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Music in Brighstone Church

It is possible that the gallery which was removed from the west end of the Church had at one time been a musicians' gallery. William Day was a Brighstone man who was successively pupil and pupil-teacher at the school, and an organist at the Church. He was born in 1843 and spent his early years until 1861, in the village. In unpublished papers of the Brighstone of those times he tells of a barrel-organ which had been placed in the gallery by Samuel Wilberforce, and of the children singing round it. This organ had been installed in about 1834, and had three interchangeable barrels, and in that year the first mention of a payment to an organist appears in the Church records. In 1852, during the restorations, the instrument was removed from the gallery and placed fir-st in the north aisle, and then on a platform at the back of the nave, when the gallery was taken down. Soon after, it was converted to a manual organ, but, having too few speaking tubes, only the keys of A, D and E could be played, and all music not so arranged had to be transposed. It remained at the west end of the Church until replaced by a more modern instrument in 1865, after more than thirty years of use. Another organ, by Walker, was installed in the Wayte's Court Chapel in 1872 and this served there for almost one hundred years until replaced in 1969 by the present Osmond instrument. The console is now near the choir, but the pipes have returned to the west end of the Church.

Early efforts to form a choir were not a success, but by Moberley's time, in 1868, a group of men and boys had learned to sing parts. From 1872 and onwards, the choir was better organised and appropriately dressed, and a few years later the choir seats were put in the chancel. From those days up to the present time, the service of the choir has been continuous, and today it has ladies as well as men and boys among its members, and its reputation in the Island stands deservedly high.

The Bells. Brighstone Church has a peal of six bells which may be heard across the fields on each Sunday throughout the year, and often on weekday evenings. The early Norman Church probably had one bell, hung externally over the west gable, and was used as an alarm bell, and for calling the people together. Earl tells us that the Archbishops' Constitution of 1305 required parishoners to provide bells for these purposes. In 1536 there were three bells and a Sanctus bell, as"recorded in the inventories compiled by the commissioners of Henry VIII. The Sanctus bell was for use during the Mass and was rung from the tower. References to this bell are to be found in the parish inventories until 1590 and then cease, and its ultimate fate is unknown.

The parish books of the time speak of the casting of a 'great bell' at Romsey in 1610, and a 'middle bell' at Newport in 1613. Certainly it would seem that several were recast and rehung in 1740, and the number was then, five, much attention being given to them in that year. The inscriptions on the bells, to be seen today, speak of those times:

1st. 'John Lore, zealous for the promotion of campanologias in that year, art caused me to be fabricated in Portsmouth and placed here in the year 1740. 40 years 1 led the peal, when 1 was unfortunately broken. In the year 18001 was cast into the furnace, refounded in London and returned to my former station. Reader, thou also shalt know a resurrection, may it be unto Eternal Life. William Chip, David Way, Churchwardens. Thomas Mears fecit.'

2nd. 'Success to the great Admiral Vernon.'

3rd. 'God preserve the British Arms, 1740.'

4th. 'Prosperity to the Parish of Brixton.'

5th. 'Mr. John Lord, Mr. Thomas Jolif, Churchwardens,

1740. Joseph Kipling fecit.'