St Giles' Cathedral

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St Giles' Cathedral
High Kirk of Edinburgh
St Giles Cathedral - 01.jpg
The west façade of the building
St Giles' Cathedral is located in Edinburgh city centre
St Giles' Cathedral
St Giles' Cathedral
Location of St Giles' within central Edinburgh
Coordinates: 55°56′58″N 3°11′27″W / 55.94944°N 3.19083°W / 55.94944; -3.19083
LocationRoyal Mile, Edinburgh
DenominationChurch of Scotland
Previous denominationRoman Catholic
StatusParish church
Founded12th century
DedicationSaint Giles
Past bishop(s)Bishop of Edinburgh
Functional statusActive
Heritage designationCategory A listed building
Designated14 December 1970
Minister(s)Calum MacLeod
Listed Building – Category A
Official name: High Street and Parliament Square, St Giles (High) Kirk
Designated14 December 1970
Reference no.LB27381

St Giles' Cathedral, or the High Kirk of Edinburgh, is a parish church of the Church of Scotland located in the Old Town of Edinburgh.

Likely founded in the 12th century and dedicated to Saint Giles, the church was elevated to collegiate status by Pope Paul II in 1467. In 1559, the church became Protestant with John Knox, the foremost figure of the Scottish Reformation, as its minister. After the Reformation, St Giles’ was internally partitioned to serve multiple congregations as well as secular purposes, including as a prison, and as meeting places for the Court of Session and the Parliament of Scotland. During a period of episcopacy within the Church of Scotland, St Giles’ briefly served as a cathedral for two periods in the 17th century. In 1637, a riot at St Giles against the religious reforms of Charles I precipitated the formation of the Covenanters and the beginnings of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. In the 19th century, St Giles’ was restored and the internal partitions were removed.

The current church building dates from the 14th century onwards and its distinctive crown steeple is one of Edinburgh’s best-known landmarks. Since the medieval period, St Giles’ has been the site of nationally-important events and services and the chapel of the Order of the Thistle is located here. The church’s role in the Scottish Reformation and the Covenanters’ Rebellion has led to its being called "the Mother Church of World Presbyterianism". Alongside housing an active congregation, the church is one of Scotland’s most popular visitor sites, welcoming over a million visitors in 2018.


Early years[edit]

The 12th century north door survived until the end of the 18th century.

St Giles' foundation is usually dated to 1124 and attributed to David I.[1][2] The parish was likely detached from the older parish of St Cuthbert’s.[3] David raised Edinburgh to the status of a burgh and, during his reign, the church and its lands (St Giles’ Grange) are first attested, being in the possession of monks of the Order of Saint Lazarus.[4][5] Remnants of the destroyed Romanesque church also display similarities to the church at Dalmeny, which was built between 1140 and 1166.[6]

Symeon of Durham refers to the parish church at "Edwinsburch" as being in the possession of Lindisfarne in 854; however, whether this refers to a church on the site of the current St Giles’, an earlier church, or another church is uncertain.[5] Even in the 14th century, the site of St Giles' would have been at the eastern edge of Edinburgh.[7]

St Giles’ was consecrated by David de Bernham, Bishop of St Andrews on 6 October 1243. As St Giles’ is attested almost a century earlier, this was likely a re-consecration to correct the loss of any record of the original consecration.[8]

In 1322 during the First Scottish War of Independence, troops of Edward II of England despoiled Holyrood Abbey and may have attacked St Giles' as well.[9] Jean Froissart records that, in 1384, Scottish knights and barons met secretly with French envoys in St Giles’ and, against the wishes of Robert II, planned a raid into the northern counties of England.[10] Though the raid was a success, Richard II of England took retribution on the Scottish borders and Edinburgh in August 1385 and St Giles’ was burned. The scorch marks were reportedly still visible on the pillars of the crossing in the 19th century.[11]

At some point in the 14th century, the 12th century Romanesque St Giles was replaced by the current Gothic church. At least the crossing and nave had been built by 1387 as, in that year, John Skuyer, John Primrose, and John of Scone were commissioned to add five chapels to the south side of the nave.[12][13]

In the 1370s, the Lazarite friars supported the King of England and St Giles’ reverted to the Scottish crown.[14] In 1393, Robert III granted St Giles’ to Scone Abbey in compensation for the expenses incurred by the Abbey in 1390 during the King’s coronation and the funeral of his father.[15][16] Subsequent records show clerical appointments at St Giles’ were made by the monarch, suggesting the church reverted to the crown soon afterwards.[17]

