Historic Eye organ dedicated after 18 months of restoration

Eye, Suffolk. St Peter and St Paul Church in Eye ENGANL00120121126160249
Eye, Suffolk. St Peter and St Paul Church in Eye ENGANL00120121126160249

The historic Binns organ has been dedicated and blessed at SS Peter and Paul’s Church in Eye after 18 months of restoration.

The organ console was presented to Eye church in 2014 by Father Ronald Casebow, in memory of his wife Ethel, who died on Boxing Day of that year. For many years she had been the managing director of the family shipping company, the Everard Line, having launched her first ship in 1927 at the age of four.

After unveiling the Everard House Flag, the ceremonial version of the flag which fliers on the Everard ships covering the console, Father Ron said his late wife began working for the company at the age of 16, when they were helping to organise the Armada of ships that went across to Dunkirk to rescue the 400,000 soldiers from the beaches. The console has two miniature ship’s wheels inserted into the marquetry in the woodwork of the music desk, and a plaque made in bronze on the side of the console in Ethel’s memory.

Charles Michell, chairman of the Eye Church Development Campaign, said the event marked the “fulfilment of an ambition” which began 12 years ago when a team visited Leeds to view the James Jepson Binns organ in a derelict church.

The parochial church council agreed to acquire and install the organ in Eye church, and a committee was formed to fundraise £600,000 for a development project to be carried out in four phases.

The first of these had been completed with the creation of the Abbey Room, and toilets, due to the success of the many concerts, events, and activities organised, as well as grants and donations. Now, after many months of restoration work, the organ, although not entirely complete, was ready for its dedication and blessing. The fundraising would go on for the next two phases to include the restoration and decoration of the church, lighting, and the tower and bells.

Donors, the committee and supporters were thanked for their energy and faith in the project, and all who had sponsored the pipes.

After the blessing the organ was played by the two organists, Peter Lee and Colin Bartlett, the church choir singing Psalm 150 to a setting by Charles Stanford.