Loosemore of Devon - Chapter 6


In this Chapter we shall look in some detail at the life of John Loosemore, the eldest recorded son of Samuel and Gillian his wife, who was baptized at Barnstaple on 25 August 1616.  Our story must start by noticing his father’s activities.

Samuel & John Loosemore at Hartland

The nature of Samuel’s new career, referred to in Chapter 5, becomes clear from his first mention in local records after arriving in Barnstaple.  Hartland parish church accounts for the year 1633-4 includes an item:

Pd. William Hodge for his owne labour and 2 horses to fetch Samuel Loosemoore and his tooles and provisions from Barnestaple to repaire the Organs. £00.04.00

Two further items of expenditure that year read

Pd.  Samuel Loosemore for repaireing ye Organs     £15.00.00
Pd. Richard Lendon for carriage of a letter to Luttisford when Loosemore came at Hartland. [1] 4d

Expenditure on organ repairs at Hartland first appears in the accounts for 1605-6 but on only two occasions in the next 28 years were the amounts more than trivial: in 1609-10 costs totalled 30s., and in 1612-13 David Frye, a local handyman, received 23s.6d for amending the organs.  By 1633-4 it was realised that major repairs had become necessary, requiring the attention of an expert, and the parish organized several collections which raised the comparatively large sum of £13.00.02d in anticipation of Samuel Loosemore’s charges.

Evidently Samuel was by now a professional organ repairer/builder of repute.  Luttisford was the residence of Thomas Cholwill the parish treasurer, one of the ‘four men’ chosen by the 24 parish governors to undertake direct management of parish finances, who would have been kept informed of progress when so considerable a sum of money was involved. In the following year, 1634-5, 10s. was paid to Mr. Cholwill wch  he had paid Dynning for his paines to see ye Organs, wch  he had left out of his accompt,so the letter delivered by Richard Lendon had prompted the careful parish authorities to inspect the quality of Samuel’s work.

Samuel must have passed on his skills to his son John and then, at the age of 57, seems to have relinquished his responsibilities in favour of the younger man [2] , as is evidenced by entries from the accounts in subsequent years:

1634-5 Pd.  John Loosemore for work about ye pulpit and Mr Churton’s seat  £02.05.00
Pd  John Loosemore for setting up 6 sentences in the Church & on ye porches & for playing ye Organs £01.00.00
Pd Loosemore for keeping ye Organs this yeare £00.05.00
1635-6 Pd John Loosemoore for a [sun] diall for ye Churche £00.12.00
Pd John Loosemoore for his fee to keepe ye Organs  £00.05.00
1636-7 Pd Loosemoore for keeping ye Organs this yeare  £00.05.00
1637-8 Pd John Loosemoore for his paines to come at Hartland business for the parishe £00.05.00
Pd John Sherme to goe at Barnestaple wth 2 horses to fetch John Loosemoore and his tooles £00.05.00
Pd John Loosemoore for setting of ye Organs upon ye roodeloft £04.00.00
Pd William Rowe to goe to Barnestaple wth John Loosemoore and his tooles. [1] £00 03 00

It was common practice for parishes to contract with an organ-builder to ‘keepe’, i.e. repair and maintain, their organ on a long-term basis, in this case at 5s. per year.  Hartland parish also felt it worthwhile to pay the transport charges of both Samuel Loosemore and his son.  In 1634-5 John Loosemore, still only 18 years old, was employed on a variety of specialized tasks in and around the church in addition to playing, maintaining and repairing the organ, a range of skills which was exploited to good effect in Exeter after the Restoration, as we shall see.

The ‘roodeloft’, or roodloft, was a platform or gallery fixed above, or as an integral part of, the rood screen dividing nave from chancel.  As well as forming a support for the rood it was used when reading the Gospel and letters of communion to the congregation; from it penitents were absolved, episcopal benedictions pronounced, etc.  When the screen was of adequate size and strength, as at Hartland, the organ could be mounted on it. [3]   The Hartland rood screen, 45ft. 6ins. long, 12ft. 6ins. high and 5ft. 10ins. wide at the top, is the largest of any parish church in Devon.  John Loosemore’s efforts at Hartland were destined to be enjoyed by the parishioners only until the year 1649-50 when, in a belated response to a Parliamentary Ordinance of 1644 that church organs ‘shall be taken away and utterly defaced, and none hereafter set up in their places’, the parish paid 4s. for taking down the organs. [4]

It is fortuitous that these early Hartland church accounts have survived.  Unlike parish registers, which were required to be preserved by law, the annual accounts were working documents only, whose usefulness to the parish ended when any outstanding balance had been carried forward and accepted by the parish governors or the churchwardens.  No special precautions were taken to preserve them and their survival became a matter of chance; relatively few are known to exist for this period in North Devon. [5]   Hence it should not be inferred that the activities of Samuel and John Loosemore as organ repairers/builders were restricted to Hartland church.  More probably they built up a business covering the whole region around Barnstaple, although no other information regarding Samuel’s work has so far been discovered.

Clear support for this view by the time John had taken over from his father in 1638 is provided by an entry dated 12 December of that year in the Special Accounts of Exeter Cathedral:

Pd. to Mr Lugg for John Loosemores horse hire charges and paynes for Ten daies in mending and tuning the organs. [6] £03.08.02

John Lugge was the gifted Exeter Cathedral organist and composer. [7]   As a native of Barnstaple he would have been well aware of John Loosemore’s work and certainly would not have accepted any responsibility for engaging him to repair ‘his’ organ unless he was satisfied with his ability.

Further evidence of the Loosemores’ regional business activities at this time is to be found in the household accounts of Tawstock House near Barnstaple, Devon home of the earls of Bath.  In common with many owners of great houses the Bouchier family maintained an active musical establishment, as can be seen from a Tawstock inventory taken on 9 March 1639, which included:

In the Great Chamber…one fair organ, £100…;  The Stair Case…1 organ with virginal, 1 chest of viols, one very great double base viole, one Irish harp, one little viol, one violin;… . [8]

Two early entries, dated July and August 1639 respectively, are of special interest to us:

Item   paid to Goodman Loosemore for colouring the withdrawing room… £00.08.00
Item paid to Loosemore for mending the wind instrument … [9] £00.15.00

It is not clear whether these refer to John or his father, but in all probability it was the younger man, who by then had taken over his father’s business.  Evidently his skills included interior decorating in addition to repairing organs.  Several subsequent entries in the Tawstock accounts not only confirm John Loosemore’s assumption of his father’s responsibilities but illustrate further his diverse skills as a craftsman:

20 Aug 1642 Item paid Lesamoore for tuning the organ [10] £01.10.00
17 Mar 1643/4 paid Losamoore for mending a vial and my Lord’s holsters…” [11] £00.02.06

Other entries in the accounts relating to repair or maintenance of the organ probably refer to John Loosemore although he is not mentioned by name.  We shall see later that his association with Tawstock House continued beyond the Civil War, up to at least 1655. The question arises, therefore, how did John Loosemore’s father Samuel acquire those special skills which he passed on so successfully to his son?  To examine one possible answer we must digress once more and notice another family of organ-builders.

The Chappington Family

The Chappington family of 16th and 17th century organ-builders came from South Molton, a small but thriving market town only three miles west of Bishops Nympton village and less than five miles from Kerscot, home of Samuel’s father.  Four members of the family are known to have been active as organ-builders and repairers over the eighty four years from 1536-1620. [12]   Chappingtons continued to live in the parish up to 1736 but the name is now unknown there. [13]   The scale of their activities may be appreciated from the following brief survey.

Richard Chappington

The earliest of the four, he built an organ for St. Olave Church, Exeter; the agreement, dated 10 August 1536 between the parishioners and ‘Richard Chappyngton, of South Molton, organ maker’, is still in existence.  The 1538-9 churchwardens’ accounts for Woodbury parish church, six miles south east of Exeter, contains an item:

to Richard Chapendon for a new peire of Orgons & the olde Orgons wt all yn exchaunge £5.13s.4d

In the previous year 8d. had been paid ‘to the organ maker for the seeing of the organs’, presumably his charge for a visit prior to agreeing a contract. [14]

Hugh Chappington

Hugh, who was active between 1567 and 1582, may have been a son of Richard.  In 1567 he built a new organ for St. Edmund’s Church, Salisbury at a total charge of £35.12s.10d, including materials at £22.12s.10d.  The story starts with a payment of 5s. ‘to Thomas Mylbrydge for caryeage of 2 letters to ye organ maker of South Molton’, a lengthy journey on horseback.  Building occupied just over two months, from 22 August to 6 November 1567, all parts being made on site, as is clear from many details given in the churchwardens’ accounts.  Confirmation that the builder was Hugh is provided by a memorandum dated 1569

That Hughe Chappington of Southe Molton in the Countie of Devon organ maker for a yerelie fee of 6s.8d to be paied unto him during all his liefe, dothe bynde himself to repaire thorgans newly by him late made in St. Edmunds in Sarum. [15]

At about the same time he supplied an organ to the neighbouring church of St. Thomas, Salisbury at an almost identical cost: the church accounts for 1569 record that ‘Hugh Chapsion, organ maker of South Molton’ was paid £35.5s.6d for a new organ. [16]   No doubt the two instruments would have been made to similar specifications.  As usual he contracted to maintain the St. Edmund’s organ after installation and received a fee of 10s. in each of the years 1572-3 and 1573-4 ‘for keeping ye orgeynes and chymes allways in tune’.  Hugh also built a new organ for St. Brannock’s Church, Braunton, just west of Barnstaple, in 1569.12

Apparently he established a regular business maintaining and repairing other organs in addition to the two at Salisbury.  An entry in Exeter Cathedral Fabric Rolls for 1554, ‘Clapington granted office of Organ mender and repairer, and 13s.4d for safe custody of said Organs’ probably refers to him, as does an item in the Woodbury churchwardens’ account for 1560-1 that ‘Chapington…yerely during his lyeff repare and always amend the same organs for the yerely fee of 2s.8d’.12,14   This latter instrument had been built by Richard Chappington 22 years earlier.  References to Hugh are also said to occur in the churchwardens’ accounts of St. John and St. George’s Church, Store, and also of St. Brannock’s, Store, a fee of 6s.8d being paid to him for several years for keeping the organs.30

The latest known reference to Hugh serves to illustrate the versatility of these early organ-builders.  On 25 July 1582 he covenanted with the Dean and Chapter of Exeter Cathedral, in the sum of £20, 'for and in full satisfaction of a cheime by him…made in the southe tower of the … cathedrall churche, undertakes to keep the same in repair for two yeares…' [17]

In those days the music of the bells clearly came within the purview of an organ-builder.

