Talk:St Giles' Cathedral

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Erm, as any good Calvinist knows, it's not a cathedral as the Church of Scotland has no such things. The Episcopal church does. Calling it a "cathedral" is a common misnomer. --MacRusgail 15:40, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

No, it's not a misnomer. In the Church of Scotland, the word "cathedral" does not refer to the seat of a bishop. The Church of Scotland also uses the word "bishop", and that too has a different meaning from the episcopal one. Obviously the significance of this name is historical, but it is not an error. --Doric Loon 14:15, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

Actually, I think you are both (a little) wrong! The place isn't really called 'St Giles Cathedral' at all - its name is 'The High Kirk of Edinburgh'. St Giles Cathedral is more of an honourific name that has become so established that even the church itself uses it sometimes. It isn't a Cathedral, and no-one at St Giles would claim that it is (regardless of what the CofS considers a 'cathedral' to be). Anyway, my point is that regardless of how accurate or inaccurate it is, 'St Giles Cathedral' is the name that it goes by much of the time and as such is a perfectly acceptable name to be quoted in the article.
As an additional thought, although todays use of the term 'Cathedral' is generally thought to be a result of both Charles the first and second designating it at such (for clarities sake I will point out that it was never a Cathedral pre-reformation) there is precious little evidence of this name persisting. As I understand it, all written references to the name occur far more recently, suggesting that it has either been rechristened 'cathedral', or that the name has only survived orally. Why this should be is difficult to say. The building, until the late 19th century, held a number of congregations that each had their own name - for example High, Old, West or Tollbooth Kirks. Perhaps StGiles Cathedral survived orally as a name for the overall building. An alternative explaination could be in the 19th Century restorations that sought to raise the perceived status of the place and create a Westminster Abbey for Scotland, in pomp, circumstance and memorial senses. Could this have spawned the name 'Cathedral'?Ewan carmichael 14:15, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

Recent revision to church name text[edit]

I disagree with the recent edit stating that St Giles was never a Cathedral. As far as I understand it, it was an Anglican/Episcopal Cathedral twice, under Charles I and II. The following is from

"The Church becomes a Cathedral For more than a century after the Reformation, worship in St Giles’ was disrupted by the disagreements about church government. In 1633, King Charles I appointed Scottish Episcopal bishops in Scotland and in 1635 William Forbes became the first bishop of the new diocese of Edinburgh, with St Giles’ as its cathedral, which it remained until 1638 and again from 1661-1689. That St Giles’ is commonly called a cathedral dates from this period."

I also disagree with the comment that "formally it is a High Kirk". Yes, its real name is 'The High Kirk of Edinburgh' but to say that it is 'a' High Kirk implies that this means something in particular. There is no record of the origin of the name 'High Kirk' but it certainly conveys no status or practical distinction. There are a few points that should be noted here.

The argument that it is a title for churches in former cathedrals (as per Glasgow) doesn't really hold up when you consider Dunblane, Aberdeen, Dornoch or Kirkwall, which are not called 'High Kirk', or the many churches that are called 'High' purely because they are up a hill. This is hardly what you would call a conclusive pattern. As an aside, it would be interesting to know the real origins of Glasgow's 'High Kirk' name.

The name 'High Kirk' was in use in John Knox's time, which is pre-cathedral status ever being declared.

There is even an argument (not from me, but I can't remember exactly where I read it) that the name could be more related to the 'up a hill' origin than anything else. Some of the other congregations that met in St Giles had names that reflected their location within the building (e.g. West and Tollbooth). The 'New' or 'High' Kirk (both names are used historically), which is the congregation that now occupies the whole building, was originally situated in the chancel/choir area which, although actually down the hill on the outside, was higher up inside, as befits its previous use as the chancel.

There is also the suggestion that 'High Kirk' referred to its status as the kirk of what is now the council and of the Scots parliament. I don't know wha to make of that one.