Collegiate church[edit]

The crown steeple dates from the late 15th century

In 1419, Archibald Douglas, 4th Earl of Douglas led an unsuccessful petition to Pope Martin V to elevate St Giles’ to collegiate status. Unsuccessful petitions to Rome followed in 1423 and 1429.[18] The burgh launched another petition for collegiate status in 1466, which was granted by Pope Paul II in February 1467.[19] The foundation replaced the role of vicar with a provost accompanied by a curate, sixteen canons, a beadle, a minister of the choir, and four choristers.[20]

During the period of these petitions, William Preston of Gorton (modern Craigmillar) had, with the permission of Charles VII of France, brought from France the arm bone of St Giles, an important relic. From the mid-1450s, the Preston Aisle was added to the southern side of the choir to commemorate this benefactor and Preston's eldest male descendants were given the right to carry the relic at the head of the St Giles' Day procession every 1 September.[21][22] Around 1460, extension of the chancel and the addition thereto of a clerestory were supported by Mary of Guelders, possibly in memory of her husband, James II.[23]

In the years following St Giles’ elevation to collegiate status, the number of chaplainries and endowments increased greatly and by the Reformation there may have been as many as fifty altars in St Giles’; though this figure is uncertain due to some altars possessing multiple dedications, only one of which is named in references.[24][25][26] In 1470, Pope Paul II further elevated St Giles’ status by granting a petition from James III to exempt the church from the jurisdiction of the Bishop of St Andrews.[27]

During Gavin Douglas’ provostship, St Giles’ was central to Scotland’s response to national disaster of the Battle of Flodden in 1513. As Edinburgh’s men were ordered by the town council to defend the city, its women were ordered to gather in St Giles to pray for James IV and his army.[28] Requiem masses for the King and the memorial mass for the dead of the battle were held in St Giles’ and Walter Chepman endowed a chapel of the Crucifixion in the lower part of the kirkyard in the King’s memory.[29][30]

The earliest record of Reformed sentiment stirring at St Giles is in 1535, when Andrew Johnston, one of the chaplains, was forced to leave Scotland on the grounds of heresy.[31] In October 1555, the town council ceremonially burned English language books, likely Reformers’ texts, outside St Giles’.[32] The theft from the church of images of the Virgin, St Francis, and the Trinity in 1556 may have been agitation by reformers.[33]

In July 1557, the church’s statue of its patron, St Giles, was stolen and, according to John Knox, drowned in the Nor Loch then burned.[34] For use in that year’s St Giles’ Day procession, the statue was replaced by one borrowed from Edinburgh’s Franciscans; though this was also damaged when Protestants disrupted the event.[35]


Knox preaching in the High Kirk

At the beginning of 1559, with the Scottish Reformation gaining ground, the town council distributed the treasures of St Giles’ among trusted townsmen to keep them safe from the Reformers and soldiers were hired to defend the building.[36]

At 3 pm on 29 June 1559 the army of the Lords of the Congregation entered Edinburgh unopposed and, that afternoon, John Knox, the foremost figure of the Reformation in Scotland, first preached in St Giles.[37][38] The following week, Knox was elected minister of St Giles and, the week after that, the purging of the church’s Roman Catholic furnishings began.[39]

Mary of Guise (who was then ruling as regent for her daughter Mary) offered Holyrood Abbey as a place of worship for those who wished to remain in the Roman Catholic faith while St Giles’ served Edinburgh’s Protestants. Mary of Guise also offered the Lords of the Congregation that the parish church of Edinburgh would, after 10 January 1560, remain in whichever confession proved the most popular among the burgh's inhabitants.[40][41]

These proposals, however, came to nothing and the Lords of the Congregation signed a truce with the Roman Catholic forces and vacated Edinburgh.[41] Knox, fearing for his life, left the city on 24 July 1559.[42] St Giles’, however, remained in Protestant hands even as ladders to be used against Protestant forces in the Siege of Leith were assembled inside the church and even as French soldiers disrupted the sermons of Knox’s depute, John Willock.[41][43]

The events of the Scottish Reformation thereafter briefly turned in favour of the Roman Catholic party: they retook Edinburgh and the French agent Nicolas de Pellevé, Bishop of Amiens, reconsecrated St Giles as a Roman Catholic church on 9 November 1559.[41][44]