John Chappington

Perhaps a son of Hugh, he was the most able of the four if one is to judge by the extent of his known new work.  He first appears in the churchwardens’ accounts of St. Thomas, Salisbury, in 1571-2, being paid £1.10s. ’fee for 3 yeres’, showing that he assisted Hugh in building the organ for this church in 1569.  We may assume that it is John who is referred to in the same accounts for 1579-80, ‘…Chapperton mendinge the organs…’, and in the following year ‘Mr Chappington 6s.8d’.  In 1575-6 ‘John Shaplington’ received 6s.8d for mending the organ in St. Edmund’s, Salisbury; a similar sum paid the next year to ‘Chaplyngton’ probably refers to him.15  In 1576 the Ashburton church accounts include an item ‘to Mr Chapyngton for mending the organs, £3.6s.’, which also probably refers to him, while in 1580 we find John Chappington being paid 10s. ‘for two yeares for the Organs’ of St. Michael’s Church at Mere, Dorset.  The Mere churchwardens’ account for 1584 lists an item ‘to Chaperton 46s.8d for mending the organ’, and two years later they ‘laid out to the organ maker 5s.’, so John Chappington may have built the organ in this church. [18]

He probably built an organ for Westminster Abbey shortly after 1596, for in that year he sold the old organ to the churchwardens of the parish of St. Margaret’s, Westminster.  Their records state that they paid ‘to Mr Chapington for the organs of the Colledge [i.e. the collegiate church of St. Peter—the Abbey] £14.13s.4d and the old organs do remain in the parish church…’. [19]   It is unlikely that the Abbey instrument came into his hands except as part-payment for a new one.  Chappington either built or re-built the organ of Magdalen College chapel, Oxford, in 1597, at a charge of £33.13s.8d. [20]

John Chappington spent the last years of his life in Winchester, where he died soon after 27 June 1606.  Probate of his Will, the non-cupative continuation of which bears this date, was granted on 4 July of the same year. [21]   In it he confirms his place of birth by bequeathing £5 ‘to the poore people of South Molton where I was born.’  The will makes no provision for wife or children, although among several small legacies he left 10s. each to Francis and Florence the children of ‘my brother Ralph’.  In spite of having remembered the two children he seems to have been on bad terms with his brother whom he refused to accept as an executor, insisting that ‘he shall not have to doe with any goodes I have for he is very troublesome’.  One legacy of musical interest is the gift of a virginals to his godson, showing that he built this smaller class of keyboard instrument as well as organs.

Ralph Chappington

Ralph was a brother of John.  He also migrated from his home village, to Netherbury in Dorset, where he died in 1619 or 1620.  Probate of his Will, dated 7 June 1619, was granted on 5 May following to his son Richard, the sole executor. [22]   His bequest of 10s. ‘to the church of South Molton’, coupled with his known relationship to John, confirms his place of birth.  In the Will he described himself as ‘of Netherbury, organist’ and he seems to have been in demand as an organ repairer and tuner throughout the west of England.  His Will lists debts owed to him from six churches: Salisbury, the churches of Our Lady, 13s., St. Thomas, 10s., St. Edmund, 10s.; St. Augustine, Bristol, ‘for two years wages, 20s.’; Wedmore, 8 miles west of Wells ‘for 3 years ended at midsummer next, 15s.’; and Bridgewater church, 10s.  The church accounts of St. Thomas and St. Edmund, Salisbury, contain regular named references to him, usually in payment of ‘his organ fee, 10s.’, right up to 1619-20 at St. Thomas.  ‘Mr Champingtonne’ was also employed by St. Martin’s Church in the same city in 1611-12 ‘for kipinge the organes, 5s.’. [23]

Ralph must have been the ‘Chappington’ who, according to Chanter, repaired the Barnstaple church organ in 1616. [24]   He was almost certainly the ‘Mr Chappington’ who in 1619 accorded similar remedial treatment at Exeter Cathedral to the ‘little organs’ in June and the ‘new organs’, also called the ‘great organs’ in September. [25]

In so sparsely populated a region as these inland parishes of north Devon, it is difficult to believe that Samuel Loosemore grew up in ignorance of the Chappingtons, even though John and Ralph may have spent much of their time away from their home village.  It would be surprising if he acquired his expertise as an organ repairer independently, given the undoubted presence of a family of organ-builders and repairers over three generations, based only a few miles from Kerscot, who were active throughout his childhood and much of his adult life (Samuel was 42 or 43 when Ralph Chappington died).  The presumption of an association between the two families must be strong, yet firm evidence is lacking.  The few surviving records of South Molton borough contain no reference to apprentice indentures or any other clue to a contact between them. [26]   We know that John Chappington accepted apprentices, for he willed 10s. to ‘William Mandefeilde my apprentice’.  Samuel was aged 14, the normal age at which children were bound as apprentices, in 1591, but none of the church accounts quoted above mentions an assistant at this time in payments concerning their organs.  It is tempting to explain Samuel’s six year absence from Bishops Nympton records after marriage by his continuing attachment to either John or Ralph Chappington.  It has even been suggested12 that Samuel may have taken over John Chappington’s business after the latter’s death in 1606, in view of the bad feeling which existed between John and his brother Ralph.  However, neither the Netherbury parish registers nor any surviving Winchester register contain any mention of a Loosemore baptism/burial during this period, so we must settle for a verdict of ‘not proven’.

The point is of more than academic interest, for it could shed light on the relationship between John Loosemore of Exeter and his contemporaries George and Henry Loosemore, organists and composers of repute who were based at Cambridge.  This connection will be examined in the next chapter.  Here we note simply that Henry, the elder of the two, was organist of King’s College from 1627 until his death in 1670; a letter to him from Dudley, 3rd Lord North, confirms that he and George were brothers [27] .  George was recorded as ‘of Devon’ when he was matriculated at Jesus College in 1640; he became organist of Trinity College after the Restoration.  If this George is to be identified with his namesake the son of Samuel who was baptized in Barnstaple in 1619, then Henry was also a son of Samuel and brother of John, thus providing a very satisfactory explanation for their skills as organists.  No information about Henry’s birth has so far been discovered, so the importance of establishing Samuel’s whereabouts in those crucial six years after his marriage is obvious.

John Loosemore: Early Life at Barnstaple

John Loosemore is usually said to have been born in Bishops Nympton in 1613 or 1614.  These dates may be deduced from his memorial inscription in Exeter Cathedral, which states that ‘He died April 18, 1681, in the 68th year of his age’.  Lysons, writing in 1822, refers to him as ‘from Bishops Nympton’ [28] , in which belief others have concurred, but there can be little doubt that this is in error.  The absence of any record in the Bishops Nympton baptismal register, the undoubted presence of Samuel and his family in Barnstaple, and the activities of Samuel and John at Hartland church already discussed, make it much more likely that while his family came from Bishops Nympton John himself was born (certainly was baptized) in Barnstaple.

His early life and education there are obscure.  Barnstaple had possessed a free grammar school since the early 16th century, utilising the site and building of St. Anne’s chapel, a much more ancient foundation.  The town Corporation purchased the site with its original endowed lands in 1550 though not until 1646 did Richard Ferris, a local benefactor, endow the school with £10 per annum to pay a master. [29]   The first mention of a schoolmaster occurs in 1536 with the appointment of Walter Bowen but a future bishop of Exeter, John Jewel, had been a pupil there several years before that time. [30]   Richard Symons, M.A., master from 1597-1630, may have been responsible for instilling into young John Loosemore the basis of an education though he would have looked to his father for more specialized instruction in music.

As we have seen, John Loosemore was active as assistant to his father by the time he was 18 and at 22 he was entrusted with the substantial task of setting up the Hartland organ upon its high roodloft.  On 24 November 1639 ‘John Lusamore’ married Joan Blackwell in his home parish church and in the next three years two daughters were born to them in Barnstaple: Amey, baptized on 11 October 1640, who lived only two months and was buried on 13 December, and Joan, baptized on 18 September 1642, just after the start of the Civil War, who survived to adulthood.  We shall meet her again later.

A Puritan party had been a feature of Barnstaple life for many years before the Civil War [31] and when in 1642 hostilities began the town sided with the Parliament, until in August 1643 it was taken by Col. Digby for the Royalists who were well aware of its importance as a seaport.  This state of affairs must have been re-assuring to the Loosemores, who could hardly have failed to support the party of an episcopal church which set so high a store on organ accompaniments to its church services.  Yet Puritan sentiment in the town remained strong and in July 1644 it resulted in a revolt which overthrew the depleted royalist garrison, only to be overthrown in its turn on 17 September when after heavy fighting the town again surrendered to the King’s forces under General Goring.  He promptly set about improving the town’s defences, to such good effect that Barnstaple was adjudged a safe resting place for the Prince of Wales, who stayed there for about 2 months the following year. [32]

Exeter and Civil War

Some time after the birth of his second daughter Joan, John Loosemore must have decided that the future held little for him in Barnstaple and he moved with his family to Exeter, where he lived for the remainder of his life.  Initially the city had sided with the Parliament but capitulated to Prince Maurice, the King’s nephew, on 5 September 1643.  We may take it that John Loosemore probably moved from Barnstaple some time after that date.  The move did little to increase his security in the short-term, for Exeter was surrendered to the Parliamentary army under Sir Thomas Fairfax on 9 April 1646, four days before the same fate befell his home town of Barnstaple. [33]


He seems to have taken up residence in St. Paul’s parish within the city walls, for that parish register records the christening, on 17 July 1645, of ‘Winifred, daughter of John Loosemoore’. [34]   There can be no certainty that this John is our organ-builder, though it is highly probable since Loosemore was not a common name in 17th century Exeter.  Under Puritan rule many Exeter churches were closed and sold off, leaving only six functioning officially, of which three were in the suburbs beyond the city walls.  In one of those suburban churches, that of St. Sidwell, we learn that on 19 February 1651/2 was baptized ‘Mary Loosemore daughter of John, borne in Bedforde House’.  Reference to a baptism at this time is surprising.

Bedford House, long since demolished, had a chequered history.  It was built in the time of Henry III as the Exeter house of the Black Friars or Dominicans, and stood in its own grounds on the north side of the Cathedral churchyard, approximately on the site of the present Post Office in Bedford Street. [35]   At the Dissolution, in summer 1539, it was granted to Lord John Russell, created 1st earl of Bedford in January 1549/50, becoming his principal residence in the West.  The Russell family continued in ownership but during the years following the death in 1585 of Francis the 2nd earl it fell into disrepair.  In 1549 an inventory, drawn up to assess what repairs were needed to make it habitable once more, reveals it to have been a very large house, amply in keeping with the status of its owner.  The necessary repairs were evidently completed, for in 1614 the Justices held their sessions there. [36]

Then, in 1644, we are told that it was fitted up to receive Charles I’s Queen Henrietta Maria, who arrived in Exeter early in June, advanced in pregnancy, having departed from the King at Abingdon.  Her youngest child, the Princess Henriette-Ann, the favourite sister ‘Minette’ of the future Charles II, was born there on 16 June and baptized in the Cathedral on 21 July. [37]   When Exeter fell to the victorious Parliamentary army, Bedford House seems at first to have been used as a poor-house, for on 15 April 1647 the City Chamber ordered ‘removal of the poor out of Bedford House’. [38]   Nothing is known of the circumstances under which Joan Loosemore spent part of her confinement there, nor has any further mention been discovered of her two daughters Winifred and Mary.

