Chappyngtons, the South Molton Organ Maker

Devon & Cornwall Notes and Queries vol. VI, (January 1910 to October 1911), pp. 31-32.


J. Frederick Chanter

Prepared by Michael Steer

The author of this informative note was Reverend John Frederick Chanter (1854-1939) who was the son of John Roberts Chanter, a Barnstaple solicitor and author. He was educated at Crediton Grammar School and served as Rector of Parracombe from 1886 to 1916. In 1889 he married Rose Edith, youngest daughter of Reverend W.H. Thompson, Vicar of Exmoor. He was author of numerous books and articles on local history, and was a regular contributor to the Devonshire Association Transactions. He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and appointed Honorary Archivist of Exeter Cathedral, a position he held until his death.  The article, from a copy of a rare and much sought-after journal can be downloaded from the Internet Archive. Google has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. These books, on which copyright has expired, are available for free educational and research use, both as individual books and as full collections to aid researchers.

20. CHAPPYNGTONS, THE SOUTH MOLTON ORGAN MAKERS. -There was a family named Chappyngton resident at South Molton during the sixteenth century, with whom the craft of organ making, or organ building as we should say now-a-days, appears to have been hereditary and I am sure it would be of interest if anything could be recovered concerning this family, and also of what organs they erected.

The first of whom I have any note is Richard Chappyngton. He built the old organs in the Church of St. Olave's, Exeter, in the year 1536, the agreement between the parishioners of St. Olave's, Exeter, and Richard Chappyngton, of South Molton, organ maker, dated 10th August, 1536, is still in existence.

He was succeeded by Hugh Chappyngton, probably his son, who built the organs in the Church of St. Brannock, Braunton, in 1569. There are several references to this Hugh Chappyngton, of South Molton, organ maker, and his men, in the accounts of the Wardens of St. John and St. George's Store, Braunton, and also in the accounts of the Wardens of St. Brannock's Store, a fee of six and eightpence being paid to him for several years for keeping the organs. The only other reference I have to a person of that name at South Molton is a Johane Chappington in 1600, among the list of the inhabitants of South Molton present at an assembly at the Guildhall, South Molton, on the 13th of February in that year.

Would some South Molton reader kindly supply me with the names and dates of any member of this family that appear in the registers and records of that parish ; also any information on the subject of any other Devonshire organ builders would be of interest and value, for the craft of organ building is not one that we have been accustomed to associate in any way with the county of Devon. Frederick Chanter.        J. FREDERICK CHANTER