James O’Donnell, Organist & Master of the Choristers at Westminster Abbey to play Inaugural Organ Recital on 28 November 2013

Hampton Court Palace 28/5/ 2013: We are delighted to announce that James O’Donnell, Organist & Master of the Choristers at Westminster Abbey will play an Inaugural Organ Recital on 28 November 2013 at 7:45 PM on the Chapel’s Shrider-Hill Organ, which is being overhauled by the organ-building firm Harrison & Harrison of Durham.  Tickets are £10 and will be sold on the Historic Royal Palaces website from 1 July.

This instrument was originally built by Christopher Shrider in 1711, and the instrument today still contains eleven ranks of pipes from that organ. The splendid case may well be by Grinling Gibbons whose work can be found elsewhere in the Palace. The organ was enlarged on several occasions between 1840 to 1901 by the firm of William Hill and Son, one of the most highly rated and experienced British organ builders of the time. Other firms carried out work in 1957, 1972 and 1993.

The principal work at Hampton Court is mechanical, and involves the replacement of the action and transmission – the vital connections between the keys and the pipes. The construction of the key-action started back in January.  Harrison and Harrison will also improve the layout of the interior, and undertake minor tonal changes – including the removal of the electronic stops which can be seen to be an anachronism in an historic organ. It is anticipated that the work will be completed by July.  After the Inaugural Recital in November, a series of weekly organ recitals will commence.

Work on the organ was made possible through the support of The Choral Foundation, registered charity number: 1142075, company number 7542466.

The Choral Foundation aims to raise funds to provide musical training for the choristers and to ensure that the 500 year old musical heritage of The Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace will continue for future generations.


Behind the great pipes of the Shrider-Hill organ, overhaul work commences


John Pickles, Lost Coronation Chorister Found!

John Pickles, Lost Coronation Chorister Found!

Coronation Choristers Celebrate with The Chapel Royal

The Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace 2/6/2013: John Pickles one of the four Coronation choristers from The Chapel Royal, Hampton Court was discovered living near Balmoral in Aberdeenshire last week.  He drove down to The Chapel Royal at Hampton Court to join former choristers Alan Sanders and Nigel Palk to commemorate the Coronation on Sunday 2 June.   The former choristers had not seen each other for 60 years!  Also present was Fellow Hampton Court chorister, Anthony Alderton, who was first reserve in case anyone became ill.

There were other former choristers who joined in the celebrations: Mr Louis Halsey, a member of the Chapel Royal congregation who sang alto at the Coronation as a choral scholar from Trinity College Cambridge, Kingston resident, Christopher Herrick, who was a coronation chorister from St Paul’s Cathedral and Reverend David Swarbrigg, a former chorister at St Patrick’s Cathedral who was selected to sing at the Coronation but was kept home due to an asthma attack.

There was a special Evensong service at 3:30 PM at The Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace on Sunday 2 June to mark the occasion.

A private celebration tea for the choir, hosted by The Choral Foundation with support from Historic Royal Palaces Memories Team took place at the palace after Evensong.  Memorabilia from the Coronation Choir was on display and the Coronation Choristers had a chance to talk to current choristers about what life was like as a chorister sixty years ago.

One of the former choristers told of his “initiation” into the choir :  He was ushered to the Kings Staircase by the other choristers and told to walk to the top on his own where unbeknown to him, another chorister was hiding in the shadows with a torch and sprang out, making ghostly noises; he ran all the way home!  Another former chorister said that “the choirboys used to hide behind a door in the evenings and make moaning and mournful noises to scare unsuspecting tourists.  Thankfully there are no more such initiations nor pranks on visitors.  And today, Hampton Court has a Choral Foundation, the charity that is ensuring that local boys continue to be trained as choristers at Hampton Court Palace.  The value of this training was reinforced by one of the former choristers who “attributed his success in public life to having sung solos in the choir!”

Former and current choristers were very proud to be part of a day of national celebration and choristers are honoured to still serve Her Majesty today.

The Choral Foundation is a registered charity which is raising £1.5m to ensure that the 500 year old musical heritage of The Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace will continue for future generations to enjoy.


Contact: Cathy Breeze


07799 414682

Coronation Choristers - John Pickles, Alan Sanders, Nigel Palk and Tony Alderton

Coronation Choristers – John Pickles, Alan Sanders, Nigel Palk and Tony Alderton



November Fundraising Concert at The Chapel Royal-a Huge Success!

The Fundraising Concert in aid of The Choral Foundation on Tuesday 20th November at The Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace was a huge success, raising over £6,000.

Thank you to all the performers including the Gentlemen and Choristers of The Chapel Royal, Rufus Frowde, organist and Lesley Shrigley Jones, cellist, and Musical Director of The Chapel Royal, Carl Jackson MVO. The performance was enthusiastically received by the audience which filled the Chapel Royal.

Proceeds from the concert will go to The Choral Foundation, The Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace, which is a registered charity with the aim of raising funds to ensure that boys from every walk of life have the opportunity of a free first class musical education.

Royal Festival Hall

The choristers of HM Chapel Royal are busy preparing for an appearance at the Royal Festival Hall.  On 8th November the choristers will sing as part of the Orion Symphony Chorus in a concert entitled Crown and Country.  They will perform “Zadok the Priest” by Handel in a charity gala concert in the presence of HRH Princess Michael of Kent.  The boys are very excited about singing at a London concert hall, especially as they will also get a chance to hear performances by such famous musicians as Julian Lloyd Webber and Tasmin Little.

Chapel Royal Choristers

Chorister Taster Afternoon

On Saturday 8th September, 24 boys aged 8 to 10 years, from 15 different local schools enjoyed the first ever chorister taster afternoon at HM Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace. A performance of “The Call of Wisdom” by Will Todd was followed by a delicious afternoon tea with the choristers. Mikolaj Derdun aged 9 from Hampton Junior School said “It was really fun and everyone was really kind”. Luke Sitararam aged 9 from Holy Trinity School, Richmond said “It was great! Other boys should definitely do this if they get the chance”. All the boys who participate received a special certificate signed by Carl Jackson MVO and have been invited to attend a formal audition. The Head of Music at St James’s RC School, Twickenham who sent three candidates along reported “The boys did mention that there was some singing involved but the tea seemed to be the high point. It loomed largest and fondest in their memories of the afternoon”

Chorister Taster Afternoon Chapel Royal Hampton Court Palace

Chorister Taster Afternoon – Saturday 8th September

Local boys aged 8 to 10 years with musical potential are invited to come along and see what life is like as a chorister at HM Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace. While the boys take part in a choral workshop led by the Director of Music, Carl Jackson MVO, parents will hear a presentation about the choir. We are delighted to announce that Barry Martin, Head of Hampton School will give a talk on the choral scholarship to Hampton School and answer any questions about entry to Hampton School. The workshop will conclude with a performance in The Chapel Royal, followed by tea with the choristers and their families.
Numbers are strictly limited and participants must be registered by 31st August. Please contact choral.foundation@hrp.org.uk or telephone 020 3166 6516, mobile 07867 313460 for a registration form.


On 14 July 2012, current choristers will be joined by former choristers for a Practice-A-Thon, a day of accomplished and varied musical performances. Playing and singing, solo and in ensembles, the boys will set the Chapel ringing with musical tributes ranging from traditional choral music to a woodwind quartet and even a barbershop group! The Choral Foundation, a charity hoping to raise £1.5M GBP to fund music lessons for the choristers and the refurbishment of the historic organ at the Chapel Royal. All are welcome to attend; please stay as long as you wish.