St Giles interior, 2012

After the Treaty of Berwick secured the intervention of Elizabeth I of England on the side of the Reformers, the tide of the Reformation shifted again in their favour and they retook Edinburgh. St Giles’ once again became a Protestant church on 1 April 1560 and Knox returned to Edinburgh on 23 April 1560.[41][45] The Parliament of Scotland legislated that, from 24 August 1560, Scotland was officially a Protestant country.[46]

It took workmen, assisted by sailors from the Port of Leith, nine days to clear stone altars and monuments from the church. Precious items used in pre-Reformation worship were sold.[47] The church was whitewashed, its pillars painted green, and the Ten Commandments and Lord’s Prayer painted on the walls.[48] Seating was installed for children and the burgh’s council and trade guilds. A pulpit was also installed, likely at the eastern side of the crossing.[49] In 1561, the kirkyard to the south of the church was closed and most subsequent burials were conducted at Greyfriars Kirkyard.[50]

Church and crown: 1567-1633[edit]

In 1567, Mary, Queen of Scots was deposed and succeeded by her infant son, James VI, St Giles was a focal point of the ensuing Marian civil war. After his assassination in January 1570, Regent Moray, a leading opponent of Mary, Queen of Scots, was interred within the church; Knox preached at this event.[51] Edinburgh briefly fell to Mary’s forces and, in June and July 1572, William Kirkcaldy of Grange stationed soldiers and cannon in the tower.[52]

Although his assistant John Craig had remained in Edinburgh during these events, Knox, his health failing, had retired to St Andrews. A deputation from Edinburgh recalled him to St Giles and there he preached his final sermon on 9 November 1572.[53] Knox died later that month and was buried in the kirkyard in the presence of Regent Morton, who commented: "There lies one who neither feared nor flattered any flesh."[54][55]

St Giles', its kirkyard, and Parliament House in 1647

After the Reformation, parts of St Giles were given over to secular purposes. In 1562 and 1563, the western three bays of the church were partitioned off by a wall to serve as an extension to the Tolbooth: it was used, in this capacity, as a meeting place for the burgh’s criminal courts, the Court of Session, and the Parliament of Scotland[56] Recalcitrant Roman Catholic clergy (and, later, inveterate sinners) were imprisoned in the room above the north door.[57] The steeple was also used as a prison by the end of the 16th century.[58] The vestry was converted into an office and library for the town clerk and weavers were permitted to set up their looms in the loft.[59]

Around 1581, the interior was partitioned into two meeting houses: the chancel became the East (or Little or New) Kirk and the crossing and the remainder of the nave became the Great (or Old) Kirk. These congregations, along with Trinity College Kirk and the Magdalen Chapel, were served by a joint kirk session. In 1598, the upper storey of the Tolbooth partition was converted into the West (or Tolbooth) Kirk.[60][61]

During the early majority of James VI, the ministers of St Giles – led by Knox’s successor, James Lawson – formed, in the words Cameron Lees, "a kind of spiritual conclave with which the state had to reckon before any of its proposals regarding ecclesiastical matters could become law".[62] During his attendance at the Great Kirk, James was often harangued in the minister’s sermons and relations between the king and the Reformed clergy deteriorated.[63] In the face of opposition from St Giles’ ministers, James introduced successive laws to establish episcopacy in the Church of Scotland from 1584.[64]

Relations reached their nadir after a tumult at St Giles’ on 17 December 1596. The King briefly removed to Linlithgow and the ministers were blamed for inciting the crowd; they fled the city rather than comply with their summons to appear before the king.[65] To weaken the ministers, James made effective, as of April 1598, an order of the town council from 1584 to divide Edinburgh into distinct parishes.[66]


Riot against the introduction of the prayer book

James’ son and successor, Charles I, first visited St Giles’ on 23 June 1633 during his visit to Scotland for his coronation. He arrived at the church unannounced and displaced the reader with clergy who conducted the service according to the rites of the Church of England.[67] On 29 September that year, Charles, responding to a petition from John Spottiswoode, Archbishop of St Andrews, elevated St Giles’ to the status of a cathedral to serve as the seat of the new Bishop of Edinburgh.[68][69] Work began to remove the internal partition walls and to furnish the interior in the manner of Durham Cathedral.[70]

