St Andrew's and St George's West Church
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|St Andrew's and St George's West Church|
|Country||Scotland, United Kingdom|
|Denomination||Church of Scotland|
|Events||Disruption of 1843|
|Heritage designation||Category A listed building|
|Designated||13 January 1966|
|Parish||Edinburgh New Town|
|Minister(s)||Ian Y. Gilmour|
St Andrew's and St George's West Church serves Edinburgh's New Town, in Scotland. It is a congregation of the Church of Scotland. The parish today constitutes the whole of the First New Town of Edinburgh and a small part of the early-19th-century Second New Town of Edinburgh. The church building was completed in 1784, and is now protected as a category A listed building.
Two churches, St Andrew's and St George's, were planned as principal elements in the New Town of Edinburgh. James Craig's plan of 1767 for the First New Town laid out a grid pattern of streets reflecting classical order and rationalism. It was the age of the Scottish Enlightenment, and Edinburgh was becoming internationally renowned as the centre of new philosophy and thought. The two churches were intended to be built on Charlotte Square (originally to be named St George Square), at the west end of George Street, and St Andrew Square at the east end. However, Sir Lawrence Dundas, a wealthy businessman, preferred the eastern site for his home and bought the ground before Craig's plan could be implemented. St. Andrew's Church had to be built part-way along George Street, and its place was taken by Dundas House, designed by Sir William Chambers.
The Town Council held a competition for a design for the eastern church, St Andrew's, which was won by Captain Andrew Frazer and Robert Kay. The church was founded in 1781 and opened in 1784. The church is notable for its elliptical plan which was the first in Britain. There are similarities to William Adam's design for Hamilton Old Parish Church and to James Gibbs' original idea for St Martin-in-the-Fields in London, both of which were circular sanctuaries fronted with porticoes. The architectural style reflects the contemporary 18th-century fashion for classical Roman forms. These include the temple-front portico with ceiling rosettes based on examples found in Syria by Robert Wood and illustrated in his Ruins of Palmyra of 1753. The magnificent interior-ceiling design, in the style of Robert Adam, also incorporates many features found in Roman and Pompeian interior design, as well as Scottish thistles.
The original design for St Andrew's Church included a short tower but the Town Council opted for a steeple, built in 1787. It contains a unique peal of eight bells cast in 1788 by William and Thomas Mears at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the oldest complete ring in Scotland. The bells were refurbished in 2006 and restored to full change ringing. The original Georgian crown glass sash windows with glazing bars no longer exist. Of the replacements the most noteworthy are stained glass windows by Alfred Webster (1913) and Douglas Strachan (1934).
The church was the setting for the Disruption of 1843, one of the most significant events in 19th-century Scotland. Fuelled by increasing concern and resentment about the Civil Courts' infringements on the liberties of the Church of Scotland, around one third of the ministers present at the annual church's General Assembly walked out, cheered by onlookers outside, and constituted the Free Church of Scotland.
In 1964, the congregation of St George's Church in Charlotte Square was united with St Andrew's, forming St Andrew's and St George's. The St George's Church building is now used by the National Records of Scotland. Today, the church hosts an annual book sale for Christian Aid. First held in 1974, in 2006 this event raised over £113,000, including the proceeds of the sale of the script of the Doctor Who episode "New Earth", signed by David Tennant and Billie Piper.
In January 2010, the congregation of St Andrew's and St George's was united with St George's West, Shandwick Place, to form the congregation of St Andrew's and St George's West. Both buildings were in use for three years, with the former St Andrew's and St George's building as the principal place of worship until renovation work started in 2012.
On the 17th of February 2013, St. George's West church closed its doors on yet another chapter in its history: the building's final Church of Scotland service was held at 11 a.m. with much fanfare: a special piece of choral music (which was dedicated to the choir of St. Andrew's and St. George's West Parish church) was written by Stuart Mitchell for the occasion. The congregation moved back to the church on George Street, and the Shandwick Place building was handed over to Charlotte Chapel, an independent baptist church on the nearby Rose Street which had outgrown its building and purchased the church for £1.55 million. Charlotte Chapel don't expect to move in until 2014 while £750,000 worth of renovation work occurs, most prominently the re-sitting of the centrally-located organ console to make way for a baptismal tank. This will be the console's third position since its installation in 1897, and the church's third denomination (originally opened as a Free Church in 1869). The final hymn played on the Hollins organ was 'Lord, for the years your love has kept and guided'.
The Reverend Ian Y. Gilmour was inducted by the Presbytery of Edinburgh as the new minister on 28 April 2011. He was previously minister at South Leith Parish Church and before that at Drylaw Parish Church, both in Edinburgh.
A recent former minister of St Andrew's and St George's was the Very Rev Dr Andrew McLellan, who was elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 2000 and served as H. M. Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland until his retirement in 2009.
The two most recent ministers of the former St George's West Church were the Rev Peter J. Macdonald (1998–2008), who went on to become the leader of the Iona Community, and the Rev Robert L. Glover (1985–1997), who became minister at Chalmers Memorial Church in Cockenzie and Port Seton, East Lothian.
See also↑Jump back a section
- "St Andrew's and St George's Church: Listed Building Report". Historic Scotland.
- "Christian Aid Book Sale 2006 at St Andrew's and St George's Edinburgh and Dr Who script". St Andrew's and St George's West Church. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
- "City churches to congregate after worshippers decide on merger". The Scotsman. 28 December 2009. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
- standrewsandstgeorges.org.uk, the church's official website
- churchofscotland.org.uk, the Church of Scotland's official website
- BBC news article on refurbishment of bells
- Report in The Scotsman newspaper, 30 September 2008
- St Andrew's and St George's, Archiseek web site
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