Preparing to give a concert on the Three Manual Organ in the Chapel of the Henry Ford Village, Dearbourn, Michigan.

The 'recital' consisted of light classics and some slightly irreverent items which some 200 people said they enjoyed.


Photograph taken at the 3 Manuel Rogers Electronic Organ in the Chapel in the Henry Ford Village, Dearbourn, Nr, Detroit, Michigan during my 1997 visit. Choir Boy at Headington Quarry, Oxford.

My first organ post, at the age of sixteen, was in the small Oxfordshire village of Holton.
Since then I have been playing pipe and electronic organs for both worship and entertainment.

As well as playing the organ I take part in Development and Discussion Groups.
On occasions I find myself on the Church Platform but make no claims of mediumship.

I have a keen interest in Spiritual Philosophy, hence this site,
and give talks on the subject.

Occasionally a helper will link in to say a few words.

My past profession as an Electrical/Electronic Technician has been in the field of High Energy Physics. Worked at the Culham, Harwell and Rutherford Laboratories in the UK also CERN in Switzerland. A few years were spent at the Joint European Torus (JET) Nuclear Fusion project situated on the Culham Lab site in the UK.

It is partly my scientific background that inspires my interest in Spiritualism and my approach to the subject is mostly from an investigative point of view.



John Hardaker at the console of the Campton Theatre Organ in the Abbey Hall Abingdon.

Seated at the Compton Theatre Organ, Abingdon, Oxfordshire. UK.

Each December I played the organ for the Lord Mayor's Christmas Party for the elderly people of the area. The usual 'I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas', 'Rudolf' and 'Jingle Bells' linked with 'I'll see You Again' and some Christmas Carols pass a pleasent time while the customers consume their Christmas Fare. There may even be some singing.

Organists have to be fit what with four keyboards, two hands and two feet on the go plus all the required brain power one needs to be in top condition.

I found out why many Theatre Organists are buskers; the music rest is too far away to read the music and you need extra long arms to turn pages.


A more recent photo taken at St Denys, Northmoor, near Witney, Oxfordshire.

I like to visit here occasionally as the organ is quite interesting to play although to find the reeds nearly in tune is quite rare.

This photo was taken by a Reiki Healer friend, Andrea, who likes to come on my local organ playing trips. We may end up in a Spiritualst Church for a Clairvoyant Evening, where I play the organ.

John Hardaker at the console of the organ in St Denys', Northmoor.

John Hardaker assisting in some work on the organ in St Lawrence, North Hinksey.


A temporary repair to one note on the Swell of the Two Manual Phipps Organ at St Lawrence, North Hinksey, lasted a week or so. It was the D above Middle C so I could not live without it. After some discussion, Brian Carlick - organ tuner - and myself planned a better repair. As the broken part was difficult to get at all the keys had to come out, which proved to be an ideal opportunity to do some deep cleaning.

Here I am putting the keys back, supervised by Brian (cup of tea in hand) making sure I get them in the right order.

That was in October 2019; I am pleased that the repair is still good.

A Picture from my Youth

This photo was taken at the Organ in Forest Hill Church near Oxford.

John Hardaker, at the age of 18, at the console of the organ in Forest Hill, Oxford.


John Webster

John Webster.



John Webster was a pupil of Dr. John Dykes Bower and Dr. Sydney Watson. In 1938 he became Organ Scholar of University College, Oxford. He was later appointed Organist of the College, and also University Organist of the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin. He is well known on the continent, having given many recitals and broadcasts there. He is also a Professor of the Organ at Trinity College of Music, London.

Information taken from a record sleeve.


I would also like to remember Dennis Tidmarsh. He was organist at St Michael at the North Gate, Oxford when I knew him; he also played the Theatre Organ and may have known Reginald Dixon. I was in my twenties at the time and he allowed me to deputise for him. There was one Sunday service when I played the right number hymn tune but from the wrong book. There are two versions of the A&M! That did not go down very well and the Forgivness and Compassion of the Church was revealed; I did not play there again! That taught me to double check everything beforehand; you could say I am paranoid about it.

Later on I was advised that Denise went to live at Morton-in-the-Marsh and became a regular organist at the Black Horse pub on a Saturday evening. He was also organist at Little Cherrington Church and at Great Wolford, which is the Church where he is buried.

Dennis died around 1976.


I would like to pay tribute to my Piano Teacher, Miss Hartnell, who lived along the Northern Bypass of Oxford.
The lessons on a Saturday morning consisted of scales and arpeggios, studies and pieces. Each lesson cost half a crown (2 shillings and six pence in old money).

Miss Hartnell did not believe in exams but was a slave driver; as I was keen to learn that was no problem. Upon arrival the door would be opened by an elderly lady, don’t know who she was, and I would sit and listen to the end of the previous lesson. If that student was playing something I did not recognise I worked even harder to catch up.

