Union Chapel has launched a fundraiser to save its world-famous organ

Islington’s Union Chapel is a special sort of place. Sandwiched between townhouses just off Upper Street, it’s a gorgeous, Grade I-listed structure that is a music venue, charity drop-in centre for the homeless and a fully-functioning church all rolled into one.

And within Union Chapel is something just as special as the building itself. The venue’s organ is its own piece of history, an instrument built in 1877 specifically for the church by master organ builder Henry Willis. And Willis was a big deal in the organ world – he also built organs at St Paul’s Cathedral and the Royal Albert Hall.

But now that organ needs your help. In recent years Union Chapel says their organ has suffered due to hot, dry summers and the pandemic, where they weren’t able to monitor its health so closely. The organ’s apparently in urgent need of repairs that’ll cost about £130,000.

Union Chapel’s organ is apparently also significant due to it still having its fully-functioning original water hydraulics. While it was completely restored in 2012-13, it’s now in need of more TLC.  

In order to raise that cash, Union Chapel has set up a fundraiser.

Music director of the organ Claire M Singer said: ‘After regular observation and meticulous care of the organ since the restoration in 2012-13, it is heart-breaking to see our historic gem suffer damage from the period when I was unable to monitor conditions so closely. 

‘After pausing the organ programme this year to concentrate on submitting urgent funding applications, we now desperately need help from the public to make sure we can proceed with the repair in January so that the organ programme and festival can resume, and the organ can continue to play its central role in the Chapel for generations to come.’

Got some spare cash for one of London’s most legendary musical instruments? You can donate on the official fundraiser page here.

Did you see that 10 more historic London buildings are now officially ‘at risk’?

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