1519. All Hallows, Barking.
Under the date 1519 we meet with the earliest specification of an English organ that is known to exist. It is found embodied in an 'endenture' or 'bargayn' entered into by 'Antony Duddyngton, citezen of London,' to make a 'payer of organs' for the 'P'isshe of Alhalowe, Barkyng, next ye Tower of London.' It was to have three stops, namely, a 'Diapason, containing length of x foot or more,' and 'dowble principalls throweout, to contain the length of v foote.' The compass was to be 'dowble Ce-fa-ut,' and comprise 'xxvij playne keyes,' which would doubtless be the old four-octave short octave range, in which the apparent EE key sounded CC, up to C in alt. The requisite number of 'elevated keyes' (sharps, flats, etc.) was doubtless understood. It was further specified that 'the pyppes wtinforth shall be as fyne metall and stuff as the utter parts, that is to say of pure Tyn, wt as fewe stoppes as may be convenient'; and the cost was to be 'fyfty poundes sterlinge.' It was also a condition 'that the aforesaid Antony shall convey the belowes in the loft abowf, wh a pype to the sond boarde.' It is interesting to note that although made so few years after the invention of 'stops' and the 'soundboard' abroad, the English builder had made himself acquainted with these improvements, and here inserted them.
1500–1815. Short Octaves.
As this is the first time that the term 'short octave' has been used in this article, and as it will frequently be met with in the accounts of historical organs given farther on, it will be as well to give here an explanation of the meaning of that somewhat comprehensive expression. By the end of the 15th century the manuals had in foreign organs been extended to four octaves in compass, and those of this country had most likely also reached the same range; the lowest octave however being either a 'short octave' or a 'broken octave.' In the short octave two of the natural keys were omitted, and the succession stood thus:—CC (on the EE key), FF, G, A, B, C. A short octave manual, CC to C in alt, therefore, had only 27 natural keys instead of 29. The three short keys in the lower octave were not all chromatic notes, but sounded DD on the FF♯ key, EE on the G♯ key, and B♭. The object of this device no doubt was to obtain a deep sound for the 'tonic' of as many of the scales and chords in use at the time as was practicable. When the lowest octave was made complete, the EE♭ note was present; DD occupied its correct position; and the CC♯ key sounded AA. Father Smith's organs at the University Church, Oxford, the Danish Chapel, Wellclose Square, and St. Nicholas, Deptford, were originally made to this compass. A key was sometimes added beyond CC, sounding GG, which converted the compass into 'GG short octaves.' There is a painting in the picture gallery at Holyrood, of about the date of the end of the 15th century, representing St. Cecilia playing upon a Positive Organ, which shows quite clearly the lower keys and pipes of a GG short octave manual. Both Smith and Harris sometimes constructed organs to this compass, and subsequent builders also did so throughout the 18th and early part of the 19th centuries. The FFF short octave manual, which would seem to have existed, although we have at present no record of it, might have had the note acting on the AA long key, or on a supplementary short key between the BB and CC keys.
Many entries follow closely on the date given above; but none that supply any additional matter of sufficient interest to be quoted here, until nearly the end of the century, when the list of payments made to John Chappington for an organ he built in 1597 for Magdalen College, Oxford, shows that the practice of painting the front pipes was sometimes observed at that period. It is short, and runs thus:—
|Paid||Mr. Chappington for the organ||35||13||8|
|For colour to decorate the same||2||2||0|
|For wainscot for the same||3||14||0|
1605–6. King's College Chapel, Cambridge.
A great progressive step was made when Thomas Dallam, in 1605–6, built for King's College Chapel, Cambridge, the handsome 'double organ,' the case of which remains to this day. It was a complete two-manual organ, the earliest English specimen of which we have a clear trace; and to construct it Dallam and his assistants closed their workshop in London and took up their residence in Cambridge. As this instrument is the first of importance out of several that were made before the time of the Civil War, but of which the accounts are more or less vague or incomplete, it will be worth while to follow out some of their leading particulars.
No record is known to exist of the contents or compass of this instrument. The only stop mentioned is the 'shaking stoppe' or tremulant. The compass however can be deduced with some approach to certainty. Mr. Thomas Hill, who with his father rebuilt this organ some years ago, states that the 'fayre great pypes' mentioned by Dallam still occupy their original positions in the eastern front of the case, where they are now utilised as part of the double diapason. As the largest pipe sounds the GG of the present lower pitch (nearly a whole tone below what is known to have been the high ecclesiastical pitch of the first half of the 17th century), there can be little doubt that the King's College Chapel organ was originally of FFF compass, as Father Smith's subsequent instruments were at the Temple, St. Paul's (choir organ), and Durham. Smith in that case must simply have followed an old tradition. More is said on this subject farther on. The east front pipes, as well as those in