The Organ in St Mary's Scottish Episcopal Church, Dalmahoy

 Last updated: 4 April 2011

The Organ, DalmahoyThe organ began life as a one-manual chamber organ of 54-notes by the Edinburgh organ builder David Hamilton (1800-1863), probably for Dalmahoy House, originally the home of the Earl of Morton (now the Marriott Dalmahoy Hotel & Country Club, in the same grounds as the church). Several features of the organ suggest that the original instrument dates from 1840, or even earlier. The church was consecrated on 24th September 1850, and at some point between 1850 and 1890 the organ was installed in the alcove by the north door of the nave. Later, David Hamilton’s brothers, Thomas and James, added the 30-note Pedal Organ. 

In 1902, the organ was moved and reconstructed in its present position in an organ chamber on the north side of the chancel, enlarged to two 58-note manuals and re-voiced by Charles and Frederick Hamilton under the direction of T.H.Collinson, organist of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh, who gave the opening recital on 9th March 1902. The casework, console, new mechanical action, Swell Organ, and several stops were added. The original 54-note soundboard was re-used for the Great Organ, and the pipes for the extra top 4 notes were added on a separate pneumatic action slider soundboard. Because of the restrictions of height in the organ chamber, the Swell Box could not accommodate the bass of the 8' Open Diapason, so the bottom 7 pipes are on a separate pneumatic action chest outside the Swell Box, alongside 6 bass pipes of the Great 8' Open Diapason! Of the pipes in the two case fronts, only 4 are actually speakers, from the Great Open Diapason. All the rest are dummies.

In 1979, a Clarinet on the Great was replaced by a very strange and loud Mixture stop (19,22 but breaking back an octave to 12,15 at middle-C, thus duplicating the existing Twelfth and Fifteenth stops!).

Much of the surviving pipework is made of good quality thin alloy with high tin content, a feature of Saxon organ builders, and we know that David Hamilton received his training in Saxony.

The organ is under the care of Henry Willis and Sons Ltd., who completely refurbished, re-voice and enlarged the organ in 2008/9. The organ was completely removed to their factory (with the exception of the wooden casework on the north wall of the chancel) in May 2008. The organ was re-installed and completed in the church in May 2009. Whilst the organ was removed we were able to attend to the “spalling” stonework within the organ chamber caused by previous roof leaks.

In addition to the complete refurbishment and re-voicing of the organ, the strange 1979 Mixture stop on the Great Organ was replaced by a new Mixture of much more suitable scale and true 19,22 (116 pipes), only breaking back an octave for the top 10 notes. Henry Willis and Sons also added two new stops. These are a Mixture on the Swell Organ and a magnificent, powerful, Great Trumpet (58 pipes) which is installed just behind the north chancel case. The Trumpet pipes sit under a stone arch with a headroom of only about 3 feet 6 inches (107 cm) from the soundboard. As some of the pipes are over 8 feet (244 cm) long these pipes are of some very interesting shapes, as can be seen in the photographs below, together with the new Swell (left) and Great Mixture pipes (right). The only visual effect of these changes is that the Swell Box was enlarged and projects a further 8 inches (21 cm) into the Sacristy/Vestry to accommodate the Swell Mixture (116 pipes), but only above head-height, and of course two extra drawstops at the console. The console woodwork was stripped of its very dark varnish and is now a much lighter oak finish (see photo below of Carlo Curley at the console).

The variety, range and quality of tone is superb from the sweet and very gentle Swell Salicional to the very impressive Full Organ. A new radiating and concave pedal board was also installed to replace the previously concave but parallel pedal board, and the Swell Pedal has been re-positioned so that it does not touch D# and F# on the pedal board when closed.



Our 'new' organ was opened by Mr Carlo Curley, the internationally acclaimed American concert organist, who gave an exhilarating 'Organ Extravaganza' on Monday 25th May 2009 to a packed church. (








For further information on Henry Willis & Sons Ltd., visit their web site at:

For the “organically” minded the specification of our organ is now:

Organ Specification 2009
By Henry Willis & Sons Ltd 

Great Organ                                                Swell Organ
Pipes                                                             Pipes
Open Diapason                  8’        58          Open Diapason                  8’        58
Clarabella                            8’        58          Lieblich Gedact                  8’        58
Viola da Gamba (Grooved)  8’        51          Salicional (Grooved)              8’        51
Principal                              4’        58          Voix Celeste (TC)               8’        46
Dulcet Twelfth                     3’ (sic) 58          Principal                              4’        58
Fifteenth                              2’        58          Mixture II (New)                12,15   116
Mixture II (New)               19,22   116          Oboe (Full compass)         8’        58
Trumpet (New)                   8’         58         Tremulant

Pedal Organ
(New R&C pedal board)            Couplers
Bourdon                            16’        30          Swell to Great
                                                                       Swell to Pedal
                                                                       Great to Pedal


Manuals – Mechanical                    Balanced Mechanical Swell pedal (re-positioned)
Pedals – Pneumatic

We would liked to have enlarged the Pedal Organ, but there is just not enough room in the organ chamber.


John A Blaber - Resident Organist, St Mary's Dalmahoy