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The Cathedral Organ

The Cathedral Organ

With its four manuals, pedal board and almost 4000 pipes, and still including pipe work created by “Father” Willis in 1856, the Cathedral organ is one of the treasures of Carlisle Cathedral.

The earliest surviving reference to an organ in Carlisle Cathedral is in an inventory of 1571. New instruments were commissioned in 1661, 1684 and 1806. In 1856 Henry Willis was commissioned to build a new instrument (his second Cathedral commission). The specification was prepared by the then Master of the Music, Dr Henry Ford and W T Best a celebrated recitalist and native of Carlisle.

Rebuilding of the Willis instrument took place in 1907 (Harrison and Harrison) and 1962 (when J W Walker and Sons tonally remodelled much of the pipe work.

In 1995 David Wells of Liverpool undertook a major restoration of the instrument which included steps to regain some of the Father Willis/Harrison character of the organ.