Early Work in Exeter

John Loosemore, in company with other church musicians, must have experienced severe problems in earning a living during the 14 years of the Interregnum.  However, Puritan objections to music were directed mainly to it as an accompaniment to church services, whether instrumentally or vocally, rather than as a general principle.  Recreational music-making continued throughout their period in power, probably somewhat circumspectly, and John’s services as an organ repairer seem to have been in demand by some of the great houses throughout the 1650s.  The Tawstock House accounts contain several entries of interest:

23 Jul 1649 for tuning and stringing the organ and harpsequall [harpsichord]… [39] £00.12.00
20 Aug 1650 to Lusmore of Exetor for tuning the organ &c £03.00.00
c24 Jan 1651/2 to the man that mended the organ then the 10th of Octob. £03.00.00
28 Oct 1655 Item Mr Loosmore by command in part of… [40] £21.05.00

Although the entries for July 1649 and January 1651/2 do not mention John Loosemore by name is seems reasonable to assume that he was responsible for the work.

The final entry, dated October 1655, is of particular interest.  A charge of £21.5s. implies either a very large repair or rebuild of a chamber organ, or the supply of a new instrument.  Confirmation that John continued working as a keyboard instrument-maker during the Interregnum, even if on a limited scale, is provided by a well-preserved virginals made by him, also dated 1655, now exhibited in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.  A description of this instrument, based on information supplied by the museum, is given in Appendix 8.  One is tempted to speculate whether the £21.5s. received by him might have been payment for building the virginals now in the V & A museum.  No other example of his new work is known prior to the Restoration. [41]

At least one other maker of virginals is known to have worked in Exeter at about this time.  The Somerset County Museum in Taunton Castle holds such an instrument made by Charles Rewallin of Exeter, dated 1675, similar in many respects to the John Loosemore virginals, very finely decorated and in somewhat better general condition.  This instrument was first described in 1916; its early history is unknown. [42]   Rewallin must have been younger than John Loosemore, probably by 15-20 years, for he married in 1657; his widow, Martha, was granted administration of his estate in July 1697.  An inventory of his goods displayed with the grant of administration mentions an organ, a spinet, and ‘fower score Argon [organ] pipes’, so his skills may have extended to include these instruments.42

John Loosemore’s main claim to fame rests on his post-Restoration Exeter Cathedral organ, but as his ideas may have been coloured by familiarity with the pre-civil war instrument we shall look first at that earlier organ.  It was apparently installed in 1513-14, when the very large sum of £165.15s.7½d was spent on new organs ‘on the pulpitum’.  This was the old name for the beautiful screen still dividing choir from nave, so Loosemore was following an old tradition when he positioned his new organ there. [43]   Nothing is known of the builder of this early organ or its specification, but it had been either replaced or greatly modified by the early 17th century.  In the 1550s there were no less than four organs in the cathedral, only the largest of which would have been mounted on the rood-sreen. [44]   As we have seen, Hugh Chappington (1554) and Ralph Chappington (1619) were both involved in their maintenance, as was Thomas Dallam, a more famous builder, in 1620 and 1625. [45]   We have also noted that in 1638 John Loosemore himself had spent 10 days repairing and tuning one of them, probably the principal instrument.6   Reference in 1619 to ‘little’ and ‘new’ or ‘great’ organs [46]   also implies that more than one instrument was still in use, for it was then not unusual for the choir or chair organ and the main ‘great’ organ to be separate instruments.44

In any event by 1635 the screen-mounted organ was evidently a fine instrument for in that year Lieut. Hammond of the military company at Norwich, in the course of a solo continuation of a journey made the previous year with two other officers, found at Exeter

… a delicate, rich and lofty organ, which had more additions than any other, as fair pipes of an extraordinary length, and of the bigness of a man’s thigh, which, with their viols and other sweet instruments, the tunable voices and the rare organist, together make a melodious and heavenly harmony, able to ravish the hearer’s ears… [47]

Music at Exeter in those first four decades of the century reached a very high standard under the combined efforts of John Lugge the organist and Edward Gibbons, master of the choristers, an achievement acknowledged with approval by the lieutenant.  No doubt his reference to the organ as ‘lofty’ referred to its position atop the chancel screen.  The unusual size of the largest pipes, a striking feature which so impressed the visitor, may have influenced John Loosemore in his new design, as we shall see.

Aftermath of War

First, however, came the Great Rebellion, the Civil War, bringing in its train so heavy and senseless a despoliation of much that was fine in the fabric and furnishings of English cathedrals.  Exeter can count itself particularly unfortunate since one of the Articles of Surrender agreed with Sir Thomas Fairfax, the victorious parliamentary general, declared that neither the cathedral church nor any other church ‘shall be defaced or anything belonging thereto spoiled or taken away’.  Fairfax and his 2nd-in-command, Oliver Cromwell, may have intended that their promise should be kept, but they left the area almost immediately and Col. Hammond, the officer appointed as Governor (no relation to the lieutenant from Norwich), had no such scruples.  Without more ado, in an orgy of vandalism the Cathedral glass and furnishings were wrecked and plundered, graves and tombs desecrated, the canons dispossessed with brutal disregard for their ages, the church used as a store and alehouse.  An account published that same year, 1646, described how

they brake down the organs, and taking two or three hundred pipes with them, in a most scornefull, contemptuous manner, went up and down the streets piping with them: and meeting with some of the choristers of the church, whose surplesses they had stolne before, and imployed them to base, servile offices, scoffingly told them ‘Boys, we have spoyled your trade, you must go and sing hot Pudding Pies. [48]

In November 1656 the City Chamber made an order for the ‘disposing and sale of the organs lying in the cloysters’. [49]   It seems very unlikely that any substantial part of the instrument could have survived such treatment.  The mechanism must have lain there unprotected for ten years or so, though there is some evidence that local sympathizers with the Episcopal cause purchased sundry items of Cathedral property offered for sale after the carnage, to preserve them from further damage or destruction.

Soon after Exeter surrendered the beautiful 14th century cloisters were razed to the ground and the land sold.  The Puritan city governors erected a series of buildings on the site, some squalid and others less so, but all calculated to give offence to many devout churchgoers.  The western range was a group of large buildings used from November 1657 as a municipal cloth market, the upper storeys acting as warehouses and storage areas.  However, after the Restoration in May 1660 the Dean and Chapter were careful to obtain the King’s command to reduce the Cathedral church and cloisters to the same condition that they were before the late unhappy troubles.  In November, armed with this authority, they ordered the mayor to remove the cloth market to some other place and in spite of objections the City Corporation was compelled to vacate the premises on December 11th.  Shortly afterwards this entire range was leased by the Dean and Chapter as a series of private dwellings, one of which later became John Loosemore’s home for the remainder of his life. [50]

The Poll Tax of 1660, imposed soon after Charles II was reinstated, shows John Loosemore with his wife and daughter Joan living in St. Stephens’s parish, adjacent both to the cathedral close and to Bedford precinct which included Bedford House, suggesting that he had lived there for some years.  St. Stephen’s parish church was one of many city churches closed by the Puritans, which explains why his youngest daughter Mary, born in Bedford House, had been baptized in another parish.  All unmarried persons over the age of 16 were taxed at 12d, a wife at 6d, and a man on a sliding scale dependent on the assessed value of his goods.  John Loosemore, taxed at 2s.6d. for himself and his wife was therefore assessed on goods valued at £5 (the rate was 40s. per £100, pro rata down to £5).  Joan Loosemore, his eldest daughter, was liable for 12d, but the absence of any other daughters from the list of assessments gives us no information about Winifred and Mary, neither of whom would have been older than 16 at the time, even if they were still living. [51]

In view of John’s close connection with the Cathedral from this time on it made sense for him to live very near to his work.  Accordingly, on 20 January 1660/1 the Dean and Chapter leased to

John Loosmore of the cittie and County of Exeter organ maker … all that their messuage tenement and house…lately erected and buylt upon parte of the cloisters contayning in length from north to South in the bottome 25 foote or thereabouts and at the topp thirty fower foote or thereaboute and in breadth from east to west twenty foote or thereaboute … adjoyneing to a house wherein William Holmes upholsterer lately dwelt … for 21 yeares … [52] ,

at a yearly rent of £10 payable quarterly.  Not surprisingly the house was in need of repair, which was ordered to be carried out on 23 February 1660/1, he to pay ‘one moytie’, i.e. one half of the cost. [53] .  The lease was renewed to him on 13 April 1676 when it was said to be adjoining the house where Zachary Dashwood, merchant, then lived. [54]

Some idea of the quality of his accommodation in the Close may be gained from the 1671 Hearth Tax returns.  His house was assessed on 6 hearths (the average for the Close was 4); his name appears next after Zachary Dashwood (7 hearths) among a small group all of whom were taxed on 6–10 hearths.51  The group included a number of cathedral dignitaries, among whom were Dr. Fulwood, Archdeacon of Totnes (8 hearths), Dr. Cotton, Archdeacon of Cornwall (10), Canon Naylor (7), as well as Alderman Nicholas Isacke (9) and Dr. Morrish (6), indicating that the western range was reserved for superior tenants. [55]

Post-Restoration Organs

As soon as the Dean and Chapter recovered possession of their Cathedral they moved with alacrity to repair the considerable damage it had suffered during years of neglect and deliberate ill-treatment.  One of their first priorities must have been to demolish a brick wall built in 1657 at a cost of £150 which partitioned the cathedral immediately in front of the chancel screen. [56]   The two halves of the church, known then as East and West Peter (the cathedral was dedicated to St. Peter) had been allocated to the Independent and Presbyterian factions.

One argument for believing that John Loosemore was able to continue throughout the Interregnum his vocation as a keyboard instrument-maker, in addition to the existence of his 1655 virginals, is the decision of the Dean and Chapter to make him responsible for building their new organ.  Their options may have been limited, since the few organ-builders still practising their craft would have been in great demand, but they would surely not have risked entrusting so specialised and important a task to a local craftsman unless they were fully confident of his skills and recent experience.  No doubt his repair work 22 years earlier on the old organ was a factor affecting their choice; it hardly seems sufficient without recent evidence of his continuing abilities.  Three organs were involved.


The first was a temporary instrument, erected as a matter of urgency so that choral services could be resumed as soon as possible, perhaps utilising such components of the pre-war organ as could be salvaged and renovated.  As an example of this reclamation, one item in the cathedral Special Accounts for the Michaelmas quarter, 1660, reads ‘given a poore man for preserving 4 organ pipes, 2s.’  In the same quarter we find that Mr Loosemore was paid £5 ‘towards ye perfecting of the Organs’. [57]   In November 1660 the Chapter ordered a payment to him of £5 ‘towards the makinge of a sett of pipes to ye organ which is to be used in this church’, while the following 13 February they authorized a further £5 for repairs, described in the Accounts as being ‘towards ye perfecting of the Organs. [58]   On 1 April 1661 he received £40 ‘for perfecting the organs newly erected’, which was probably his final account for in November Richard Williams, ‘custos organum’, was paid £1.5s. ‘for one year ended at Michaelmas last’, showing that by then the organ had been working for some months.  Nothing is known of its specification.  One may surmise that in those hectic early stages of renovation Loosemore had received permission to use the badly damaged Chapter House as a workshop, for on 12 April 1662 the Chapter Clerk was ordered to see to the fitting up of the Chapter house with seats ‘and give notice to Mr Loosemore to remove his organs’.

