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Object Details

Image lanms_2003_22 case shut (image/jpeg)

Object Name: Organ
Main Title: A Chamber Barrel Organ made by John Langshaw of Lancaster c. 1790.
Creator: (Role: Creator)

Accession Number: LANMS.2003.22
Credit: Lancashire County Museum Service

Physical Description


  • mahogany
  • boxwood
  • brass
  • ebony



      Object Description: A Chamber Barrel Organ made by John Langshaw of Lancaster c. 1790. The organ is in a mahogany case, with boxwood and ebony stringing, and dummy pipes in the central panel. The wood for the case almost certainly came from Gillows. It is quite possible that the case was actually made by Gillows, or their craftsmen, although there is no indication to this effect on the casework. The brass winding handle, with turned ivory knob, appears to be original. The upper section houses a barrel organ mechanism of the period, with four ranks of pipes controlled by drawstop knobs projecting from the left side of the case. The lower section houses two spare barrels. Each of the three barrels is pinned with 10 airs of the period. The barrels are inscribed "John Langshaw / Organ Maker / Lancaster" with only minimal restoration of the pinning on one of them. John Langshaw, born in 1718, was organist at Lancaster Parish Church (the present Lancaster Priory) from 7th April 1772 until he died on 3rd March 1798. Langshaw had previously worked in London with a father and son, both John Christopher Smith, in the construction of barrel organs and it was Langshaw who "pinned" the pieces onto the barrels. The Smiths were close collaborators of Handel in his later years, being employed by him as copyists when his eyes were failing. Langshaw was therefore working with someone who knew precisely how Handel intended his pieces to be played. This gives us a very rare opportunity to hear how music of the period, with added musical decoration, was intended to sound, rather than just how it was written. The organ has four stops - a Stopped Diapason (wooden) of 8ft pitch, a Principal (metal) of 4ft pitch, a Twelfth (metal) of 2 2/3ft pitch and a Fifteenth (metal) of 2ft pitch. The two sound clips attached are extracts from one of Handel's compositions "See the conquering hero comes" and a contemporary piece, then known as "God save the King", some years before it was adopted as our National Anthem.


      • 40.0


      • 55.2


      • 119.5

      This item is on display at: Not on display