Music and Organs - Chester Cathedral

Music and Organs

Music-making has a long history at Chester Cathedral

Read on to find out more about this essential part of our heritage.

Cathedral Grand Organ

The present Grand Organ is situated in three locations in Chester Cathedral: the central case is installed to the north of the crossing; the pedal division behind it on the north wall of the North Transept; and the choir organ in the South Quire Aisle. It was commissioned by the Dean and Chapter in 1875/6 at the recommendation of the Liverpool Architect and Organ Consultant Dr George Ashdown Audsley. Charles Whiteley and Company were sought and brought together an instrument which included pipes from Cavaillé-Coll in Paris.

The organ builders Gray and Davison did some minor modifications in 1895 and in 1909/10 William Hill and Son of London carried out a major rebuild, with new soundboards throughout and all new reeds. Although still sounding glorious, by 1967 the organ was becoming increasingly unreliable and unsuited to the musical requirements of a 20th century cathedral. Four major firms were consulted and, after much deliberation, Rushworth and Dreaper, who had lovingly maintained the organ for many years, won the contract to rebuild the organ.

Rebuilding took a year and has been praised by players from all over the world, including Maurice and Marie-Madeleine Duruflé, who gave the opening recital in 1970. It is currently maintained by David Wells Organ Builders.

Chamber Organ

The Chamber Organ was commissioned from organ builder Robin Jennings and completed in 2019. It is built in French oak with box wood naturals and ebony sharps. It has four stops:

  • Stopped Flute 8 
  • Stopped Flute 4
  • Gemshorn 4
  • Fifteenth 2

Cathedral Musicians

Our cathedral musicians include our organists, professionally trained children and adults, our voluntary choir, and many others.

Head to Who's Who to find out more about our musicians.

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It costs £6,000 a day to care for our historic building and to maintain our worship and music tradition. We rely on the kindness and generosity of people like you to power our work.