Work on the church was incomplete when, on 23 July 1637, the replacement in St Giles’ of Knox’s Book of Common Order by a Scottish version of the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer provoked rioting due to the latter’s perceived similarities to Roman Catholic ritual. Tradition attests that this riot was started when a market trader named Jenny Geddes threw her stool at the Dean, James Hannay.[71][72] In response to the unrest, services at St Giles’ were temporarily suspended.[73]

The events of 23 July 1637 led to the signing of the National Covenant in February 1638, which, in turn, led to the Bishops’ Wars, the first conflict of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms.[74] St Giles’ again became a Presbyterian church and the partitions were restored.[75] Before 1643, the Preston Aisle was also fitted out as a permanent meeting place for the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.[76]

In autumn 1641, Charles I attended Presbyterian services in the East Kirk under the supervision of its minister, Alexander Henderson, a leading Covenanter. The King had lost the Bishops’ Wars and had come to Edinburgh because the Treaty of Ripon compelled him to ratify Acts of the Parliament of Scotland passed during the ascendancy of the Covenanters.[77]

19th century memorial to the Marquess of Montrose in the Chepman Aisle

After the Covenanters’ loss at the Battle of Dunbar, troops of the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell entered Edinburgh and the East Kirk was used for worship and preaching by Cromwell’s troops.[78] General John Lambert and Cromwell himself were among English soldiers who preached in the church and, during the Protectorate, the East Kirk and Tolbooth Kirk were each partitioned in two.[79][80]

At the Restoration in 1660, the Cromwellian partition was removed from the East Kirk and a new royal loft was installed.[81] In 1661, The Parliament of Scotland, under Charles II, restored episcopacy St Giles became a cathedral again.[82] At Charles’ orders, the body of James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose – a senior supporter of Charles I executed by the Covenanters – was re-interred in St Giles’.[83] The backlash against these measures saw a new period of rebellion and, in the wake of the Battle of Rullion Green in 1666, Covenanters were imprisoned in the former priests’ prison above the north door, which, by then, had become known as "Haddo’s Hole" due to the imprisonment there in 1644 of Royalist leader Sir John Gordon, 1st Baronet, of Haddo.[84]

After the Glorious Revolution, the Scottish bishops remained loyal to James VII.[85] On the advice of William Carstares, who later became minister of the High Kirk, William II supported the abolition of bishops in the Church of Scotland and, in 1690, the Parliament of Scotland restored Presbyterian polity.[86][87][88] In response, many ministers and congregants left the Church of Scotland, effectively establishing the independent Scottish Episcopal Church.[89] In Edinburgh alone, eleven meeting houses of this secession sprang up, including the congregation that became Old St Paul’s, which was founded when Alexander Rose, the last Bishop of Edinburgh in the established church, led much of his congregation out of St Giles’.[90][91]

Four churches in one: 1690-1843[edit]

John Kay's caricature of Alexander Webster preaching in the Tolbooth Kirk

Relative to the preceding two centuries, the 18th century was, in St Giles' as in the wider Scottish church, less eventful. In 1699, the courtroom in the northern half of the Tolbooth partition was converted into the New North (or Haddo’s Hole) Kirk.[92] At the Union of Scotland and England’s Parliaments in 1707, the tune "Why Should I Be Sad on my Wedding Day?" rang out from St Giles’ recently-installed carillon.[93] During the Jacobite rising of 1745, inhabitants of Edinburgh met in St Giles’ and agreed to surrender the city to the advancing army of Charles Edward Stuart.[94]

From 1758 to 1800, Hugh Blair, a leading figure of the Scottish Enlightenment and religious moderate, served as minister of the High Kirk; his sermons attracted were famous throughout Britain and attracted Robert Burns and Samuel Johnson to the church. Blair’s contemporary, Alexander Webster, preached strict Calvinist doctrine in the Tolbooth Kirk.[95][96]

George IV attended service in the High Kirk during his 1822 visit to Scotland.[97] At the beginning of the 19th century, the Luckenbooths and Tolbooth, which had enclosed the north side of the church, had been demolished along with shops built up around the walls of the church.[98] The exposure of the church’s exterior revealed its walls were leaning outwards.[99] This revelation, as well as the publicity of the King’s visit, created pressure to restore the now-dilapidated building.[100]

With £20,000 supplied by the city council and the government, William Burn was commissioned to lead the restoration.[101][102] Between 1829 and 1833, Burn significantly altered the church: he encased the exterior in ashlar, raised the church’s roofline and reduced its footprint. He also added north and west doors and moved the internal partitions to create a church in the nave, a church in the choir, and a meeting place for the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in the southern portion. Between these, the crossing and north transept formed a large vestibule. Burn also removed internal monuments; the General Assembly’s meeting place in the Preston Aisle; and the police office and fire engine house, the building’s last secular space.[103][104][105]

The High Kirk during the visit of George IV in 1822.