A New Cathedral Organ

Work on the great new cathedral organ started in earnest at the beginning of 1662/3 and construction continued through and beyond the end of 1664.  Its progress can be charted in extracts from the Chapter Act Book.58  On 17 February 1662/3 it was ‘ordered that Mr Loosmore shalbe sent into Cornwall unto my Lord of Bath att ye common charge of the Chapter to make choice of Tyn for ye new organs to be made in this church’, a journey for which payment of £2, ‘the horse hire of Mr Loosemore and his man’, was ordered on 7 March following.  John Grenville, then earl of Bath, the eldest surviving son of Sir Bevill Grenville, was steward of the duchy of Cornwall and Lord Lieutenant of the County. [59]   As lord warden of the stannaries of the two counties he controlled the price of tin from their mines.  On 4 April 1663 the Chapter ordered that ‘the seiling and other tymber work for ye organs shalbe speedily taken in hand by Mr Loosmore and others, and that their wages shalbe weekly paid not exceeding 50s. or £3.’

On 17 October the Chapter authorized payment of ‘Mr Loosmore’s charges in riding to Salisbury to see the organs there, the better to informe himself to make the new organ of this church’.  The Salisbury organ was a pre-Restoration instrument re-erected by Thomas Harris.  Not until 19 November of the following year was this account settled, when they ordered ‘nine shillings to be paid John Loosmore, left unpaid for his journey to Salisbury’.  This apart, progress through 1664 went unrecorded until 30 December when it was ‘ordered £10 to be remitted unto John Loosmore (of the £30 owed to the church) for his charges in his London journey about ye Churches business’.  The reason for this debt will be examined a little later.  We can only guess at the nature of his business in London but it could well have concerned the appointment of an organist, for on 25 March following (1665) the Chapter ‘appointed Mr Colby to be organist of S. Peters Church and Quire, and did allow him a salary for his paynes of fifty pounds per Annum and ordered a house to be provided for him’.  On 1 April Colby was paid £5 ‘towards his charges in coming from London and ryding upp’.  He had been organist of Magdalen College, Oxford from 1661-64 when he was succeeded by Benjamin Rogers and would therefore have been free to accept a new appointment.  Loosemore could easily have consulted Christopher Gibbons, then organist of Westminster Abbey and the Chapel Royal, about the choice, for his uncle Edward Gibbons had been Master of the choristers at Exeter from 1609-1644. [60]

Completion of the new organ was signalled on 27 May 1665 by an order for ‘the old Organs to be taken down at the charge of the Chapter and delivered to such as Mr Archdeacon Cotton shall appoint.’  Dr. Edward Cotton, Archdeacon of Cornwall, lived in the Close as we have noticed.  The date of this fine instrument is confirmed by an inscription ‘John Loosemore made this organ 1665’, to be found on the east front of the case, in the centre just under the two small side turrets.

John Loosemore’s summary of expenditure on the organ must be construed in part as an implied criticism of the Chapter’s business methods:

Note of what ye Organ cost    December 13th 1664
The totall Sume that the Organ cost is 847–07–10.  In not bying tinne in Seson thare was in every hundred lost 46 shillings for I would have bought a littell before the Erle of Bath came downe in the Cuntrey for £4 a hundred 6 score and 2 two the hundred, and wee paide afterward £5.17s. for 5 score and 12 to the hundred so that thare is lost 4 score pounde or upward in this.  When wee had mesured the wenscot and counted how many thousand foote was in it wee found it 3 score pounde to deare Mr Wriet had the account
Then thare’s eused in the Seats of the Church with the Maiors Seate above £30 worth of this timber which stands yet at the accounte of the Organ.  The building of the Chimley and the inclosin of the worke house is all in this account.  So there is an £170 at least to be subtracted out of this account which is
        677–07–10. [61]

In interpreting this quaint, but fluently penned, document we note that on 28 March 1663 the earl of Bath had been granted a 10 year lease, at £1200 per annum, of the duties charged on tin mined in Devon and Cornwall. [62]   Output was only just beginning to recover from a 13 year break in production from 1647; the first official output figures were assembled for 1667.  We may infer from Loosemore’s account that he could have concluded a better bargain if he had been allowed to purchase just before the earl arrived on the scene, doubtless determined to set new conditions of sale and thus increase his own profits from the lease lately granted to him.  Tin was normally sold by the long hundredweight of 120lb (6 score).  Allowing for a slight awkwardness in Loosemore’s phrasing he seems to be saying that the delay forced him to buy tin at £5.17s. for a hundredweight of 112lb instead of £4.2s. (or perhaps £4) for the long hundred of 120lb.  Thus his actual purchase price was equivalent to just over £6.5s. for 120lb, an excess of 43s. (or perhaps 45s.), close to his own estimate of loss.

This interpretation is supported by the known selling price for tin, £6.5s. per hundred of 120lb over the period 1652–1660, falling to £4.2s. in 1666. [63]   Possibly the earl forced Loosemore to buy at the pre-Restoration price although just prior to his arrival it had already fallen to the level of 1666.  A total loss of £80 (4 score) on the transaction implies a total purchase of 34·8 hundreds, or about 1·8 tons of metal costing about £217, a not unreasonable figure in relation to the overall cost of the instrument.

It may be presumed that the chimney referred to in the penultimate paragraph was associated with a small furnace necessary to melt tin in the worke house or workshop.  Construction of the many large pipes would have been a formidable undertaking without the facilities of a modern foundry.  Sheets of tin were first prepared by flowing molten metal along a special inclined bench, after which they were hammered and finally planed to the required thickness.  Each pipe was then formed by rolling sheet tin in sections round wooden patterns and soldering along the length.  Tin, soft and malleable, with a relatively low melting point, resistant to acid attack and not easily dulled by exposure to the atmosphere, was an ideal metal for this application. [64]   Mr Wriet who had the detailed account for purchase of timber would have been Thomas Wright the cathedral treasurer, whose name appears frequently in the Act Books and who in 1671 occupied a house in the Close with 7 hearths.51

No specification for Loosemore’s organ has been found, though several attempts have been made to reconstruct one from descriptions of later modifications carried out by various organ builders.  A plausible scheme has been proposed by Freeman, correcting Hopkins’s suggestion which in turn was based on notes written in 1800–1810 by Henry Leffler.43  Freeman’s scheme is as follows:

Double diapason (bass)  14 pipes Stopped diapason 55 pipes
Open diapason 55 pipes Principal 55 pipes
Open diapason 55 pipes Flute   55 pipes
Stopped diapason 55 pipes Fifteenth 55 pipes
Principal 55 pipes Bassoon (?) 55 pipes
Twelfth 55 pipes    
Fifteenth 55 pipes    
Sesquialtera III 165 pipes    
Cornet III (from mid C) 81? pipes    
Trumpet (?) 55 pipes    

Freeman expressed reservations about the inclusion of reed stops (bassoon and trumpet) or more than one mixing stop (i.e. Cornet III?, assuming the Sesquialtera to be a more likely mixture).  He also doubted that the compass exceeded 50 notes.  The actual tonal range of the instrument still provokes argument. [65]   Freeman suggested GG (no GG#) to d3, excluding the double diapason which we shall discuss separately, i.e. from G, 4 spaces below the bass stave, to d, 3 spaces above the treble stave.  We shall not follow the inconclusive discussion of possible alternatives.

No pedal pipes were fitted.  The first pedal pipes in an English organ, at St. Paul’s Cathedral, are believed to date only from 1721, while the first independent pedal board in this country was not built until 1778. [66]   An old three-keyboard assembly of 58 notes, with black natural keys and white sharps, is still preserved in the Cathedral in a room next to the minstrels’ gallery above the north side of the nave.  It is said to be the old black keyboards seen by Freeman in 1926 but is almost certainly not Loosemore’s original keyboard.43, [67]   His organ was surely only a two-manual instrument (Great and Chaire), as was universal in 17th century England; its compass, as we have seen, was not greater than 55 notes.  A new keyboard was fitted in 1713 as part of repairs carried out by Shrider.  The original third manual probably dates from 1741 when Jordan fitted a Swell organ and provided new keyboards at a cost of £400.  H C Lincoln replaced the keyboards yet again in 1819 as part of his modifications.  Even after Willis’s changes in 1859 the compass remained at 55 notes on Great and Chair.  Not until the re-build by Henry Speechly in 1876 was it extended to 58 notes, and even then on the Great only, so the ‘original’ keyboards are unlikely to be more than about 100 years old.

Without doubt the most striking feature of the organ was its great open double diapason, unique in England for many years afterwards.  It consisted of 14 huge pipes having a compass of little more than one octave, made from pure tin, grouped in two separate towers capped with cornices similar to those of the main case.  The two towers, each containing seven pipes, were mounted around the structural stone columns at the north and south ends of the screen.  They were quite detached from the main case which stood between them, so they were provided with separate valve mechanisms.  Behind each great metal pipe was mounted a passive wooden octave pipe to assist oscillation of the air column in the speaking pipe.  These towers attracted considerable attention from visitors owing to their striking appearance and the remarkable size of their pipes.  It is to one visitor that we are indebted for details of the largest pipe.

Sir Francis North, grandson of Dudley, 3rd Lord North, later Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, 1st baron Guildford, was made Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in 1675.  In the course of his first tour of duty he chose the western circuit, visiting Exeter with his younger brother and biographer the Hon. Roger North, who tells that his lordship, a keen musician

took great notice of the great organ in the cathedrall church…where the two side columnes that carry the tower are lined with organ pipes, and [these] are as columnes themselves.  His lordship desired the dimensions of the great Double Diapason; and the account returned is thus:

Feet Inches
Speaking part, long 20  6
Nose 4 0
Circumference 3 11
Diameter 1 3

Contents of the speaking part: 3 Hogsheads, 8 gallons, Weight 360lb [equivalent to 25ft3 in modern units].

This is heard plainer remote than near, as also louder; and behind that and the other large doubles are placed large octave pipes of wood to help them into their sound, which otherwise would come on very slow, or perhaps not at all.  One (being neer enough) may by the touch of the hand discerne when it speaks, and when not.  How it is tuned, whether by measure or the beats, wee were not informed; and bating [apart from] their account of it, which was curious and diverting enough, I could not be so happy to perceive that in the musick they signifyed anything at all, but thought them made more for ostentation, than use.  For there are termes in sound, which will not be exceeded; for when the vibratory pulses are so slow as may be distinguished, sound vanisheth; which is neerly the case of this great pipe. [68]  

The great pipe, 24ft. 6ins. long overall, whose particulars were requested by Lord Chief Justice North, sounded GGG, i.e. G 7 ledger lines below the bass stave.  It was the largest to be found anywhere in England until 1823, when the organ at York Minster was provided with a double diapason to FFF, speaking length 24ft., a tone below Loosemore’s pipe. [69]   GGG corresponds to a nominal frequency of only 24Hz, so one can appreciate Roger North’s reservations even though they were expressed in so severe a manner.  Contemporary limitations on bellows technology must have led to extreme difficulty in maintaining an adequate air supply.  Confirmation that problems arose soon after its installation is provided by an entry in the Act Book dated 16 March 1666/7: ‘Loosmore for to buy tymber…for the making a new pair of bellows for ye organs…£5.00.00’.  Yet Leffler, writing 130 years later when more experience had been gained in driving such large pipes, observed of the Exeter double diapason that ‘At a distance from the organ this stop is very fine with Diapason and Principal; it has no effect alone’. [70]   If the length of the speaking section was measured accurately the organ pitch must have been sharp by present day standards, for a pipe sounding GGG should have been 21ft. 8ins. long.  Taking into account the additional weight of the nose, or foot, of each pipe a rough calculation yields a total weight in the double diapason of about 1–1¼ tons, amply accounting for the large quantity of metal purchased by its builder.

