The Old High Church is the historic town church of Inverness – the oldest Church in the city. It is situated on ‘St Michael’s Mount’, where St Columba of Iona, an Irish monk who first brought Christianity to Inverness, is reputed to have preached. There has been a church on this site since Celtic times. The Church was used as prison after Battle of Culloden in 1746 and Jacobite prisoners are said to have been executed in the historic graveyard.
The current building is mostly 18th century with 19th century additions, although parts of the tower date back to the 14th century.
The Father Willis Organ was installed in 1892 and has undergone considerable alteration since its installation, most notably when it was enlarged and modified by Henry Hilsdon of Glasgow in 1923. Modifications at that time included a new console, the conversion of the manual key and stop actions to tubular pneumatic, extensions of the Pedal Bourdon and Open Wood to 8ft pitch and the addition of a second Great Open Diapason on the Trumpet slide. In addition, the case was extended to the wall on each side, displaying the bass pipes of the new second Open Diapason.
In recent years, the changes to the action had been giving cause for concern and the organ had been experiencing increasing faults and breakdowns. A decision was taken by the Kirk Session in 2009 to restore the instrument to its former glory and Nicholson was asked to carry out the restoration.
Work commenced on the organ in 2010 to replace the pneumatic action with mechanical action, similar to that which Henry Willis provided in the original instrument, and fully restore the wind supply. Only pipework which was fully in keeping with the original Willis concept was retained and it was re-voiced to restore the characteristic Willis tonality.