The Hon. George Frederick Boyle and Horace Courtney Forbes were aged twenty-two and eighteen respectively and were students at Oxford when the building of a cathedral at Perth was first proposed. Both were to be enthusiastic supporters but without the commitment and support of Horace’s father, Walter, the 19th Lord Forbes it is difficult to believe that these young men could have made much progress with the project. It was Forbes’ money which enabled it to move resolutely forward to the consecration of the first phase of the cathedral on the 10th December 1850.
Why was Perth chosen as the location of this great enterprise? From 1800 there had been a chapel in Princes Street, known as the English Chapel with the local gentry represented on its vestry, but until 1848 they had resisted any suggestion that they should throw in their lot with the Scottish Episcopal Church. Then in 1840 proposals were put forward by William Ewart Gladstone and James Hope to establish a college, partly for training the clergy and partly to educate the children of the gentry who had no alternative in Scotland to a Presbyterian education. From the outset support was secured by the bishops and no hostility was intended towards the established Presbyterian Church. Slightly earlier, in 1838, the Scottish Episcopal Church Society had been formed to assist poor clergy and candidates for ordination but the scheme for Trinity College, for which it was planned to raise £25,000, was on a completely different scale. From the beginning it had been proposed that it should be located north of the Forth and away from any large town but it was not until 1842 that a decision was reached as to where it was to be sited. Various locations had been considered in central Scotland and the present site offered by Mr George Patton on the Cairnie Estate at Glenalmond between Perth and Crieff was eventually selected.1 By 1843 building work to the design of John Henderson (1804-62) was under way, by December 1845 a Deed of Constitution had been drawn up and on the 4th May 1847 the first pupils arrived.
If Trinity College had never been built it may well be that Perth would still have been thought the best place to fulfil the building ambitions of these young aristocrats of the Oxford Movement but the proximity of Trinity College made Perth a natural choice. The appointment of Charles Wordsworth as warden at Glenalmond ensured a degree of local support, but backing for the cathedral project among the local gentry such as the Earls of Mansfield and Kinnoull, both of whom attended the English Chapel, was entirely lacking.
The Forbes family had been long-standing supporters of the Episcopal Church. A cadet branch, established in the 15th century, The Forbes of Pitsligo, were Jacobite supporters and when Bishop Jolly (1756-1838) wrote his Treatise, The Christian Sacrifice in the Eucharist, it was to Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo (1756-1808) that it was dedicated. Sir William Forbes became a partner in the Edinburgh bank of Coutts and Co. which changed its name to Forbes, Hunter and Co. in 1763 and later became the Union Bank. His second son, John Hay Forbes, was appointed a Lord of Session under the title of Lord Medwyn and his second son was Alexander Penrose Forbes who became Bishop of Brechin in 1847. Alexander’s younger brother, George Hay Forbes, was the incumbent of Burntisland and founded the Pitsligo Press. His sister, Louisa Penuel, married Baron Abercromby of Aboukir and Tullibody and their daughter, Montagu, married George Frederick Boyle on the 29th April 1856 at Stirling.2
Walter, the 19th Lord Forbes was born in 1798, succeeded to the title in 1843 and died in May 1868. Three of his sons were at Oxford with Boyle; these were Horace Courtney Gammell Forbes, the 2nd son, referred to at the beginning of this paper, who matriculated at Oriel College on the 30th May 1846. Charles Murray Hay Forbes, the 3rd son, matriculated at Worcester College on the same date, and James Hunter Forbes, the 4th son, matriculated at Oriel on the 22nd October 1853.3 Their father had had a house at 52 St. John’s St, Oxford 4 which he kept there at that time either for reasons of economy or to keep an eye on his offspring, with so many at the university.
At his death, Walter was designated the 18th Lord but later in the 19th century a process of renumbering resulted in his re-designation as the 19th. When he died in 1868 his obituary in the Gentlemen’s Magazine said he was ‘a very munificent supporter of the Episcopal Church in Scotland; may indeed be said to have been almost the founder of St. Ninian’s Cathedral at Perth’ 5 but the real mover at Perth was his son, Horace who was to succeed as the 20th Lord Forbes in 1868. He took his BA in 1849 and his MA in 1851 and like his father became a munificent benefactor of the Scottish Episcopal Church. In 1888 he gave £5,000 to found a Prebendary stall in Perth Cathedral, and in memory of his cousin Alexander Penrose Forbes, Bishop of Brechin built St. Dronstan’s at Tarfside of Aberdeen granite designed by the firm of James Matthews and Alexander Marshall Mackenzie of Aberdeen, Elgin and Inverness and dedicated in 1879. He also gave support to St. Salvador’s in Dundee, built between 1865 and 1875 – the only completed design in Scotland by G F Bodley (1827-1907). He was a representative Peer for Scotland from 1874-1906 and was President of the Scottish Church Union, begun in England in 1889 by liberal Anglican Churchmen to counter the effects of industrial capitalism under the guidance of the Rev David Watson (1859-1943).6 Horace never married; he died on June 24th 1914 aged 85 in a Dundee hotel and was succeeded by another brother, Atholl Monson of Brux (1841-1916). The Forbes family home was at Castle Forbes, built in 1814 -15 on the site of the old house of Putachie, some 40 miles west of Aberdeen on the river Don.
Boyle, who became 6th Earl of Glasgow in 1869 could trace his ancestry in the west of Scotland as far back as the 13th century.7 The 1st Earl of Glasgow was born in 1666 and was first created a Peer by the title of Lord Boyle of Kelburn, Stewarton and Cumbrae, Fenwick, Largs and Dalry, and was advanced to the dignity of Earl of Glasgow on the 12th April 1703. He was a steady supporter of the Protestant succession raising an army of 1000 men in support of George I against the Jacobite rising of 1715.
Boyle’s father, the 4th Lord Glasgow, succeeded to the title in 1775 and was Lord Lieutenant of Ayrshire until his death in 1843. He was succeeded by his son, James who was elected MP for Ayrshire and became very popular on the turf as a breeder and owner of racehorses. His early career was in the navy but he soon tired of that and ‘devoted himself con amore to field sports, hunting, racing and shooting, to the top of his bent. His hospitality was unbounded, and the walls of his mansion at Hawkhead nightly reverberated to the echoes of symposia, wherein the late Marquess of Queensbury, Lord Kennedy, Sir James Boswell, Sir John Heron Maxwell, and Sir William Maxwell – as reckless and rollicking a quintet as ever drained a bottle or drank a toast – were his boon companions’.8 The 5th Earl died at Renfrew on the 19th March 1869 but his widow lived until 1895, dying at the age of 99 at Portmore near Peebles. As they had no children, George Frederick, his half-brother, became the 6th Earl. His mother was Julia Sinclair who had married the 4th Earl of Glasgow as his second wife in 1824. She was the daughter of Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster in Caithness, a prolific writer and editor of the 1791-9 Statistical Account, and it was Sir John’s son, the Rev. John Sinclair who had performed the marriage ceremony. George Frederick was born in 1825 and baptised at Old St. Paul’s, Edinburgh where the Rev. John was then the incumbent.9
The proposal to build in Perth was first put to Bishop Torry in the summer of 1847 and in a letter to Lord Forbes dated 2nd July 1847, Torry wrote that ‘the projected scheme of building a Church and Collegiate habitation for a few clergy in the city of Perth … When contemplated even in prospect only, it excites joyful feelings; how much more, therefore, when it shall become a reality ’ ! 10
The scheme for a church immediately developed into a cathedral. A further offer for the endowment of its bishopric and clergy was delivered to Bishop Torry by the Rev. Alexander Lendrum of Muthill. It was to be called the Cathedral Church of the Apostle St. John (presumably as some sort of riposte to the Presbyterians with their church dedicated to the Baptist). The proposal was of course welcomed by Torry and in his reply to Lord Forbes in August 1847 says that ‘Your Lordship’s undertaking is a great National Work, in which the whole church is interested, though my diocese has, for good and sufficient reasons, (as it appears to me), been selected as the immediate partaker of the benefit. Under this persuasion I earnestly trust that it will receive the hearty prayers and the warm support of the whole body of the Church’, declaring that the Episcopal Church was ‘the only representative in Scotland of that branch of the one Holy Catholic Church which was planted there, if not by St. Paul, at least by St. Ninian, St. Columba, and others of the apostolic fellowship’. (Appendix 1)
The subscription list given with the 1847 proposals amounted to £3,510 of which £1,625 came from the Forbes’, £600 from the Boyles, leaving £1,285 from other sources. Of this £1,285 only £242 can be identified as local contributions and of this £242, £105 was donated by the Rev. Chambers who, a year earlier, had moved to Perth from the Durham area to function for the Episcopal Church from a hall in Atholl Street. Three years later when building was under way the subscription list had risen to £5,751. Of this increase of £2,241, Mrs Shepherd of Amport, Hants donated £1,000 and a further £400 came from the Hon. G F Boyle. There were no significant local contributions.