The double diapason survived intact many changes to the organ instituted by later designers, until Henry Speechly’s rebuild in 1876 when the last of John Loosemore’s pipework was melted down, the metal re-used.  At this time his richly embossed front pipes in the main case suffered a similar fate, so that nothing now remains of his work but the very handsome case.  Even this case, still one of the finest in any English cathedral, has not escaped unscathed, for it was widened in the course of Speechly’s rebuild to accommodate extra pipes required by his extended specification.  It was again disturbed when, as part of yet another rebuild in 1891 by Henry Willis, a solo case facing west was added in the form of a replica of the original chair organ which still faces east.  Freeman has described the case in detail elsewhere but here we need mention only one unusual feature, that it is entirely lacking in figure carving: its ornamentation is composed almost exclusively of richly carved flowers and foliage.43

One result of Willis’s work in 1891 was to transplant the 16 largest pipes of Speechly’s rebuilt 32ft. double diapason (the same size as Loosemore’s) to the south transept, where they still stand, just off the ground against the west wall, thirteen in front and three behind.  The magnitude of John Loosemore’s technical achievement 226 years earlier is immediately apparent.

A Choir School Organ

John Loosemore’s third Exeter Cathedral organ was a single-manual instrument for the cathedral choir school, which at that time was located on the first floor of the so-called Cloth Hall, erected on the site of the eastern range of the old cloisters.50  Its exact date is uncertain but, given the urgent desire of the authorities that cathedral services should revert to ‘normal’ after 1660 one important factor would be the re-establishment of a trained choir as soon as possible.  We may perhaps link its completion with an entry in the Act Book on 7 March 1666/7:

that a pattent be granted with their Common Seale unto the above mentioned William Wake, for & during the terme of his naturall life of £20 per annum, provided the said Mr Wake shall teach and instruct the Choristers and Secondaries of this Church in instrumental Music, viz. Viols, Violyns, Composing, and Singing. [71]

Rimbault 64 states that it had six stops, all the pipes being of wood:

Open diapason 8ft Flute 4ft.
Stopped diapason 8ft. Twelfth 2 2/3 ft
Principal 4ft. Fifteenth 2ft.

Its compass was 4 octaves, from CC to c2, with a short bottom octave, i.e. from C two ledger lines below the bass stave to C two ledger lines above the treble stave.  A ‘short’ octave, often found in the bass of old organs, was a device to economize on the number of large pipes, their operating mechanisms and keys, by omitting certain sharps. [72]   The organ was intact in 1847, when it was said to be ‘preserved more for curiosity than use’. [73]   In 1890 it was seen by the Plymouth organ-maker J C Hele, who described it as ‘spread about over the roof of the nave.  The keys were black naturals and white sharps, the soundboard being under them and the pallets pressed down direct.  The whole thing was about the size of a harmonium’.  Apparently it had disappeared by 1926 though Wilson, writing in 1968, says it was destroyed during the 1939-45 war. [74]   Loosemore apparently continued the tradition for black natural keys on the small instrument, as he had done on his large Cathedral organ.

Nettlecombe Court Organ

Mention must now be made of one other organ known to be the work of John Loosemore.  Early in 1666, flushed with the success of his new cathedral organ, he undertook to build a house organ for Sir George Trevelyan of Nettlecombe Court, 7 miles south-east of Minehead on the edge of Exmoor, to stand in his minstrels’ gallery.  Originally a single-manual instrument, this organ was converted to two-manual operation in the 1830s in order to introduce a ‘swell’ effect as part of a series of modifications executed by the organ-builder Henry Crabb for the then owner, Sir John Trevelyan.  The organ remained at Nettlecombe Court until the early 1980s when it was moved to The John Loosemore Centre at Buckfastleigh, where it now is (1986), for restoration.  The original agreement, signed by John Loosemore, is preserved at Taunton and gives details of the instrument (see below).  The stopped diapason extended to CC in 1830, i.e. two ledger lines below the bass stave, while the Recorder, probably an open diapason, extended to middle C.  The ‘shaking stop’ or tremulant was not a device for varying the wind supply as is customary today, but a separate single rank of pipes with a built-in tremulo, i.e. a reed stop which formed the bass of the trumpet. [75]

February the 1th 1665 [i.e. 1665/6]
Then made a bargain wth  Sr Geo: Trevelyan for an Organ wth  these stops in it as follows.

One diapason
) these in wood On the left On ye right
One flute
) 1. Recordr Principall
One Recordr
) 2.flute Flagilett
One fifteenth
) 3. Diapason Fifteenth
4. Trumpet
One Principall ) these in mettle
One flagilett  )
One Trumpet )
One shaking stop

And for this organ I am to have one hundred pounds.  £20 whereof at the 25th day of March next & fourscore residue thereof when the work is finished.

John Loosemore. [76]

John Loosemore’s design reflects the great technical confidence he had by now acquired, judging by the adventurous style of its black case-work, the front of which is recessed beneath a single horizontal cornice, carrying an unusual and attractive pipe layout.  The front pipes are of tin, alternately plain and richly embossed.  Among various gilded details are a central cartouche and two cherubs’ heads, while two small gilt stars revolve when an adequate air supply is available from the bellows.  This latter device was not intended as a ‘gimmick’ but was often fitted to show the player that the blower was doing his work properly.  It was the first house organ of any size to exhibit a new attitude to the problems of case design which, with its tonal scheme, marks John Loosemore as a genuinely creative organ builder. [77]   No other examples of his work have so far been discovered.

Later Life

Financial Problems

We have seen that John Loosemore was quite clear-headed in his business dealings on behalf of the Chapter, but he experienced greater difficulties with his personal affairs during and after the building of the Cathedral organ.  The first intimation of trouble occurs in a Chapter Act Book entry on 29 January 1663/4 recording a loan to him of £20, disbursed by Dr. Cotton.  It would appear that Loosemore repaid £10 of this loan fairly quickly, for on 28 March the Chapter were able to repay a like sum to Dr. Cotton, but by the end of 1664 his difficulties had increased.  On 24 December the Chapter lent him an additional £20, ‘£10 whereof was paid him by Mr. Deane and £10 by Mr. Wright being the Rent of his house for the year’.  His debt, now £30, was reduced a week later, as has already been noticed, by a credit of £10 allowed by the Chapter as expenses arising from his London visit on Cathedral business.  It is uncertain whether or not the remaining £20 was repaid but towards the end of 1665 we find further evidence of his financial problems when on 25 November Mr. Wright the treasurer was ordered to ‘pay unto the Chapter Clerke one yeares Rent of John Loosemores house in the Cloysters ended at Michaelmas last being £10’.

This state of affairs was endemic, for on 26 January 1666/7 another £10 was ‘Pd John Carroll [the Chapter Clerk] for Mr Loosemores rent of his house for one year ended Michaelmas last’.  A year later, on 8 February 1667/8, the Chapter ordered Mr. Wright ‘to pay unto the Chapter Clerk the sume of £10 being for one yeares Rent due from Mr Loosmore the 29th of September last past…’.  At Christmas that year they ‘Pd Jo: Carroll in pte of Loosmores rent at Michaelmas last…£5’. [78]   In effect, John Loosemore lived rent free over this whole period, suggesting either that his business as an independent organ-builder was very limited or, less likely, that it flourished but was unprofitable.  In addition to assistance with his rent, other ad hoc payments were made to him from time to time, usually ‘by Mr. Deanes order’ or some similar non-specific phrase as, for example, on 14 July 1666 (£10), 4 May 1667 (£10), September 1668 (£5), 5 August 1670 (£5).  The Chapter was evidently disposed to take a lenient view of John Loosemore’s difficulties, treating him with sympathy and understanding as a loyal servant of the Church who had manifestly enhanced its prestige.  However, by 1671 they finally decided to regularise the payment of his rent.  On 9 September they ordered that

fifteen poundes yearly to be paid to Mr Loosmore for repairing and keeping in tune the Organ of this Church viz, Tenn pounds to be allowed for the rent of his house (wherein he now lives) and five pounds to be paid him in mony…,

a simple solution avoiding any future uncertainty in rent collection.  In line with this decision the Cathedral Accounts record regular quarterly payments to him of £1.5s. from Michaelmas onwards as his fee for keeping/tuning the organs. [79]

After completion of the cathedral organ in 1665 and the Nettlecombe Court instrument a year later John Loosemore’s ties with the cathedral became stronger and one is left with the impression that from then on his work for the Dean and Chapter constituted his main means of livelihood.  His care for the cathedral organ naturally continued throughout his life.  One early problem concerned the maintenance of an adequate air supply.  Mention has already been made of payment to him in March 1666/7 of £5 for timber to make a new bellows; on 13 April he received an additional £7.15s.8d towards these bellows.  Another payment to him on 27 May of £14 for ‘Mr Loosmore 2 bills dated 25 April and 11 May and the smyths bill dated 26 May in toto’ probably relate to this re-design.  One other unspecified teething problem was resolved with the payment on 20 August of £1.10s.8d to ‘Loosmore his bill dated 3 August for work on the organs’. [80]   Thereafter routine maintenance only was required until his death.

Clerk of Works

In addition to this work he acted for the Dean and Chapter in a general capacity with responsibility for a great deal of work unconnected with the organ.  One of the first examples occurs on 14 March 1667/8 when they ‘ordered Mr Loosmore to view the pipes wch conveye the water into the Close, and to see that the same be speedily mended att the charge of the Chapter’.  This episode may be associated with a payment to him on 24 August 1669 ‘for ye new Cistern, mending of pipes, etc …£13.9s.4d’.  As an expert on organ pipes he was evidently considered qualified to deal with pipes of all descriptions. [81]

On many occasions from Spring 1668 onwards monies were paid to him for distribution to tilers (‘heliar’ in the extract below), masons, glaziers, carpenters, plumbers, and painters.  Among numerous entries in the Cathedral Special Accounts the following, all from 1668-9, are typical:

1668 13 Apr  Pd Mr Loosmore, Rich: Wills bill dat Apr 6 for stones in repaireing Long Brook Street 06-02-00
18 Apr Pd him Robbins the masons bill dat Apr 25 for work there 01-16-10
Pd him Can the plumbers bill dat Apr 25 for work there 05-15-11
25 Apr Pd him Greenslade the Carpenters bill dat Apr 25 for work there 02-04-00
25 May Pd him Gifford the smyths bill dat 5 May 00-18-02
13 Oct Pd him Land the joyners bill 00-09-00
13 Dec Pd him Tremaine ye heliars bill for St Annes Chappell 01-12-09
1668/9 9 Jan Pd him the paynters bill 08-00-00
1669 19 May Pd him Boomer the glaziers bill for work on St Katherines Almshouse.79 00-03-07

The extent of his responsibilities may be judged by the total of all monies paid through him to various craftsmen in the 12 months from April 1668, which exceeded £127.  It covered a wide variety of structural and repair work on the cathedral and its chapels, maintenance of the bells, the porter’s lodge, cleaning the porch and conduit, as well as repairs to other properties and premises owned by the Chapter including, as we have seen above, Long Brook Street and St. Katherine’s Almshouse.

