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Hereford Belmont Abbey
Belmont Abbey

The monastery was founded as Belmont Priory in 1859 and until 1917 served as the Common Novitiate and House of Studies for the English Benedictine Congregation. At the same time Bishop Brown of Newport and Menevia was given the church as his Cathedral for the Diocese of which covered the whole of Wales and Herefordshire.

In 1917, the General Chapter of the Congregation declared Belmont to be an independent priory, and in 1920 the Holy See raised it to the rank of an abbey by the Papal Bull Praeclara Gesta. Today the Community numbers about 45 monks: some 18 are resident at the abbey with others working outside at Belmont’s commitments or in Peru.

The organ, which was built in the 1870s by Bishop & Son of London, was originally installed in the North Transept, and removed in 1886 to its present position in a chamber where it was encased in 1889.

In 1973, under the direction of the then managing director, Mr Stanley Lambert, Nicholson & Co rebuilt the organ. Further work was carried out in 1982 when new under-actions and a revised wind supply were installed and considerable tonal improvements were made.

Following consultation in 2006, a decision was made for Nicholson to repair, restore and complete the organ in order to bring it up to concert standards. The North Transept Arch was opened up, removing part of the interior wall to improve the sound egress from the organ down the nave, and in January 2010 Nicholson commenced the project.

The upper part of the arch was filled with a new case, intended to adhere closely to the Pugin work in Saint Joseph’s Chapel, and was designed by Brother Raphael Aspinwall, a member of the Abbey’s Benedictine community.

Behind the new case a separate division (West Great) was constructed which is playable on the Great and Positive manuals. A new blower with increased capacity was installed and other additions included a 16ft Open Diapason (metal), 32ft reed and mutations of the 32ft series on the Pedal Organ.

The work was completed in June 2010 in time for the 150th anniversary of the foundation of Belmont Abbey. David Briggs, who was the consultant, played the inaugural recital on 20th November 2010.