Before re-dedication as St Mary & St Giles on 7 April 1968 the church in the centre of Stony Stratford was called St Giles church.
St Giles had 2 successive previous organs, smaller than the 3 manual Willis organ. These organs were not in the same position as the Willis organ and at different times the position of the organ in St Giles changed as the interior of the church was altered.
The first organ was built by H.C.Lincoln in 1824. We know very little about that instrument.
In 1850 the H.C. Lincoln organ was in the West End and the plain dark paneled side galleries extended round the East end corners of the church (photo 1).
In 1877 the organ was in the East End on the right (South) and the side galleries no longer extended round the East end corners.
The first (very elaborate) choir screen was installed in 1877 when the organ was still in the south gallery. The organ pipes were decorated with patterns.
According to the National Pipe Organ Register entry the John Stringer organ was not installed until c1890, so was the organ shown in photo 2 the first organ by H.C. Lincoln or was the first photo showing the choir screen taken in 1890?
In 1902 the second organ (built by John Stringer in about 1890 and enlarged by Kirkland in 1901) was in the East End gallery on the left (North). The organ pipes were still decorated (photos 3 and 4).
The National Pipe Organ Register entry indicates that the organ was enlarged and rebuilt by Kirkland in 1902, however Parish Magazines of the period show that the work was carried out from September - November 1901 and was originally going to be done by Ginns Brothers & Co of Wandsworth, but they were unable to fulfil the contract and Kirkland of Holloway was recommended by Sir George Martin instead.
In August 1902 the Parish Magazine reported that the Organ gallery had to be strengthened by an additional support.
In 1905? the earlier choir screen was replaced with a simpler screen.
The National Pipe Organ register lists the specification of the Kirkland organ. It shows that it was a 2 manual instrument (Great and Swell) with 2 Pedal stops (16ft Bourdon and 16ft Open Diapason).
The Kirkland Great organ had 8 stops and a tremulant stop (8ft Open Diapason, 8ft stopped Diapason or Rohr Gedacht, 8ft Gamba, 4ft Principal, 4ft Flute Harmonic, 2ft Fifteenth, 2 ft Flautina, 8ft Clarionet).
The Kirkland Swell organ had 9 stops (16ft Double Diapason, 8ft Horn Diapason, 8ft Stopped Diapason, 8ft Salicional, 8ft Vox Angelica, 4ft Principal, 3 rank Mixture, 8ft Cornopean, 8ft Oboe).
In 1928 the old chancel apse was demolished as it had become unsafe and was too expensive to repair. It was replaced with a much simpler chancel apse.
The laying of the foundation stone for the new chancel apse was celebrated with a special outdoor blessing service in 1928 (photos 5 and 6).
Photo 7 shows the interior of St Giles church after the new chancel apse was completed in 1928. The Kirkland organ still had patterned decoration on the front pipes and the remainder of the church retained its Edwardian decoration.
St Giles had a strong choral tradition, as did St Mary's Church in London Road at the other end of the town. The choir was men and boys, always fully robed for services.
The choir stalls were behind the choir screen in front of the chancel apse and near the Kirkland organ. The organ console was in the organ gallery probably with a clear sight line to the choir and conductor below.
Photo 8 shows the choir of St Giles with Canon Steer in the middle of the 20th century. At the time George Webb Snr was director of the choir. After William Toms retired as organist, George Webb Jnr became organist until both father and son retired from their duties in 1953.
Names of the choir members in photo 8:
Fourth (Back) Row (l-r): Trevor Brown, Arthur Webb, George Webb Snr (Choirmaster), George Webb Jnr, Bill Clarke, Tom Trasler
Third row (l-r): Cyril Brown, Bernard Tapp, William Eales, Bill Toms (Organist/Headmaster of St Mary & St Giles School), Charlie Gear, Brian Aries
Second row (l-r): Alan Haycock, Robert Ayres, John Eales, Ian Davey, Roger Tapp, John Green, John Giles
First (front) row (l-r): John Savage, Clive Bradshaw, David Lester, Robin Millward, Canon Eric Steer, Gordon Brashaw, Bill Barby, Michael Stevens, Keith Henson
In December 1955 Derek Savage was appointed organist. Fr Hutchings directed the choir.
By 1960 the interior of the church was much plainer as the decorated walls had been repainted and the front pipes of the Kirkland organ were painted white.
Photo 9 aerial view clearly indicates the shape of the 1928 chancel apse.
Photo 10 shows the box pews and lighter, brighter interior walls and plain organ pipes. A close up of the Kirkland organ is on Coming to SMSG.
Photo 11 shows the Lady Chapel in the South East apse, where the old Stringer organ once stood.
On 18th August 1963 St Giles church was on television when a Sung Eucharist was broadcast live as an ABC outside broadcast by Westward Television.
Two photos (photos 12 and 13) were taken of the 1963 service on a home television screen (one showing Larry Francis as a server). Fr Hutchings took the service and the Archdeacon of Buckingham, the Venerable J.F.Pratt preached the sermon.
The newspaper listing (photo 14) indicates that Derek Savage played the Kirkland organ for the service.
The photo accompanying the Express newspaper article (photo 15) was taken from the south gallery (where TV lights were fitted) looking diagonally across the church with the Kirkland organ in the distance. The article reports that the choirs of both St Giles and St Mary's churches of Stony Stratford combined for the occasion.