St Cuthbert`s Parish Church, Edinburgh
The Parish Church of St Cuthbert sits off Lothian Road at the west end of Princes Street Gardens under the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. The magnificent building and surrounding graveyard are steeped in history and well worth a visit. It is thought that the Northumbrian Saint, St Cuthbert built the first church here, a primitive structure of mud and wattle, in the 7th century, however, the first written record of its existence is a reference on a Royal Charter dating from 1127. Over the centuries at least seven church buildings have stood on the site, used in turn by several faiths. For the last 300 years the congregation has been Church of Scotland.
The present structure, which dates from 1894, has been built in an Italian Renaissance style. The striking interior has numerous interesting features including this portrayal of Leonardo da Vinci`s `Last Supper` above the apse. The marble frieze, completed in 1906, was the work of Bridgemans of Lichfield.
Magnificent stained glass windows depict biblical scenes and events from the life of St Cuthbert who died on Inner Farne of the Farne Islands in March 687 AD and was buried at Lindisfarne, although his remains were later transferred to Durham Cathedral.
Created by Tiffany of New York in 1903, this stained glass window depicts David, sling in hand, about to do battle with Goliath. It is one of only several Tiffany windows in the United Kingdom.
War Memorial Chapel
After the Great War the church chose to create a memorial chapel to honour those who died. The small War Memorial Chapel was built in 1921in what was the vestibule of the old church and therefore sits below ground level. On the East wall, just beside the steps, is a small recess which holds the Roll of Honour. At the North end of the chapel is the chancel with a gold mosaic apse and a stained glass window of the crucifixion. There is also a small communion table with a St Cuthbert’s Cross (below) on the front panel. The symbols above left represent Peace and War.
The crucifixion window and another War Memorial Chapel window featuring St Cuthbert, are the work of Dr (Robert) Douglas Strachan (1875-1950) arguably the finest of Scotland`s stained glass artists. The St Cuthbert window is a cross with three scenes. One shows Cuthbert as a boy, working as a shepherd in the Lammermuir Hills. On the right there is a scene of him as a hermit on the Farne Islands off the Northumberland coast. The long middle section shows him in the robes of Bishop of Lindisfarne.
The substantial kirkyard has many interesting monuments and is the last resting place of several famous characters including John Napier, the inventor of logarithms and the Manchester-born writer Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859) best known for Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. Another noteworthy grave is that of James Findlay (1822-1862) Royal Artillery, Edinburgh Castle`s first One O`Clock Gunner.