St Mary in the Valley Anglican Church

River Road, Kelmscott

Built c.1750-1770 by unknown English builder, possibly John Byfield II or Thomas Parker
Enlarged to two manuals circa 1815
Located at St Mark's Anglican Church, Eccles, Kent until 1969
Installed present location 1970 Dudley Bastian
Swell and Pedal organs removed 1975
Restored 2012-2013 Pipe Organs WA Pty Ltd
1 manual, 7 speaking stops, mechanical action


Historical and Technical Documentation by John Maidment
© OHTA, 2013 (last updated October 2013)


St Mary in the Valley Anglican Church, Kelmscott, WA: exterior
[photograph supplied by church (2013)]

St Mary in the Valley Anglican Church is a fairly recent brick structure, built in 1963, but preceded by a rich parish history. The church was established in 1871, the first in the area, and the patron of which was a well-known pioneering family, the Buckinghams. The church building also served as the local school and a cemetery was established at the same time. As the parish grew, a hall and vestry were added, before the original building was demolished to make way for the present building, which includes a vestry, bell tower (sadly no longer functioning) and church hall. The cemetery remains and is still used. The cemetery and church grounds are registered with the Heritage Council of Western Australia.1

The organ at St Mary in the Valley is of considerable significance as the earliest pipe organ in Australia. It is likely to have been built in England between around 1750 and 1770. The builder's name, alas, is not recorded on the instrument but it has stylistic similarities with the work of the organbuilder John Byfield II (died 1774) with a comparable instrument by this builder, and very similar casework, at 'Finchcocks', Kent.

The organ was previously located at St Mark's Church, Eccles, Kent and was acquired in 1969 by Dudley Bastian. At the time, the organ had been enlarged through the addition of a second manual, but most of the original pipework and casework survived. The organ was shipped to Australia in 1970 and erected in St Mary in the Valley Church while in 1975, the second manual was removed.2

The current restoration work was necessitated through a serious attack by termites, which had eaten through some of the original woodwork. The work has been carried out by Pipe Organs WA Pty Ltd.

Dismantling of the organ, and a full examination of its components, revealed that several stops have been removed over the years, the keyboards and drawstops replaced, and a 'shifting movement' that retracts selected stops, had vanished. These have all been reconstructed upon historic models, assisted by advice from the UK from Dominic Gwynn and David Wickens.

Rectification of termite damage to the casework required reconstruction of original materials in oak, following original patterns. Several wooden pipes have been remade.

St Mary in the Valley Anglican Church, Kelmscott, WA: organ viewed in Pipe Organs WA factory
[photograph supplied by Pipe Organs WA (2013)]

Other work has included:

Restoration of the wind reservoir and trunking;
Restoration of the slider windchest;
Restoration of metal and wooden pipework and reconstruction of missing or inappropriate later pipes;
Reconstruction of the Sesquialtera & Cornet and Hautboy later removed from the organ;
Reconstruction of the keyboard, drawstops and engraved labels.3

The organ was reinstalled at St Mary in the Valley Church in mid-2013 after a recital in the organbuilders factory on 31 May given by Stewart Smith.


Open Diapason
Stop Diapason
Fifteenth Bass
Fifteenth Treble
Cornet 12.15.17


from GG added, possibly 19th century


bass: reconstruction
treble: reconstruction

Compass: GG, AA, C D – eee 54 notes
Wind pressure 2½ inches
Shifting movement
Lever swell pedal
Foot pumping lever
Hand blowing lever4


1 OHTA restoration appeal brochure compiled by Pamela Mirghani 2013

2 Anglican Parish of Kelmscott, Church of St Mary-in-the-Valley, Report on the pipe organ built by unknown English builder of mid to late 18th century, compiled by Pipe Organs WA, 6 November 2012

3 Graham Devenish, 'Restoration of an 18th century English chamber organ', OHTA News vol 37, no 3 (July 2013), pp.10-13; Graham Devenish, 'The restoration of Australia's oldest pipe organ', Sydney Organ Journal vol 44, no 4 (Spring 2013), pp.12-14.

4 Ibid.

St Mary in the Valley Anglican Church, Kelmscott, WA: console
[photograph supplied by Pipe Organs WA (2013)]

St Mary in the Valley Anglican Church, Kelmscott, WA: left stop jamb
[photograph supplied by Pipe Organs WA (2013)]

St Mary in the Valley Anglican Church, Kelmscott, WA: pipeshade detail
[photograph supplied by Pipe Organs WA (2013)]