In 1847 the committee formed to constitute the plan consisted of five clergy – The Bishop, The Rev. Chambers of Perth, The Rev. Alexander Lendrum of Muthill, The Rev. John Macmillan of Strathtay and the Bishop’s son, The Rev. John Torry of Meigle who was dean of the diocese. There were eight lay members of the committee; these were the Hon. Lord Forbes of Castle Forbes, the Right Hon. Viscount Campden,11 the Hon. G F Boyle, Sir John Stuart Forbes of Pitsligo Bt., John Stirling Esq of Kippendavie,12 William Nelson Clarke D C L of Christ Church Oxford, William Forbes Esq, Advocate Edinburgh 13 and Francis Isaiah White MD, Perth. Apart from White, who lived at 2 Atholl Place and in whose house the committee met, it can be seen that none of the laity had a local connection. Dr White came to Perth from England in 1840, becoming at first the medical officer of the county jail. He was the ‘oldest adherent’ of the cathedral congregation and meetings of the committee of 1847 took place in his house.14 There is therefore some substance in the remark that the building was ‘Colonial Cathedral Building where no congregation had previously existed’. 15 Compared with Dundee or Stirling the Scottish Episcopal Church had not had effective representation in Perth for at least half a century.
To realise the impact the cathedral was to have on the architecture and religious life of Perth in 1850 it is necessary to consider what was there at the time. In the latter part of the 16th century, Perth was one parish and had one minister. As the population grew a second minister was appointed in 1595. His name was William Cowper who later became Bishop of Galloway. The mediaeval church of St. John’s continued with two ministers until 1715; in that year the nave or west part of the church became an additional place of worship and William Wilson was put in charge. He was deposed in 1740 and became a founder of the Secession Church. Then in 1741 the chancel or east end of St. John’s was separated from the transept or Middle Church and three ministers preached in rotation in these three churches. Finally in 1807, by a ‘decreet of erection and disjunction’ the original parish was divided into four separate parishes, the last becoming St. Leonard’s.
In mediaeval times St. Paul’s Chapel ran a hospital in what is now the New Row and then in the 18th century a new chapel was built in St. Paul’s Street (now incorporated into West Mill Street), for a congregation who ‘do not reckon themselves dissenters’ 16 though they did not have their own parish. They then built their new church nearer the city centre in St. Paul’s Square in 1806-7. Its architect was John Paterson (d 1832), and its style was ‘baronial gothic’. Out-with the town , east of the Tay, the old-established parish of Kinnoull built a new neo-perpendicular church in 1826 to the design of William Burn (1789-1870). Then in 1834 St. Leonard’s parish, which derives its name from a nunnery founded in the area in the 13th century, built a new neo-classical church to the design of Perth architect William Macdonald Mackenzie (1797-1856) (now Burn’s sale-room). Following the Disruption of 1843, cheap churches were thrown up, in Perth and elsewhere, to accommodate Free Church members for less than £1 per seat, in order to qualify for the central church grant, available at the time. St. Stephen’s, the Gaelic Church, had an unpretentious chapel in Canal Street so that when St. Ninian’s was built the only architecturally significant church buildings in Perth were those described above.17 The fine gothic detail of St. Ninian’s was therefore, at the time, startlingly novel to a degree difficult to appreciate now.
When the Statistical Account was produced in 1844 the number supporting the established church was given as 4744. That figure includes the congregations who left at the Disruption. The three churches which were contained at the time in St. John’s ; the East, West and Middle Churches numbered 2629. St. Paul’s numbered 667, St. Stephen’s (the Gaelic Church) had 400 and St. Leonard’s 848. Other denominations numbered 3881 of which 163 were Episcopalian.18 Of these other denominations the North United and South United Secession churches counted 1605 and the Relief Church 769. The 163 Episcopalians listed were presumably the adherents of the English Chapel in Princes Street and so the project to build the cathedral was a huge leap of faith; invariably church building is carried out to accommodate congregations that have expanded out of existing church buildings but the cathedral was built to accommodate followers of the Oxford Movement and though they must have expected to get some supporters from the English Chapel along with the nucleus established by the Rev. Chambers in Atholl Street, the congregation had to be recruited, more or less, from scratch. To many the Oxford Movement seemed to be essentially Romish and indeed many of its number were to ‘defect’ to the Roman Catholic Church including the Very Rev. E K Fortescue, who was at first appointed Dean of St. Ninian’s in 1851 and then Provost when cathedral status was confirmed by Wordsworth in 1853. He remained there until he resigned in 1871.
The Act of Settlement of 1829 was regarded as a rightful liberty for Catholics to worship freely, but they were nevertheless barely tolerated in many quarters and in 1850 a contributor to Blackwood’s Magazine was to write that in England ‘the ecclesiastical constitution excludes all violence to other disciplines; allows every division of religious opinion to take its own way; and even suffers Popery, with all its hostility, to take its own way – to have its churches and chapels, its public services, its discipline, and all the formalities, however alien and obnoxious, which it deems important to its existence … But England contains other men than those smirking scandals to manhood’ and that England has a contribution that ‘loathes its tyranny, whose honour abhors its artifice, whose literature exposes its deceptions, and whose religion brands its apostacy ’ ! 19 Another contributor to the same magazine was to say that ‘There are poisonous plants of such an obstinate root, that they will spread both on the surface and below it : and such is the Papacy’.20 In some cases the attitude of Episcopalians towards the so-called High Church elements in their own church was no less abhorrent and when the Guild of St. Giles produced the first Directory of the Scottish Episcopal Church in 1878 they sent out questionnaires to all the clergy. One reply received on the back of a postcard said ‘I would not put forth my little finger to help (the Guild of St. Giles) or any institution smacking of Popery. Ritualists are doing all they can to prevent the spread of true religion, and Church of England doctrine, in Scotland, I am sorry to say. Here, thank God, things are conducted “decently and in order”; but I am sure Sir —– would soon turn Guilds to the right-about. –Yours &c’.21
In the middle of the 19th century, therefore, there were those such as Bishop Torry for whom the scheme to build a cathedral in 1847, ‘when contemplated even in prospect only, it excited joyful feelings’ and though they arrived at the point from different directions, the Oxford Movement and the Episcopal Church, personified in the Forbes family, were building for what Torry had described as the only representative in Scotland of that branch of the one Holy Catholic Church which was planted there, if not by St. Paul, at least by St. Ninian, St. Columba, and others of the apostolic fellowship. The Oxford Movement sought to recapture the spirit of early Christianity, a spirit which had been preserved in the Episcopal Church of Scotland. Charles Wordsworth who succeeded Torry as bishop of the diocese from 1852 to 1898 was, in his episcopate, barely able to bring himself to cross the threshold of the place and in his active period as bishop functioned from St. John’s in Princes Street and St. Andrews Chapel.
