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Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.


Status: Designated


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  • Category: A
  • Date Added: 14/12/1970


  • Local Authority: Edinburgh
  • Planning Authority: Edinburgh
  • Burgh: Edinburgh

National Grid Reference

  • NGRNT 24926 72584
  • Coordinates324926, 672584


Frederick T Pilkington, 1862-4, and Sydney Mitchell and Wilson, 1891. Ruskinian/Romantic Gothic Church (originally Free Church). Ovoid/clam-shell-shaped plan on an awkward trapezoid site; massive tower with facetted lucarned stone spire to N. Bull-faced cream (now grey) sandstone with ashlar dressings (cusped surrounds to windows and doors in red sandstone); polychrome voussoirs. High battered base course with moulded dividing course above. Complex roof plan. Programme of naturalistic sculpture (uncompleted) by Pearce.

N ELEVATION AND TOWER: principal entrance in advanced battered base of tower to right, up steps bounded by saddle-backed parapets, to paired diagonally-boarded 2-leaf timber doors with decorative cast-iron hinges and handles; 12-pane gothic fanlight above with Art Nouveau glass; trumeau to centre and flanking paired columns with carved angels bearing heraldic shields and streamers in capitals; pointed-arched hoodmould over door with angel label stops. Prominent moulded band between base and 1st stage of tower; paired pointed-arched louvred openings to internal space on each face of 1st stage; gabled pointed-arched opening, divided by colonette with roundel above breaking eaves of spire on each face; 4 slated lucarnes on alternate facets of spire (see Notes); recessed rosettes to spire, facets divided by rope-moulding. Hipped gable to left bay contains plate traceried rose window with cusped red sandstone over-arch, which lights the upper gallery within; flanking buttresses clasp corner, linked by shallow sloping stone projecting roof with vine-leaf decoration at cornice; polychrome relieving arches to tripartite windows below with small quatrefoil lights over trefoil-headed pointed-arched windows separated by colonnettes.

E ELEVATION: curved bay to left (adjoining later church hall) with 3 angled gables above, each containing plate-traceried 3-light window (blocked at S by hall addition) with 3 quatrefoil windows above, flanked by colonnettes with naturalistic foliate capitals; 2 sets of paired small pointed windows flanked by dwarf colonettes below, those to right angled to stair; blocks of stone awaiting carving on corners. Paired diagonally-boarded doors with small leaded-pane fanlights in shouldered-arched openings, separated by trumeau with foliate capital, in cusped pointed arched and gabled porch to right. Engaged circular stair tower in centre bay with polychrome-slated conical roof and cusped pointed-arched windows angled to stair; circular bartizan in re-entrant angle to right with small pointed windows. Diagonally-boarded door in cusped pointed-arched opening under gabled porch in outer right bay.

W (BARCLAY PLACE) ELEVATION: recessed panel with arcaded top (3 lancets separated by colonnettes on pedestals with foliate capitals in arcade) to base of tower to outer left. Steeply-gabled bay with 3-light window in trefoil-arched opening to left; scallop-slated lean-to roof over triple arched porch below with 2 trefoil openings between arches; diagonally-boarded doors with small leaded-pane side-lights in outer arches. Curved bay to centre with 2 angled gables above each containing plate-traceried 3-light window with 3 quatrefoil windows above; 3 small trefoil-arched windows below swathe of rich carving - shepherd and sheep, palm fronds and vines (showing how rest of church would have looked had all intended decoration been carried out). Angled single storey gabled porch to right; trefoil-arched opening leads to diagonally-boarded door; small paired trefoil-arched windows with small-pane leaded glass light porch. To outer right, steps up to narrow diagonally-boarded timber door in shoulder-arched surround leading to small circular tower with polychrome scallop-slated conical roof topped by single chimney, housing stairs to boiler; stairs lit by small trefoil-arched windows with leaded panes, separated by dwarf columns.

S ELEVATION: largely concealed by flats to SW built in 1885 and by church hall to SE built in 1891, and altered when organ built in 1896. Rather Germanic steep double-canopied curved roof over chancel, with carved foliage under eaves.

