St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh (Episcopal)

St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh (Episcopal)

Parish church
name=Cathedral Church of Saint Mary the Virgin

caption=The eastern spire of St Mary's Cathedral
dedication=St Mary the Virgin
denomination=Scottish Episcopal Church
tradition=Broad Church
bishop=Brian Smith
provost=Dr Graham Forbes CBE
viceprovost=Canon Jane Millard
teampriest=Dean Fostekew
Organist and Director of Music=Mr Duncan Ferguson
Assistant Organist=Nicholas Wearne
website= []

St Mary's Cathedral or the Cathedral Church of Saint Mary the Virgin is a cathedral of the Scottish Episcopal Church in Edinburgh, Scotland.


In 1689 after the abdication of James VII, the Church of Scotland divided over the issue of the Stuart Succession. Two churches came into being: the Presbyterian Church established by King William II, and the Episcopal Church which remained loyal to the Stuart cause. One consequence was that St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh as it then was, came under the Established Church's ministry, and the Episcopal Diocese was left without a cathedral. For a time the Episcopal residue of that congregation worshipped in an old woollen mill in Carrubber's Close, near the site of the present Old Saint Paul's Church. This was used as a pro-cathedral until the early 19th century, when this function was served by the Church of St Paul in York Pace.


The cathedral was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and the foundation stone was laid on May 21 1874 by the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry, whose family had been supportive of Scottish Episcopacy over the previous hundred years. Inside the stone was placed a bottle containing a copy of the Trust Deed, the Edinburgh Post Office Directory, Oliver and Boyd's Almanac, newspapers and coins. In preparation for the opening of the Cathedral a congregation had been formed to worship in a temporary iron church erected on the site now occupied by the Song School. Beginning on May 26, 1876, it was ministered to by the dean, James Montgomery, and two chaplains, and grew rapidly. The nave of the cathedral was opened on January 25, 1879 and from that day, daily services have been held in the Cathedral.


St Mary's Cathedral is the only cathedral in Scotland to maintain a tradition of daily choral services with choristers drawn from its own choir school. It was the first cathedral in Britain to employ girls in the treble line as well as boys, in 1978 when Dennis Townhill was organist and choir master. In 2005 St Mary's Cathedral became the first cathedral in the Anglican tradition to have a female alto singing in daily services.

The Father Henry Willis organ was built in 1879.

There are ten bells in the central tower of the Cathedral hung for change ringing. They were the gift of the first Dean of St Mary's, James F Montgomery. The bells were all cast by John Taylor & Co of Loughborough to weight ratios defined by Lord Grimthorpe who was a leading bell designer of his day. This is one of only a few complete Grimthorpe rings still in existence. The bells were dedicated on October 29, 1879.

External links

* [ St Mary's Cathedral website]
* [ A history of the choristers of St Mary's Cathedral]

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