St Andrew's Cathedral, Aberdeen

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St Andrew's Cathedral, Aberdeen
Aberdeen, St. Andrew's Cathedral - - 598057.jpg
Denomination Scottish Episcopal Church
Dedication St Andrew
Diocese Aberdeen & Orkney
Bishop(s) Right Rev Robert Gillies
Provost The Very Revd Dr Isaac M Poobalan

St Andrew's Cathedral, or the Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew, is a cathedral of the Scottish Episcopal Church situated in the Scottish city of Aberdeen. It is the see of the Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney who is the Ordinary of the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney.


The cathedral is incorrectly known as being the church where the first bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, Samuel Seabury was ordained in 1784. Bishop Seabury was in fact consecrated to the episcopate in "an upper room" of a house in Longacre, approx 500 metres from the present building. The approximate site of the house used to be marked by a polished granite tablet. This has, in recent years, been moved up the quadrangle of the former Marischal College.[citation needed]

The original building was designed in the perpendicular Gothic style by the architect Archibald Simpson, one of Simpson's many commissions in the city. Rather than being built out of the usual local granite, for which Aberdeen is famous, the facade of the structure, facing King Street, was built from sandstone for economical reasons despite Simpson's opposition. The rest of the building was built of granite.[1]

The church opened in 1817 as St Andrew's Chapel and was raised to Cathedral status in 1914.[citation needed]

During the 1930s, the cathedral was renovated to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Seabury's consecration. There had been a plan to build an elaborate, cruciform cathedral with central tower, commemorating Bishop Seabury's consecration on the site currently occupied by Aberdeen City Council's headquarters. This was to have been a gift of the ECUSA, however, the Wall Street Crash halted this plan due to lack of money.[citation needed] Instead, the existing church was enlarged and embellished by Sir Ninian Comper. The memorial was dedicated with a ceremony attended by the then U.S. ambassador to the UK, Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.[citation needed]

The Cathedral has always offered dignified liturgical worship and, until the late 1970s and early 1980s, was Anglo-Catholic in tradition. In 1982, the Cathedral Provost of the time, Very Revd Donald Howard, declared in a sermon the cathedral would remove the large crucifix and four of the six candles on the High Altar for Lent so that the altar could be free-standing to permit a 'westward' celebration of the Eucharist, celebrant facing the congregation rather than back to the people. The candles were never returned to the High Altar. If they had been, a 'screen' of six candle sticks would have obscured the vision and looked ridiculous. Two candle sticks on free-standing altars are the norm also in Roman Catholic and other Protestant communities. Worship has since become more "broad" in nature, whilst retaining the dignity of cathedral worship.[citation needed]

St Andrew's Cathedral Aberdeen has a long musical and choral heritage and is now the only Episcopalian (Anglican) cathedral in Scotland to maintain a traditional choir of men and boys. In recent years, the cathedral has also formed a girls' choir and a ladies choir; both of which are joined by the Lay Clerks (gentlemen) of the cathedral choir. Over the last thirty years, the Cathedral Choir has sung in most of the UK's major cathedrals and has also toured overseas.[citation needed]

Organ and Organists[edit]

The Cathedral, which has a splendid acoustic, houses one of the finest three manual pipe organs in Scotland, and has been served by a number of distinguished Organists & Masters of the Choristers including:[citation needed]

  • George Trash
  • John Cullen
  • Richard Galloway
  • Frederick ("Bill") Fea
  • David McGinnigle
  • Geoffrey Pearce ???? - 1983 (afterwards organist of Bridlington Priory)
  • Professor Andrew Morrisson 1983 - current

Cathedral Canons[edit]

Revd Canon John Walker

Revd Canon Ian Ferguson

Revd Canon Jeremy Paisey

Revd Canon Lisa Eunson

Revd Canon Paul Watson

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Miller, David G. (2007). Archibald Simpson Architect: His Life and Times, 1790-1847. Scottish Executive. p. 42. ISBN 978-1-904440-84-0. 

Coordinates: 57°08′57″N 2°05′35″W / 57.1491°N 2.0931°W / 57.1491; -2.0931