A passion for pipe organs

5th October 2016

News, Student news, Alumni news

A new book, edited by Wadham’s Katharine Pardee, details the remarkable work of pioneering photographer and pipe organ enthusiast, Rev Andrew Freeman (1876-1947).

Travelling through the United Kingdom and Europe, often by bicycle with his plate camera in tow, Freeman captured photographs of some 1,600 organs on high quality glass plates, a collection which was given to the British Organ Archive, of the British Institute of Organ Studies.

Some 250 of these images, alongside handwritten diary entries and sketches are collected together in this fascinating book, published in recognition of BIOS' 40th anniversary this year.

Editor Katharine Pardee, Director of Wadham’s Chapel Choir and publications officer for the BIOS, commissioned Wadham College organist Julian Littlewood to design the book, giving it a Wadham ‘signature’ by incorporating Freeman’s  full-page plate of the Wadham Chapel organ, taken in 1908.

“The picture is particularly interesting - and charming- for the ‘ghost’ under the organ case,” comments Katharine. “When Freeman set up his shots, often in dark churches and chapels, he would leave the camera shutter open for long periods, capturing anyone walking by as a phantom-like image.” 

“Despite the turbulent political backdrop, Freeman preserved a wealth of images and information on long-gone interiors, many destroyed by the Second World War. He also proves that a pipe organ is often the most visually splendid element in a church, even though it may go completely unmentioned by tourist guides,” adds Katharine.

In addition to describing Freeman’s life as a rural clergyman, his travels to the continent in the years between the wars and his fascination with the design of organ cases, the book details the early photographic techniques which resulted in Freeman’s photographs being preserved at such high resolution.

“Freeman comes across as a polite and gentle family man with an enthusiasm, bordering on obsession, for pipe organs,” said Katharine.

Books can be ordered directly from Katharine Pardee (£35 plus postage) or via the BIOS website: www.bios.org.uk or Blackwells (£40 plus postage).

  • In Search of Organs

    In Search of Organs
    Andrew Freeman: priest, photographer and scholar

  • Rev Andrew Freeman

  • An example from Andrew Freeman's notebook

    An example from Andrew Freeman's notebook

  • The Wadham organ (photographed 1908)

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