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Previous Organists of Salisbury Cathedral

Simon Lole (1997-2005): Simon Lole was Director of Music at Salisbury Cathedral between 1997 and 2005. During his time at Salisbury, the choir recorded several CDs under the record label Griffin, including a recording of the girl choristers (Angels’ Song) which was awarded four stars by BBC Music Magazine. Simon is now one of the most sought-after arrangers in the field of classical music and also works as a broadcaster, appearing frequently as both contributor and presenter on shows such as BBC Radio 3’s The Early Music Show and The Choir. He is also a Musical Director for BBC Radio 4’s The Daily Service and vocal coach and accompanist for BBC Radio 2’s Young Chorister of the Year.


Richard Seal (1968-97): Richard Seal was a chorister at New College, Oxford, and an organ scholar at Christ’s College, Cambridge. Following post-graduate study in London, he took up the appointment of Assistant Organist of Chichester Cathedral under John Birch, before becoming Organist of Salisbury Cathedral in 1968. At Salisbury in 1991, Seal founded the first ever girls' choir of an English cathedral, a radical step, but one which prompted similar moves in numerous other English cathedrals. In recognition of his distinguished service to English cathedral music, Seal was awarded a Doctor of Music Lambeth degree in 1992.


Christopher Dearnley (1957-68): Christopher Dearnley was an organ scholar of Worcester College, Oxford. After leaving Oxford, Dearnley served his national service at Melksham, near Salisbury. The then Organist of the Cathedral, Douglas Guest, invited Dearnley to play, which led to his appointment as Assistant Organist. Dearnley succeeded Guest as Organist at Salisbury in 1957. Together with Alwyn Surplice (Winchester) and John Birch (Chichester), Dearnley worked to revive the Southern Cathedrals’ Festival, which is now held annually and hosted in turn by Salisbury, Winchester and Chichester Cathedrals. In 1968, Dearnley was appointed Organist of St Paul’s Cathedral.


Douglas Guest (1950-57): Douglas Guest held a distinguished Church music career, beginning at King’s College, Cambridge, and subsequently at Salisbury and Worcester Cathedrals, and Westminster Abbey. He is most well-known for his setting of Lawrence Binyon's poem For the Fallen, which he composed in 1971 for the Choir of Westminster Abbey, and which is now performed at cathedrals throughout the land at Remembrance-tide.


David Willcocks (1947-50): David Willcocks was a chorister at Westminster Abbey, a music scholar at Clifton College, and an organ scholar at King's College, Cambridge. During the Second World War, Willcocks served in the British Army, before returning to King’s in 1945 to complete his studies. In 1947, Willcocks was appointed Organist of Salisbury Cathedral and Conductor of the Salisbury Musical Society. Following his time at Salisbury, he was Organist of Worcester Cathedral, conductor of the City of Birmingham Choir, and from 1957 to 1974 Director of Music at King's College, Cambridge, where he compiled the now ubiquitous Carols for Choirs volumes. He was knighted in 1977.


Sir Walter Alcock (1917-47): Sir Walter Alcock’s career fell into two parts. Up to 1916, he was a busy London musician holding a succession of important organ posts: assistant to Frederick Bridge at Westminster Abbey, and organist and composer at St James’s Chapel Royal. In 1893, he became a Professor at the Royal College of Music. In 1916, however, when his career seemed to be reaching its climax, Alcock gave up nearly all his London work in order to become Organist of Salisbury Cathedral. Thus the centre of his activity became more and more the Salisbury organ loft, and the Father Willis Organ which embodied so many of his ideas. He oversaw a strictly faithful restoration of the instrument, even going to such lengths as to refuse to allow parts of the instrument to leave the Cathedral in case any unauthorised tonal alteration were made without his knowledge. Alcock composed widely, and many of his choral works are performed in services at the Cathedral today. His hobbies included the construction of a model railway in the garden of his house in the Close, on which the choristers were given rides. Alcock was knighted in 1933.


Charles Frederick South (1883–1917) | Bertram Luard Selby (1881–83) | John Richardson (1863–81) | Arthur Thomas Corfe (1804–63) | Joseph Corfe (1792–1804) | Robert Parry (1781–92) | John Stephens (1746–81) | Edward Thompson (1718–46) | Anthony Walkeley (1700–18) | Daniel Rosengrave (1692–1700) | Peter Isaac (1687–92) | Michael Wise (1668–87) | Giles Tomkins (1660–68) (reappointed after the Restoration) 


Before the Restoration


Giles Tomkins (?1636) | Edward Tucker (?1618–36) | John Farrant, the Younger (1598–1618) | Richard Fuller (1592–98) | John Farrant, the Elder (1587–92) | Thomas Smythe (1566–87) | Robert Chamberlane (1561) | Sir Beckwyth (1558) | Thomas Knyght (?1538–43) | John Kegewyn (1463)


Assistant Organists

Daniel Cook (2005-11) | David Halls (1985-2005) | Colin Walsh (1978-85) | Jonathan Rees-Williams (1974-78) | Michael Smith (1967-74) | Richard Lloyd (1957-66) | Christopher Dearnley (1954-57) | Ronald Tickner (1947-54) | John Foster (1947-50) | Reginald Moore (1933-47) | Cuthbert Osmund (1917-27) | Herbert Howells (1917) | George Street Chignell (1886-89) | Albert Edward Wilshire (1881-84) | Thomas Bentinck Richardson | John Elliott Richardson (?1845–63)