Purple flowers in front of the chapel doors

Iconic St Peter’s instruments beautifully restored

The college's ‘Father’ Willis organ and its Blüthner grand piano have both been given a new lease of life following major restoration and refurbishment. 

Work on the organ was carried out on site throughout March and April by Nicholson & Co, who were also responsible for the original restoration and rebuild of the instrument in 2003, while the Blüthner underwent major restoration over a period of six months by Piano Restorations in Buckinghamshire, returning to college shortly before Easter. The restoration of the piano was made possible thanks to the generosity of the late Dr John Bithell (1939–2020), Tutor and Fellow in Biomathematics (1976–2004), and by funds from the college Music Fund.

St Peter’s is fortunate in that its chapel still possesses its original organ, built by ‘Father’ Henry Willis in 1875, just as he was rising to the height of his fame with instruments such as those for the Royal Albert Hall and the Alexandra Palace.

To mark their return and restoration, Dr Roger Allen, Emeritus Fellow and former Director of Music, and John Warner, alumnus (2013, Music), popped in to St Peter’s to play both instruments, recordings of which are below.

Roger Allen performs J.S. Bach's famous Toccata in D Minor on the organ, while John Warner plays Claude Debussy’s The Girl with the Flaxen Hair on the Blüthner.

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A young man playing a grand piano