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Tour Director

  • Investigate a selection of Oxford’s beautiful college chapels, with an emphasis on their distinguished organs

  • Enjoy recitals on a variety of instruments from accomplished organist Nicholas Wearne, including the Long Library organ at Blenheim Palace

  • Soak up the special atmosphere of college choral services at Magdalen College and Christ Church Cathedral

“A thoroughly enjoyable tour, uplifting and energising - a highlight of the year!”

- ACE customer on a previous Oxford College Chapels & Organs tour with Nicholas Wearne

The city of dreaming spires is home to a remarkable number of organs, each defined by the personality that made them, the aesthetics of their time, the space within which they resound and the uses to which they are put. These instruments have become part of the very subtle alchemy that makes each college special.
Our tour will explore several of the organs and colleges of Oxford, with private recitals given on each organ. We will begin with a visit to Brasenose College, where the chapel, constructed during the 17th century and dedicated to St Hugh and St Chad, will welcome a new Romantic-style organ in 2024, built into the chapel’s existing historical casework. This will be followed by a visit to Lincoln College Chapel, home to an organ by William Drake, installed in 2010 and described as “particularly suited to English organ music of the 17th century” – perfectly complementing the chapel which was built in 1629.
Outside the city itself, we will enjoy a morning excursion to UNESCO-listed Blenheim Palace, one of England’s largest houses and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. The Long Library organ is the work of perhaps the most famous British builder, ‘Father’ Willis, who was responsible for many cathedral and concert hall organs, including those of St Paul’s Cathedral and the Royal Albert Hall. We will enjoy a guided tour of the palace as well as an introduction to the organ and a private recital. With 2300 pipes, it is the largest such instrument in a private house in Europe, and as a ‘Father’ Willis organ in original condition, is particularly rare.


We also look forward to a visit – new for our 2024 tour – to Lady Margaret Hall. Founded in 1878 and backing onto the River Cherwell, Lady Margaret Hall was the first Oxford college to admit women, and its alumni include female education activist and the world’s youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, and the food writer Nigella Lawson. The college’s Byzantine-style chapel was designed by Giles Gilbert Scott.


Further highlights will include visits to the Christopher Wren chapel at Pembroke College; Trinity College chapel, with its neoclassical organ; and Merton College, where the chapel dates back to the end of the 13th century. The latter contains a Dobson organ, deemed “one of the finest mechanical action organs in the UK” and installed a decade ago for the college’s 750th anniversary celebrations in 2014.
Choral Evensong services at Magdalen College and Christ Church Cathedral – where we will hear the organs being used liturgically, alongside their world-renowned choirs – will round off our tour. We particularly look forward to experiencing the sounds of Magdalen’s new instrument, constructed by the German firm of Eule and installed in 2022.


The tour will be based at the four-star Mercure Oxford Eastgate Hotel, occupying a 17th century building in the heart of historical Oxford and conveniently located for our college visits.


This tour will be led by organist Nicholas Wearne, BA, MPhil, an international competition prize-winner who was previously Assistant Organist at New College, Oxford and Organist at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square. Nicholas is a former ACE Bursary student and currently holds the position of Senior Tutor at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. He will be joined for some of the recitals by guest musician John Bryden, MA, ARCM, ARCO, an international concert pianist and former senior lecturer in Music at Dartington College.

Tour Code

Included: accommodation based on sharing a privilege twin or double bedded room, performances as described, two breakfasts, two dinners with water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities & all taxes.

Not Included: travel insurance, privilege double room for single use supplement £275.

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