Our History

Our Past 150 Years of the (Royal) College of Organists

The College of Organists was established in 1864, the result of an idea by Richard Limpus, organist of St Michael's, Cornhill in the City of London.

His idea to form a body for the purpose of 'elevating and advancing our professional status' was enthusiastically welcomed by his colleagues, who elected Limpus as their first Secretary.

It was always Limpus's intention to obtain a Royal Charter, an ambition achieved in 1893 by his successor, Edmund Turpin.

Over the following decades the College concentrated on the work of raising standards in the profession by developing and administering the College examinations, as well as steadily building the Library collection.

These activities were augmented in the 1990s with a new education and outreach strand, work which has since grown into what is known today as the RCO Academy programme.

Today, the College is a lively and modern charity dedicated to continuing the mission established by the founders 150 years ago.

As a professional examining body, we continue to maintain the highest standards in performance music teaching with qualifications which are held by many and are recognised worldwide as a measure of achievement and distinction.

Education and outreach ensure our active involvement with all levels of music making, and the College library offers comprehensive specialist holdings of organ and choral music and books which are known across the world.