Such was the opposition to the doctrine and forms of worship that were advocated by supporters of the Oxford Movement in 1850, but the Oxford Movement had little influence on church architecture. Instead it was the Cambridge Camden Society who, on their formation in 1839 published the Ecclesiologist. They were to have a huge influence on church design and when the Aberdeen Ecclesiological Society was instituted on the 2nd February 1885 it was said that ‘No doubt the most perfect sanctuary could not make a bad man good; and aesthetic emotions were not religion. But it was not right to rear a mean fabric in God’s honour, when better could be procured, while incongruous decorations, like bad music, tended rather to distract than soothe the worshipper. There was only too ample a field in Scotland for the Society’s operations and if their numbers were at present small, they might take courage from the great work done in England by the Cambridge Ecclesiological Society, which taking its rise among a few undergraduates, had proved an important factor in the Revival alike of religion and architecture in the Church of England’.22
If ‘mean fabrics’ were still around in 1885 then St. Ninian’s Cathedral was ahead of its time. The return to church choral services requiring a chancel began in Leeds in 1841 when the Rev. Dr. Walter Hook rebuilt his church and from about that time the preaching auditoriums advocated by the post-reformation church became increasingly out of fashion .23 In Scotland the Marchioness of Lothian built St. John’s, Jedburgh in 1844, to the design of John Hayward of Exeter (1808-91), strictly according to ecclesiological principles and the introduction of choral services there suggests that Walter Hook’s influence was at work. The lychgate of this church was designed by William Butterfield who assisted also with the interior. In 1845 Butterfield designed the school and school house north of the church. From 1844 John Henderson (1804-62), the son of a Brechin gardener, was to produce liturgically correct designs for the Episcopal Church and in this diocese his design for St. Mary’s, Dunblane of 1844 (consecrated May 25th 1845) provided a clear division of nave, chancel and presbytery advocated by the ecclesiologists. These set the pattern for the future and very few of the present churches in the diocese now pre-date the cathedral. At Glamis the chapel in the castle was established in the 17th century and at the end of the 18th century the chapel at Kilmaveonig was rebuilt. At Muthill the Rev. Cruickshank had functioned from 1783 in a simple chapel. His grand-nephew who succeeded him in 1834 built a church to the design of R & R Dickson in 1836 and then moved to Crieff where, in 1847, he built a chapel in Lodge Street (now converted to flats) which was similar to St. Mary’s, Dunblane. A year earlier than St. Mary’s, Dunblane, the Rev. J Marshall built St. Catherine’s, Blairgowrie, and asserted, in 1859, that ‘he was the first, since the Reformation, to erect a church, in Scotland, on the principles of the ecclesiastical architecture of the Middle Ages’. 24 It was designed by his step-son, J B Henderson in what the Statistical Account of 1844 described as ‘being intended as a model of the style and form of ecclesiastical edifices previous to the Reformation … it consists of a nave and chancel, the latter containing a beautiful window of stained glass’.25 In Pittenweem where Bishop Low was the incumbent from 1789 there remains the delightful chapel built in 1805 with substantial later additions, and these are the only churches which pre-date the cathedral.
The Oxford Movement gained impetus from political reforms in the first half of the 19th century. In 1827 the Test Act opened up the civil service and local and national government to non-conformists and this was followed in 1832 by the Reform Bill which gave votes to a considerably increased electorate. The Anglican Church which had a monopoly of baptisms, marriages and burials had to contend with civil registration and the Anglican universities of Oxford and Cambridge would, in due course, become secularised. The Oxford Movement grew out of a need for a new spiritual authority to replace the state privileges which had been enjoyed since the Reformation. The authorities who had relinquished some of their powers, to some extent resented the influence they were to have on church affairs. The queen never liked these high churchmen and the bishops were, on the whole, cool towards them. Subsequent defections to the Roman Catholic Church among members of the movement justified the apprehension among many in authority, about where the movement was leading people.
The Cambridge Camden Society was a natural development of the ideas generated at Oxford but were concerned primarily with the building and restoration of churches and differed from the Oxford Movement in that their members were to retain absolute loyalty to the Anglican Church. The final issue of the Ecclesiologist, published in 1868, was to boast that ‘In our early days – twenty-three years ago – two, and only two (F A Paley and S N Stokes), of those who were foremost in our cause while it was yet struggling, unfortunately accepted service in another Communion’.26
The Oxford Society was formed in the same year as the Cambridge Camden Society and at the time was seen as a complimentary development. In the first number of the Ecclesiologist it was stated that the publication was to be ‘an important means of strengthening the connection and increasing the co-operation between the Cambridge Camden, the Oxford Architectural, and other Societies of kindred character now beginning to be established in several parts of the kingdom’. 27
CHAPTER ONE THE EPISCOPATE OF PATRICK TORRY
The foundation stone of St. Ninian’s was laid on September 15th 1849 by Alexander Penrose Forbes, Bishop of Brechin, as the representative of Patrick Torry. Before laying the stone a communion service was held in the room at Atholl Street which, until then, had been used by the Rev. J C Chambers for services and had also been used by him as a school. Twenty clergy were present and forty of the laity communicated. In a report of the proceedings it was stated that, ‘ The ground was crowded with spectators, who in general behaved with propriety. Many of the Established and of the Free Kirk showed no unfriendly feeling, and some who anxiously observed the ceremony went away with the impression that there was less harm in it than they had supposed; some even appeared to join in the service … The design for the church by Mr Butterfield is in the bold and severe style of that architect, and promises an aspect not unworthy of the purpose for which it is intended’. (Appendix 1) In that same report it was stated that the meeting which took place following the ceremony was ‘a solemn and quiet one suited to the character of a missionary church’ (my italics). Forty years later, when Butterfield’s last cathedral design was completed in Melbourne, a critic was to write that ‘the effect is splendid rather than grand … more suggestive of the grandeur of an emperor’s palace than the chaste magnificence of a cathedral’ 1 – St Ninian’s was to be an example of chaste magnificence.
