All about the recordings

​​  ​​ "A wonderful project.  Thank you for this"
    Andrew Nethsingha 

​​   "A tremendous achievement.  Many congratulations"
    Christopher Robinson


Every format of recording

As you would expect from an Archive stretching over a 100 years, we have recordings on almost every format to have been invented, taking us from 1902 up to the present day.   The photograph was specially taken to illustrate the different audio and video recording formats in the Archive.

1.  Phonograph cylinders
2.  78rpm shellac; shellac coated on metal, and glass bases; acetate records  :  12" - 10" - 8" - 4"  diameter
3.  Vinyl records : 12" - 10" - 7" diameter
4.  Reel-to-reel tapes : all sizes & speeds including studio master tapes
5.  Movie film :  32mm - 16mm - 9.5mm - 8mm - Super8
6.  Betamax tapes
7.  VHS tapes
8.  DVD
9.  Cassettes tapes
10.  Mini discs
11.  DAT tapes
11.  Compact discs

Click on photo to open full size

Every category of recording

International labels
Private and Special pressings
Issued for worldwide sale by a major international label, both current and defunct, such as EMI, HMV, Decca, Harmonia Mundi, Warner and Argo.

On 78s, LPs or CDs, these private and special pressings represent some of the rarest recordings in the Archive. Only a limited number would be pressed and sometimes just one or two copies.
Major independent labels
Test pressings of 78s
Issued by labels, current and defunct, who mainly specialise in church and organ music recordings such as Priory, Regent, Herald, Lammas and Abbey.
A few copies of each shellac 78rpm record would be pressed for evaluation by the record company and choir
master as to whether the recording should be rejected, re-recorded or released on sale.  
Small independent labels
Over the decades, there have been many hundreds of small labels, often a one-man-band, producing choir recordings mainly for sale in the local area. 
BBC transcription discs
These were produced from the 1930s onwards for overseas radio stations and were recorded directly onto 78s or LPs from the on-air BBC broadcast.   

Small numbers of each disc were pressed with instructions to destroy after broadcasting.  

Fortunately, many were not and the Archive has a substantial collection of these historical gems - such as the only recording of Worcester Cathedral under Willcocks.   

Unissued recordings
Recorded by a record label for commercial sale, but for various reasons was not released to the public. 

The Archive contains many of these recordings, often given by the record company, whether as the raw master tape or the final edited unissued recording.
'One-off' private recordings
Transcription services
Recorded either by the choirmaster or an enthusiastic amateur on tape or the modern equivalent, these recordings are often the only sound legacy of a particular choir or solo chorister.   

The Archive has over 1,500 of these 'one-offs'  representing many of the greatest gems in the collection.  
There were numerous record companies dotted around the country, both large
and small, who specialised in transcribing
a choirs own reel-to-reel tape recording into limited runs of 78s and LPs. 

This was a convenient way for a choir to issue recordings inexpensively in their own home area.

Labels such as Sound News, Master Sound System, Morton Sound, Drury Recordings, to name just a few.

How many recordings are in the Archive?
Click here to find out

As recordings arrive from all over the world on an almost weekly basis its difficult to give the exact number of recordings and broadcasts held in the Archive; howevver, these numbers are accurate at 1st April 2018

Videos of recording sessions

  1. King's College : 2012
    Rutter, 'All the bells'
  2. Winchester : 1989
    'Byrd Three Masses' LP
  3. St John's College : 2016
    Jonathan Harvey 'Deo' CD
  4. New College : 2016
    'The Gate of Heaven' CD

Photos of recording sessions

  1. Salisbury Cathedral.  1957
    Salisbury Cathedral. 1957
  2. King's College, Cambridge. 2013
    King's College, Cambridge. 2013
  3. King's College, Cambridge, 2013
    King's College, Cambridge, 2013
  4. King's College, Cambridge, 2013
    King's College, Cambridge, 2013
  5. Hereford Cathedral, 1927
    Hereford Cathedral, 1927
  6. Portsmouth Cathedral, 1983
    Portsmouth Cathedral, 1983
  7. St John's College, Cambridge, 1927
    St John's College, Cambridge, 1927
  8. Holy Trinity, Barkingside.  1969
    Holy Trinity, Barkingside. 1969
  9. St John's College, Cambridge.  1964
    St John's College, Cambridge. 1964
  10. Portsmouth Cathedral, 1973
    Portsmouth Cathedral, 1973
  11. Portsmouth Cathedral. 1999
    Portsmouth Cathedral. 1999
  12. St John's College Cambridge
    St John's College Cambridge

Click on a photo to open the slide-show

'A Century of Recorded English church music'

​​Join me in a journey through a century of recorded church music with this newly revised video presentation, written and narrated by myself.

Still using my original narration, the presentation has been completely re-designed with additional photographs and musical examples and rendered in High Definition for pin sharp clarity.

Designed for 'Full Screen' to gain the optimum viewing experinece.

"A masterpiece ..... a triumph ....totally engrossing ....a tour de force ....the most enjoyable hour I have spend in a very long time ....I could barely tear myself away"   Comments by various viewers.

Slide-show of LP sleeves

​​The artwork and photography on many LP sleeves remains unsurpassed and the Archive is delighted to present this musical slide-show of some of the finest.

Click either sleeve to start the slide-show with music from a 1966 private recording from the choristers of All Saints Margaret Street, London

Audio restoration & digitisation

Most of our audio restoration and digitisation is carried out by   Please visit their website for details.