record of the original appearance of the organ, either at Meanwood or at Harrogate - it is not mentioned by Allbutt in his memoirs and the Rev. J. H. Burn, writing in 1922, had unfortunately no clear recollection of it.  The case cannot have been of particular merit, or was considered to be inadequate for its prominent new position, and would almost certainly have possessed only a non-speaking pipe front, as referred to early in the correspondence from Schulze to Kennedy.

The magnificent American walnut case and the stone gallery on which it stands have generally been attributed to Walker and Athron, joint architects of the church.  However J. J. Binns of Bramley, near Leeds, who rebuilt the organ, stated in his "Directory of Organs," published in 1910, "Case designed by Mr. Thorpe," and this name has been given to the author by two organ-builders in the Leeds area.  There was certainly an architect Henry William Thorp (sic) practising at 22 Park Row, Leeds, in 1878 but whether or not he was the Thorpe mentioned by Binns is unknown.  It is possible that Binns was confusing the present case of 1879 with the original case of the organ when at Meanwood Towers, and probably also at Harrogate.  This was evidently made in England to Kennedy's requirements since, in a letter of 26th January, 1869, from Schulze, the craftsmen working on the case are instructed to leave an opening 5 feet wide for the keyboards.

The Press Report of the opening of the organ at Armley states:

The organ case will, of course, be entirely new, though this was unfortunately not completed in time for the opening ceremony.
The architect’s design (author’s italics), and the portion of it already fixed – with the elaborate traceried gallery front – will give
a very good idea of the character of the work.”

Examination of the documents relating to the organ, now in the care of the Leeds City Archives Department, revealed three designs for the organ case.
"First sketch for Organ" (no illustration) is in very poor condition and is neither signed nor dated, but shows an elegant Gothic case supported on an apparently wooden screen and gallery below the northern arch of the crossing and surmounted by winged angels.  The central figure reaches only to the level of the capitals of the piers of the crossing, i.e. much lower than the present case.  There is only a single, central tower of three large pipes, flanked by two tiers of flats, each of seven small pipes and, beyond these on each side, are flats of six pipes with Gothic tracery as pipe shades.  Further overhanging sections have been added in pencil. From the surrounding masonry and by comparison with the second design, it is clear that the "First sketch" refers to the Armley church and that both designs are from the same hand.

2. The second design, see below, drawn in ink on tracing paper with a sepia wash, by Walker and Athron, 28th September, 1878. 

This drawing includes on the left one-and-a-half bays of the nave and, on the right, the apsidal sanctuary, with the architects' names.  The organ case is shown in relation to the arch of the crossing, standing on a stone gallery which differs from that of the third design, and from the gallery actually built, in that the stilted bases of the supporting pillars are joined by a continuous low wall, except where broken in the easternmost bay by a wrought iron gate. The organ case rises above a panelled screen with an advanced portion to accommodate the console, as at present, but is lower than the present case, revealing part of the circular window in the transept gable. There are three towers each of three pipes, the central tower being very prominent, whilst metal bands cross the flats and enclose the large pipes of the towers. There is evidence of alteration in the positions of the angels above the towers in this drawing, but no evidence of the two angels below the side towers as later executed. This drawing is accompanied by a section from north to south through the transept, similarly signed and dated, showing the organ at the level of the stone gallery with a small room at floor level - possibly the blowing chamber. The date of purchase of the organ from the Misses Carter is not known, but the second design is dated shortly after Mr. H. W. Kettlewell inherited his fortune and assumed the name of Eyres on attaining his majority. It is probable that the enlargement of the case arose to accommodate the large pipes of the Pedal Metal Principal Bass 16ft. when this stop was ordered from Paulinzelle.

The third design (right) is a splendid detailed drawing (19¾ by 13⅜ in.) showing the present organ case on the stone gallery, and a reduction of it appears here. This was drawn by John A. Webster, probably in Walker and Athron's office and, although undated, has evidently grown out of the earlier designs.  It may well have been the one exhibited on the occasion of the opening of the organ, as mentioned in the Press Reports, since the case was incomplete at the time.

The drawing corresponds with the case as executed, except that the positions of the two angels on pedestals have been exchanged with those of the two pinnacles above the corner towers  The bold treatment of the overhanging wings, with the flowing lines of their pipe shades, and the tracery of the coving above the console, show a great advance on the second design.  It is very unlikely that the architects of the church would have used the design of another without due acknowledgement, and the existence of the three related drawings leaves no doubt that they originated from the architects' office.

Since no other organ case has been attributed to Walker and Athron, there has been much speculation as to the source of the design. Dr. G. A. Audsley's classic work "The Art of Organ-building" contains an illustration of the Gothic organ case in the church of Hombleux, Picardie. This elegant case, dating from c.1500 with added Renaissance details, resembles the "First sketch" for Armley in having the prominent single central tower of three pipes, boldly overhanging wings, pierced Gothic tracery as pipe shades and angels surmounting the corner posts. Commenting on this design Audsley says:
‘Large and dignified Gothic cases can be designed by an extension of
this treatment, as is shown in the fine case of the Organ in the Church
of St. Bartholomew, Armley’.