As stated above, the last church to be built in Perth before St. Ninian’s was St. Leonard’s on King Street, fifteen years earlier. If this church was intended to set standards for 19th century church design then Butterfield’s design was certainly different, St. Leonard’s being a neo-classical essay of three huge round-arched doorways, with a bell-cote above in the style of the choregic monument erected in Athens by Lysicrates in 334 BCE to commemorate his success in a choral competition.2
When the proposal was put forward to build a cathedral in Perth the Hon. George Boyle was secretary of the Oxford Architectural Society – his friend, Lord Forbes had become a member of the Camden Society in December 1845.3 The architects most closely connected with the Camden Society at this time were Anthony Salvin (1799-1881), Richard Cromwell Carpenter (1812-55) and William Butterfield (1814-1900) and it was the latter who was chosen as architect of St. Ninian’s. William Butterfield became involved with the Camden Society at the outset of his career when in March 1843 he agreed to undertake ‘the practical superintendence of the execution of sacred vessels or other ecclesiastical furniture from designs which shall have been approved by our Society’.4 From May 1844 his designs began to be published as Instrumenta Ecclesiastica – further publications under that name appearing until 1852. 5
The Camden Society had, by this time, become extremely well known in church circles. In 1841 the Society published A Few Words to Churchwardens which sold thirteen thousand copies in two years and was written for the ‘most illiterate’ of churchwardens.6 For both the Oxford and Cambridge Societies there was only one style suitable for church building. The Oxford Society was formed ‘for Promoting the Study of Gothic Architecture’ and in the laws of the Cambridge Society it was stated that ‘The Object of the Society shall be the study of Gothic Architecture’.7 In their reporting the Ecclesiologist could be scathing in its criticism. In a review of The Book of Symbols for Church Needlework they declared ‘We repeat our hope that no one who values our opinions will think of buying this expensive and worthless book’ 8 and when in 1841 St. Paul’s Church was erected in Cambridge to the design of Ambrose Poynter it was reported that ‘The church is of no particular style or shape … of several remarkable varieties and peculiarities of arrangement, which are strictly original conceptions’, the roof ‘as gay as the roof of a first-rate steam ship’. 9
As regards arrangement the Camden Society was absolutely clear. A church must consist of a nave, a chancel and sanctuary (or sacrarium as they preferred to call it) and there should be a clear division of these areas. The chancel should be entered through a chancel arch and should preferably be provided with a screen and the sanctuary should be divided from the chancel by an altar rail. Arguments about cost were rejected, saying that ‘There is therefore no reason a priori why a church which costs £5,000 should not as far as it goes, be as good a design, and built with as true a feeling of the beautiful and the Catholick, as Lincoln Minster itself ’.10
When St. John’s in Princes Street, Perth was built the Ecclesiologist of February 1852 described it as ‘a very inferior church’. (Appendix 3) The decision to build in Princes Street had been taken at a meeting on the 19th March 1849 when it was agreed that ‘steps should be forthwith adopted for the purpose of the erection of another and more commodious place of worship’. They needed accommodation for six hundred people ‘including gratuitous accommodation for the humbler classes’. 11 At a further meeting on the 14th January 1850 they decided that ‘an advertisement should be put in the Newspapers for Plans to correspond with the present site and offering a premium of £10 for the most approved plan’ and at a further meeting on the 19th March 1850, decided that ‘Mr John Hay of Liverpool designs are the best and he was accordingly entitled to the £10’.
The Hay brothers, who originated from the Scottish borders, were basically Free Church architects and the galleried T plan provided for the church was a good Scottish Presbyterian design, totally out of sympathy with the fashion by then established by designs such as St. Mary’s, Dunblane, for the Episcopalians and so it is not surprising that the Ecclesiologist was so hard on them. The first attempt by the Ecclesiological Society to supervise church building had been at Christ Church, Kildown, designed by the scholarly gothic revival architect, Anthony Salvin and begun in 1839. Between 1840 and 1845 James Beresford Hope transformed its interior, creating a proper chancel with a rood-screen and stalls designed by Richard Cromwell Carpenter, and William Butterfield was one of the contributors to this work.12
Although revived in England in the 18th century, the gothic style had never really gone out of use in Scotland. The Y-traceried parish churches of the 18th century were not so much based on English pattern books as on the gothic revival churches of the previous century.13 In Perth in 1806, St. Paul’s built their new church in St. Paul’s Square in a baronial gothic Y-traceried manner to the design of John Paterson (d 1832) – this in the decade that saw neo-classical domestic architecture of Rose Terrace and Marshall Place. But in 1813 a correct neo-perpendicular church was built in the rural Perthshire parish of Collace, probably designed by J Gillespie Graham. It was adapted from a plate of Bishop Skirlaugh’s chapel in Britton’s Architectural Antiquities which, at the time, was in most country house libraries and it formed the model for dozens of others. It was not until 1847 when the Episcopalians built their church in Arbroath, dedicated to St. Mary the Virgin in a decorated manner, arguably the best of at least thirty churches designed by John Henderson before his death at the age of fifty-eight in 1862, that a Scottish architect achieved a standard comparable to the best work in England.
Butterfield set up his own office in 1840 at 38 Lincolns Inn Fields, moving two years later to 4 Adam Street, Adelphi, where he was to remain for the rest of his professional life, not far from where he was born and brought up.14 Not much is known of his early life. His mother was the daughter of a Scottish leather broker – his chemist father was ‘a very pious man, a director of the London Missionary Society, and attended the Kingsland Chapel’. William, the eldest son of nine children never married. In 1858 he became a member of the Athenaeum to which he could walk in the afternoon for his ‘dish of tea’ and though he travelled widely the impression is that he was happiest within the square mile surrounding his and his parents home area.15
Butterfield’s Englishness no doubt derives from his parochial life style. His father had a business as a chemist and druggist in the Strand when William was born on 7th September 1814. His aunt married the Bristol tobacconist, William Day Wills in 1820, who at the end of his life received a baronetcy. William’s sister married Benjamin Starey who invented a new plaited wick for candles and who in 1853 bought a handsome estate of 590 acres in Bedfordshire. William Butterfield senior had success in his own way and in 1821 had been able to purchase his freedom of the City of London. It goes without saying that William Butterfield made an outstanding contribution to architecture in the 19th century. For the purposes of this study no comparison has been attempted with his cathedral essays for Adelaide and Frederichton in the years before 1850. In assessing his work we have the obvious advantage of knowing what was to come later in his career, but it is also necessary to understand how it looked in the context of the mid 19th century.
He made many business friends and stayed close to members of his family but remained persistently reluctant to accept invitations to ceremonies when his buildings were opened or foundation stones laid, and told the Building News that ‘I have always had to regret when I have at all given way in the direction of publicity’16 and his obituary in the same publication asserted that ‘he led the life of a recluse.’ Remote as he may have seemed to many, his friend Swinfen Harris was to recall after his death that ‘Grave and unsympathetic as he was supposed to have been to many, he was by nature one of the kindliest and most hospitable of men to those who had the good fortune to possess his friendship’. Lord Coleridge wrote to a friend : ‘Architects and contractors are an unstable lot of fellows in general, though I have been spoiled by old Butterfield, who kept his time to an hour, never exceeded his estimates to a shilling, and whose work, some of which I have known for forty years, seems as if it would last for ages’. 17
In the year that he accepted responsibility for the Camden Society’s designs of church plate and furniture he presented drawings of Shottesbrook Church, Berkshire, to the Oxford Architectural Society which they published in 1844 and also received his first major commission from Alexander James Beresford Hope (1820-87), for the rebuilding of St. Augustine’s, Canterbury, as a missionary college. In that year also he was asked to design a church at Coalpit Heath, near Bristol, by James Woodford, a Cambridge man who was the vicar there and who was also the secretary of the Bristol and West Architectural Society.
