The Organ at St Neot Parish Church


This was built in 1884 by “Father” Willis, the most distinguished of all organ builders in the 19th century and responsible for the vast majority of cathedral organs in the country. It is very similar to two other Willis organs in the county, one at Cubert and the other at Breague, both of which started out as house organs. In all probability, the St Neot instrument began its life in a country house near Henley-on-Thames and owned by the Hermon family. They had made their money out of cotton manufacturing and the organ, clearly marked with the name of the house, could well have graced one of the stately rooms.



A son, George Hermon, became curate at St Neot in the 1880s and in 1896 the vicar of the parish. He lived with his wife in some splendour at Doublebois House near Liskeard. There were often ten servants in attendance along with Poo Poo his beloved black poodle. A chain smoker, he had an artistic bent and had built a theatre/concert room in the grounds. He was, however, very generous to the parish and gave the clock in the tower, the lectern, magnificent teak screen as well as the organ in the north aisle.




The Lectern


The instrument is typical of Willis: well-built with that glorious tone for which he was so famous. There is a fine diapason on the great, a beautiful claribel flute and a clarinet which was often a feature of his smaller organs. The cornopean, much favoured by this builder, is on the swell along with the restful strings. Like the instrument in Truro cathedral, it is not large in size but its tone makes it one of the glories of this most beautiful Cornish building. George Hermon rests just outside the north aisle, having died at the age of 59 almost 100 years ago. I like to think that he can still hear the sounds of his instrument when I am playing each Sunday, music played to the glory of God week by week.


Submitted by Paul Richards; Organist.