This type of responsibility is exactly what one would expect of a Clerk of Works.  In fact the Chapter had employed Robert Blechyndon in this capacity from the Restoration at least up to the end of 1667, but it was not until a Chapter meeting on 8 January 1669/70 that ‘they graunted the office of the Clarke of the Works of the Cathedrall Church of Saint Peter in Exon unto Mr John Loosemore for the terme of his naturall life, and decided a pattent thereof to be made’.  The following week they referred to the appointment, which was to be ‘graunted and sealed wth their Common Seale’.  One may suppose that Robert Blechyndon had been too old, or ill, to fulfill his duties in the previous two years, that John Loosemore deputized for him, and that his succession was formalized after Robert’s death.  The post carried no regular salary but no doubt it was a mutually convenient arrangement by which, in return for providing rent-free accommodation plus other sums from time to time, the Dean and Chapter retained the services of a trusted craftsman with wide technical experience to supervise the Cathedral workmen. [82]

In later years the cathedral accounts are full of similar entries recording this supervision of work-men by John Loosemore, which it is unnecessary to recount in detail. [83]   He was also commissioned to carry out work on his own account.  Thus, on 5 April 1673 the Chapter ‘ordered fiftie shillings to be given to Mr Loosmore for his laboure in measureing and looking after the pavement within theire mannor of Saint Sydwelle’.  Earlier, on 13 October 1668 he received £1.6s. ‘for his owne bill for 3 days wages in Long Brook Street’, a comparatively high rate of pay in those days.  In autumn 1671 he was paid £7.0s.4d ‘for orderinge of seates in the body of the Church for ye Mayor and Aldermen’; a year later he was paid £1 ‘for 4 dozen of sand to make the floore in the Cloysters’; at the end of 1676 he received £3.11s.10d ‘for a new [water] pumpe in St.Peters Close’.

As a final example of his versatility we may note his part in re-furbishing the Cathedral chime of bells during the last half of 1676.  Among many items, mainly relating to the bell-founder, may be found:

1676 15 Dec Pd Mr Loosemore for weighing Copthorne 00-02-00
1676/7 Jan Pd Mr Loosemore Hart the bellfounders bill dat 19, for mending the old bells 02-06-00
  24 Mar Pd Mr Loosemore, Dowdell the Carprs bill dat 21 Feb 76 for his work about the clapper  [84] 06-00-00

That this was considered to be an important operation is evident from a Chapter Act of 20 June 1677 ordering ‘five pounds to be given to John Loosmore their Overseer of the Works for his pains and attendance in looking after the weighing, casting and hanging of the Bells’.

Before considering the implications of his later post we must retrace our steps, firstly to 1671, when John was called as a witness in a long-running suit, brought by the Mayor, bailiffs and Commonalitie of the Cittie of Exeter in the Court of Exchequer against George Browning, concerning a mill (probably a fulling-mill) on the river Exe. [85]   John, one of many witnesses whose depositions were taken under oath, appeared for the City authorities when he was described first as “gentleman” and later as “organmaker”.  It would seem that his skills and experience as clerk of works to the Dean and Chapter gave weight to his opinions regarding the adequacy of remedial work to the river banks carried out by the mill owner.

Next we move forward to 10 March 1674/5 when John’s eldest daughter Joan, then aged 32, was married by licence to ‘John Sharme’ in Heavitree parish church; the licence had been issued the previous day to ‘John Shearne and Joan Loosmore of Exeter’. [86]   Heavitree, a suburb of Exeter, was an ecclesiastical Peculiar of the Dean and Chapter.  Choice of a church under the special jurisdiction of the Cathedral authorities probably reflects their special relationship with their organ-builder and Clerk of Works.  The reason for marriage by licence is easily explained: an entry in the Cathedral register records the baptism of ‘John son of John Shearne, June 6, 1675’, barely three months after the marriage. [87]   Their reluctance to wait three weeks longer while banns were read is understandable.

John Loosemore had maintained links with his early days in Hartland parish, for it can hardly be coincidental that the Sherne/Shearne family had lived there for at least 120 years.  The first of many family references in Hartland parish occurs in 1558 when John Shearme married Salome Hatherle there on 25 January but there is no reason to suppose that this was the earliest occurrence of the family name in the parish.  A survey of the ‘lands possessions and hereditaments of Henry Compton, esq, son and heir of William Compton, knight’ conducted in 1566 included his manor at Hartland; among the customary tenants Katherine Sherme, widow, occupied some 24 acres in two holdings at Blegberry and East Newhay just south of Hartland Point. [88]   From this it may be assumed that she and her late husband had lived there for some years previously.  Family relationships cannot be identified with confidence because so many of the male members were named John; it may be remembered that a John Shearme was dispatched to Barnstaple in 1638 to fetch John Loosemore on the occasion of his setting up the Hartland parish organ on the roodloft.  Perhaps this was the father of the John who became John Loosemore’s son-in-law.  A marriage settlement between the two men, discussed below, describes Shearme/Sherne as an organ-maker, making it virtually certain that he had acted as assistant to Loosemore for some time and may have accompanied him to Cornwall to buy tin for the Cathedral organ in March 1662/3 (cf. the payment made to ‘Mr Loosemore and his man’).

The marriage settlement, dated 9 March 1674/5, the same day that a licence was issued, is worth quoting at some length:

It is agreed bye and between John Loosemore of the Cittie and County of Exeter organmaker and John Shearme of the same, organmaker in consideration of the marriage to be betweene the said John Shearme and Joane Loosemore the daughter of the said Jo: Loosemore…the said John Loosemore doth hereby assigne and sett over unto the said John Shearme all ye  tenement wherein he now lives; excepting one lodging roome and also ye  parte wch  is in ye  possession of William Boarde Taylor and the said John Loosemore doth further promise that the said John Shearme shall have the use of all his workinge binches and all the tooles that belong  to the saide trade…and John Loosemore further promises that he not for ye  future take upon him any further newe worke but leave the same wholly unto ye  said John Shearme except the mending and repearinge of such worke ashalbeen heare to fore perfected of wch  ye  said John Loosemore is to hand the moytie and further the said John Shearme doth promise to provide for the said John Loosemore…meate and drinke and likewise it is further agreed that…[John Shearme shall have use of all the goods in the house and after Loosemore’s death shall enjoy all these household goods]. [89]

The document is revealing.  John Loosemore, then aged 58, was to make over to his future son-in-law his entire house excepting only one room for himself, to undertake no new work and share equally any repairs of organs or other equipment already made by him, and make all his tools available, in return for board and lodging; meantime his eldest and only surviving daughter was 6 months pregnant, presumably by the younger man.  Certainly it was not unusual for the first child of a marriage to be conceived out of wedlock, for in those days it was considered reasonable that a woman’s fertility be confirmed before concluding a firm commitment to a union.  However, with only 3 months remaining before Joan’s confinement time was short, remembering that a child must be born not less than one month after marriage to ensure legitimacy.  Is it too fanciful to see here a touch of the iron fist applied by John Shearme, with the object of obtaining the best possible settlement from his intended father-in-law?  There seems no other good reason for delaying the marriage.  Yet this may do Shearme an injustice for we cannot know what transpired between the two men: perhaps there was a much more mundane explanation.  In any event, the Dean and Chapter accepted the new regime without demur and on 15 April 1676 they signed an agreement with John Loosemore and his son-in-law binding them

to maintain the Organ of the Cathedral at their own cost and charge during the terme of the lease for £15 [i.e. per year] allowed by the Dean and Chapter, including within one year a new sett or stop of metal pipes to be added to the organ, the Dean and Chapter to provide the tin for the purpose. [90]

Earlier that year, on 1 January, they had ordered ‘satisfaction to be given to Mr Loosemore for removing the organ given by Mr. Archdeacon Cotton, into the Chapter House’, an operation for which he eventually received 20s., so the older man had not retired completely in favour of his son-in-law.  This organ must have been the temporary Cathedral instrument erected by John Loosemore in 1661 and removed under Edward Cotton’s direction in May 1665.


He now was less active, becoming supervisory rather than executive.  We can sense the kindness and tolerance of the Chapter when in mid-1677 he received payment ‘for his pains and attendance in looking after’ various stages in making new bells, by contrast with earlier references reflecting a more energetic involvement.  A further example of this withdrawal occurred towards the end of the same year, when on 15 December the Chapter ‘decided that John Shearme should have and enjoy the Workinge-room over the Cloyster to his owne use and advantage’. [91]   Cathedral accounts record how his duties as Clerk of Works tailed off after Christmas 1677.  During 1678 he dealt with fewer than 10 bills while from Spring 1679 his name is not mentioned except to record receipt of his quarterly fee of £1.5s. for tuning the organs.  He continued to sign for this payment until the last quarter of 1680.  In the next, from Christmas 1680 to the Annunciation 1680/1, a marginal note ‘sol. pro Mtris Joanne Sherme’ implies that he was too ill or infirm as his daughter acted on his behalf.

On 30 April 1681 the Chapter Act Book reveals another human touch when

they desired and ordered the Act acted the 26 day of March last past for granting the Office of Clerk of the Works to Mr John Carroll after the death of Mr John Loosemore he the Clerk of the Works, to be vacated, And did vacate the same, and resolved to consider some other way to do him the said Mr Carroll a kindness.  They decided to grant the Office of Clerk of ye Workes (now voide by the death of Mr John Loosemore) to John Shearme.

It is pleasant to see the Cathedral officers’ concern for the well-being of their servants; one can feel hopeful that John Carroll the Chapter Clerk did eventually receive the kindness due to him.

John Loosemore died on 18 April 1681, apparently after a fairly short final illness, judging by the provisional appointment of his successor at the end of March.  He was buried in the Cathedral two days later.  In a final gesture of respect and goodwill the Chapter, a fortnight later on 14 May, ‘remitted the Fee of breaking ground for Mr John Loosemores grave in the Body of the Church’.  Freeman says that his gravestone with its memorial inscription was set originally in the floor at the east end of the nave near the entrance to the south aisle of the choir close to his organ.  The stone has since been moved to the north choir aisle near the north wall, just across from bishop Edmund Tracy’s tomb.  The inscription, including references to his son-in-law and grandson, quoted by Polwhele [92] in 1793 is now badly worn and the section referring to John Loosemore only was re-cut rather inexpertly in the early part of the 20th century.  His majestic organ is indeed a ‘fitting monument to his Art and Genius’.

The lease of his house was surrendered on 29 June 1681 by ‘John Shearme organmaker and Joan his wife, administratrix of the goods of her father’ to the Dean and Chapter, who renewed it to them on 2 July, including in the agreement an obligation on Shearme ‘to maintain the organ in the cathedral in tune and repair for the sum of £15 yearly during this terme [21 years] and cause a new set of metal pipes to be made in imitation of a human voice’, the Dean and Chapter to provide the tin. [93]   In view of this clause one wonders whether the extra pipes called for in a similar clause in the April 1676 agreement actually materialized.

