The Coronation Organ

Builders – 1838 Wm Hill & Son London
The organ was built as a temporary instrument for the coronation of
Queen Victoria in Westminster Abbey 1838; It was built during the brief partnership of Hill and Davison and it was reported in the Musical World (vol. 10, 44) that Frederick Davison had ‘designed and executed’ the organ. It was afterwards returned to Hill’s workshops and rebuilt for this St Johns. It was transported to Chester by barge and placed in a gallery at the west end. Henry Gauntlett gave the first recital after the dedication (as he could play the pedals!);

See “Further Information” section below for transcripts from Hill’s books;

1859-65 Gray & Davison London – Church restored and organ moved to south transept and repaired for £108.

1867 Gray & Davison London – Repairs following water damage; later that year repairs to a soundboard;

1895-6 Gray & Davison London – Moved to North transept, cleaned and enlarged for £1300.

1960s Charles Whiteley & Co Chester – converted to electro-pneumatic action

1989 Unknown – Great Mixture added, came from a church in Bradford.

2002 Rod Billingsley – restored, following vandalism;

1895 Thomas Lockwood
Position North transept loft

Divided cases each side of window with smaller case and console in the middle; plain metal display pipes;

Department and Stop list
Pedal Key action EP Stop action EP Compass-low C Compass-high f1 Keys 30
1 Open Diapason 16
2 Bourdon 16

Choir Key action EP Stop action EP Compass-low C Compass-high a3 Keys 58
3 Violin Diapason 8
4 Clarabella 8
5 Dulciana 8
6 Principal 4
7 Suabe Flute 4
8 Fifteenth 2
9 Cremona 8

Great Key action EP Stop action EP Compass-low C Compass-high a3 Keys 58
10 Large Open Diapason 8
11 Open Diapason 8
12 Stop’d Diapason 8
13 Principal 4
14 Harmonic Flute 4 not original
15 Twelfth 2 2/3
16 Fifteenth 2
17 Mixture III added 1989
18 Trumpet 8

Swell Key action EP Stop action EP Compass-low C Compass-high a3 Keys 58 Enclosed
19 Bourdon 16
20 Open Diapason 8
21 Lieblich Gedact 8
22 Salicional 8 not original
23 Voix Celeste 8 not original
24 Principal 4
25 Mixture III
26 Cornopean 8 not original
27 Oboe 8
28 Tremulant

Console type En fenêtre Stop type Drawstop Label type Ivory Label font Sans Serif Pedalboard Radiating Concave

Sans serif script on ivory drawstops and levers; Block letters;
couplers controlled by stop keys above swell manual;

Swell to Pedal

Swell to Great

Swell to Choir

Swell octave

Swell suboctave

Choir to Great

Choir to Pedal

Great to Pedal


Blowing Electric Tuning Equal Temperament

Balanced Swell pedal (?)
3 composition pedals each to Great and Swell;
2 composition pedals to Choir; (No thumb pistons)
above combination pedals all mechanical;
reversible toe piston (electric) for gt-pd;
switch underneath LH jamb deactivates gt-pd reversible;

Further information
Transcripts from Hill’s books:-
Hill Estimate Book 1, pp.21 & 22: 1838: Letter from William Hill to Vicar of St John, Chester:
“That organ we erected in Westminster Abbey for the Coronation contained part of your organ and in consequence of its being erected in the Nave, the Dean & Chapter laid down strict rules…etc……..but we are now again in possession of the instrument. The organ is in a very forward state but we could not promise it being at Chester until 1st week of September when you may most certainly expect it. It will take a fortnight to erect and is 25 ft high.”

Hill Estimate Book 1. pp.26 & 27: 1838: Letter from Hill’s Wife to Vicar of St John’s Chester.
“Your Organ was sent on September 28th by Canal by Crossley & Co’s boats, the conveyance recommended by Rev. J Lyon of Pulford. One of Mr Hill’s workmen will be at Chester in due time to receive the instrument with proper instructions how to proceed with the erection of the organ. Mr. Hill was obliged to absent himself from here yesterday and today by which circumstance he is prevented from announcing the departation of the organ to you himself. Nothing has been omitted nor spared to make it as excellent an organ as ever came out of Mr Hill’s factory. Mr Gauntlett tried it and was delighted with its qualities. Your servant, Emma Hill. 12 Tottenham Court Road.”

Hill Estimate Book 1, p.29.
“Tuning £7.10s per tuning and less if another organ is tuned at the same time.”

Choir organ originally had a 16 ft stop;

1992 BCl OSD 1952
incorporates N03395(deleted)(Pedal stops not listed)
2002 MCSw e-mail 1/7/02; action type inserted; couplers by stop keys noted;
gt-pd reversible added; mechanical comb pedals & presence of
Gt mixture confirmed;
2007 PJW e-mail 25/06/07 (Organ Club visit); more on build events, history and stops;
action advised as EP (was shown as El);
2008 CKea e-mail 18/03/08 (from BOA); 1838 installation clarified;
e-mail 01/04/08 (from BOA); 1867 event added;
e-mail 14/04/08 (from BOA); Hill/Davision connection noted;
Buildings found

The BOA has:- UK, Ches, CHESTER St John the Baptist [Boa-ref=3133]

Administrative details

Source=CD Input-date=17-08-2017 input-by=RDH Reference=CD Vol.8, p.19/20

Interested in Singing?

We are always looking for additional members of our choir. If you are interested to find out more about what is involved please speak to The Rector or Jeremy Jones after one of the services. Alternately email us by clicking the link below.