The church organ in Castaño del Robledo (Huelva) is an extraordinarily unique and beautiful instrument. It was built by Francisco Ortíguez in 1750 and, to the best of our knowledge, is the first organ this church ever had.
There are numerous extant documents, among them, the original papers describing the plans for the instrument by Ortíguez as well as the reports by Francisco Pérez from Valladolid maestro organero de fábricas del Arzobisbado (master organ builder for the Archbishop), who supervised the work while the organ was being built. All of this documentary material made it possible for us to reconstruct a bellows system with wheels/(ruedas) and also a boxwood and granadilla keyboard, plus this provided us with reliable information about the original stop-list.
An analysis of the pipework tells us that Ortíguez used pipes from another earlier instrument. These pipes are manufactured in a very peculiar way, similar to pipework done by 16th and 17th century Flemish builders. We also see that the size and voicing of these pipes appear to have originally been intended for a much larger room. This does not seem to be appropriate in this context, considering the characteristics of a rather small church like the one in Castaño de Robledo.
Perhaps we should remember that Francisco Ortíguez worked with another organ builder at the Cathedral in Seville up until 1740. He was contracted in Seville to dismantle the old organs originally constructed by the Flemish builder Maese Jorge between 1567-1579 so they would have enough room to install new instruments in the choir; these newer organs were under construction from 1725-1740. So, in all probability, Ortíguez might very well have taken some of these old pipes from the organ in Seville and reused them in Castaño de Robledo. At any rate, the fact of the matter is that the organ in Castaño de Robledo still has some of the oldest and most interesting sounding organ pipes in Spain.
Before restoration, the Castaño instrument was, on the whole, in a ruinous state. However, the pipework was in very good condition. This made it possible to restore the instrument perfectly in 2006-7, including all the work within a project called Andalucía Barroca 2007 sponsored by the Andalusian Govenments Department of Culture.