John Shearme outlived his mentor by only 5½ years.  He died in 1686, probably in late August, and was buried with his late father-in-law.  The Dean and Chapter renewed the lease of his house to Joan his widow on 4 September for 21 years at the same rent, renewing it to her on 8 May 1697 with a further option to renew 7 years later. [94]   Before then John, her only child, had died on 17 July 1693; he also was buried in the same grave with his father and grandfather.  Joan renewed the lease of her house once again on 4 September 1703, at the good age of 61, on the same terms as previously. [95]   Nothing is known of her life, nor when and where she died and was buried.

What’s in a Name?

Spelling of personal names in the 17th century was subject to much variation, John Loosemore’s no less than many others.  Recently it has been proposed that ‘Loosmore’ is the more correct reading. [96]   We now look briefly at the basis for this suggestion.

At first glance there would seem to be several choices, even if one excludes all variants associated with other members of his family.  At Hartland in the 1630s we find ‘Loosemore’ and ‘Loosemoore’; the Barnstaple marriage and baptismal register entries for him and his children read ‘Lusamore’; baptism of his children born in Exeter refer to ‘Loosemore’ and ‘Loosemoore’.  ‘Loosmore’ is found in the 1660 Poll Tax return, ‘Loosemore’ in the 1671 Hearth Tax return.  ‘Loosmore’ is overwhelmingly the most common spelling found in very many references to him scattered throughout the Cathedral Accounts and Chapter Act Books, though ‘Loosemore’ and ‘Loosemoore’ occasionally occur.  The preferred Cathedral spelling, ‘Loosmore’, is used in the inscription on his gravestone, while his entry in the Cathedral burial register spells him ‘Lusimore’.

In the face of such variability it is reasonable to enquire how John spelled his own name.  Here we find consistency.  Four signatures have survived: on the original lease from the Dean and Chapter of his house in January 1660/1; the Nettlecombe Court organ agreement dated February 1665/6; the 1674 marriage settlement with his son-in-law John Shearme; the 1676 agreement and lease with the Dean and Chapter, while additional examples occur in the ascription cut on his virginals of 1655 and on the great cathedral organ of 1665.  On all six occasions John spells his name ‘Loosemore’.  Two further examples of this same spelling occur when he was called as a witness for the plaintiffs in civil suits brought by the Mayor and bailiffs of Exeter, in August 1669 and October 1671. [97]   This consistency is convincing, whether or not the Cathedral scribes agree, and we acknowledge his right to the spelling of his choice: ‘John Loosemore, organ-builder’.

An Assessment

How are we to assess John Loosemore’s status as an organ-builder?  Were his creative abilities simply exhausted by his one masterpiece plus three smaller instruments, or were there other factors which contributed to his decision to accept a routine Cathedral appointment, carrying responsibility chiefly for maintenance and repairs, whether or not related to the organ?  Any conclusions must remain conjectural in the absence of definite information regarding the true extent of his new constructional work, so what follows can be no more than a personal opinion.

As has already been remarked, it is highly unlikely that his pre-Civil War experience was confined to repairs of the Hartland parish church organ and 10 days work on the Exeter Cathedral organ in 1638.  Nonetheless, opportunities for constructing new organs diminished throughout the 1630s as Puritanism spread through the West and this, coupled with the wholesale destruction of existing instruments from 1644 onwards, must have limited his chances of establishing himself outside the region in which he lived.  On the other hand, recreational music suffered less severely and one may doubt that the virginals of 1655 was his first and only essay in the design of small keyboard instruments.  In common with surviving examples by other contemporary makers its case lacks the delicacy characteristic of 18th century craftsmen but it is undoubtedly the product of an experienced instrument maker.  One assumes, therefore, that at this time he was intent on pursuing his chosen vocation as actively as circumstances permitted.

By the Restoration in 1660, aged 44 and with 16 lean years behind him, he must have accepted gratefully the offer of a secure post for several years at least, with a golden opportunity afforded to few of his fellow craftsmen: the construction of an important new cathedral organ.  This would have been a larger undertaking than usual in view of the considerable remedial work necessary to rectify the ravages of war and its aftermath.  The original lease of his house for 21 years conveys a hint that even now he was contemplating settling down, for 17th century organ-builders tended to adopt a peripatetic lifestyle, moving house, workshop and assistants from one location to another as dictated by the demand for their services.  For example, in 1605 when Thomas Dallam contracted to build a new organ for King’s College, Cambridge, he closed his London premises and moved his entire establishment to Cambridge to complete the commission. [98]

Perhaps John Loosemore could have accepted outside work in 1661-2, but from then until the completion of his Cathedral organ he must have been employed substantially full-time on that project.  The Nettlecombe Court contract was probably completed by the end of 1666, by which time he was aged 50, with a secure base and the prospect of steady employment from the Dean and Chapter.  As a provincial organ-builder living deep in the West country he was badly placed to gain further contracts in direct competition with such well-known and experienced London-based figures as the Dallam brothers Robert and Ralph, Thomas Harris and his son Renatus, and ‘Father’ Bernhard Schmidt with his nephews Barnard and Gerard, all of whom continued active work abroad throughout the English Civil War period.  His options, therefore, were to give up his house in Exeter and move nearer to London, hoping to establish his reputation there in the few years remaining to him before he became too old for active work, or to stay in Exeter, adjusting his expectations to suit the local demand.

After the rigours of the Interregnum it is not surprising that he chose the easier, if less ambitious, option.  One result must have been to limit severely his opportunities for new organ building.  The West had seen a gradual rise in Puritan sentiment for some years prior to the Civil War, culminating in 14 years of Puritan rule.  An aversion to organ accompaniments at church services had strengthened during this time, especially after the removal and destruction of most parish organs as a result of the ordinance of 1644.  Although choral services were resumed rapidly in cathedrals and collegiate churches at the Restoration, local communities were slow to change the religious practices of a whole generation.  Furthermore, by not installing an organ a parish was spared not only the significant capital cost but also the continuing subsequent cost of paying an organist, not to mention regular charges for maintenance and repair.  As an example of this reluctance, in 1696 the Rev. John Newte felt able to claim that an organ newly installed in his church at Tiverton was the first in his diocese outside Exeter since the Commonwealth. [99]

So John Loosemore found his niche, reconciling himself to serving the Cathedral which had given him his greatest opportunity and made his reputation.  In 1674, now 58, he formally renounced all new work, living out the final seven years of his life as a respected craftsman and supervisor on behalf of the Chapter.  Church music was the poorer for the failure to take fuller advantage of his talents.


John Loosemore left no son and heir to carry on his line, so his descendants must be sought indirectly.  His closest male relatives are his brothers, but straightaway difficulties arise.  His youngest brother Samuel died leaving no male heir.  The descendants of George and Henry of Cambridge would be worthwhile lines for investigation if their relationship as brothers of John could be firmly established, see Chapter 7.  As we shall see then, Henry left no son; George’s probable progeny included one son, Samuel, who entered the Church and another, George jnr., whose fate remains a mystery.  Next for consideration are the descendants of John’s uncles, brothers of his father Samuel, directing attention once more to the family of Henry, father of that Samuel.

The present author’s relationship to John Loosemore becomes more distant, and could be determined only by establishing a firm connection, some time earlier than c1525, between Loosemore groups of Bishops Nympton and Creacombe/Rose Ash, whose story we shall examine in a later Chapter.

[1] I L Gregory, Hartland Church Accounts 1597-1706, transcr. and ed. 1950, especially pp154, 157, 162, 169, 172, 173.

[2] Samuel Loosemore was buried in Barnstaple on 25 November 1642, see Chap. 5.

[3] See T N Brushfield, The Church of All Saints, East Budleigh, Tracts on English Church History No.4, 1891, repro. from TDA, PtI, xxiii, 1891, 239-306, for a discussion of rood screens.

[4] Two ordinances of the Lords and Commons assembled in Parliament for the speedy demolishing of all organs…in all Catherdalls, and Collegiate or Parish-Churches and Chapels…9 May 1644.

[5] W E Tate, The Parish Chest, 3rd edition, 1969, repr. 1983, Chap.II, 84-108.

[6] D & C Exeter, Accounts, MS 3787 (1635-46, 1660-66).

[7] For John Lugge see P le Huray, Music and the Reformation in England 1549-1660, 1967, 168, 319;  J West, Cathedral Organists, 1921, 43;  Susi Jeans, National Union of Organists’ Associations’ Quarterly Record, xliii, No.172, July 1958, 103-105.

[8] Todd Gray, ed., Devon Household Accounts, 1627–59, Part II, Henry, 5th Earl of Bath and Rachel, Countess of Bath, 1627-1655, DCRS, 1996, 221.

[9] Gray, pp2,3.

[10] Gray, p21.

[11] Gray, p35.  No doubt ‘vial’ refers to the repair of a viol.

[12] A Freeman, Records of British Organ-Builders 940-1660, pub. in Dictionary of Organs  and Organists, London, 1921, (RBOB), is generally very valuable for the Chappington family.

[13] H Saunders, DCNQ, vi, 1910-11, 84.

[14] T N Brushfield, The Churchwardens’ Accounts of East Budleigh, TDA, xxvi, 1894, 335-400 for Woodbury.

[15] H J F Swayne, Churchwardens’ Accounts of S.Edmund and S. Thomas, Sarum, Wilts Record Society, 1896, 95-193 for S.Edmund; 285-309 for S.Thomas.

[16] C Haskins, The Church of S.Thomas of Canterbury, Salisbury, WANHM, xxxvi, 1909-10, 1-12.

[17] D & C, Exeter, MS 4671, quoted in HMC Report on Various Collections, IV, 1907, 91.

[18] C E Ponting, The Parish Church of S Michael, Mere, WANHM, xxix, 1895-6, December 1896, 20-70.

[19] H F Westlake, St. Margaret’s Westminster: The Church of the House of Commons, 1914, 212.

[20] J R Bloxam, A Register of the Presidents, Fellows, Demies…Chaplains, Clerks, Choristers…of S Mary Magdalen College Chapel, Oxford, ii, 1858, 278-9.

[21] The Will is PCC 62 Stafforde.

[22] PCC 38 Soame.

[23] C W Pearce, Notes on English Organs 1800–1810, 1912, 149.

[24] J F Chanter, DCNQ, x, October 1918, 109.

[25] B Matthews, The Organs and Organists of Exeter Cathedral, D & C Exeter, c1873 (official booklet), quoting D & C Exeter, Chapter Act Books, MS 3554.  See also Freeman, op. cit.

[26] J Cock, Records of ye Antient Borough of South Molton, South Molton, 1893.

[27] J Wilson, ed., Roger North on Music, 1959, 4.

[28] D & S Lysons, Magna Britannica, vi, 1822, Pt II, 368.

[29] J R Chanter and T Wainwright, ed. Barnstaple Records, 2 vols., Barnstaple, 1900, see i, 181-197.  For Richard Ferris see R W Cotton, Barnstaple during the Civil War 1642-1646, 1889, 83.

