The Organ in Cosgrove Church

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. Between 1822 and 1841 Baker records " a north gallery and another across the west end in which is a small organ".

In 1865 the accounts next report "the Organ loft [was] taken away and the Organ removed to the ground Floor." In 1887 the Gallery in the North Aisle was removed by a Faculty on the grounds that it "interfered with the Organ affecting the Music and the singing. That it was wished to have the work done before the new Organ was erected on the site of the old one which was close to the end of the Gallery under which the Choir sat."

The present Church organ was built in 1887 by a company called S. Allerton, of Leighton Buzzard at a cost of 100 guineas.

It is played regularly at our services.

People in Cosgrove can still remember pumping the organ as children,
before it was electrified.

One of the candlesticks still attached to the organ.

THOMAS ATTERTON of Leighton Buzzard
Information supplied by the late Revd B. B. Edmonds indicates that Atterton was born at Bulwick in Northamptonshire c.1830, and that according to the 1867 census he was in business at Heath and Reach (the village with a double name) in Bedfordshire. There was also a verbal tradition that he was related to George Holdich, perhaps as a son-in-law. Certainly there was a family of Attertons at Bulwick, and William the father was a cooper by trade. He became parish clerk during the period that his wife was bearing him children, as the baptism register attests, and Thomas (`Thos: in the register) was baptised on 18 May 1832. A later Rector of Bulwick was John Henry Holdich, the organ-builder's brother, who had been curate of Deene, the neighbouring village, from 1848. If Thomas Atterton, then sixteen years old, showed an interest in organ-building, one can imagine the parish clerk of Bulwick asking for an apprenticeship with the parson of Deene's brother. Considerable research into the Holdich family has been made recently but, as far as I am aware, no evidence has emerged to suggest that Thomas Atterton married any of the female side.

He was in business at Heath and Reach from at least 1861 to 1871, and sometime after that moved to Leighton Buzzard, where the business is noted from 1880 to 1924. He built organs at Cosgrove and Nassington parish churches in Northamptonshire, both of which remain in comparatively original condition, but his organ at Boddington has been rebuilt recently on extension principles, and the smaller one at Badby, adequate for accompanying a choir, was disposed of into private hands in favour of an electronic substitute. One oddity about Atterton's name-plates is that his initial is always S rather than T — and the gothic 'Z's in `Buzzard' look far more like 'S's. One is tempted to accuse the manufacturer of mis-spelling.

In 1816 the going rate for playing the organ at Cosgrove was £2 per year, and Mr Jones had the job. Other 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” implies that both the small organ in the West gallery and another in an organ loft in the North gallery existed at the same time. We know that in 1825 there were organs but also other instruments, such as a “Base Vile” – Bass Viola, “Clarnetts” or clarinets, and at least one Bassoon. In those days most people in the village would hear no other music.

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, a famous organ builder.

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.

In 1865 the North aisle organ loft was removed and the organ brought to the ground floor, whilst the North aisle gallery remained in place until a faculty in 1887 allowed its removal, because, amongst other reasons, it interfered with the organ sound. Following the gallery’s removal a new organ, the present one, was constructed by Atterton’s of “Leighton Bussard”.

Thomas Atterton was a Northamptonshire man born in Bulwick and baptised in 1832. He appears in an 1867 census working at Heath and Reach in Bedfordshire. He moved at some time after 1871 to Leighton Buzzard, where Atterton’s business is recorded from 1880 to 1924.

Thomas built organs for Cosgrove, and also for Nassington, which are largely in original condition. He is also known to have rebuilt the organ at Haversham. His name plates always record his as S Atterton, which confuses historians, and he uses a gothic Z in Leighton Buzzard, further complicating spelling.

Organ Blowers

From the 1940s to 1970 young people in the village were paid to come and pump the organ for services in the church.

Many of their names were recorded on the wall of the organ near the pump handle. Some “entries” are less official than others.

12/1/1946   Wendy Jones Wharf Lane Old Stratford
1947  R L Brockway  
Jan 1949  Diana Tustain  [Village Hall opened]
  K Pollard  
17 April 1949 Trevor Tustain  
Sep 12 1959 R Pollard  
18 July 1853 A D Pollard  
1960 M[ichael] Chown  
1962 Judith Hefford (age 14)  
12 April 1968 J Pollard  
  Sheila Codd  
  Jane Prisley (age 10 years)  
1969   David Smith [Award!]  

David Smith said in 2019:

“I was the last youngster to hold the position,[ before the electric blower was installed in 1971].

I recall covering the Sunday morning services, weddings and funerals when not at school. Strangely I remember that I was rewarded with 12 shillings and 6d a quarter. I believe it was 5 shillings for weddings and funerals.

