Chapel of St John the Evangelist Main Quad, St John's School
The Chapel of St John the Evangelist is generally referred to by the School as The Chapel, and by local residents as St John's New Chapel.
The 'School for Children of Poor Clergy' moved from London to Leatherhead in 1878, where it took took its present name. In 1881 Hill & Son provided a 2-manual organ for the School Chapel, for the sum of £310.
This was replaced in 1928 buy a new 3-manual organ built by Kingsgate Davidson. This organ was rebuilt with electric action in 1961 by Manders, funded by a gift from the Chairman of the Governors, Field Marshall 'Monty' Montgomery. When the new chapel opened in 1963, the School having outgrown the 19th century chapel, the organ was moved there unchanged.
By the early 21st century there was a general feeling that the organ was not up to the job of accompanying the singing of 800 plus pupils in the larger modern chapel. With a substantial gift from the then Chairman of the Governors, Peter Hickson, the Northampton firm of Kenneth Tickell was invited to design and install a new instrument.
As he did for each new project, Ken drew a sketch of the organ's position, and how he saw its appearance, and he made a few notes about the brief. The finished project invariably looks very similar to Ken's initial sketches.
Here is a copy of the sketch, with Ken's notes, and the organ's stop list added:
Some complain that this is a loud instrument unsuited to concert work. And yet the School regularly invites noted organ recitalists to play for public concerts, to teach on the instrument, and it has an impressive record of musical achievements by its pupils and staff. Perhaps the complainers missed Ken Tickell's notes.
At the end of the first year of its use, the then Head of St John's School, Martin Collier, commented: 'the standard of hymn-singing has advanced enormously since this organ began to be used. The boys and girls feel supported by the instrument, whereas there were corners its predecessor did not quite reach.'
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