Chapel of Our Lady of the Angels
(formerly St Ursula's College Chapel)

Barney Street, Armidale

Whitehouse Bros, Brisbane, 1952
1 manual, 3 speaking stops, no pedals, tubular-pneumatic action

Chapel of Our Lady of the Angels
(formerly St Ursula's Convent Chapel), Armidale
[Photograph by Peter Jewkes (April 2016)]


Historical and Technical Documentation by Geoffrey Cox
© OHTA 2014, 2018 (last updated March 2018)

St Ursula's College was founded in 1882 by a group of exiled Ursuline nuns from Duderstadt in Germany, whom Bishop Elziar Torreggiani had invited to Armidale. Operating as a boarding and day school for girls, the College was owned and operated by the Ursuline nuns until the mid 1970s.1 The magnificant new Convent Chapel was opened by Bishop O'Connor on 9 February 1930.2

Interior of the former Convent Chapel
[Photograph by Peter Jewkes (April 2016)]

The convent garden, St Ursula's College, Armidale (undated)
[Photograph from]

St Ursula's College amalgamated with De La Salle College in 1975 to become what is now O'Connor Catholic College, occuping the site of the former De La Salle College. The Ursuline Convent site was purchased in 2011 by the Catholic Schools Office, and a refurbishment of the site was instigated, respecting its heritage.3 The former Convent Chapel remains intact, and is now known as the Chapel of Our Lady of the Angels.

The 1952 Whitehouse Bros organ
[Photograph by Peter Jewkes (April 2016)]

The organ in the chapel is located in the rear gallery and was built in 1952 by Whitehouse Bros of Brisbane at a cost of £1,202.11.3. The relevant Ledger entry is as follows:

June 26

Building new
pipe organ for
Ursuline Convent

£ 969 17
  Erecting in chapel £ 150  
  Cartage to Armidale £ 72 10  
  Insurance (transit) £ 10 4 3  
£1,202 11 3.4

A Blower was supplied in January 1953 at a cost of £80.5

The rear gallery of the former Convent Chapel
[Photograph by Peter Jewkes (April 2016)]

The organ was very similar to that for St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Kyogle, for which a Ledger entry appears on the same page immediately before the Ursuline Convent entry. The two organs were initially the same size, although the Kyogle instrument, also built in 1952, had a Violin Diapason 8ft in place of Armidale's Stop Diapason 8ft. A Pedal Bourdon was later added at Kyogle in 1956.6

Although the Whitehouse firm had been building organs with electro-pneumatic action from the 1930s onwards, they continued to use pneumatic action as late as 1957, when they built a similarly small instrument at St Finbar's Catholic Church, Ashgrove. There is a slightly larger one-manual pneumatic-action Whitehouse Bros organ at St Anne's Anglican Church, Gresford, built in 1954. These instruments of the 1950s were possibly the last in Australia (or anywhere) built with tubular-pneumatic action.

Pipework of the Whitehouse organ in the Chapel of Our Lady and the Angels,
showing the metal Stop Diapason 8ft with wooden stoppers
and the Dulciana 8ft
[Photograph by Peter Jewkes (April 2016)]

The pipework of the organ is completely enclosed, and the façade pipes are non-speaking. The specification is:

Stop Diapason

Octave Coupler



Tubular-pneumatic action
Compass: 61 notes
Balanced swell pedal
No pedals.7

Stopkeys of the Whitehouse organ
[Photograph by Peter Jewkes (April 2016)]

Bellows of the Whitehouse organ
[Photograph by Peter Jewkes (April 2016)]


1 'Religious Orders in the Diocese of Armidale,' - cited April 2014.

2 'Religious Communities,' - cited April 2014.

3 Catholic Viewpoint, vol. 20, no. 3 (Diocese of Armidale, Spring 2011), p. 11.

4 Whitehouse Bros Ledger (1940-1954), p. 234:

5 Whitehouse Bros List.

6 Whitehouse Bros List.

7 Specification from photographs by Richard Ward (July 2008) and Peter Jewkes (April 2016).