A new organ in Radley College’s beautifully extended Chapel has been the catalyst for great musical success across the College.

Radley’s first organ was built by Telford of Dublin in 1848. When the current Chapel was designed in 1893, the instrument was moved into the centre of the west gallery. Pressure from a growing school led to a new instrument by Rushworth & Dreaper in 1938 which was replaced by a Hill, Norman & Beard organ in 1979; the instrument that most Old Radleians will remember. The planned growth of the school roll to 770 boys meant that a new organ was imperative to ensure daily chapel would continue to be part of Radley life. After a competitive tender process, Nicholson’s were chosen and their design, which featured three manuals, 53 stops within a brand-new oak case, returned the organ to its rightful place in the centre of the west gallery.  

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Tim Morris, Succentor, who has been at Radley for more than 25 years, is delighted that Radley has an organ worthy of the beautiful chapel it sits in.

“The robust romantic voicing of the main choruses on the organ has been a big part of supporting congregational singing in Chapel. The generous voicing on the great is something which Nicholson’s really enjoyed providing for us. The swell box is sealed very tightly, and it is extremely effective so the instrument can achieve a genuine crescendo from the quietest to the loudest. This gives me the opportunity to get the boys excited before the final verse of a hymn and some of their favourite numbers have never sounded better!” 

For Kim (6.2) the new instrument has already had a monumental impact on his life.

“At the start of Year 11 I saw the instrument and knew I had to play it! I was a pianist already, so I had a head start, but I have completely fallen in love with it.”

Following a year working between Portsmouth Cathedral and Portsmouth Grammar School, Kim will become organ scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge in September 2025. Bernardo (6.2) will join his close friend and musical colleague, in Cambridge. He has been appointed organ scholar at Trinity Hall from September 2024, where he will support the musical life of the chapel and play for regular services. Both appointments come with an academic offer, Kim will read music and Bernardo will read mathematics.  

Herald Series: Bernardo has been appointed organ scholar at Trinity Hall from September 2024.Bernardo has been appointed organ scholar at Trinity Hall from September 2024. (Image: Radley College)

Kim and Bernardo both follow in the footsteps of Henry Morris who spent a year at St Edmundsbury’s Cathedral in Suffolk before starting as organ scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford in September 2023.

“The opportunities for development at Radley are endless. A beautiful new instrument, a supportive team of teachers and, mostly importantly, the chance to accompany services regularly. There is nothing quite like accompanying the passionate and slightly raucous singing of 770 teenage boys – cathedral congregations are slightly more refined(!) - but Radley certainly provided me with the perfect training ground for a career as an organist. I am incredibly grateful.” 

Music scholarships at Radley College can be combined with a Radley Keys Award (scholarship) up to 115% of fees. For further details, please visit www.radley.org.uk/keys.