Brewer’s letter of appointment

Letter appointing Brewer as Cathedral Organist

Amongst the many original records in the Cathedral Library is a copy of Dr. Herbert Brewer’s letter of appointment to be ‘Organist of the Gloucester Cathedral and Master of the Choristers.’ From Whitcombe and Haines, the Chapter Clerks, it is dated 15th December 1896.

A local boy, and ex-cathedral chorister, this was the letter that Dr. Brewer had always longed to receive. As he later wrote in his ‘Memories’ it was ‘the post of all others which I wished to hold.’

As it was his dream job he probably wasn’t too worried about the terms and conditions under which he would be working that the letter also detailed for him. However, for my master’s research into him and his articled pupils they are fascinating and useful extra pieces of information. He was apparently to receive two salaries for the two different roles. For the post of Organist his salary was £150 per annum and a house, and for being Master of the Choristers he was paid £25 per annum.  It was also pointed out to him that the office was not a freehold and it could be terminated at any time by six months notice. Finally Brewer was told that he may from time to time, with consent, employ a temporary substitute.  

My researches so far indicate to me that Brewer’s total salary of £175 per annum was a good average for the time for someone in his position. It is hard to equate it with present day values but around £18,500 is a fair ball park figure. 

Article written by Simon Carpenter, Cathedral Library Volunteer

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