Our Organ

Henry Willis Organ 1887

This organ was built in 1887 by the major English organ builder, Henry ‘Father’ Willis, for Findon, Kew, the mansion of the Hon. Henry “Money” Miller, a parliamentarian, and one of Victoria’s wealthiest men. Here it stood at the end of a large ballroom where it was depicted in Victoria and its Metropolis (1888). No expense was spared in the construction of the organ, with superlative materials and lavish finishes being freely employed. The instrument well exemplifies the domestic aspirations of a notable resident on Marvellous Melbourne. It is the only example of Willis’ work in Victoria.

In 1929 the organ was moved to Box Hill Methodist Church, (the Oxford Street Church building) where it survives today with little alteration from the original. Restoration work was carried out in 1969, 1983 and 2010-2011.

The Father Willis organ is an impressive instrument with a fine quality oak console, ornately decorated pipes, turned solid ivory and rosewood drawstops, thick ivory keys and immaculately finished internal components. It has two manuals, seventeen speaking stops, three couplers and has a mechanical action. The place and date of manufacture are recorded on one of the bellows ribs and the instrument has a brass plate above the keyboard bearing the builder’s name, probably added after its arrival in Victoria.

The fine Willis sound has been preserved, and the casework, incorporating ornately diapered pipes, is unaltered except for the lower left-and right-hand panels.

This organ in the Wesley Uniting Church Box Hill, is classified by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) as a historically significant pipe organ in the state of Victoria. No alteration of any kind to the organ without prior approval from Heritage Victoria is permissible.

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