The case at Hombleux, or an illustration of it, may well have inspired Walker or Athron.  Walker had been a pupil of Sir Gilbert Scott, who greatly admired St. Bartholomew's Church, but the Armley case surpasses those of Scott, and was described by the Rev. F. H. Sutton as "the grandest example of a modern Gothic organ in England". It was considered by that great authority on organ case design, the Rev. Andrew Freeman, to be the first successful attempt at grouping large pipes in an organ front without abandoning the basic principles of organ case design.

Left - Detail of the vaulted stone gallery and walnut screen

To give the organ ample speaking room, the whole north transept was used and, to economise in floor space, the handsome gallery designed by Walker and Athron was built by Frankland & Son of Armley.  It carries the organ 12 feet above the floor level of the transept and is supported by a double arcade of clustered shafts carrying a stone vault . A panelled and traceried screen of walnut runs the whole length of the gallery between the great piers of the crossing, enclosing the lower panelled portion of the case and the console. 

The speaking pipes in the case are those of the Pedal Metal Principal Bass 16ft. (now called "Open Metal"), of zinc with polished tin mouths. The central tower, with the three largest pipes, projects boldly from the main front and is surmounted, high under the apex of the great arch of the crossing, by an angel with trumpet. Surprisingly, the largest pipe is non-speaking, being flanked by the CCC and CCC sharp pipes.  Indeed many of the larger pipes are not functional, including several in the side towers.  On each side of the central tower are two tiers of small flats with non-speaking pipes and beyond these are corner towers, each of three large pipes, slightly recessed behind the main front and crowned by winged angels with musical instruments. The boldly overhanging wings of the case carry flats of five pipes on both their fronts.

Towers and flats are richly embellished with pipe shades of Gothic tracery, whilst carved panels of birds and foliage below the small flats greatly enrich the case. (above and below).

Brass bands with flowing foliage designs partly encircle the pipes of the towers - at two levels on the central tower and at a single level on the corner towers.  Similar bands cross the flats of pipes and the appearance of the case would probably have been improved if this metalwork had been omitted.  It was possibly due to the influence of Scott, who frequently introduced such material during his restoration of Gothic churches.

The attached console is placed below the bold pendant of the central tower of pipes, whilst angels bearing harps spread their wings below the corner towers.

Both case and walnut screen were made and carved by William Pearson of Leeds.  A panelled screen with tracery above and flats of small non-speaking pipes closes the small arch opening into the north aisle of the nave. The case and gallery are cleverly placed to give an effect of great magnificence when viewed from the nave, but without obtruding on the view of the sanctuary.

A blowing chamber was built outside the north wall of the north transept, in keeping with the architecture of the church, to house the hydraulic engines, gas engine, feeders and main reservoir. The whole expense of this work was borne by Mr. Eyres, which, including the cost of a lawsuit between a firm of organ-builders and Mr. R. S. Burton, musical adviser to Mr. Eyres, amounted to more than £6,000.

The organ which the Schulze instrument replaced in 1879 formerly stood in the old church. It was sold to Mr. Eyres who presented it to Christ Church, Upper Armley, in the same year.

Unfortunately, Mr. Eyres was not destined to hear the glorious tones of the organ in its new and perfect setting for long.  He died during his wedding tour aged 23, on 6th April, 1881, at Naples, a victim of typhoid fever, and was buried on 5th May, 1881, in the Eyres family vault in the Old Church at Armley, following a moving service in the great new church close by, which was attended by a large congregation.  His gifts to the church were always made in a quiet and unostentatious way - indeed he would not allow any plate or inscription to be placed on the organ case to record his generosity. In 1884 his widow presented the mosaic panels above the font and below the western lancets as a memorial to her husband, thus carrying out the wishes of the architects that mosaic panels should take precedence over the insertion of painted glass in the windows.

The erection of the organ on the gallery was carried out by Messrs. Brindley & Foster, then organ-builders of Sheffield, who as described in chapter IV were responsible for the erection of the second Schulze instrument at St. Peter's Church, Harrogate. Evidence for this was obtained from two sources in 1956, during the renovation of the organ by Messrs. Hill & Son and Norman & Beard.  In taking out the old hand-blowing apparatus at the foot of the stairway to the organ gallery, the organist (Mr. J. J. F. Watkins) found a label attached to a cupboard with the name "Brindley & Foster" and on the reverse the address of St. Bartholomew's Church. 

Also during the 1956 renovation, Mr. Gerald Daines, one of the organ-builders, discovered five names and the date 1879 carved on the capital of an attached shaft which carries one of the wall posts of the roof, about 40ft. above floor level in the north-east corner of the organ chamber.  The names are W. Powell, C. H. Rawson, A. Lisle, Cook and Schulze. These were clearly shown on a photograph taken and published by "The Yorkshire Post."  A lady in York identified two of the names, one as that of her grandfather who worked for Brindley & Foster, and who often spoke of Schulze; the second name as one frequently mentioned by her grandfather. The name "Schulze" probably refers to Eduard Schulze, younger brother of Edmund, who completed the order for the two additional Pedal stops added at that time, after the death of Edmund.

