Walk Round Tour
Like the church
itself, the organ is unique in Rome in its Englishness, and deserves jealous care.
Its value in the main acts of worship is manifest, but too easily taken for granted,
specially perhaps by visitors from Anglo - Saxon backgrounds in various parts of
the world. Nowadays, an organ of this size and complexity, subject to a rather unkind
climate, and needing to be properly insured, is a major item in the calculations
of a church council and those whom they represent.
The original instrument of 1894, standing north of the chancel (from which today's
fine organ has been developed) was presented by the Revd. Wilfrid Stanton in these
"In trust for the time being for the use of the
church and the benefit of the congregation."
It is still insured on a separate policy from that of the building in general, which
belongs, together with the adjacent house, to the United Society for the Propagation
of the Gospel.
The donor's generous intention can best be discharged by the care with which each
generation looks after the organ.
We still have the ornate document of specification drawn up by the makers, Peter
Conacher of Huddersfield, Yorkshire - a firm still in business today. The price
was about £1000 Stirling, a large sum at that time; and the plans had been
supervised and countersigned by Professor Sir Herbert Oakley (1830 - 1903) who gave
the opening recital on it in January 1894. (Three tunes composed by him survive
in Hymns Ancient and Modern, Revised).
In 1913, the worshippers took on the great task of moving the organ to the gallery,
and installing an electric blower. The recent arrival of electricity made that possible,
and as a result of all this they were able to create the new side chapel.
In 1959, again at great expense, the original instrument had to be completely dismantled,
and by August 1960 was rebuilt to new and finer specifications. Details of these
are given at the foot of the page.
This time, the firm employed was Mascioni of Cuvio, a long established family concern
with its works in the remote northwest of Italy. This company is known throughout
Italy, and in Rome looks after both Anglican churches in addition to an instrument
as distinguished as that of Santa Maria Maggiore.
The cost was some 12 million Lire, then equivalent to about £5,700 at the
prevailing level of values.
In 1979, a major overhaul was strongly advised, and the Church Council set about
raising from various sources, including their own efforts, a sum of 8.5 million
lire, roughly £5,200 by this time. All the delicate valves were taken to Cuvio
to be re-leathered. At All Saints' the remainder of the organ was totally dismantled
and cleaned, the array of spotted tin pipes was polished, and after re-assembly
the long job of re-tuning was accomplished.
For over forty years, a distinguished Titular Organist has graced the console, starting
very young, and displaying the instrument's qualities before, during, and after
the main Sunday service at 10.30 am.
Regular Organ Vespers are celebrated before evening prayer on the first Sunday of
the month and recitals are given from time to time. Famous guest organists who have
played include Fernando Germani, then of St. Peter's, Rome; Andre Marchal from Paris,
who used this organ to give master classes; and Francis Jackson, organist of York
Minster, who re-inaugurated the instrument after its most recent overhaul.
As rebuilt 1959/60, it has -
3 manuals of 61 keys,
1 pedal- board of 32 keys,
It is understandably not available for casual practice.