Burn’s contemporaries were split between those who congratulated him on creating a cleaner, more stable building and those who regretted what had been lost or altered.[106][107] In the Victorian era and 20th century, Burn’s work fell far out of favours among commentators.[108][109] Its critics included Robert Louis Stevenson, who stated: "…zealous magistrates and a misguided architect have shorn the design of manhood and left it poor, naked, and pitifully pretentious."[110] In recent years, Burn’s work has been recognised as having secured the church from possible collapse.[111]

The High Kirk returned to the choir in 1831. The Tolbooth Kirk returned to the nave in 1832; when they left for a new church on Castlehill in 1843, the Haddo’s Hole congregation returned from their temporary meeting place on Albany Street in the New Town. The General Assembly found its new meeting place inadequate and met there only once; the Old Kirk congregation moved into the space.[112]

Victorian Era[edit]

At the Disruption of 1843, Robert Gordon and James Buchanan, ministers of the High Kirk, left their charges and the established church to join the newly-founded Free Church. A significant number of their congregation left with them; as did Charles John Brown, assistant minister of Haddo’s Hole Kirk.[113][114]

During the years 1872–83, Sir William Chambers, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, planned and financed a further major restoration with the aim of creating a national church building: "a Westminster Abbey for Scotland." Chambers approached the City Architect, Robert Morham to recreate a single volume from the existing subdivided spaces. He hired architects William Hay and George Henderson to oversee his plans.[115] The building was cleaned and old galleries and partition walls were removed, creating a single interior space for the first time since the 1630s.

The Church[edit]

Stained glass[edit]

Scottish Saints window

In the later 19th century, stained glass began to be put into the windows which had been largely clear or plain since the Reformation. This was a radical move in a Presbyterian church where such decorations were regarded with great suspicion. They were finally allowed on the basis that they illustrated Bible stories and were as such an aid to teaching, and not flippant decoration, or worse still perceived idolatry. Only a small number of windows were completed as part of the 19th-century restoration, but this began a process that resulted in the vast majority of windows containing stained glass by the middle of the 20th century. The windows were planned to form a continuous narrative starting in the north-east corner and finishing on the north-west side. One of the last windows of this plan depicts Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, holding his cross with, on either side of him, Saint Columba and King David I (accorded the status of a popular saint). The depiction of saints, rather than Bible stories alone, by the mid 20th century shows how much attitudes to decoration had changed in the intervening period. Saint Andrew wears a flowing peacock-blue cassock and his features are modelled after prominent Edinburgh physician James Jamieson. Unusually, this window was funded by a grateful patient who insisted that Saint Andrew bear the features of the doctor. Below Saint Andrew are depicted Saint Giles, with his hind (a traditional association), and Saint Cuthbert. The dedication beneath the Saint Andrew window states: "James Jamieson Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh and Elder of the Kirk, born 1841, in Bowden, and died 1905".


Memorial to Archibald, Marquis of Argyll

Notable monuments include those to James Graham, Marquis of Montrose (1612–50), his arch-enemy Archibald Campbell, Marquis of Argyll (1607–61) and the 19th-century author Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–94). A framed copy of the National Covenant of 1638 is also on view. The Protestant Reformer, John Knox, was buried in the old kirkyard, now a car park for the High Court of Scotland. The approximate position of his grave is marked by an engraved stone set in the tarmac. William Forbes, the first Bishop of Edinburgh, was also buried here.

Of the several military memorials many are to the Royal Scots with individual memorials to each battalion. That of the 1st is by Sir Robert Lorimer.[116]

A Jacobean style memorial to John Inglis, Lord Glencorse stands on the wall over the stairs to the lower level.

A brass plaque to William Carstares lies on one of the northern columns.

360° Panorama of the interior of St Giles, Edinburgh

Thistle Chapel[edit]

The Thistle Chapel, located at the south east corner of the church, is the chapel of the Order of the Thistle, the second most senior order of chivalry in the United Kingdom.


Ceiling of the Thistle Chapel.

