Brian Shilling | St Margaret's Organist


I was born in June 1935 and started school in Streatham in 1940. Back in Gillingham I learnt to play the piano and at the age of 12 accompanied the Sunday children's service at Gillingham Parish Church. Having studied music at Gillingham Grammar School, I went on to study it as my main subject with distinction at Goldsmiths College where I also trained to be a teacher.

I had organ lessons under Mr H A Bennett, the organist of Rochester Cathedral and gained two organ performer's diplomas at Trinity College of Music, London. To begin with, I became organist of Holy Trinity, Newhythe at the age of 17 then at St Barnabas, Gillingham and on moving from Gillingham at All Saints, New Eltham. In addition I assisted at Swanscombe under Rev'd, later Rt Rev'd, David Silk, well known for his work in the General Synod on the ordination of women and the Liturgy. I assisted him on the Diocesan Liturgical Committee for several years, involving the introduction of the Alternative Service Book to the Diocese in 1980/1.

I moved to Knockholt where on the evening of Saturday 2nd January 1971, Rev'd Noel Wood called to ask if I could play Evensong at Halstead the next day as his organist was ill. That was the beginning of my long association with St Margaret's.

I began my working life as a trainee accountant but gave that up to start teacher training and then my teaching career. By the time I had moved to Knockholt, I was headteacher at St John's School, Marsh Green, a small rural school with two classes and under fifty pupils. I later became headteacher at Leybourne Church of England School in 1974.

Since retiring from there, I have done supply teaching in a wide variety of schools, and am now involved in accompanying the Gravesend Recorder and Choir festivals. My other main interests are quantum physics, along with the creation, design and evolution of life and the universe.