[30] J R Chanter, Sketches of the Literary History of Barnstaple, 1866, 75-6.

[31] J R Chanter, The Life and Times of Martin Blake, B.D. (1593-1673), 1910, 52.

[32] W Dunn Macray, ed., Clarendon’s History of the Rebellion and Civil War in England, Oxford, 1888, repr. 1958, 1969.  See vol.III, Bk VII, S.197 for Barnstaple, August 1643; Bk VIII, S.147 for September 1644; vol.IV, Bk IX, S.43 for Prince of Wales there in 1645; vol.III, Bk VII, S.198 for capitulation of Exeter, 1643.

[33] Bodl. MS Gough Gen. Top.180 for surrender of Barnstaple.

[34] Registers of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials of the City of Exeter, ii, The Parishes of Allhallows Goldsmith Street, St.Pancras, St.Paul, DCRS, vii, Pt II, 1933.  The St.Paul original registers, deposited at the DRO, are too badly fire-damaged to be fit for production.

[35] E Lega-Weekes, Some Studies in the Topography of the Cathedral Close, Exeter, pub. for DCRS, 1915, 131;  Polwhele, The History of Devonshire, 3 vols., 1793-1806, i, 294;  Dom J Stéphan, ed., The Ancient Religious Houses of Devon, Catholic Records Press, Exeter, 1935, 81-3.

[36] G S Thomson, DCNQ, xvii, 1932-3, 13-30;  G Oliver, The History of the City of Exeter, Exeter, 1861, 155, 192.

[37] P A Nuttall, Fuller’s Worthies of England, 3 vols., repr. from the 1840 ed., i, 444;  T B Worth, Exeter Cathedral and its Restoration, Exeter, 1878, 37.

[38] HMC, lxxiii, Report on the Records of the City of Exeter, 1916, 326.

[39] This ‘harpsichord’ may refer to an entry in the accounts dated cJan 1648/9: “…paid Miss Baker for a pair of harpsical virginals £04.00.00…”, see Gray, p275.

[40] Gray, pp279, 284, 293, 110.

[41] It had been proposed that a large regal preserved in the castle at Blair Atholl, said to be dated 1650, was built by him, see F W Galpin, Old English Instruments of Music, 3rd ed., 1932, 232; the statement also appeared in the 1st ed., 1910  It is now considered to be much earlier (1630) and to be the work neither of John Loosemore nor, indeed, of any English maker, see R Menger, Das Regal, Tutzing, 1973, 19-21.  See also the present text, Appendix 8.

[42] For a full description see The Connoisseur, xlvi, October 1916, 77-85.  See also H St.G Gray, A Guide to the Arthur Hull Collection , pub. by the Somersetshire Archeological and Natural History Society, 1918 and H Tapley-Soper, DCNQ, ix, 1916-17, 241-243.

[43] A Freeman, The Organ, vi, 1926, 100-112.

[44] For the  early organs in Exeter Cathedral see The Edwardian Inventories for the City and Country of Exeter, transr. from original documents in the Guild Hall, Exeter, by Beatrix Cresswell, 1916, quoted in Susi Jeans, The Organ, lxv, 1986, 49-55.

[45] D & C, Exeter, Chapter Act Books, MSS 3554: (1677-85);  3555: (1622-30).  See also Freeman, op.cit.

[46] D & C, Exeter, Chapter Act Books, MSS 3553: (1607-28);  3554: (1615-22).

[47] B.L. Lansdowne MS 213, ff347-384v, A Relation of a Short Survey of the Western Counties, August 1635; transcr. and ed. L G W Legg, Camden Society, lii, 3rd series, 1936, i-xiv, 1-128.  Extracts in extenso first appeared in The Gentleman’s Magazine, ccv, November 1858, 479-487.

[48] B Ryves, Mercurius Rusticus, Oxford, 1646, quoted by many later authors.

[49] HMC, lxxiii, Report on the Records of the City of Exeter, 1916, 330.

[50] J F Chanter, Exeter Diocesan Architectural and Archeological Society Transactions, 3rd series, iv, Part III, 1937, 135-149.

[51] W G Hoskins, Exeter in the Seventeenth Century: Tax and Rate Assessments 1602–1699, DCRS, New Series, ii, 1957.

[52] D & C Exeter, Leases and Agreements, MS 6000/1.

[53] D & C Exeter, Chapter Act Books, MS 3559: (1661–67).

[54] D & C Exeter, Leases and Agreements, MS 6000/3a,b.

[55] J le Nève, Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae, Oxford, 1864, for Dr. Francis Fulwood, installed Archdeacon of Totnes 31 Aug 1660; Dr. Edward Cotton, installed Archdeacon of Cornwall 15 Sep 1660, Exeter diocesan Treasurer 31 Aug 1672; Canon Oliver Naylor, a prebend.  See Polwhele, ii, 25 for Richard Morrish, Dr. of Physick.  Thomas Wright acted as Cathedral Treasurer vice Dr. Cotton after 1672.

[56] G Oliver, The History of the City of Exeter, Exeter, 1861, 118-120.

[57] D & C Exeter, Accounts, MS 3787: (1635-46, 1660-66).

[58] D & C Exeter, Accounts, MS 3559: (1661-67).

[59] J Stucley, Sir Bevill Grenville, Phillimore, 1983, 1, 149.

[60] West, Cathedral Organists, 1921, 43, 44, 150.

[61] D & C Exeter, Accounts, MS 4683.

[62] Cal. Clar. SP, 1661-2, 95, 377; 1663-4, 90.

[63] G R Lewis, The Stannaries, 1908, 252, 275.

[64] E F Rimbault and E J Hopkins, The Organ: Its History and Construction, 3rd. ed., 1877, repr. 1965, 96.

[65] See for example, B B Edmonds, BIOS, v, 1981, 23-32; P Williams, BIOS, vi, 1982, 130.

[66] See New Grove.  But see The Musical Times, September 1960, 578-9, October 1960, 717-8, February 1961, 107-8 for the suggestion that pedals were used on some English pre-civil war organs.

[67] For the 15th century organs in Exeter Cathedral see The Edwardian Inventories for the City and Country of Exeter, transcr. from original documents in the Guildhall, Exeter by Beatrix Cresswell, 1916, quoted in Susi Jeans, The Organ, lxv, 1986, 49-55.  In a private communication (letter dated 30 September 1986) Lady Jeans remarks of the old keyboard assembly preserved in Exeter Cathedral: “I am sure that this is not the original Loosemore keyboard”.

[68] B.L., Add. MS 32509, ff 1-187, quoted in J Wilson, ed., Roger North on Music, 1959, 39, essay on The Lord Keeper [Francis] North.

[69] A Freeman, Records of British Organ Builders 940-1660, pub. in Dictionary of Organs and Organists, London, 1921, (RBOB), 60.

[70] C W Pearce, Notes on English organs 1800-1810, 1912, 18, 22.

[71] D J Wood, National Union of Organists Associations’ Quarterly Record, No.9, vol.iii, October 1917, 18.  For other information about Exeter Cathedral organs see also No.8, vol.ii, July 1917, 81-84; No.10, vol.iii, January 1918, 53-55;  No.11, vol.iii, April 1918, 83-85;  No.12, vol.iii, July 1918.

[72] J W Warman, The Organ, Its Compass, Tablature and Short and Incomplete Octaves, 1884, 14-15.  In a short octave starting on C the bottom note would be EE sounding CC, FF and G would sound as normal, the FF# key would sound DD, G# would sound EE, and from A upwards the keyboard would be fully chromatic.

[73] Sir John Sutton, A Short Account of Organs Built in England from the Reign of King Charles the Second to the present Time, 1847, viii-ix.

[74] A Freeman, The Organ, vi, January 1927, 192;  M Wilson, The English Chamber Organ 1650-1850, 1968, 84-6.

[75] C A Edwards, Organs and Organ Building, 1881, 14, 192.  See also J Wilson, ed., Roger North on Music, 1959, 39, essay on The Lord Keeper [Francis] North, 84-86 for the tremulant.

[76] Somerset Record Office, Taunton.  John Loosemore’s agreement with Sir  Geo. Trevelyan is DD/WO 40/11, including other correspondence dated 1830-1837between Henry Crabb and Sir John Trevelyan detailing moddifications carried out.

[77] C Clutton and A Niland, The British Organ, 1963, 192; see J Wilson, op. cit. for a description and photograph of the Nettlecombe Court organ.

[78] D & C Exeter, Chapter Act Books, MSS 3559 (1661-67) and 3560 (1667-77).

[79] D & C Exeter, Chapter Act Books, MSS 3560 (1667-77) and 3561 (1677-85).

[80] D & C Exeter, Accounts, MS 3788 (1666-1686).

[81] D & C Exeter, Chapter Act Books, MS 3560 (1667-77); Accounts, MS 3781 (1668-9).

[82] D & C Exeter, MS 3560, see ref. 71 above.

[83] D & C Exeter, Accounts, MSS 7101A/6 (1671-2) and 3782 (1673-4).

[84] H T Ellacombe, Trans. Exeter Diocesan Architectural Society, iii, 2nd series, 1873, 1-4; for Copthorne, the 7th bell of the Cathedral chime, named for the eponymous Dean, elected 1419. see ibid, i, 2nd series, 1867, 292-298.

[85] PRO E134/21 Chas 2/East 20 and E134/21Chas2/Mich18.

[86] Heavitree parish register, now in DRO, Exeter; Marriage Licences of Diocese of Exeter 1631-1762, transcr. for DCRS, indexed and typed J H Mann, 1668-1704 PtI (1688-1687), 1941.

[87] The Registers of Baptism, Marriage and Burials of the City of Exeter, i, The Register of the Cathedral, DCRS, vii, Pt 1, 1910, Exeter.

[88] J I Dredge and R Pearse Chope, transcr. and ed., Register of the Parish of Hartland 1558-1837, DCRS, 1934.  For the Compton survey see R Pearse Chope, TDA, xxxiv, 1902, 418-454.

[89] D & C Exeter, leases and agreements, MS 6000/2.

[90] D & C Exeter, leases and agreements, MS 6000/4.

[91] D & C Exeter, Chapter Act Books, MS 3561 (1677-85).

[92] Polwhele, ii, 29.  See Appendix 9 for the Latin text of the inscription and a translation.

[93] D & C Exeter, leases and agreements, MS 6000/5,6 (1681 lease).

[94] D & C Exeter, leases and agreements, MS 6000/7,8 (1686 lease); MS 6000/9,10 (1697 lease).

[95] D & C Exeter, leases and agreements, MS 6000/11,12 (1703 lease).

[96] B Matthews, The Organs and Organists of Exeter Cathedral, D & C, Exeter, c1973 (official booklet) and The Organ, liv, 1975, 82-4.  See also Freeman, op. cit.

[97] Records of both suits are preserved at the PRO London; refs.  E 134/21 Chas 2/Mich 18 & E 134/21 Chas 2/East 20.

[98] Rimbault and Hopkins, op.cit, 64-7.

[99] J Newte, The Lawfulness and Use of Organs in the Christian Church, 1696, quoted in J Dearnley, English Church Music 1650-1750, 1970, 171-2.