Chance meeting in Middleham chapel to benefit one of world’s finest church organ

Rodney Tennant.

A chance meeting between an inquisitive visiting schoolboy and a leading regional businessman at a Richmondshire chapel ten years ago is to benefit one of the world’s finest church organs.

William Fox was a 12-year-old talented pianist on holiday with his parents when he decided to look in at the Methodist Chapel in Middleham and his attention was drawn to its keyboard.

He met chapel steward Rodney Tennant, chairman of Tennants Auctioneers, in nearby Leyburn, who readily agreed to his request to have a go.

Such was his talent that Whitby-born William was to become one of the country’s most promising young organists.

He went on to study at Magdalen College, Oxford, and was appointed sub-organist at St Paul’s Cathedral in July this year.

Rodney remained in contact with William and his family through his studies and William returned to play at Middleham when Rodney’s third daughter married there two years ago.

Now the two men are collaborating to help in a £200,000 appeal to restore the organ at the Guild Church of St Margaret Pattens in London, which was designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1687 and one of the best preserved of his works.

Rodney is a long-standing liveryman with The Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers who use the church as their spiritual home.

The organ there dates from 1749 and still has its original wooden casework and some of its original pipes and was damaged in the Second World War.

Little work has been done on the organ for over 60 years and the Friends of St Margaret Pattens need to raise the money to prevent it from catastrophic decline and restore it to its former glory.

Combining William’s talent as an organist and the need to raise funds, Tennants Auctioneers has stepped in to sponsor a unique organ recital performed by William at the church on October 3 which it is hoped, will help to reach the fundraising target by the deadline of Spring 2019.

Rodney Tennant said “We are delighted to be able to support the organ restoration appeal and to invite our many London friends and clients to join us for what promises to be a memorable occasion.”

Attendance at the recital is by invitation only – for more details please contact jo@fletcherandlee.co.uk