The Argory's remarkable cabinet barrel organ
Visitors are often left surprised to discover a large chamber organ inside the house.
The Argory was built 1820-24 for Walter MacGeough Bond who in 1822 commissioned James Davis to build him a large finger organ with barrels for the lobby on the first floor of his new home. Plans to build a small chapel in the grounds of The Argory were never implemented and the lobby would become a space for the family to gather for morning and evening prayers.
By the end of 1822 however Davis made the decision to retire prior to beginning work and the contract passed to James Bishop. In March 1824 Bishop sent specification and estimate to Walter which he accepted. The Organ was completed and in use by September 1824
Samuel Wesley, son of the great hymn writer Charles and nephew to John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church was employed to consult on the music prepared to be pinned onto the barrel. The organ originally had 6 barrels however only 3 remain today. It is thought that those lost may have been destroyed in fire that gutted the North wing of the house in 1898.
Plans uncovered early this year show the proposed options for the installation of hot water and heating systems. They suggest removing the organ and bricking up the space to create a bathroom. Thankfully these plans were never carried out and the organ remains intact.
While the barrels can now only be played on special occasions visitors are invited to play the finger element during the tour.