The Minster organ is one of the most written about organs and it is without doubt a landmark in the development of organ building in this country. John Snetzler’s first large instrument, only ever exceeded by a small margin, by his organ for Beverley Minster, this organ was acclaimed the finest in the country – a claim too often made for many organs, but in this case, one affirmed by Holdich when he repaired and added pedals to the organ 100 years later. It established Snetzler’s reputation as the leading organ builder of the second half of the 18th century and organ maker to the King.
The organ case has its own importance. It was made by Snetzler’s brother Leonard in the grandest rococo style, and although above the impost only the façade is intact, it is one of finest surviving 18th century organ cases.
The nave had been substantially rebuilt after the great storm of 1741, but the old organ left unrepaired atop a screen in the crossing when Charles Burney was recruited as organist. He found the organ execrably bad and persuaded the town authorities to commission a new organ from Snetzler. The Council asked about the cost of repairing the old organ which evoked Snetzler’s famous reply, “if you spend a hundred pounds on it, it will then perhaps be worth fifty.”
The new organ was commissioned at a cost of £700, was complete in London in 1753 and installed in the St Margaret’s in 1754.
A booklet giving a more detailed description and history of the organs is available from the Minster.