In 1845 he began his second church at Cautley in Yorkshire and designed two schools, the first at Jedburgh for the Marchioness of Lothian who a year earlier had built St. John’s, Jedburgh (see page 7). The Marchioness of Lothian was a co-foundress of the Cambridge Camden Society and her church embodied all the ecclesiological principles then being advocated by them and was the first in Scotland to do so. It was designed in middle-pointed gothic with a rood-screen separating the nave from the chancel. The second school of 1845 was at Wilmcote in Warwickshire for ‘the energetic and wealthy curate, Edward Knottesford Fortescue, who “lived in good style” and went on to employ Butterfield on his parsonage’.18 Fortescue was born in 1816, the first son of the Rev. Francis Fortescue of Stoke-on-Trent and was to be elected dean of St. Ninian’s on the 7th January 1851 19 and provost when its cathedral status was confirmed in 1853 – he was an MA from Wadham College, Oxford, graduating in 1842.20
Between 1847-49 Butterfield’s career really took off with an impressive list of work which included eleven restorations, four new churches, three houses, two schools, a college, a workhouse chapel and two cathedrals – St. Ninian’s at Perth and Adelaide in Australia. He also completed three churches by other architects.21 Throughout history the relationship between architect and patron has been decisive in the amount and variety of work carried out. In Scotland, Butterfield enjoyed the patronage of the Hon. George Frederick Boyle at St. Ninian’s and at his church and college on the Isle of Cumbrae. Apart from these two he obtained no other commissions north of the border beyond a reredos at St. Mary Magdalene’s, Dundee and a now spoiled parsonage at Ellon. This is not surprising – there were many major English architects who did less and by the 1860’s Scotland had great architects of its own, most of whom had experience in London offices. But for its cathedrals in Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh the Episcopal church chose the hugely successful if artistically less innovative G G Scott. At Dundee in 1852 a leading English architect might still have been thought a necessity, but by the time Glasgow and Edinburgh were built it was more a matter of preference. Many major architectural projects were open to competition in the 19th century which Butterfield would have nothing to do with, holding that ‘competitions were very upsetting to quiet and steady work’. 22 Scott acknowledged that he was disliked by many of his fellow architects and attributed this to his success in competitions. Following the break-up of his partnership with Moffat which was initially based on success in workhouse competitions he determined ‘to avoid competitions for the most part, though without making any resolution which would debar me from them when they seemed, from special circumstances desirable’. 23 i.e the project had to be an interesting one. In his Personal and Professional Recollections of 1879 Scott was to say that ‘Carpenter and Butterfield were the apostles of the high-church school – I, of the multitude’. 24
In Scotland in the first half of the 19th century, gothic had an appeal for church builders (see page 11) but nationally there were classicists who preferred the harmony and balance of the classical style. It was Ruskin who said that ‘the Greek can plough his triglyph furrow and be content’ but went on to say that gothic was a changing style and would continue to change so long as there were people around who could design in a gothic manner. In an attempt to bring order and understanding to mediaeval English gothic architecture a study was completed by Thomas Rickman (1776-1841) who in 1817 published An Attempt to discriminate the Styles of English Architecture from the Conquest to the Reformation. In the 19th century architects were to be influenced by continental gothic styles but in the first phase of the gothic revival use was made mainly of English Gothic and increasingly, Early English was seen as an undeveloped style and Perpendicular was seen as a style in decline and it was 2nd or middle pointed that was generally preferred. In Scotland before 1850, gothic was considered essentially Romish but then in November 1853, Ruskin gave a series of lectures to the Philosophical Society of Edinburgh, advocating a return to mediaeval styles and it is said that he made gothic safe for Presbyterianism.
Scott and to a lesser extent Butterfield were influenced by Pugin with his publication of Contrasts in 1836. Pugin’s clientele was mainly Catholic but the movement towards mediaeval style and arrangement was quickly taken up by the Anglican Church under the pioneering initiative of the Rev. Dr. Walter Hook referred to earlier (page 7).
It was all part of a wider neo-mediaeval movement which produced the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and is seen in 19th century book illumination, such as St. Ninian’s MS1 and MS2. Pugin’s interests extended to furniture, book design and stained glass, in addition to his work as an architect. By 1881, when the first performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience was given, the interest in mediaevalism had become an eccentricity and there is the famous gibe :-
‘Though the Philistines may jostle, you will rank as an apostle in the high
If you walk down Piccadilly with a poppy or a lily in your mediaeval hand’.
Butterfield was quintessentially English and his Englishness was reflected in his architecture like Pugin’s, Carpenter’s and Scott’s. His ecclesiastical architecture was based on English Gothic but there was no slavish attempt to reproduce mediaeval architecture and many of the principles which enlivened mediaeval building were totally rejected. For example, he expected the finished work to be executed as drawn and the craft mason was not expected or allowed to make an individual contribution. There was a strict consistency about his designs. Norman church architecture tended to favour an apsidal east end which derived ultimately from the Roman basilica. When the east end of Chichester cathedral was rebuilt following a fire in 1187 the apse was replaced by a squared-off east end and this quickly became the standard form in English architecture; the only form used by Butterfield with one exception, Rugby Chapel, where the apsidal east end was ‘a cause of necessity’. 25 Writing on this to the architectural historian, T F Bumpus, on his use of square east ends, he said that ‘You do me justice in saying that I have remained firmly “English”. I have great belief in tradition and in the good that comes of following it, and keeping private judgement under control’. 26 This is not to say that continental gothic precedents were entirely excluded and following visits to Scotland in the late 1840’s a typically Scottish feature appeared in the high conical-capped turret at St. Dunstan’s Abbey, Plymouth of 1850. 27 In contrast to Butterfield, G G Scott’s design for St. Paul’s, Dundee was a German hall church with an apsidal east end inspired by his visits to Germany, but in his later years, his architecture also became predominantly English and his designs for Edinburgh and Glasgow both have square east ends.
Successful architects combine engineering competence with artistic skills in varying proportions. All Butterfield’s buildings were structurally sound but it is as an artist that he really excelled and it is this aspect of his work that is so significant for an understanding of his architecture. Like all great artists he always knew he was right. He could not understand how architects functioned in a partnership – if an architect had a mind of his own, how could he be expected to work comfortably with that of any other 28 and he opposed the limitation of entry to the profession by examination and legal registration saying that ‘architecture as an art’ would suffer from efforts to impose examinable standards. 29
There were those such as Sir John Summerson (1904-1992) who saw Butterfield’s work as ugly but not so his clientele which came almost exclusively from the upper classes. He built very little for the rising professional and manufacturing middle classes and if he felt that he could not rely on patronal support he would, at least in later years, at once resign.30 Like all great artists his art was continually moving on and features of his work, such as constructional polychromy, though widely taken up by other architects, was to go out of fashion within thirty years. It is none the less significant for that. 19th century architecture has often been seen as a reflection of new manufacturing taste and technological change, but there was no such influence on the work of Butterfield.
When the initial subscriptions had been raised and building work was about to begin, the engineer wanted to start at the west end but Torry was anxious to see the east end begun first and in a letter to Lord Forbes dated January 18th 1848 said:-
‘My dear Lord,
In the last communication with which your lordship honoured me, accompanied with a copy of a letter from the engineer, disapproving of my proposal of commencing the work of the intended cathedral in the town of Perth, at the east end (i.e. with the chancel) instead of the west end, or nave, – your lordship requested that any remarks I had to make on that gentleman’s letter might be stated to Mr. Lendrum. In compliance with that request I did so; and hope that the substance of what I stated was communicated to your lordship. What I said was to this effect; – that whatever portion of the church should, in the mean time, be erected, it was, in my judgement highly desirable that the genuine symbols of the Christian faith and worship should be plainly indicated by the very form of the structure; and that from the first day it is made available for divine service, Now no part of a Church does that efficiently without a sanctuary. Its purpose, mark, or distinction, its separation from the body of the Church, although still a part, is to make every humble and faithful worshipper, casting his eyes upon it, to feel and say in his heart – “that place is holy to the Lord; there the riches of divine bounty are most plentifully bestowed on Christian worshippers; there they are spiritually fed and sustained during their earthly pilgrimage, in order to their endless enjoyment of celestial peace and rest”. I am sorry, and feel not a little mortified, that your lordship’s benevolent wishes and great efforts on behalf of the Church, have been but coldly received, if not thwarted by many influential persons, of whom better things might reasonably have been, and actually were expected. But great is the reward that waits you for what you have wished to do, should even that wish prove a failure, by reason of the spirit of envy, jealousy, secularity, and religious indifference, so prevalent in the present age and generation. But as God has the hearts of all men in His hands, you may yet have the happiness of seeing your efforts crowned with success’.31 In another letter dated December 23rd 1848 Torry said ‘The plans of the proposed Cathedral in Perth reached me two days ago, the design of which I think are extremely beautiful, and admirably adapted to its high and holy purpose…. The finishing of the choir, in conformity with the beautiful plan given, may, I hope, be accomplished in my own lifetime, if it be not presumptuous for a man in his 86th year to entertain such an expectation’. 32
His reference to efforts being ‘thwarted by many influential persons’ is presumably a swipe at the Earls of Kinnoull and Mansfield who for years had blocked the vestry at St. John’s, Princes Street from coming under the authority of the bishop. Writing to the Rev. Chambers in 1849 following the decision of St. John’s to become part of the Scottish Church he said ‘I shall not be surprised if Lord Mansfield set up a schismatical chapel for himself and his adherents’. 33
The ‘beautiful plan’ was completed in 1850 and on the 10th December was consecrated by Bishop Alexander Penrose Forbes. We have a drawing of the Chancel dated 1873 in St. Ninian’s MS 2 (Plate 1) and a full report (in the writing style of J M Neale) published in the Ecclesiologist of February 1851. (Appendix 2) The entire character of the design of the east end has since been destroyed – the screen which was as good as anything Butterfield ever did was removed on January 17th 1901 when the choir was extended to designs by J L and F L Pearson. The screen obviously provided the clear division of nave and chancel then so fiercely advocated by ecclesiologists. For the old bishop in the remoteness of Peterhead where he had lived for well over half a century, it gave a ‘separation from the body of the church, although still a part, is to make every humble and faithful worshipper casting his eyes upon it, to feel and say in his heart – “that place is Holy to the Lord”. The man had clearly assimilated and delighted in modern liturgically correct churches as built in 1844 at Dunblane and in 1847 at Crieff, a church he had consecrated for the Rev. Lendrum in 1847.
