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Friday, Apr 23, 2021

'Eccentric' Bristol house with built-in pipe organ is sold

'Eccentric' Bristol house with built-in pipe organ is sold

A four-bedroom "charismatic and eccentric" terraced house has been sold - with a full organ built into the fabric of the building.

The house in Cliftonwood, Bristol, was put on the market after the previous owner died last year.

Joan Baker, 98, was an organist at the local church. Her husband made the organ, which has pipes going through the landing into one of the bedrooms.

Organist Anna Lapwood said it was "so unusual" to find a house like this.

The price of the sale will not be confirmed until contracts have been exchanged.

From the outside the house in Cliftonwood looks like any other

Mrs Baker, who played the organ at Holy Trinity Church, moved into the house in the 1940s. Her husband, Ronald, and his brother, built the instrument so she could practise at home.

Her neighbour, Dick Willis, said: "She would sit there on the half-landing and play the organ and her husband Ronald would stand on the half-landing below and play the trumpet.

"She was just the most extraordinary person. She died at the age of 98 and had been desperate to make it to 100.

"She had lived in that house since she was 21. She was very much the street granny. She had a great sense of humour. She was just lovely, very sociable."

The organ, which has not been played in several years, is on top of the stairs, but the pipes go all the way around the landing.

"The base pipe and the pump are in the top bedroom and Ronald knocked through the two cupboards in the two top rooms and made a seating area across the stairwell which is where the keyboard, the foot pedals and the treble pipes are," he said.

"So if you go up the house it dominates the place."

Mr Baker built the organ so his wife could practice playing it at home

Ms Lapwood, who is also a conductor and BBC presenter, said she was stunned when she saw the property online.

"Immediately I thought 'Oh my gosh - this is amazing'," she said.

"It is pretty unusual to find an actual pipe organ built into the house in the way it is in this case.

"I sort of thought it's just the dream house. It makes a massive difference to be able to practise whenever you want in the middle of the day instead of trekking to the church where it is also very cold.

"It has to be in the top 10 houses I've ever seen... and I just think it's such a lovely story."

Mrs Baker used to play the organ while her husband played the trumpet

But it is likely the organ has played its last tune, with property experts expecting it to be removed to create more space.

Estate agent James Bailey from Allen and Harris, who sold the house, said: "It is the first time in my 20-year property career that I have brought to market and agreed a home with a full-scale church organ."

He said Cliftonwood and neighbouring Clifton had lots of houses "steeped in history".

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