Gloucester Cathedral Organ

The Organ Project

If music is at the heart of the Cathedral, then the famous Gloucester organ is its heartbeat

The Gloucester Cathedral organ was originally constructed in 1666 by Thomas Harris and represents the only complete 17th Century cathedral organ case in this country. It has been associated with many illustrious musicians over the centuries, including the likes of Sir Herbert Brewer, Herbert Howells and John Stafford Smith.

The need for significant work on a cathedral organ comes every 50-70 years, and it falls to our generation to secure it for the future. This need was emphasised by its premature failure in the Spring of 2022. The famous organ has since been replaced by an electronic instrument, gifted to us by a generous supporter. However, this is a temporary solution which does not relieve us from our duty as custodians of this building to look after, protect and maintain its fabric and parts.

To bring the Cathedral organ back to life, we contracted Worcestershire-based pipe organ builders, Nicholson & Co Ltd, to refurbish and renew the instrument in time for the 2026 Three Choirs Festival. This work is vital to ensure the organ remains at the very heart of Cathedral music, and that it can continue to inspire, educate and captivate musicians and audiences for generations to come.

Good progress has been made to remove old components of the instrument, and Nicholson & Co Ltd is now beginning the painstaking work of building new parts, and refurbishing existing elements, of the Cathedral organ.

Protecting and securing our musical heritage

The In Tune organ and music campaign aims to raise £3 million by 2026. This will fund the refurbishment and renewal of the Cathedral’s famous organ, as well as revitalising the musical education that is offered to hundreds of musicians of all ages. You can find out more, including how to donate to the campaign, via the button below.

In Tune organ and music campaign

The release of our new organ specification

The Gloucester Cathedral community is living through an exciting and historic time: the Cathedral Organ is to be refurbished and renewed!

When the instrument failed in the Spring of 2022 due to various factors including electrical faults and age, a lengthy process of consultation commenced. This involved: the Cathedral Chapter, musicians, specialist consultants and the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England. The decision was made that careful refurbishment and renewal of the organ was required to meet the Cathedral’s liturgical needs, and to carry the demands of large services, recitals and events.

We’re delighted that Chapter has approved the specification of our new organ from craftspeople at Nicholson & Co. Ltd of Malvern, who are currently hard at work on this project. Already, over a third of the pipes for the instrument have been prepared. Nicholson & Co. Ltd are arguably the best organ building company in the UK and their recent work can be heard and seen in cathedrals, churches, schools and concert halls across the country and worldwide.

We are excited for this new chapter in the Cathedral’s musical journey and look forward to the grand debut of the new instrument in 2026 at the Three Choirs Festival.

Find out more and read the full specification here:

“Cathedral organs through history seem to last about fifty years. The Gloucester organ was last re-built in the early 1970s and was designed according to the ideas of its time. In many ways it was an exciting instrument, but it was built for recitals rather than for accompanying choirs and services.

However, the musical needs of the 2020s are rather different from those of the 1970s; and whilst the renewed instrument will retain some of the ethos of the previous instrument, the emphasis in its design will be on serving the musical needs of those thousands of people who worship in the Cathedral each year, and specifically the accompaniment of services and big public events like the Three Choirs Festival. It will be an instrument for the many, and not just those few who have an interest in organ music.”

Adrian Partington, Director of Music

“Music has long been a central part of Gloucester Cathedral’s mission. Therefore, it is our duty and our privilege to safeguard and protect this tradition for generations to come.

It is wonderful to be working with Nicholson & Co. Ltd, who are undoubtedly one of the most skilled and renowned organ builders in the country. Their plans to refurbish and renew our beloved instrument will ensure it can continue to inspire, educate and captivate congregations and audiences for years to come.

All of us at the Cathedral are thrilled that the hard work has started and look forward to hearing the sound of our refurbished organ’s magnificent pipes fill the building in 2026.”

The Very Reverend Andrew Zihni, Dean of Gloucester