Henry Jones

Henry Jones built a large number of organs, mostly of small to moderate size, but well-built and voiced. Born on 19th May 1822 at Folkestone, the son of Pilcher Jones, a cabinet maker, he was one of five children.

At sixteen he was apprenticed to the organ builder Joseph Walker whose Francis Street works were situated in Tottenham Court Road, but by 1845 he had set out on his own and was working at 10, Pond Place in Brompton.

His early work was mainly centred on repairing old instruments, but he married Susannah Spain in 1849 and took on an apprentice – William Davis. He built a few small organs in the 1850’s, but in 1861 he secured the contract to build the organ at St. Matthew’s Church, Bethnal Green and the instrument built for the International Exhibition of 1862 (This latter organ is still in existence at Christchurch, Reading). Once established, Jones was awarded further contracts and moved his business to 136, Fulham Road, Brompton. 

Many instruments were built at these works – mostly comprising one and two-manual organs, but there were some larger showpieces. These included organs for S.Matthias, Earls Court (destroyed in the blitz), the International Exhibition of 1872 (broken up in 1912), the Grand Organ for the Royal Aquarium 1876 (broken up in 1909) and the organ for the Servile Priory in Fulham Road which survived until 1967.

There were 306 organs in his catalogue for 1881 – 106 in London, 184 in the provinces and 17 abroad. Much of the business was taken over by his son in the 1880’s, but he continued to work on individual instruments. In 1885 he built a tracker organ for the ‘Inventions Exhibition’ in Kensington and in 1886 was invited to build an organ in his home town of Folkestone for the National Art Treasures Exhibition which proved to be one of his finest.  The last organ that he personally worked on was at the Benchers Chapel, GraysInn in 1894 (destroyed in the Blitz).

The organ at All Saints – L – pipes laid out during renovation, R – the organ in situ

Our own organ at All Saints’ is noted for its powerful and varied tones, with “sweet solo stops”, and a “grand effect” when used for choral purposes. Originally it was blown not, of course, by electricity, but by the committed endeavours of human effort. Carved initials on the organ case are testimony to idle moments between hymns, but there would have been few of these on May 7th 1892 when the church was consecrated. Picture, if you will, a rosy-cheeked youth, lustily pumping away to furnish the means by which the “grand effect” might be heard to herald the arrival of the Bishop.

Henry Jones died on May 18th 1900 and is buried in the family grave at BromptonCemetery. His obituary published in the ‘Organ & Choirmaster’ and written by Rev Edward Husband reads: – “A kinder, more straightforward man we have yet to find. His genial presence was always so bright and cheerful. It was not long ago that he said to me, ‘Thank God I have so enjoyed life – I have had such a happy life.’  He was a kind and worthy gentleman and a trusty friend.”

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