Anyway, I prefer it the way it was before this edit, and certainly the suggestion that it was never a cathedral, and the misleading comments about it being 'a High Kirk' should be changed. Thoughts/objections anyone? Ewan carmichael 15:17, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

The recent changes to the introduction have greatly improved the accuracy of the article. Thanks to those involved. To contribute something, and not just be someone who criticises others' work in the talk page, I have found and added a citation for the 'mother church of world presbyterianism' claim. It is just the website, but it is mentioned on the home page and I assume this is an appropriate source. I am not so sure that I have added it correctly though, and the same website is also included under external links, so others may be able to make a better job of it than me. Ewan carmichael 08:44, 24 June 2007 (UTC)
Actually, after saying that, I am going to be slightly picky over the phrase 'merely a large church in the Diocese....'. In 1466 St Giles was made a collegiate church which means that it was no longer 'merely' any old church, and also, as I understand it, also means that it was no longer under the control of the diocese (although I am not especially up on the real meaning of the distinction). Importantly, from a perspective of the building today, it was this raising of status that resulted in the building of the tower, and the clearstorey and vaulted ceiling of the chancel. Anyway, I suppose the important point is that it was not a pre-reformation cathedral as the cathedral for the diocese was in St Andrews. I will therefore stick my neck out and make a minor edit.Ewan carmichael 11:46, 24 June 2007 (UTC)
Please see Collegiate church article. It would be wonderful if you could add a wee bit about that promotion to this article, and to that article too! Suitably referenced if poss... --Mais oui! 07:18, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
Me again, I also changed four services on a Sunday to five - 8.30, 10.15, 11.30, 6pm and 8pm. 6pm is the 'StGiles at Six' concert series, but this is regarded by the church as a 'service' as it is restricted to sacred music and operates on a retiring offering basis.Ewan carmichael 12:07, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

Architecture - POV[edit]

Some of the recent edits on architecture have been very interesting, but others have been rather subjective. A neutral point of view should be maintained; please could wording such as "makes the inside needlessly dark (detestably so on overcast days)" be reconsidered. --Drumhollistan 11:16, 26 January 2007 (UTC)

John Knox?[edit]

Did John Knox preach here? Was he buried in the churchyard? Or is that another St. Giles'? David Bergan (talk) 15:23, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Yes he did. He was Minister from 1559 to 1572 (when he died) and was buried in the churchyard. The churchyard no longer exists - it was built over when Parliament House was built - and whether or not his body is still there is a point of discussion. The standard story is that his grave is now under a parking space in the courtyard between St Giles and Parliament House. There is a small yellow stone square set in the tarmac/asphalt to mark the spot. This is what the likes of a lonely planet guide book will tell you, but this may not actually be true for a number of reasons. Firstly, there is record of bodies being exhumed when Parliament House was built, and the bodies being moved to a mass grave in Greyfriars Cemetery. St Giles Cathedral guides normally stop the story at this point, however in conversation they would admit to more uncertainty than this. Firstly, as his grave is not UNDER Parliament House there is uncertainty as to whether it was exhumed ot all. Secondly, there is doubt over whether the marker that purports to mark the spot of his grave really does - it is thought by some that it was originally merely a form of memorial plaque in the general vicinity of his burial spot. Some even suggest that his grave is under where the Charles II statue is now - as a sort of insult from the Royalists! I don't think we will ever know for sure, but it is an interesting little topic. Perhaps what is MOST important, is that John Knox probably wouldn't be impressed by people wanting to come to see his grave, and so the fact that its location is a bit of a mystery probably suits him fine.Ewan carmichael (talk) 14:34, 8 March 2008 (UTC)

Archibald Campbell[edit]

A recent edit says that Archibald Campbell was buried in St Giles. He was not. The Archibald Campbell memorial may look a bit like a tomb, but it is simply a monument. As far as I understand (but I might be getting my stories mixed up), he is buried in the family burial ground on an island in the Holy Loch. His monument in St Giles is really just there to balance the memorial to Montrose. Both monuments are Victorian (Montrose is not inside what looks like his tomb - although bits of him are supposed to be buried under the Chepman Aisle). I'll make an edit and I will also change another little bit that talks about there being lots of chapels - well there are, but they are called 'aisles' not chapels. The only chapel is the Thistle Chapel.Ewan carmichael (talk) 21:08, 19 April 2008 (UTC)