The first phase of the cathedral consisted of the sanctuary, chancel and one bay of the nave and cost approximately £6,000. This compares with a cost of £1,719 for the building of St. John’s, Princes Street, Perth, consecrated in the following year but for the Ecclesiologist the only wonder was ‘ that such a sum have been raised in Scotland for that purpose, and that so much could have been done for that sum’. (Appendix 2)
Of the design the influential critics in Cambridge heaped praise. One hundred and fifty years later what are we to make of it ? In 1850 as in the present time, building costs invariably exceed the planned cost but we know that Butterfield always kept within the budget given to him. However the finished work was to be ‘of the average size of the ancient Scotch cathedrals’ – 200ft in length and 70ft in height .
In their review of the design the Ecclesiologist charged the architect with Mannerism. With the benefit of hindsight we can see that Butterfield’s whole approach to the design was – in a gothic sense – mannerist. It was almost certainly the constraint of limited finance that caused him to make a severe originality the basis of his design, the elements of which combined to focus attention on the chancel and particularly the altar in a way that was clearly quite amazing. To achieve this the chancel arch rests on corbel imposts at some twenty feet from ground level to give it the widest possible span. The screen was thus full width, fitting in below these corbels with three generously proportioned arches with columns of polished Peterhead granite. The choice of material is not without significance. In the mid-nineteenth century the bishops relied on the income from their incumbency and it was not necessary for them to live in their diocese. During the period of his episcopate, Torry lived at Peterhead and it will have been for that reason Butterfield chose to use Peterhead granite for his screen. Torry had a very considerable reputation in the highest circles in the Church of England and the use of his local granite was an appropriate way to honour his years of service to the church – indeed, his personal reputation may have been the inspiration for the movement to build the first post-reformation cathedral in the United Kingdom at Perth. Butterfield was not in favour of altar rails. As early as 1842 he is on record as saying that they were an innovation which should be superseded by chancel screens saying – ‘if we restore this beautiful feature, what need is there for any second fence of rails to the Altar, and why should the congregation go within the screen to receive the Holy Eucharist’. 34 The central arch of the screen exactly matched in profile the east window so that the viewer, walking up the central aisle of the nave from the west, would see the arch of the screen and then the east window would fit exactly in that space and walking eastwards the east window would predominate, drawing the viewer inwards. The altar which was ‘well thrown up’ (and later well thrown down) was thus given emphasis by a receding perspective. The altar was given a cross (which was still an innovation on Church of England altars) which was ‘singularly happy’ having a jewelled centre but in other respects decoration was ‘of the simplest kind’ thus adding emphasis to the sanctuary. The gas lighting provided by a series of jets from a pipe running the length of the screen on the chancel side, lighting up the choir ‘with an effect almost magical’ was all part of this design, giving emphasis to the important ingredient of the composition, i.e the altar which the critics saw as Mannerist. Again it was this emphasis on the sanctuary that led Butterfield to incorporate coloured decoration in roofs, – at St. Ninian’s ‘powdered with red flowers’. Writing of a church to the Warden of Keble College Chapel, Butterfield said that ‘Distortion and disorder for supposed good ends must have no permanent part in a building erected (for public worship) and which is to last for generations. We must of course endeavour to stamp on it what is divine, rather than what is human. To give the restfulness and strength, and sense of communion that come of quiet order, completeness and proportion, must be our aim’. 35 At this point it should be noted that Butterfield was influenced in his thinking by the architecture of St. Francis of Assisi. In the early churches of the mendicant orders there was a visual simplicity, representative of the principle of asceticism demanded by St. Bernard and we can see this in the architecture of St. Ninian’s. As part of his concern for ‘a sense of communion’ he opposed the use of pews preferring seats on the continental model. He succeeded in imposing this against his patron’s wishes at All Saints, Margaret Street, London. 36
The middle or 2nd pointed period in English Gothic is generally reckoned to span the period from 1272 to 1377 – from the accession of Edward I to the death of Edward III. It goes without saying that there was very little that Scotland wanted to copy from England during this period and Butterfield, in deference to Scottish taste incorporated Flamboyant tracery in the transept windows and externally, a flèche with equally flamboyant detail in metal. In his churches Butterfield insisted on a continuous roof line which was also a characteristic of the high Victorian style. Within the church the roof types provide a clear division of sanctuary, chancel and nave and at St. Ninian’s the sanctuary is panelled and ribbed, in the chancel panelled, and the nave has a double-framed collar braced roof which was the preferred type of five, used by him in his buildings. 37 His town churches generally had a clerestory and for a cathedral church a cruciform plan was regarded as essential though the transepts were kept within an overall rectangular footprint. Butterfield organised all his church designs on a hierachical basis, with the decoration concentrated on the sanctuary. The same principle can be seen in his secular work with the main ornament and detail reserved for the drawing room of the house. 38
In his churches the richly coloured interior such as can be seen at All Saints, Margaret Street, London is far from typical. In two-thirds of his churches colour is confined to the floor, the font and the sanctuary. The churches of the 1840’s are the simplest with white walls, brown seats and dark roof timbers setting the tone. It was only in the 1850’s that he was to overcome his Puritan sensibilities and introduce constructional colour, which Ruskin sought to justify in his Stones of Venice of 1853.
Where stained glass was intended in churches, Butterfield confined it to east windows and St. Ninian’s is particularly fortunate to have the magnificent bold display of pericope from the Book of Revelation. The window was designed by Butterfield and made by Alexander Gibbs (c1831-1886) 39, 40 who became his favourite glassmaker following a quarrel with Hardman in about 1860. The Book of Revelation contains a profusion of visual imagery developed into a distinctive mode of theological thought and communication and the iconography of the east window therefore makes it a rare and valuable specimen of religious art. 41 The early glass of Gibbs did not generally find favour with the critics but by the late 1870’s, when this glass was installed, his glass had become noticeably paler 42 and at St. Ninian’s reached a refinement of great beauty. The design is based on Revelation 4:2ff showing ‘one seated on the throne! And the one seated there looks like jasper and carnelian, and around the throne is a rainbow that looks like an emerald’. There are ‘twenty-four elders dressed in white robes … Coming from the throne are flashes of lightning … and in front of the throne there is something like a sea of glass, like crystal … the twenty-four elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives for ever and ever, they cast their crowns before the throne saying
“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honour and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created”
Above the elders are the four living creatures (Rev 4:6) which became the symbols of the four gospel writers, at least by the year 698 when the Lindisfarne Gospels were produced. The visual portrayal of pericope from the Book of Revelation in church windows is most unusual and thirty years on from Butterfield’s original design for the cathedral it may be suggested that mannerism was still a feature of his work. The quatrefoil circle above the east window is similarly glazed by Gibbs and has a floriated cross. In the Book of Revelation the literary use of imagery has been developed into a distinctive mode of theological thought and communication and the east window at St. Ninian’s must be regarded as a valuable example of 19th century art in stained glass.