INTERIOR: 2 tiers of galleries with barley-sugar turned colonnettes to front, supported on cast-iron columns; curved ranks of wooden pews (see Notes). Stairs to upper galleries in tower (new timber and cast-iron spiral stairs also link galleries). Painted and gilded timber roof (see Notes) carried on 2 massive square-section piers with palm frond capitals rising through lower gallery, and 2 columns with foliate capitals and dosserets; radial rafters, intersecting trusses with arch-braces, barley-sugar turned queenposts and kingpost with foliate pendant. Gothic carved timber screens in vestibule.

CHURCH HALL: Sydney Mitchell and Wilson, 1891. Gothic church hall. Squared and snecked yellowish sandstone with ashlar dressings. 2-storey 2-bay double-gabled hall block, with conical roofed circular bartizan in re-entrant angle, conical-roofed lantern to ridge of hall roof, entrance and stair in centre bay and 3-storey curved linking bay to church.

E ELEVATION: paired gabled bays to left with arcading in V. Moulded cill band at 1st floor and in gable. Tripartite louvred opening in gable; plate tracery to windows in chamfered gothic surrounds at 1st floor; 4 small shouldered lights below, 4 trefoil-headed lights above and 4 quatrefoil lights in apex; paired stone-mullioned and -transomed windows at ground, 2 larger lights below, 4 small lights in pointed-arched surrounds above. Circular bartizan corbelled out in re-entrant angle; romanesque arcading under slated conical roof with ornamental finial, ring of machicolation, and 3 unevenly distributed narrow windows. Entrance at left of recessed bay; 2-leaf timber door with decorative cast-iron hinges in hoodmoulded surround with carved label stops. Carving ('suffer the little children...) in tympanum; tall narrow small-pane glazed windows in shouldered surrounds and stone-mullioned tripartite window above light stair. 4-bay bowed section forms link to church; door in outer bay to right; door and windows to ground and 1st floor in shoulder-arched surrounds, paired vertically in recessed panels. 6 windows to 3rd floor in round-arched arcade (centre arch blind) with red sandstone columns.

INTERIOR: halls, kichen and meeting room at ground floor; large wagon-roofed hall at 1st floor, lit by plate-traceried windows at either end.

Predominantly small-pane leaded windows.

Statement of Special Interest

Ecclesiastical building, in use as such. Funded by a bequest of ?10000 from Miss Mary Barclay (who lived at 7 Carlton Terrace, and died in 1858) - originally intended for the erection of a Free Church in the New Town. The site and 'additional expenses' were paid for by the congregation. A competition held in 1861, restricted to 6 chosen architects and won by Pilkington, stipulated that the cost of the building should not exceed ?8000. Opened 20th December 1864. The article in Building News states that the design was 'founded on Venetian Gothic, but not partaking rigidly of the details of that style.' The BUILDING NEWS article describes interestingly how the design 'overcomes the peculiar difficulties' of an awkward site, how sliding screens (some still existing) to the passage and school room could be opened up to allow room for '1000 extra hearers,' and how the 9 doors could permit easy access and dispersal for a very large congregation. The spire, 292ft high, was the tallest in Edinburgh until St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral was built in 1874. The interior woodwork was originally painted pale green. Stencilled roof decoration designed Sydney Mitchell and executed by James Clark. Organ by R Hope-Jones installed 1896 (rebuilt by Lawton, 1906, and by Hilsdon, 1969); gothic organ case by Sydney Mitchell.

'Renovations and alterations' were carried out in 1880 by Pilkington; seating was changed, the pulpit was lowered and reconstructed in Caen stone, heating and ventilation were overhauled, fresh air being brought in through pipes and 'vitiated air' expelled via the tower. Compare with Pilkington's other Scottish churches - Trinity, Irvine and South United Free, Penicuik. Some pews have been removed from the central ground floor section. According to THE BUILDER, the new hall cost ?4000, and was intended to seat 375 persons.



THE BUILDER 5th July 1862. BUILDING NEWS 30th Sept 1864; October 1st 1880. Hall - THE BUILDER (2ND MAY 1891). Crossland VICTORIAN EDINBURGH (1966) p74 ill p75. Gifford, McWilliam and Walker EDINBURGH (1984) p255, Plate 40. Easton (ed) BY THE THREE GREAT ROADS (1988) p111. Glendinning, MacInnes and McKechnie A HISTORY OF SCOTTISH ARCHITECTURE (1996) p293, Plate 6.46

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Listed Buildings

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest and these are selected according to criteria published in the, Annex 2, pp74-76.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

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