West Gallery Instruments

West Gallery instruments and sheet music

All Saints has a collection of six West Gallery instruments which are some of the original instruments played by Winterton people who made up a band to provide music in the church before the first organ was purchased on 1840. In recent years they have not been on view in the church as we have been advised that we need to provide better quality display cases if the instruments are not to deteriorate further.

We plan to provide this soon as part of our major Heritage Lottery Fund project so that they can again be on view to all. The collection will be professionally conserved and then displayed in our new Heritage Centre at the back of the church [opening in 2015]. We are most grateful to the Charles Hayward Foundation for providing a grant to fund the conservation of these instruments.

This rare collection of West Gallery wind instruments includes:

  • Bassoon by Milhouse of London c.1800.

    There are only fragments of this instrument surviving. It comprises the bell joint, the bass joint, the crook and a brass ferrule of the boot joint. The wing joint and boot joint are both missing.


Milhouse Bassoon

Milhouse Bassoon

  • Three keyed vox humana by Milhouse of Newark c.1763-1788. A very unusual instrument for a church band.

    This instrument resembles a tenor oboe and is complete with 2 keys and staple. It is jointed in 2 sections


Milhouse Vox Humana

Milhouse Vox Humana

  • One keyed walking stick flute: lower section absent. Made to imitate a bamboo walking stick. About 1790. Maker unknown.

    The main body of this instrument survives but it is missing its cork, cap and bottom ferrule. It is made in one section and has one key.


Walking stick flute

Walking stick flute

  • One keyed boxwood flute, possibly by Milhouse, London c.1790.

    This instrument is in 4 joints with 1 key and is missing 2 ivory ferrules, an ivory cap and a leather keypad


Milhouse Flute

Milhouse Flute

  • Four keyed boxwood flute by Phillips.

This instrument is in 4 joints with 4 key 4 ivory ferrules, an ivory cap. 2 of the keys are broken and the parts are missing.


Phillips Flute

Phillips Flute

  • Five keyed clarinet in C: boxwood and ivory by Metzler c.1800.

    This instrument has 3 main body joints with a separate bell and a mouthpiece integrated with the barrel. It has 5 keys and appears to retain an early reed (poss. original(?)


Metzler Clarinet

Metzler Clarinet

Photos above and condition comments taken from conservation report commissioned by the church from Andrew Lamb, Manager of the Bate Collection at the University of Oxford.

There is also in our archives contemporary sheet music which was used, with these instruments, in All Saints until the mid 19th century. The secular music sections of this manuscript have been transcribed to modern musical notation by Ruairidh Grieg. To see these modern transcripts click Winterton Church Manuscript You are welcome to download and use this manuscript but please make reference to its source. In due course we plan to transcribe the non-secular music also.

We are unaware of any similar, extensive West Gallery instrument collection with contemporary sheet music in the UK original to the church in which it was used.

What is West Gallery music?

A very clear outline of this music, common in English churches in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and its significance is given on the website at: http://www.rodingmusic.co.uk/ and which can be downloaded here Introduction to West Gallery Music

There is a huge amount of detail about West Gallery Music on the website of the West Gallery Music Association at http://www.wgma.org.uk/ and also at http://www.psalmody.co.uk/

What is a West Gallery?

Many churches had a west gallery so called as it was located at the west end of the nave. In All Saints there was a gallery erected in 1754 against the tower wall at the west end of the nave. It was not taken down until 1872.

Much information about churches with west galleries can be found at http://www.westgallerychurches.com/

West Gallery Music in Winterton

According to Canon Fowler's notes in the 1912 edition of Credland's Almanack , in the 1830s at All Saints, "The Choir at the time occupied the gallery at the west end of the church, the instruments used being a flute, bass fiddles, bassoon, and a clarinet; these were played by Messrs T. Wilson, G. Nassau, L. Phillipson, W. Tock, and P. Jolly. The vocal members were Messrs. T Robinson, R Pearson, and R Michaelwaite. The latter was one of the Churchwardens, and used to announce the number of the hymns or Psalms in such a faltering voice as was scarcely audible. After several complaints, a notice board was affixed in the centre of the gallery, with hymns on one side and Psalms on the other, the number being indicated by movable figures.

The conductor of this unique choir gave great offence to one of the violin players by always looking at him when any mistake was made, and he threatened to give the conductor a smart switch with his bow if he ever dared to turn round again when a mistake was made, as the congregation thought that he alone was the cause. Their unsatisfactory conduct and irregular attendance at the services caused Mr. John Barratt, one of the Churchwardens, to decide upon having a change, and he called upon Mr. Godfrey Robinson, to assist him in collecting funds for an organ. They were only partly successful. However, an order was given to Messrs. Beeforth t Co., Hull, and an instrument erected in the gallery at the west end during the year 1839."

Many churches in the 19th century ended the West Gallery tradition and installed organs. At All Saints the gallery was not taken down until 1872 although the first organ was purchased in 1840 so there may have been an overlap period when both musical traditions were in place. West Gallery music events are held in our church from time to time.

Top of page