After four years of piano lessons I left Miss Hartnell’s tuition and began organ lessons with Mr. John Webster. I was 10 years old (1949) when I started the piano and 14 when I began organ lessons.

Miss Hartnell wrote a letter to my mother that I never saw until many years later. My mother never mentioned it; indeed she never mentioned anything. People, so I find, did not talk to their children in those days.

Read the Letter.


My first organ post, found by my tutor, Mr John Webster, was at the village of Holton on the east side of Oxford. I played there for a few years and then moved to Forest Hill.

Forest Hill was combined with the church at Stanton St. John, which is the next village. The morning service would be at Forest Hill and the evening service at Stanton St. John; the next week it was the other way round. I would occasionally forget and go to the wrong church in the morning and wonder why nobody came.

I remember John Webster with affection. He taught me to play on the three manual Walker organ of St. Mary the Virgin, The High Street, Oxford. I have been told that the organ went to St Mary's in Penzance, Corwall. I have spoken to the Musical Director on the phone who says nothing has been done to it and invited me to go and play it. 200 miles is quite a way to go and play an organ but, maybe, one day, who knows. Last touched those keys when I was 16 years old.

John also designed the organ in the University College Chapel. He would give me the choice of which organ to play for my lesson. The console of the College organ was some distance from the pipes. There was a short time delay before you heard the sound after pressing keys. To overcome the physical and mental 'lock-up' that occurs the first time you meet this problem time was spent playing things I knew very well and concentrated on the keys rather than the sound. Once you are used to a time delay it does not bother you again.

Sad to report that John's organ in the Collage has departed hence. After many years of use electrical problems appeared and a rebuild was undertaken by another company. The case is the same but the 'interesting' Swell has gone.

John died in 1974 but he is still with me when I play the organ. I remember things he told me and try to live up to the standard of musicianship that he would have expected of me. Somebody who knew John was at a Service where I played some Bach for the final Voluntary. He said it was nice to hear John Webster again. I suppose you do tend to play as you were taught. It is nice to know that John's playing still flows through my fingers although he was a very much better organist than I am, or ever will be in this life.

I look forward to more lessons when I join the 'departed'. We were half way through one of Bach's Trio Sonatas. I am told that my playing will be so much better due to being more awake and 'alive'. I look forward to that but, in the meantime, I do what I can as I am able. People say it sounds all right, even nice notes in the visitor's book. One thing I do know is when I leave this life I will take my music with me.

John Hardaker is organist at:

St Lawrence, North Hinksey, Oxford. We are now singing the Murry Setting with modern English words. Mattins is on the 3rd Sunday with sung Venite, Te Deum, etc.

Christian Spiritualst Church, Cowley Road, Oxford. The organ is a home electronic Yamaha C55 that sounds very nice in the new, bigger, brick built church that used to be an office block.

Dr. Roger Hollinrake asked me to repair his Yamaha digital piano. In conversation I discovered he knew John Webster quite well. Roger was organist at St Thomas the Martyr in Oxford and said he had not had a break in ten years - I offered to play for him if that would help. Later on I played for six Sundays in his place, which I quite enjoyed being a full sung service, while he went on his travels. A while later he asked me if I would stand in for him again, starting the coming Sunday, as he needed some medical attention to his eyes. I was happy to do that thinking I would be helping him to sort out a problem. However he pulled a crafty one on me - may not have been his initial intention - and slowly removed all his music until I realised he had taken all his things and was gone. I asked about this but nobody knew anything; he just left. It was six years later, when an incoming priest removed all the singing, apart from the hymns, that I resigned.

In the Theatre Organ world you have to develop a style so people know it is you playing. The style I had been taught was not mine, but my tutor's. Hopefully I now play music my own way, but the Bach still sounds like John Webster and I am pleased about that.

During the later part of that residency I had the interesting experience of a 'visit' from Roger. I was seated at the console doing some practice when I suddenly felt very tired and very hungry. I had no idea why this could be having just eaten in a nearby pub, but ate something (I keep a stock of food and drink in the organ loft) and dozed off for a while. It was the next day I read the email telling me that Roger had died two days before. I think he came to visit the organ that he had played for ten years and found me there. Somebody said he gave up eating and must have been tired when he 'died'. I picked up these feelings from him but, at the time, had no idea what it was about. I hope I helped him to offload those earthly feelings so he could move on.

Some years ago I recorded an extract from a book called 'Nothing So Strange.' The book is about the American Medium Arthur Ford. It is an MP3 file. If you would like to listen to it please send me an email. Ask for the 'Nothing So Strange' recording.

From the Archives

Mrs Eleanor (Nellie) Hardaker.
John Hardaker as a boy.

Mother and Son
(may have been my sister, Betty)


Photo taken at
Elliston & Cavell

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Copyright © John Hardaker, August 2002.