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Not ‘adieu’ but ‘au revoir’ to the Graylingwell Organ

Graylingwell chapel has stood since 1897, and was served throughout by a beautiful, seemingly custom-made organ that provided music for the staff and patients of Graylingwell Hospital, previously the West Sussex Lunatic Asylum, and during both World Wars soothed the minds of soldiers and staff when the site was used as a military hospital. Last week it was lovingly and carefully dismantled to be rehomed in an equally beautiful setting in France, more precisely in a church in Jugon-les-Lacs, which is also a classified, historic monument.

Following a conscientious campaign to find a new home within the UK, working with key organisations in the field, it was established that there was no requirement for the complete instrument, but only interest in elements, such as the pipes to be used as spare parts. It was felt that the organ should remain complete and a wider search was then extended across Europe. CCDT was delighted to hear from the talented and wonderful Yann, from Jugon-les-Lacs – a contact which led to last week’s removals.

Yann Drezet and his team of two helpers undertook a precise project taking two full days to painstakingly dismantle the organ in a most scientific manner in order to be first refurbished and then fully reconstructed in France. Their work would not however have been completed in time had it not been for the incredible support of CCDT volunteers and Graylingwell residents, particularly Mike and Coral, who’s support was enormously appreciated.

Jann commented, “We thank all the people who have been great with us (welcome, accommodation, meals, help, …).  The disassembly was really the work of a whole team and very powerful… The return went very well and, in 2 hours, Friday, October 4, everything was unloaded and stored in the church of Jugon… As soon as the reassembly starts, as well as the repair work, photos will be taken and shared with the CCDT team. We have about one year of work but we hope that the organ will begin to “sing” before. The Chichester team will be welcome when they wish to discover the new organ house.”

It is certainly our intention to visit the chapel in order to see the wonderful Graylingwell organ returned to life. We also look forward to hosting Yann and his team back at Graylingwell, so they can see how the chapel’s remaining heritage that is fundamental to the building has equally been lovingly, and carefully restored in order to provide a warm and welcoming venue for the community to enjoy, and take in the history of the unique site.  In the meantime please enjoy the images below, taken by Yann and his team which we think are utterly beautiful.

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