If ever proof were needed that no pub can be written off as irretrievably lost, the Organ, at the bottom of Warminster High Street, provides it. In 1670, Stephen Pilchard left £120 in his will to the parish of Warminster to buy land, the revenue from which was to pay for an annual sermon on St Stephen's Day, with the remainder being distributed to 20 old and needy townsfolk. In 1682, several houses near Almshouse Bridge were acquired by the trustees. Some 40 years later, when the site was re-developed, the new buildings included the Organ Inn.

From the start, this was no mere alehouse, and important meetings were held at the Organ, On 2 November 1793, 'buyers of corn' from the Warminster area met there to consider ways of preventing 'quantities of corn being sold at Jess than legal measure'. In 1822, Pigott's Directory listed the Organ as one of the ten principal inns in the town. The Town Band held their committee meetings and smoking concerts at the Organ.
By 1913, however, as part of a nationwide drive to reduce the number of public houses, the magistrates revoked the licence of the Organ. Bartlett's Brewery, which owned it, received £1,230 compensation; the licensee, John Lidbury, received £70. It became a butcher's shop, and later a fishmonger's and greengrocer's. Memories of the Organ faded, and eventually there was no one left alive who could remember drinking there. In 2006, however, 93 years after last orders had been called, Daniel and Carly Keene took the lease and decided to reopen it as a pub. Preserving as many of the fittings as possible and scouring reclamation centres and charity shops, they have managed to combine minimalistic modernism with tradition, creating a drinking and meeting space that is both comfortable and convivial. An art gallery has recently opened upstairs, and the Organ regularly appears in the Good Beer Guide. As returns from the dead go, that is pretty impressive.

This page courtsey of Akeman Press
and from the book
The Inns of Wiltshire

Dan Keene