This chamber organ is a beautifully made Elizabethan small wooden pipe organ. It dates from either 1592 or 1602, and is probably the oldest chamber organ in Britain still in playing order.
According to tradition, the organ once belonged to Princess Elizabeth, King Charles I’s daughter. It does appear that the organ was probably kept at Carisbrooke Castle for many years prior to 1872, and Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter, and Governor of the Isle of Wight (1896-1944) expressed a desire for it to come back there.
In 1937 the people of the Isle of Wight paid for, and gave the organ to Princess Beatrice for her 80th birthday. She used Carisbrooke Castle as her summer residence, and the organ was kept there, where it can still be seen today.
The organ is generally thought to be Flemish in origin, and its first owner is thought to be John Graham, Earl of Montrose.
There is dispute as to whether the organ is actually 16th or 17th century. Was it built in 1592 or 1602?
At Fishmonger’s Hall (where it was exhibited in 1904) it was catalogued as having been built in 1592, supposedly based on a wooden label affixed to it bearing that date. However, this date was rejected by Mr Head who restored it. He maintained it was made in 1602, which is the date now carved on the front of the instrument.
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