The Chapel was constructed thanks to a bequest of £24,000 by Ronald Leslie-Melville, 11th Earl of Leven. Upon his death in 1906, the Earl bequeathed £44,000 to rebuild the ruins of Holyrood Abbey and return it to use as a Chapel for the Order of the Thistle. Financial and architectural considerations prevented the fulfilment of the Earl’s wish: his sons therefore offered money for the construction of a new chapel at St. Giles’.[117]

On 12 March 1909, the Cathedral authorities gratefully accepted the offer and Edward VII appointed William Montagu Douglas Scott, 6th Duke of Buccleuch; Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery; John David Melville, 12th Earl of Leven; and Schomberg Kerr McDonnell as trustees with Thomas Ross as architectural consultant. The trustees appointed Robert Lorimer as architect and the first building contract was signed on 24 August 1909.[118][119]

The Chapel was completed £80 under budget and was opened amidst much ceremony on 19 July 1911 by George V. At the opening, police hid in the boiler room beneath the Chapel to guard against the threat of vandalism by suffragettes.[120]

The Knights of the Thistle usually meet for worship in the Thistle Chapel every second year at the investiture of new knights by the monarch. They also meet for worship in the Cathedral annually on the Sunday nearest Saint Andrew’s Day. Services of the Order are led by the Dean of the Thistle.[121][122][123]

The Thistle Chapel was temporarily closed to visitors from February 2015 after a number of valuable items were stolen. The Chapel re-opened to visitors the following year.[124]


Angel playing bagpipes, Thistle Chapel.

Lorimer’s design draws inspiration from 15th century models and displays the influence of Lorimer’s master, George Frederick Bodley.[125][126] John Fraser Matthew assisted Lorimer in the design of the Chapel.[127][128]

The Chapel is constructed of sandstone from Cullalo in Fife. The stone carving was done by Joseph Hayes and his assistants to designs by Louis Deuchars.[127][128] The ceiling is 42 feet (13 meters) high and constructed from approximately 200 tons of stone; the larger bosses weigh as much as a ton each.[129]

All the woodwork in the Chapel was carved in oak by brothers William and Alexander Clow.[127][128] The Chapel is furnished with nineteen stalls: one for each of the sixteen knights alongside the monarch’s stall at the centre of the western end, flanked by two stalls for extra knights. Each stall is surmounted by a canopy upon which rests a decorative sword and a helm topped by a sculpted representation of each knight’s crest.[130]

The arms of each knight are represented by plaque fixed to the back panel of the knight’s stall. The earliest of these plaques use translucent enamel and are the work of Phoebe Anna Traquair.[127][128] The Chapel is not sufficiently large to accommodate the knights’ banners, which hang in the Preston Aisle.[131]

"The Holy Table and Ornaments thereof", located at the east end of the Chapel, were designed by John Fraser Matthew as a memorial to George V and unveiled by his son, George VI, in 1943. George VI is commemorated by a floor tablet designed by Esme Gordon and unveiled by Elizabeth II in 1962.[132][133]

The heraldic stained glass windows are by Louis Davis and show the arms of the knights at the time of the construction of the Chapel. The east window is a depiction of Saint Andrew as a fisherman by Douglas Strachan.[127][128]

To create the ante-chapel, Lorimer replaced the former royal entry, reincorporating a 15th century doorway.[134] The walls of the ante-chapel are inscribed with the names of the monarchs and knights from the foundation of the order in 1687 to the construction of the Chapel in 1909.[135] The wrought-iron gates of the ante-chapel were forged by Thomas Hadden.[136]


J. Cameron Lees was a minister of the church and wrote a book about it.[137]

In July 2014 the Reverend Calum MacLeod was elected by the congregation to be the new Minister of St Giles'.[138] He was formally inducted as the new minister by the Presbytery of Edinburgh in October 2014. The previous minister was the Very Reverend Dr Gilleasbuig Macmillan; he was inducted to the charge in 1973 and retired on 30 September 2013.[139]

Notable people[edit]

