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All Saints’ Anglican Church, Kempsey:
exterior from the west
[photograph by Trevor Bunning (29 September 2015)]

Historical and Technical Documentation by Kelvin Hastie
© OHTA, 2015 (last updated January 2016)

All Saints’ Anglican Church first opened for divine service on Sunday 7th June 1892. The foundation stone was set by Mrs Sydney Verge in 1883. The cornice spire was added in 1913 and the vicarage built in 1925.1 The church is a typical example of Gothic Revival architecture in an Australian setting.

The first pipe organ for All Saints’ was supplied in 1913 by the British Pianoforte Depot Ltd of Sydney. In 1968 this was replaced by the present instrument, built by H. Jarrott, Organ Services, of Brisbane. The origins of the first instrument were long forgotten until 2015, when historical material was presented to the Organ Historical Trust of Australia by local parishioners Joan Steffensen and Robert Jopling. This consisted of newspaper articles and church archival material. There was also a copy of photograph of the first organ, taken of it standing in the south transept in 1956.

Close examination of the photograph reveals the first organ to be identical to the one that appears on page 153 of Graeme Rushworth’s Historic Organs of New South Wales, and shown standing on the showroom floor of the British Pianoforte Depot in Castlereagh Street, Sydney.2 This photograph, provided to Rushworth by C.W. Smith of Tamworth, has a reverse-side inscription indicating a price of £200 (£185 during 1914) and the stoplist of Open Diapason 8, Dulciana 8, Gamba 8, Flute 4 and Pedal Bourdon 16. Rushworth speculates that the instrument possibly served as a temporary instrument at Holy Trinity, Orange, while that church waited for the installation of a much larger instrument by the same firm, opened in early 1913. While he concludes by saying of the small instrument that “its subsequent movements are unknown, and it is presumed to have later been rebuilt or broken up”, it is clear that the organ is the one installed at Kempsey.3 The 1913 and 1956 photographs and a description of the organ, published by the Macleay Argus on 19 December 1913, clearly confirm the link. The Macleay Argus reviewed the opening concert, given by Hector Maclean in conjunction with the church organist Miss Lancaster and the organ was described as being built and installed by the British Piano Co. [sic], and having tracker action and five stops.4

All Saints’ Anglican Church, Kempsey:
the organ – Stephen Aveling-Rowe at the console
[photograph by Trevor Bunning (29 September 2015)]

The 1968 Jarrott instrument consisted of a detached stopkey console positioned on the opposite side of the church, with the pipes of the Open Diapason and Bourdon/Stopped Diapason ranks used to form a new façade. The action was electro-magnetic. The Macleay Argus reported that the new organ was dedicated on 2 May 1969 by the Bishop of Grafton, the Rt. Rev. R.G. Arthur. Installed at a cost of $6,000, the instrument was dedicated to the memory of soldiers of all wars. The report also indicated that Jarrott had spent a year on his task and that he had used the manuals and pedalboard of an electronic organ purchased sometime earlier by the church.5

The instrument was enlarged in 1976 with the provision of the Swell Mixture III, donated by Mr Neil Steffensen as a thank offering for his parents.6 In 1990 Peter D.G. Jewkes Pty Ltd replaced the wind regulator with a single-rise bellows and in 2011 the same firm dismantled and reinstalled the organ after the chancel area was totally rebuilt following serious structural failure and subsidence of the foundations. The instrument was raised on a new platform in the south transept and the console positioned directly underneath, with the manual chests repositioned to improve access for maintenance. Solid state switching was provided and the Great Flautina 2 was rewired to derive from the Open Diapason rank.7

All Saints’ Anglican Church, Kempsey:
church interior
[photograph by Trevor Bunning (June 2011)]

All Saints’ Anglican Church, Kempsey:
the organ console
[photograph by Trevor Bunning (June 2011)]

(Page from http://www.ohta.org.au/organs/organs/KempseyAng.html)


http://www.kempsey.nsw.gov.au/heritage/pubs/walks-in-history-west-kempsey.pdf. Accessed by John Maidment, 15 June 2015.

2 Graeme D. Rushworth, Historic Organs of New South Wales (Sydney: Hale & Iremonger, 1998), p.153.

3 Ibid. 154.

4 “Organ Recital – All Saints’ Anglican Church”, The Macleay Argus, 19 December 1913.

5 “Memorial Organ is Dedicated”, The Macleay Argus, 6 May 1969.

6 Rector’s Annual Report (Canon R. Hancock), 30 June 1976.

7 Information provided by Peter Jewkes, 10 July 2015 and Trevor Bunning, June 2011.