Just made an edit to the label on the picture of Campbell's Memorial. It is not his 'tomb'. Actually, you could argue that Montrose's isn't his tomb either, as he isn't inside, but at least (bits of) his body are underneath somewhere. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:22, 12 September 2011 (UTC)

Just redid the above edit. Argyll's memorial is not his tomb. It is a memorial designed to politically balance the existance of Montrose's tomb. At it's simplest (and excuse any inaccuracy as I am writing this from memory) Argyll and Montrose both supported the National Covenant but when it became clear that it would be necessary to support Cromwell and depose the King to do so this was a step too far for Montrose. Hence when Charles was executed Argyll was on the 'winning side' and Montrose was a loser and was executed. When the monarchy was restored Montrose was given a state funeral in St Giles and Argyll was executed. Only much later (during the Chambers restoration I think) was the Argyll statue added to give due recognition to the fact that both were passionate patriots, just in different ways. So, to cut a long story short, it is of great historical interest that one is a tomb and the other a memorial, hence why I have changed the picture labels back.Ewan carmichael (talk) 10:04, 8 February 2012 (UTC)

Thistle Chapel[edit]

Should this have its own wee stub or mini article? "Do that which is Right" (talk) 12:47, 13 July 2008 (UTC)

Yes, I think it does! It isn't really even officially part of the church and really belongs to the knights as I understand it, although this is probably a money/accounting rather than practical distinction. If no-one beats me to it I might give a page a shot sometime in August. Although, to be honest, to do the Thistle Chapel justice will be a tough job.Ewan carmichael (talk) 23:25, 31 July 2008 (UTC)

Lindsay or Hanna? Questionable edit.[edit]

I note that a recent edit has changed the person who was reading the new prayer book at the time of the Jenny Geddes incident from being the Dean to being the Bishop at that time. There is no mention on this discussion page, which suprises me. As far as I am aware, generally accepted history says that it was the Dean who was reading the prayer/service book when the infamous stool was thrown, and in St Giles itself a plaque to the event says that it was the Dean. I am assuming that someone making such a specific edit to the page must have particular knowledge of this story: perhaps that the generally told version is actually more myth than history, or something along these lines. If so, could this knowledge be shared with the rest of us, and if possible could the facts be referenced in the article? If not, I feel that the edit should be backed out and the Dean be reattributed to his place in history.Ewan carmichael (talk) 12:56, 9 December 2008 (UTC)


An original research tag was added to the article, but with no details of any alleged unverified claims. So I have changed it to an Unreferenced tag since the main problem seems to be the lack of citations and reliable sources. Regards, Jonathan Oldenbuck (talk) 09:33, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

This may be referring to the bits about the stained glass and interior which seems to be a bit personal, saying that it is dark inside 'detestably so on overcast days' or something like that. Actually, not only is that personal, but it is also out of date now that the new lighting has been installed and the ceiling of the nave painted. (talk) 10:02, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
BTW it was me who said the above thing signed only by IP address! Didn't realise I wasn't logged in!Ewan carmichael (talk) 10:03, 22 January 2010 (UTC)


A few edits concerning William Hay has drawn my attention to the fact that the restorations section is pretty much generally wrong. The section is generally muddled and attributes all 19th century changes to the Chambers Restoration, when actually the 'obsession with barren symmetry' and the enclosing of the building in grey ashlar was done under the Burns Restoration in the early 19th century. Chambers late 19th Century restoration concentrated on opening up the interior of the building, returning it to one space, and forming a 'Westminster Abbey for Scotland'. Anyway, I'll see what I can do to clarify this just now, but will try to revise the whole section when I have access to some verifiable/citeable sources!Ewan carmichael (talk) 10:10, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