The Kirk has been the site of weddings and funerals of notable Scots. Pioneering scientist Bella MacCallum, sports scientist Paul MacKenzie and Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy were married there. Notable people whose funerals took place at the Kirk include pioneering physician and suffragist Elsie Inglis, politicians Robin Cook (a lifelong atheist) and Douglas Henderson, and writer and literary agent Giles Gordon.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Marshall 2009, pp. 2-4
  2. ^ "'History – St GILES' CATHEDRAL'". Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  3. ^ Gray 1940, p. 23
  4. ^ Marshall 2009 p. 4
  5. ^ a b Lees 1889, p. 2
  6. ^ Gifford, McWilliam, Walker 1984, p. 103
  7. ^ Catford 1975, p. 17
  8. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 6
  9. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 8
  10. ^ Lees 1889, p. 5
  11. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 9
  12. ^ Marshall 2009, pp. 9-10
  13. ^ Lees 1889, pp. 17-18
  14. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 9
  15. ^ Marshall 2009, p.11
  16. ^ Lees 1889, p. 21
  17. ^ Lees 1889, p. 28
  18. ^ Marshall 2009, pp. 23,24
  19. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 26
  20. ^ Burleigh 1960, p. 81
  21. ^ Lees 1889, pp.33-35
  22. ^ Marshall 2009 pp.15,16
  23. ^ Lees 1889, pp. 34-35
  24. ^ Lees 1889, p.48
  25. ^ Marshall 2009 p. 32
  26. ^ Gifford, McWilliam, Walker 1984, p. 114
  27. ^ Lees 1889, p. 44
  28. ^ Lees 1889, p. 69
  29. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 29
  30. ^ Lees 1889, p. 72
  31. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 42
  32. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 45
  33. ^ Lees 1889, p. 101
  34. ^ Lees 1889, p. 103
  35. ^ Marshall 2009, pp. 43-44
  36. ^ Lees 1889, p. 107, 108
  37. ^ Lees 1889, p. 108
  38. ^ Burleigh 1960, p. 144
  39. ^ Lees 1889 p. 109
  40. ^ Lees 1889, p.110
  41. ^ a b c d e Marshall 2009, p. 49
  42. ^ Lees 1889, p. 112
  43. ^ Lees 1889, p. 114
  44. ^ Lees 1889, pp. 115, 116
  45. ^ Lees 1889, pp. 117, 119
  46. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 50
  47. ^ Lees 1889, pp. 118, 119
  48. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 52
  49. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 53
  50. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 61
  51. ^ Lees 1889, p. 155
  52. ^ Lees 1889, pp.156, 157
  53. ^ Lees 1889, pp. 157, 158
  54. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 68
  55. ^ Burleigh 1960, p. 195
  56. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 65
  57. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 54
  58. ^ Lees 1889, p. 200
  59. ^ Lees 1889, p. 124
  60. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 69
  61. ^ Gifford, McWilliam, Walker 1984, pp. 103,106
  62. ^ Lees 1889, p. 170
  63. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 72
  64. ^ Marshall 2009, pp. 74, 75
  65. ^ Lees 1889, pp. 186, 187
  66. ^ Lees 1889, p. 192
  67. ^ Lees 1889, pp. 202, 203
  68. ^ Lees 1889, p. 204
  69. ^ Burleigh 1960, pp. 211, 212
  70. ^ Lees 1889, p. 206
  71. ^ Marshall 2009, pp. 82, 83
  72. ^ Catford, 1975, p. 50
  73. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 84
  74. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 87
  75. ^ Lees 1889, pp. 219, 220
  76. ^ Lees 1889, p. 222
  77. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 88
  78. ^ Lees 1889, p. 225
  79. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 93
  80. ^ Lees 1889, p. 228
  81. ^ Lees 1889, pp. 230, 231
  82. ^ Lees 1889, p. 231
  83. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 95
  84. ^ Lees 1889, p. 239
  85. ^ Lees 1889, pp. 243-244
  86. ^ Lees 1889, p. 247
  87. ^ Burleigh 1960, pp. 261-262
  88. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 98
  89. ^ "'History'". Retrieved 19 September 2019.
  90. ^ Lees 1889, p. 245
  91. ^ "'Our history'". Retrieved 19 September 2019.
  92. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 99
  93. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 101
  94. ^ Lees 1889, p. 251
  95. ^ Lees 1889, pp. 255-256, 295
  96. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 105
  97. ^ Lees 1889, p. 259
  98. ^ Lees 1889, pp. 258-259
  99. ^ Marshall 2010, p. 110
  100. ^ Lees 1889, pp. 258, 260
  101. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 112