During the erection of the organ at Armley an extraordinary blunder occurred.  The English workman entrusted with the insertion of the Sub Bass 32ft. stop overlooked the top FF pipe and placed the feet of the remaining 29 pipes each in a hole too high.  Finding that each pipe was flat, he cut down the pipes in turn by a semitone until, on reaching the bottom note he found no pipe available!  The man then had a 16ft. stopped pipe made, which he inserted into the CCCC hole and which remained until J. J. Binns rebuilt the organ in 1905, when he supplied a 32ft. open pipe in its place. Mr. T. Cawthra, on relating this story to the Rev. J. H. Burn, placed the mislaid pipe in his hands which still remains in the organ next to the cut-down pipe now sounding top FF, from which it differs by having the original chamfered top edges.

The Opening of the Organ at Armley

The inauguration of the organ was arranged to coincide with the Dedication Festival of the church. On Saturday, 23rd August, 1879, the eve of the Feast of St. Bartholomew, choral evensong was sung by members of the choirs of Leeds Parish Church and of St. Bartholomew's, augmented by male and female voices, whilst Mr. R. S. Burton, organist of Leeds Parish Church, once again presided at the organ. The canticles were sung to Berthold Tours in F, the anthems being "Sing to the Lord a new song" (Mendelssohn) and "Hallelujah to the Father" (Beethoven), the latter apparently being taken so fast that the words were indistinguishable!

Following the service, Mr. Burton gave a short recital, including the Larghetto from a Mozart pianoforte concerto and the War March of the Priests from Mendelssohn's "Athalie." The splendid tones of the organ wedded to the magnificent acoustics of the church were then displayed to the people of Armley for the first time, although the instrument was not yet complete and still lacked the new case. At evensong on Sunday, 24th August, St. Bartholomew's day, the anthem sung was "O Jerusalem" (Bexfield), the tenor soloist being Mr. Harrison with Mr. W. Grice, principal Bass of Durham Cathedral who was born in Armley, as bass soloist. At the close of the service Mr. T. Cawthra, organist of the church since 1878, played as voluntaries arrangements of "Zadok the Priest" and the Overture from "Athalia," both by Handel. It is interesting to note the preponderance of orchestral and choral arrangements played on the organ as voluntaries or even as recital pieces at that period, to the exclusion of legitimate organ music.

It had been planned to have a series of recitals during the following week, commencing with Mr. W. T. Best, premier recitalist of the day, from St. George’s Hall, Liverpool, on Monday, 25th August, 1879, at 7 p.m. and on Tuesday at 3 p.m., followed by recitals by Mr. W. Rea of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Mr. G. Riseley of Bristol.29 However, when Best arrived at the church to inspect the organ, he found that the instrument was not complete and decided that it was unfair to be required to play the advertised programme under such conditions and left the church. The Vicar, Canon F. G. Hume-Smith, faced with this emergency and a large and expectant audience, called on Thomas Cawthra, the organist of the church, who not only "opened" the organ to the entire satisfaction of the assembly, but actually played the programme advertised in the Press. The change of recitalist was not known, even to Mrs. Cawthra who was present, until an announcement was made after the recital!

Mr. Best, having returned to Leeds, wrote the following letter which was published in both "The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer" and "Leeds Mercury" on the following day:

As I am informed that no reason was assigned by the vicar this evening at the church of St. Bartholomew, Armley, why I did not officiate at the advertised organ recital. I feel it due to the numerous congregation assembled there to state that, on account of the very incomplete condition of the instrument, it was impossible for me to play the music selected, the programme for which was published in your issue of this morning; nor will it be possible for me to play tomorrow, as announced. I am, etc. W.T.Best

Queen’s Hotel, Leeds, August 25th”

Announcements in both newspapers on the 26th August cancelled the recitals which were to have taken place during that week.  However, in the following spring recitals were given by Mr. W. Rea (1st April, 1880) and by Mr. W. T. Best (6th April and 7th April), the programme of that on the 6th April being, with minor changes, identical with that arranged for 25th August, 1879.

By Friday, 29th August, 1879, the organ was musically complete, although still lacking the case and some of the pipes in prospect.  The choirs of Leeds Parish Church and St. Bartholomew's Church, with additional male and female voices, combined to give a memorable rendering of 33 numbers from Haydn's "Creation," a portion of "A Hymn of Praise" (Mendelssohn), "I know that my Redeemer liveth" and "Hallelujah" from "Messiah" (Handel).  The tone of the organ, again in the hands of Mr. R. S. Burton, received high praise and it was evident that the events at Harrogate, which led to the removal of the organ from St. Peter's Church, had saved the instrument from probable tonal modification to accommodate it to the unfavourable acoustics of that church, and the generosity of Mr. Eyres had placed the instrument in a noble building with ideal acoustics for organ tone.


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