Few ecclesiastical buildings in the United Kingdom can boast of possessing two pipe organs; of those that can, fewer still can rival the quality of the instruments in Tewkesbury’s magnificent Norman abbey. The first, known as the ‘Milton’, was originally made for Magdalen College, Oxford and came to Tewkesbury in 1737; it is a happy example of enlargement and rebuilding over the decades, resulting in its current incarnation as a flexible and thoroughly contemporary instrument capable of interpreting a wide spectrum of the repertoire.
The ‘Grove’ instrument, situated in the north transept, is by the late nineteenth-century partnership of Michell & Thynne. Their ‘model organ’ was designed to be as flexible as possible within the confines of the smallest number of stops, and the result was an immediate success: its first appearance at the 1885 Inventions Exhibition in London caused a sensation, and when it was shown at the Liverpool Exhibition of 1886, the legendary organist W.T. Best proclaimed it to be ‘the finest organ of its kind that I have ever played upon’.