When the electric pump was installed, I was given a redundancy settlement, which may have been £1 and 10 shillings, but I’m not certain. 

If a funeral was held during school time, mum [Cynthia Smith] went and covered the role. I can remember covering a wedding early afternoon and then racing home to change before rushing to get to watch Cosgrove St Peter play football in the field off Mill Lane.”

J Aston also distinguished himself by making up a John Bull stamp with his name and that of Man Utd – it’s not clear whether he actually held the post of organ blower!

Buckingham Express Saturday 07 May 1887


NEW ORGAN. The new Organ for the Church of SS. Peter and Paul Cosgrove arrived on Tuesday last, May 3rd, and as far as appearance goes is a beautiful instrument. It will in all probability be opened in Whit-week with a recital, when opportunity will be given to criticise its capabilities.

Buckingham Advertiser and Free Press Saturday 18 June 1887

COSGROVE.— THE OPENING OF THE NEW ORGAN. —On Thursday afternoon, a service of thanksgiving was held in the Parish Church of SS. Peter and Paul, on the occasion the opening of the new organ, erected Mr. Atterton, of Leighton Buzzard. The interior of the church is very much improved by the recent removal of the gallery from the north aisle, thus opening out the beautiful arcade in its fine proportions, in addition to which a new window has been inserted, where was formerly the entrance to the gallery. Before the service the bells rang forth joyous peal to summon the congregation, which speedily filled the sacred edifice. The service commenced with the hymn 242, "We love the place, O God." The prayers were said by the Rector, and the lessons were read by the Rev, J. B. Harrison, rector of Paulerspury. An excellent sermon preached by the Rev. Percy Dundas Moreton, vicar of St. David's, Birmingham. The organ was ably presided at by Miss Walford, whose excellent performance before, during, and after the service were much appreciated. The Cosgrove choirs, kindly and ably assisted by some members the Stony Stratford choir, sang the hymns and chanted psalms for the day. At the conclusion a collection was made towards the  Organ Fund, amounting to £6 16s 9. Among the company present we noticed, the Hon. Mrs. Isted and Miss Moreton, Rev. G. M., Mrs. and Miss Capell, Rev. J. B. and Mrs. Harrison, Rev. Mr. Barry, Mrs, Grounds, and Miss Sams, Mrs. Harnett, and the Rev. F. R. Harnett, Mr. R. Hutton and Miss Cadogan, Mrs. Atkinson, Mr. and Mrs. Rooke, Mr. W. H. Bull, St. Oswald’s House, Mr. and Mrs. F. D. Bull, Mr. and Mrs. Pike, Mrs. Lancaster, Mr. Webb, Mrs. Wardlow Ramsay, and the Misses McDouall, Mr. J. L. Bolden, &c., &c.

The Bucks Standard Saturday 12 November 1887

WANTED, an ORGANIST. Two Sunday Services – morning and afternoon. Will be required to practice the choir on Saturday evenings. Good salary. Apply to Messrs. J. H. Pike and F. D. Bull, Churchwardens, Cosgrove, Stony Stratford.

Buckingham Express Saturday 03 December 1887


APPOINTMENT OF ORGANIST. Considerable satisfaction is evinced at the probable appointment of Mr. A. E. Jones, of Wolverton, as organist of Cosgrove church. There has been about 40 applicants for the above office, but as Mr. Jones’ musical ability is well-known, it is reasonable to suppose he will be elected without difficulty.

Preston Deanery Monthly Magazine May 1953

Already some £10 has been spent on repairs to the Church gutters and drains; the organ is now dismantled and in process of repair and restoration (this will cost over £50); fifty new prayer books were in use on Easter Day and twenty five new hymn books are coming shortly.

The organ was repaired and restored in 1953. A new blowing plant for the organ was installed by 1971

Wolverton Express 1st October 1971

Dedication at Cosgrove Church

A congregation of about 100 attended the dedication of the electric organ blower by Bishop Graham Campbell at Cosgrove Parish Church on Saturday. The dedication was linked with a memorial to the late Mr. Clifford Elliot, whose efforts in the Parish of Cosgrove and Old Stratford had raised funds for the blower. A plaque to this effect was unveiled. The Rev. Hilary Davidson played several organ solos and Mr. Lewis Clark accompanied the singers, Mr. Emlyn Beeb. Mrs. Kathleen Jones and Mrs. Rose Elliot. The church had been decorated in readiness for the Harvest Festival on the following day. Children brought Harvest gifts to the altar during the morning service, and the Rev. A. F. Ridley of Paulerspury preached at Evensong.

Organ pipes
Close up of the organ pipes

1904 - 1922
James Daniel Warren
Royal Engineers - Jan 1917 - Nov 1919
Regrl. No. WR/262632 Rank R. S. M.

Inscription on the top of the clock presented to James Daniel Warren