The plan of the first phase is shown on Plate 8 : the line running north-south, west of the first bay of the nave, shows the temporary west wall. The organ, a second hand instrument by Smith of London 43 was located in the arch to the west of the sacristy door, the polychrome pipes forming ‘a kind of northern screen’. (Appendix 2)
During the consecration of the cathedral, letters missive were read from Bishop Torry by which he erected the Collegiate Church into the Cathedral of the United Dioceses and the Rev. Chambers, the Rev. Haskoll and the Rev. Humble were appointed canons by the bishop’s authority and therefore constituted the chapter. Of these Chambers was born in 1817 and had graduated MA from Emmanuel College, Cambridge in 1843. He became priest at Ripon in 1846 when he was asked to take on the missionary duty at Perth in that year referred to above (page 4). On the 7th January 1851, the day after the Statutes were signed by Torry, the Rev. Edward Fortescue was elected dean. The Collegiate Church referred to above was to have provided accommodation for the bishop, the dean and at least four clergy who, in addition to their duties at the cathedral and the education of the choristers, were to act as supernumerary when needed at churches in the diocese. It must be remembered that for over fifty years the diocese had not had a resident bishop. Torry had lived in Peterhead since 1808 and his predecessor, Jonathan Watson had been the incumbent at Laurencekirk, but though Torry’s successor, Charles Wordsworth, was to take up residence at the Few in Perth, the housing originally envisaged within the cathedral grounds was quickly set aside, for reasons which will become all too apparent, and there were no further references to it.
Haskoll was born in 1819 and was ‘a man of literary abilities’ 44 graduating BA at Cambridge in 1843 and later an MA at Clare Hall, Cambridge in 1848. He became a priest at Canterbury in 1843 and following curacies at St. Peter’s, Walworth and Leigh on Mendip, both in Surrey, he arrived at Perth in 1848 serving as canon from 1850-56 before moving to East Barkwith in Lincs. During his period at Perth he filled the incumbency at Laurencekirk from 1852-54.
Humble differed from the others in having a direct connection with one of the founders. He was born in 1819 and obtained his MA at University College, Durham in 1843. A year later he became the domestic chaplain to Lord Forbes, and spent six years in his service prior to being appointed to St. Ninian’s where he was to remain until his death at San Remo on the 7th February 1876. Probably it was his closeness to Forbes which enabled him to quarrel incessantly and in a most aggressive manner with Wordsworth on doctrinal and liturgical matters throughout his time in Perth in the knowledge that the bishop could not rely on the support of his fellow bishops. The doctrinal issues concerned the use of the Scotch Communion Office as opposed to the English Office which had been introduced in qualified chapels following the Penal Acts of 1846 and 1848. Torry had been a staunch supporter of the Scotch Office as was Alexander Penrose Forbes, Bishop of Brechin from 1847 – 1875. The Rt. Rev. David Low, who added Moray to his diocese of the Isles in 1838 until his death in 1850, was likewise truly Scottish and was a close friend of Dr. Walter Hook who had sought to introduce new rituals into the Church of England. Low was replaced in 1851 by Robert Eden, the son of an Aberdeen advocate, brought up in the tradition of the Scottish Episcopal Church, but Charles Terrot, who was Bishop of Edinburgh from 1841-72 and Primus from 1857, was born in India and first served in Scotland as the incumbent of the qualified chapel at Haddington. He had no experience of Scottish tradition and his compatriot, Walter John Trower had served in the south of England before becoming Bishop of Glasgow from 1848 until 1859 when he left to become the sub-dean at Exeter before moving to the See of Gibraltar in 1863. Trower, like Terrot, had no experience of tradition or Scottish Eucharistic liturgy and this influx of English clergy into the Scottish Episcopal Church was commented on in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine of October 1852, saying that ‘their communion affords a refuge to those who, though disgusted with the Protestantism of the Church of England, cannot quite resolve to join the Church of Rome … Several of these seceders have been elected to the Scotch Bishoprics, and amuse themselves harmlessly with playing at prelacy. For they can laud it over their tiny flocks, and can wield the power of the keys without setting the country in a flame’. It was into this cocktail of Scottish and English that Wordsworth was introduced in 1853. The results were to be disastrous for the church and for St. Ninian’s in particular.
There was nothing new about the Scotch Communion Office then in use at St. Ninian’s. Various offices had been used in the church during the 18th century – then in 1764 the so-called Textus Receptus received the formal approbation of all the bishops and this superseded every other Eucharistic Service in the church until updated in 1912, with the exception of the English Office used by qualified chapels. The English Office was based on revisions by Cranmer (1489-1556) of the earlier Book of Edward VI (1537-56) which the purists in the Scottish Church found acceptable. The non-jurors in the Scottish Church along with many in England held that the revisions by Cranmer were ‘a sad indication of the downward progress of the Church of England towards the error of the Swiss reformer’. 45
Throughout his life Wordsworth championed the cause of unity in the Scottish Church and frequently preached at Presbyterian gatherings to that end. The fact that the Episcopalians were themselves disunited on eucharistic doctrine was a major concern within the church. In 1857 Bishop Forbes gave his first charge to his clergy on the subject initiating a controversy which was to result in his being charged with heresy. At the trial he got off with a censure. Twenty years later when the Deed of Trust for the building of All Soul’s, Invergowrie, was drafted it was stated that the design was to be for ‘a full Catholic Ritual and Service’ and the Scotch Office was to be used ‘at least in the early morning services’ .46
In addition to the choir and transepts, the north wall of the cloister was built to enclose the ground on the north side which was to be occupied by the completed cathedral. (Plate 2) The clergy entered by a door to the sacristy (removed during the Pearson alterations and additions) and the public entered by the door, now disused, at the east end of the north wall.
CHAPTER TWO THE EPISCOPATE OF CHARLES WORDSWORTH
In 1852 Torry died and was buried at St. Ninian’s on the 13th October near the north end of the altar, his burial place being marked by an inscription and a white marble cross above. 1 Charles Wordsworth was then elected bishop in a controversial fashion and consecrated on the Feast of St. Paul’s conversion – January 25th 1853. Torry had been a remnant of the old school, of Scottish Non-jurors — Wordsworth was very different. He was a brilliant Oxford scholar whose theology was based on English 17th century Protestantism.
Notwithstanding the fact that Torry had granted St. Ninian’s cathedral status, Wordsworth was not prepared to be enthroned there until changes had been made to its Constitution, with the concurrence of the Diocesan Synod. A meeting of the Synod was held at Trinity College on April 6th 1853 at which it was proposed that the Act by which Torry had constituted the cathedral be accepted ad interim, subject to certain changes. There were those such as the Rev. C Lyon of St. Andrews who had no enthusiasm for a diocesan cathedral and he was supported by, among others, the Rev. Blatch of Pittenweem.2 On the other hand the Rev. A Lendrum of Crieff said that cathedrals had disappeared, the buildings passing into the hands of the Established Church after the Reformation and so they were not creating anything new, but were reinstating what had always been fundamental to the Episcopal system.
