Past Organists:

Robert Turle 1822 - 1872

Born Taunton 19 March 1804, died Salisbury 26 March 1877. Robert Turle was the younger brother of James Turle who later became organist of Westminster Abbey (1831-82). He was son of Mr James Turle and may have been a chorister in Wells Cathedral like his brother. Before his appointment to Armagh he was organist of St Lawrence Jewry, London, 1821-2; writing to the Vestry on 24 December 1822, he said that he had,

"through the interest and good opinion of a much respected and highly valued friend, my late master Mr Greatorex, [Thomas Greatorex organist of Westminster Abbey 1819-31] been honoured by the appointment of organist and master of the boys to the Cathedral Church of Armagh",

At Armagh, Turle immediately increased the number of boys in the choir from 4 to around 10. He saw the cathedral transformed from a dangerous and unsightly building into a fine example of Victorian craftsmanship, and supervised the erection of the large Walker organ 1838-40. V The musical conditions at Armagh during his fifty year tenure appear to have been ideal, indeed, the choir was thought of as one of the best in England and Ireland. Turle had a large house built for him at the top of Market Square in 1854 and retired in 1872 with a pension. Various cathedral officials were entitled to compensation at Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland, and of these, Robert Turle, received a commutation sum of £3,158 2s. 8d. VI Sir Frederick Bridge writes of this:

"When the Irish Church was disestablished I believe he commuted his emoluments [from Armagh Cathedral] and retired with a considerable sum as compensation for the loss of his office. It was said that the old gentleman drank the health of Mr. Gladstone -to whom he owed this bit of good fortune- every night in a glass of port."

Robert Turle was responsible for the training and musical education of several very distinguished composers, singers and instrumentalists. Mr Charles Kelly, in his lecture in 1919, said the following:

It was of very great interest to learn that under Mr Turle's Dublin; Dr: I. C. Marks, organist of Cork Cathedral; Mr David Lee, organist, Town Hall, Melbourne; Dr : Osborne Marks, organist, Armagh Cathedral; Mr Barton M'Guckin, distinguished oratorio and operatic tenor singer; and Mr W G. Wood, professor; Royal Academy of Music, London. The names of other musicians of distinction who were connected with the Cathedral during that period were Mr George Benson, of Westminster Abbey; Mr W Cooper; Temple Church, London; Mr Henry Barn by, Westminster Abbey (brother of Sir Joseph Barn by), and Mr G. B. Allen, Mus. Bac., Oxford.

A fine memorial in the north nave aisle pays tribute to his 50 years work in the cathedral.

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