The organ case

While Dallam and his men worked in the Vestry, creating their organs, ‘Hartop the Joyner’ and his men worked in the Chapel, preparing the organ case and the timber frame upon which the organ was to stand, to which ‘Chapman the Joyner’ added panelling. Hartop’s work took ten months, after which a carver was paid to add the royal arms and escutcheons of King’s College and Eton College. ‘Knockle the Limber’ was paid to decorate the carved work and pipes, using gold leaf and coloured paints, beginning with the chair organ.

There has been considerable debate concerning the date of the organ cases. The general consensus is that the majority of the work dates from 1688, but some have suggested that parts remain from Dallam’s time. John Saltmarsh has noted the similarity of carvings between those described in the case Hartop created for Dallam’s organ in 1605-6, though he notes that they would have been positioned differently and coloured or gilded. For example, there were crowns on the case of Dallam’s chair organ and crowns surmount the two outer towers of the present chair organ. He also suggested that two figures which were carved for Dallam’s great organ case may be the two satyrs found on the current case. The two scutcheons of arms of King’s College and Eton College may also have been retained; however, if that is the case, they were moved from the chair organ case to the great organ case. Saltmarsh conceded that if these features weren’t retained from the 1605 organ cases, Renatus Harris may have been influenced by the Dallam organ.

Coloured and gilded arms of King’s College.
Photography: Mike Dixon © 2011 King's College, Cambridge.
(CMR/240)

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