  102. ^ Lees 1889, p. 265
  103. ^ Lees 1889, pp. 261-4
  104. ^ Marshall, pp. 113-115
  105. ^ Gifford, McWilliam, Walker 1984, p. 106
  106. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 115
  107. ^ Lees 1889, p. 264
  108. ^ Gray 1940, p. 21
  109. ^ Lees 1889, p. 264
  110. ^ Stevenson 1879, p. 10
  111. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 116
  112. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 115-116
  113. ^ Lees 1843, p. 265, 304
  114. ^ Marshall 2009, pp. 115
  115. ^ Buildings of Scotland:Edinburgh by McWilliam Gifford and Walker
  116. ^ Dictionary of Scottish Architects: Robert Lorimer
  117. ^ Matthew 1988, p. 19
  118. ^ Matthew 1988, pp. 19, 20, 21
  119. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 147
  120. ^ Matthew 1988, p. 21
  121. ^ "'The Order of the Thistle Chapel'". Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  122. ^ Matthew 1988, p. 103
  123. ^ Marshall 2009, p. 150
  124. ^ "'Theft-hit Thistle Chapel set to reopen in St Giles' Cathedral'". Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  125. ^ Gifford, McWilliam, Walker 1984, p. 107
  126. ^ Matthew 1988, p. 20
  127. ^ a b c d e Matthew 1988, pp. 107, 108
  128. ^ a b c d e Marshall 2009, p. 148
  129. ^ Matthew 1988, p. 3
  130. ^ Matthew 1988, pp. 37, 38, 43
  131. ^ Marshall 2009, pp. 148, 149
  132. ^ Matthew 1988, pp. 44, 46
  133. ^ Gifford, McWilliam, Walker 1984, p. 118
  134. ^ Gifford, McWilliam, Walker 1984, p. 108
  135. ^ Matthew 1988, p.31
  136. ^ Matthew 1988, p. 29
  137. ^ Lees, J. Cameron (1889). St. Giles', Edinburgh : church, college, and cathedral, from the earliest times to the present day. Edinburgh; London: W. & R. Chambers. p. 289. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
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  • Catford, E.F. (1975). Edinburgh: The Story of a City. Hutchinson
  • Burleigh, John Henderson Seaforth (1960). A Church History of Scotland. Oxford University Press
  • Gifford, John; McWilliam, Colin; Walker, David (1984). The Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh. Penguin Books
  • Gray, William Forbes (1940). Historic Edinburgh Churches. The Moray Press
  • Johnston, W. T. Inscriptions, St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh. Livingston: Officina Educational Publications, 2007. Abstract: Inscriptions of almost fifty commemorative memorials and plaques, some fashioned by the best sculptors of the day, are collected together in a scholarly way for the information of visitors to the Cathedral, and is intended to explain why the subjects are so important to us.
  • Lees, James Cameron (1889). St Giles', Edinburgh: Church, College, and Cathedral: from the Earliest Times to the Present Day. W. & R. Chambers
  • Marshall, Rosalind K. A Guide to the Memorials in St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh. [Edinburgh]: R.K. Marshall, 2011.
  • Marshall, Rosalind Kay. St Giles': The Dramatic Story of a Great Church and Its People. Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 2009.
  • Massie, Margot, Meriel Tilling, and Leslie A. Massie. [New Banners Donated to St. Giles Cathedral by Margot N. Massie in Memory of Her Late Husband Col. Leslie A. Massie, Advocate]. 1998. Abstract: ["Order of morning service for St. Giles' 1st Nov. 1998 with the new banners mentioned in the intimations -- 1 sheet describing the dedication and lists group of embroiderers -- 1 sheet with explanation of banners"].
  • Matthew, Stewart (1988). The Knights & Chapel of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle: A Panoramic View. Eaglebank Publications
  • Nicol, Kirsty. St. Giles' Cathedral: The Thistle Chapel. [Place of publication not identified]: Pitkin Unichrome Ltd, 1998.
  • St. Giles' Cathedral (Edinburgh, Scotland). Music at St Giles'. Edinburgh: St Giles' Cathedral, 2000.
  • St. Giles' Cathedral (Edinburgh, Scotland). St. Giles': Scotland's Crowning Glory. [Edinburgh]: [St. Giles' Cathedral Renewal Appeal], 2000.
  • St Giles' Cathedral: Stained Glass Windows. Bath: Unichrome, 1993.
  • St. Giles' Cathedral (Edinburgh, Scotland). Welcome to St. Giles' Cathedral: A Short History. [Edinburgh?]: [St. Giles' Cathedral?], 1990.
  • Stevenson, Robert Louis (1879). Edinburgh: Picturesque Notes. Seeley, Jackson, and Halliday

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Old Tolbooth
Home of the Parliament of Scotland
Succeeded by
Parliament House