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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: 22/09/1965


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

National Grid Reference

  • NGRNT 25774 74718
  • Coordinates325774, 674718


Robert Rowand Anderson, 1872-1885; interior murals by Phoebe Anna Traquair, 1893-1901. Large Norman church on prominent site and falling ground, built up to street level on base of hall, library and offices; aisleless with large gabled narthex and circular baptistery, square corner towers to nave and apse. Squared and snecked rubble, ashlar quoins, blind arcades, pilasters and dressings. Base course, cill course, dentilled and bracketed eaves courses and Lombard friezes. Nook shafts to angles of buttresses and corner towers. Blind arcades with colonnettes.

W (GABLE/ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: gable of nave with large wheel window, colonnette spokes, scalloped edge to quatrefoil at centre; small vesica above and apex cross finial; slender, square section corner towers rising above eaves in 2 blind arcaded stages and with substantial pyramidal stone finials (missing apex crosses). Large gabled NARTHEX projecting at ground to centre with gabletted angle buttresses rising into sturdy polygonal, conically-capped pinnacles, cross finials (that to right missing); paired nook shafts flanking 2-leaf timber doors in round-arched and moulded entrance with filigreed lozenge ornament to arch; 5-bay arcade above with larger window to centre, remaining bays blind; quatrefoil window above. 3-bays to left return divided by buttresses, tripartite window to each bay with central light round-arched, those flanking narrow, blinded pointed arches; central bay to right return masked by baptistery. outer bays. 2-bays to right return with tripartite to left, chapter house to right. BAPTISTERY 8-bay circular in form with diminutive tripartites (detailed as above) to each bay divided by polished ashlar pilasters. Conical roof with leaded apex and metal cross finial. Linked to narthex by passage lit by single large circular multifoil window.

S (NAVE) ELEVATION: 5 bay nave, pilasters dividing tall, paired round-arched clerestorey windows to each bay. Further square section tower to E corner.

N (NAVE) ELEVATION: detailed as above, but with 2-storey gabled house adjoined at ground to outer left (E), see below.

CHANCEL: 3 recessed bays with apsidal end to E, round-arched windows to clerestorey, blinded and glazed. Re-entrant angle with nave filled at ground to S by gabled chapel, with large multifoil windows to pilaster-divided bays to S, recessed bay to E divided from these bays by buttress and slender drum finial, bay with 4-part blind arcade and cusped corbelled table, turning to gabled E end where stepped round-arched window. Re-entrant angle with nave to N filled at ground with linking stair block.

HOUSE: 2-storey, set low on falling ground to E of N elevation, principal elevation to W, with bipartite windows, round-arched at 1st floor. E elevation with arch-supported link to church, bipartite off-centre to ground, small opening in gablehead. Gablehead stacks to E and W.

Small, square-pane, leaded glazing and stained glass (see interior). Graded grey slates, ornamental ridge tiles, differing between nave and chancel. Sawtooth coped skews. Ashlar stacks to house.

RAILINGS: decorative wrought-iron railings, finialled posts to gates.

INTERIOR: airy nave, aisleless, double cube with timber barrel vault. Narthex with rib vault. Nook-shafts to walls of nave, dividing embrasured clerestorey windows and wall passage. Spiral stairs to passage in corner towers. Tall chancel arch and small flanking arches to chapel and organ aisles with stiff leaf capitals to arcades. Chancel with arcaded clerestorey with clustered colonnettes and continuing wall passage. MURAL DECORATION: Phoebe Anna Traquair, outstanding display of triumphal figurative painting; Biblical subjects including Worship of Heaven, Wise and Foolish Virgins, and scenes from Life of Christ. STAINED GLASS: wheel window by Ballantine, 1885. Some New Testament scenes, identity of author unknown. ORGAN to S wall of nave, cantilevered Romanesque case. BALDACCHINO, 1893-4, white marble, arched, vaulted canopy with gabled angle turrets and spired finial, figurative sculpture adorning (angles, apostles, prophets) by William Birnie Rhind.

Statement of Special Interest

Ecclesiastical building no longer in use as such. Built to replace the former Catholic Apostolic Church nearby at 20-24 Broughton Street, it is an outstanding monument of Norman revival design and ecclesiological composition. Anderson won the commission in competition, designing what would be a seminal work for the architect. The absence of aisles reflects the liturgical practices of the Catholic Apostolic Church (the Irvingites, after Edward Irving) and adds to the imposing form of the exterior. The congregation had its origin in the deposition of Walter Tait from Trinity College in 1834. The present church was built mainly by the efforts of W F Pitcairn WS. Phoebe Traquair employed a technique revolutionary at the time of an oil mixed with turpentine and wax on a zinc white ground. The second major edifice of the CA church was that at Gordon Square in London. In 1884, plans had been prepared for the Mansfield Place church showing an Irish-style round tower at the W end, never executed. Anderson's work took inspiration from Glastonbury Abbey, Gerona Cathedral and continental chimney flues. The giant undercroft was originally to house the changing rooms for the ceremonial church services.



Sam McKinstry, ROWAND ANDERSON (EUP, 1991), pp61-2. Gifford, McWilliam and Walker, EDINBURGH, (1988), p423. OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH vol II, p185. BUILDER, October 5 1872 (design). BRITISH ARCHITECT, August 1 1884. RSA Exhibition 1873. Further information from Dr F R Stevenson.

About Designations

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.

Enquiries relating to works to listed buildings should be made to the local authority in the first instance. Listed building consent is required for works which a local authority considers will affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest and local authorities also decide if listed building consent is required.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The local authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see

Legislation introduced on 1 October 2015 allows us to state that: an object or structure fixed to the listed building; any object or structure within the curtilage of the listed building; and, any part or feature of the listed building that is not of architectural or historic interest may be excluded from a listing. If part of your building is not listed under the new legislation, the part will be excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

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