  • I completely agree that the restorations section, until my recent addition of Hay, was completely inaccurate. Here is a resource which mention Hay's involvement [1]. The gold mine though is this account which clearly lays out what was built/restored when and by whom: [2]4meter4 (talk) 01:57, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
That link is excellent, alas it starts too late in the 19th century to include the Burns Restoration so I will still need to find sources for that. Did the article used to refer an architect called William Chambers? Well spotted! The publisher and lord-provost William Chambers was the patron of the second 19th century restoration, the one that was undertaken by William Hay.Ewan carmichael (talk) 13:51, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
Yes, the article originally linked to William Chambers (architect) who had died more than 75 years before the 1872-1884 restoration began. Incidentally you may want to mention in the article that the restoration took 12 years to complete. Hay was the senior architect on the restoration, but there were other apprentice architects working under him. Roughly 5 years into the project he formed a partnership with George Henderson, and their firm, Hay and Henderson, oversaw the project from 1877 on. 4meter4 (talk) 14:14, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

Are panoramic views of dubious merit?[edit]

Does anyone agree that the panoramic view appearing prominently on this page, while visually stunning, is of no practical use in conveying what it actually feels like to stand inside St. Giles? I find the image misleading in terms of its truthfulness to reality. Kim Traynor 20:18, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

Hello again! Yes, personally I detest the panoramic on this page and always have! The perspective is awful and makes the church look more like a sort of disneyfied grotto or theme pub interior. Its truly weird and, as you say, has very little encyclopedic value. I'd vote for it to go if it came to that... Thanks, Jonathan Oldenbuck (talk) 20:50, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
I'm on the fence on this one. The photo is deemed a "valued image" on the Commons and it does contain the best available interior shots of the cathedral currently available to us. I agree that the 360 degree perspective is odd. Until some better interior images are uploaded to commons I would leave it as is.4meter4 (talk) 20:57, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
It is odd-looking and confusing because of the strange way it has been cropped - in the middle of the photograph is a pillar and most of the view seems to be looking west rather than east. It would be much better if the altar were in the exact middle, and the view back along the nave split exactly into two, to frame the right and left sides of the photograph. Meowy 19:03, 28 March 2012 (UTC)
"Altar"? Cough splutter! "Holy Table" please! ;) For my part I don't mind it at all. The view is 50/50 East and West - Blue ceiling is West, and the window with a guy in black exactly under it is East. It isn't a 360 degree panorama though - neither trancept is included. I agree with the comment that a shot centred on the holy table might be better though. I don't really agree that it doesn't convey what it is like inside. A sea of pillars and arches and windows is the experience I always get and that is what it conveys. A noticeable omission is the organ however, which is quite a dominant feature. Anyway, happy for it to go if someone comes up with something better, but I don't think it is of detriment to the article. (talk) 13:13, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
Just to clarify for those who may not realise, the table is in the middle of St Giles, under the crossing, not at the east end. The church is also lopsided inside - wider to the south of the choir and nave than to the north (two 'aisles' to the south rather than one to the north). Might be distoring people's interpretation of the picture. (talk) 13:17, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
Thos last two comments are me BTW!Ewan carmichael (talk) 13:19, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

No mention of John Knox[edit]

How have we managed to end up with an article about St Giles with no mention of John Knox, and a section on the reformation that thinks the most important thing to mention is the melting of a bell?Ewan carmichael (talk) 13:24, 10 April 2013 (UTC)

Good point. That will have to be rectified. If no-one else steps in to do it, I'll do it myself. I'll mull this over and decide what should be mentioned in connection with Knox and the Reformation. Kim Traynor | Talk 00:12, 11 April 2013 (UTC)

Correct use of apostrophe in singular names ending in s[edit]

If this celebrates just one St Giles, correct English grammar is St Giles's Cathedral (such as with St Thomas's Church) : St Giles' is only correct of the noun ends with s AND is plural i.e. the Cathedral of multiple St Giles. Why does even the official website persist in this mis-spelling ? Rcbutcher (talk) 08:18, 1 December 2014 (UTC)

I must say that's a new one on me. A name is a proper noun. In UK English it seems a normal convention to use a stand-alone apostrophe after a proper noun ending in '-s' to signify ownership/possession, hence Mr. Roberts' old sofa. Where can I find confirmation that this is incorrect and that an apostrophe after an -s ending should only be used after a plural? Kim Traynor | Talk