How Gallery Music began in Cosgrove
In the porch is a board from the 1770s listing alterations that were made at the time. The Rector of Cosgrove was Pulter Forrester, who was an energetic and clever man with a lot of money, and he set about repairing and refitting the whole Church and Rectory, covering up the old ceiling and plastering the walls.
After Pulter Forrester, the Rector was Charles Walker, who was given the post by Lord Maynard, who owned the living. During this time the Church records were either not kept, or must have been kept from the usual parish wardens, as there is a gap in the accounts for almost all Charles Walker’s time at Cosgrove from 1969 to 1793.
Fortunately very early in the 19th century the Mansel family, living next door at Cosgrove Hall, took over the advowson of the Church and proper records and accounts resumed. Henry Longueville Mansel was presented as Rector by his brother in 1810.
From 1793 tantalising glimpses of the music in this Church appear in the church accounts. They bought reeds for musical instruments, named as Bassoons, which cost 1s each and were replaced often. The first mention of buying “Candels” appears, as though evening practices or close reading work may have begun, but these may have been ceremonial candles. In 1809 there is an entry “For Music Books &c 13s 10½d”
The first mention of an organ at the Church is in the Churchwardens' Accounts of 1814, when William Jones was paid £4 for a year's work "winden the Clocke up & organ". Jones, who was the organist, was paid £2 each year thereafter to play.
Evidently Rev Mansel felt by 1816 that a proper Singers group was required at Cosgrove and Charles Burral was paid £1 8s 0d for “teaching the Singers to chant.” The Singers group must have improved a lot as by 1818 they were rewarded by a payment of a guinea a year as opposed to the Ringers, who got 12s 6d.
We have not yet tracked down the documents for the building of galleries at Cosgrove but between 1822 and 1841 Baker records "a north gallery and another across the west end in which is a small organ".
New Strings to Base Vile 2s
We know that in 1825 there were organs but also other instruments, such as a “Base Vile” Bass Violin, “Clarnetts” or clarinets, and at least one Bassoon. In those days most people in the village would hear no other music. They must have been valued by Cosgrove people as the accounts show relatively large amounts of money being spent on repairs and replacements.
In the 1820s new books of music for the Singers were bought, and their annual payment was now used to provide a “Singer’s Supper” presumably at the Barley Mow. We don’t have names for the Singers, but they probably included both men and women.
In 1826 we have the only definite reference for the building of a gallery at Cosgrove music here had obviously become a lot more professional, as “Edward Jones & George Arnol for Bilding New Gallerey By Contract £117 0s 0d”. This was in the North Aisle.
Once the gallery was finished the Singers clearly became more influential and possibly stroppy, as in 1827 the Church “1827 Pd Edward Jones for Puting up Stove Case into the Singers Gallery,” and they paid 1s “To Painting Letters for the Singers Board”. Maybe this is why the allowance for the Singers at Christmas for their Supper was reduced to a round pound, the Ringers being promoted to 15s.
In 1830 the Churchwardens “Paid Mr Buckinger For Reparing Organ” at a cost of £4 9s, and we know that there was a travelling organ-builder called Alexander Buckingham, based in London, working for Thomas Elliott, an organ builder famous enough to have built for Westminster Abbey and York Minster. This seems unlikely in a small place like Cosgrove, but our clergy here had high aspirations, as we know from the fact that the Rector’s son, aged 10 at this time, grew up to be a leading churchman Dean of St Paul’s.
People were paid for “attending the Organ”, which might have meant pumping the bellows, or some kind of cleaning or oiling service. For several years in the 1820s and 1830s “attending the Organs” appears, implying that both the small organ in the West gallery and another in an organ loft in the North gallery existed at the same time.
Mr Lincoln, also from London, probably built the second organ, and is recorded as attending and “tuneing” the organ in the 1840s and 1850s for a guinea a time. He may have been Henry Cephas Lincoln, an organ builder working from High Holborn, who is reputed to have attended the Buckingham Palace Ballroom organ, or perhaps a lesser member of this family business. “Our” Mr Lincoln makes his final appearance in the Cosgrove records in 1857 when “the Late Mr Lincoln” is paid only 10/6 for half a year’s service.
By 1834 the attention to the two organs was costly the Singers still got £1 for their annual Supper, and the Ringers had been put back to their 12s 6d fee. This was paid in half crown amounts at five points in the year when the Crown still demanded that bells be rung in England, such as Coronation anniversaries, Christmas, Sovereign’s birthdays, and even Gunpowder Treason Day.