Wordsworth agreed to consider carefully everything that had been said at this Synod, confirming that he was prepared to maintain its legality and deferring any decision until the next Synod, but the decision was to be his; it was not to be a majority decision of the Synod. Wordsworth next sought the assistance of the Rev. John Jebb, prebendary at Hereford, who had made a special study of church law and order, especially in relation to cathedrals, to prepare a new Draft of Statutes. This new draft was unanimously accepted three months later at his first Annual Synod on the 6th April 1853 (Appendix 4) and the cathedral institution was thus firmly established. The main changes in this Constitution were that the cathedral clergy should be subject to the bishop and amenable to canonical jurisdiction as were other clergy in the diocese. It also became the duty of the provost, (a title revived at this time), to govern the whole institution, the cathedral and college, and to superintend and control the Divine Offices. With the appointment of the Rev. Fortescue as provost (previously dean) the Rev. Chambers and Haskoll resigned and the Rev. J R Sellar was appointed, with special responsibility for the choir school. An Aberdeen graduate, Sellar had been teaching at Glenalmond on his appointment but was to move to Banchory in 1858. The Rev. R Campbell was also appointed from Jedburgh but in 1856 moved to Crieff and then to St. Andrews, Aberdeen. The clergy who took over at St. Ninian’s, Provost Fortescue and Canon Humble, were keen to make the cathedral the scene of Catholic worship, on the most correct principles of ceremonial that were then being advocated by Ritualists, who sprung from the Oxford Movement and who were gaining support in certain circles in the Church of England. To many in the Anglican Communion this was a step too far and they later felt vindicated when many of these so-called ritualists defected to the Roman Catholic Church, including Fortescue who was to do so in 1871.
In September 1854 Wordsworh made a short stay in Perth, (lodging in Rose Terrace) and held the first annual synod at the cathedral. He settled his family at Bournemouth for the winter and then in the spring of 1855 took up residence at Birnam Cottage, Dunkeld. The following year he made his residence at Pitcullen Bank, a commodious house across the Tay at Bridgend. In 1858-9 he moved into the house of Few, a large vernacular classical house provided for him by the Earl of Kinnoull, located on Feus Road near its junction with Crieff Road. (Plate 3) He was to remain there until his move to St. Andrews in 1876. The house of Few had been bought by Thomas Robert, Earl of Kinnoull in 1829.
During the late 1850’s questions of Eucharistic doctrine and ritual began to preoccupy many in the church. Fortescue and Humble aligned themselves with Bishop Forbes of Brechin who as noted earlier, faced a charge of heresy. The Rev. P Cheyne, incumbent of St. John’s, Aberdeen was also accused of heretical pronouncements and was temporarily suspended. The five cathedral prebendaries in Wordsworth’s diocese, who supported the charge against Bishop Forbes resigned from these positions. Previous to this Canons Campbell and Sellar had resigned on the issue and St. Ninian’s School was closed. 3 Since 1837 the Scotch Office had primary authority in the church but at a Synod in 1863 the English Office, with its liturgy on the Eucharist slightly different from the Scotch Office, was accorded precedence, but the cathedral were having nothing to do with all this and drew up a Declaration of Faith signed by 105 communicant members, committing themselves to the exclusive use of the Scotch Office. At this Wordsworth ceased to officiate at the cathedral and instead chose to function from St. John’s where, when they joined the Scottish Church in 1848, it was embodied in their Constitution, that for all time to come the English Liturgy was to be used and no other, a resolution which, so far as I am aware, has been broadly adhered to up to the present day.
Fortescue and Humble, though isolated, carried on at the cathedral in their own way and it must have been clear to Wordsworth, then operating from St. John’s, that they could manage equally well with or without him. Wordsworth therefore decided to build the chapel of St. Andrew on a site between Perth railway station and the present St. Andrews Street and from 1868 he began to officiate from there. James Christie was installed as deacon in that year 4 and Wordsworth began to attract large congregations, but his ambitions for its development have not been fully recognised in more recent accounts. At some stage the English architect, Joseph Peacock, was commissioned to draw up plans for a church, school and parsonage for the site which were published in The Builder on March 27th 1869 (p247). Further research will no doubt reveal the intended seating capacity but it must have been as large or larger than St. Ninian’s as it then existed (Plate 4) .5 Such grandiose plans must have gone down like a lead balloon among the supporters of the existing churches and nothing more was heard of them. The chapel was closed following Wordsworth’s move to St. Andrews but continued in use as a school until 1898 when it was finally closed. 6
On the resignation of Fortescue in 1871, the Rev. John Burton was elected provost. He was a Durham man who, from 1855 had been the incumbent of Alyth and Meigle and with this appointment Bishop Wordsworth revived the Chapter by installing Dean Torry and six other clergy of the diocese. These were the Rev. Malcolm of Dunblane, the Rev. J Douglas of Kirriemuir, the Rev. George Hay Forbes of Burntisland, the Rev. L Tulliet of St. Andrews and the Rev. W Minniken, the chaplain to Lord Rollo at Duncrub just outside Dunning. During his incumbency at Alyth and Meigle, Burton had not been involved in the ritualism practised at the cathedral. If he had been his appointment would have been opposed by Wordworth who began to preach at the cathedral following Burton’s appointment, but he soon adopted many of the practices which had so upset the bishop during the Fortescue regime so Wordsworth had to leave the cathedral a second time and in 1876 he moved from Perth to live for the rest of his life at St. Andrews. At this time Canon Humble developed health problems and was advised to winter at San Remo on the Italian coast, just across the border from Monaco. It was there that he died on the 7th February 1876 at the age of fifty-seven. The east window of the cathedral was fitted with stained glass as a memorial to him. It was in 1882 during the Burton regime that the reredos designed by Butterfield was added at the east end, at the instance of the Torry family in memory of their grandfather, to be moved again to other parts of the building in the Pearson alterations two decades later, except for the white marble cross which was put above Bishop Torry’s tomb.
Humble was replaced as Canon by the Rev Donald Mackey, who was another ardent ritualist. It was at this time that the Rev George Taylor Shillito Farquhar (1857-1927)was asked to move from Forfar to St. Ninian’s as junior curate and noted in his diary that ‘Perth is desirable because I should get £160 instead of £100 as now’ and ‘time to devote myself to reading and the careful preparation of sermons … there is plenty of work to be done for the Church if I could in any way contribute to raising St. Ninian’s from the disgust with which it is regarded in Perth, owing chiefly to the fanatical way in which an extreme ritual was forced there at the point of the sword upon the Bishop and the people and the utter misunderstanding of Englishmen for the Scotch disposition’. 7 Farquhar was the son of the Rev. William Taylor Farquhar (1814-1874) and was educated at Glenalmond and Oxford. The family home was Pitscandly, near Forfar and as a born and bred Scot was a contrasting character from the clergy installed at St. Ninian’s from its inception. Two months after he moved to Perth he was able to record that ‘There has been perfect peace at St. Ninian’s since I came. Bp Wordsworth lives at St. Andrews and never interferes in any way. The Provost has been non-resident. Canon Mackey and I have been friendly. All on good terms with Dr Weiss of S. John’s … Neither the Provost nor Mackey ever call on the people. Things during the month have been in perfect peace’.8 But Provost Burton then began to have health problems and the Rev. S B Hodson was appointed his chaplain. In December 1883 the Rev. Burton was advised by his doctor to resign but did not do so. In the following June the Rev. Farquhar wrote in his diary that ‘the Provost has gone to live at Bridge of Earn. I am beginning to feel very indignant at his non-residence and lack of interest in the congregation. He was in Cornwall from December till the end of May. Now he is six miles out in the country and only comes in on Sundays’.9
Burton died quite suddenly at New Fargie, Bridge of Earn on July 7th 1885. Shortly after, Canon Mackey resigned, moving to England where he became vicar of Cleeton St. Mary in Shropshire in 1886. Burton was replaced by the Rev. Vincent Rorison, rector of St. John’s, Forfar. He was a graduate of Aberdeen University, where he obtained his M.A in 1873 and was the son of the Rev. Gilbert Rorison who from 1845 – 69 had been the incumbent of Peterhead, taking over on the retirement of Patrick Torry. He was at Torry’s bedside when he died. Wordsworth then travelled over from St. Andrews and installed Vincent Rorison as provost and George Farquhar as precentor and canon on December 16th 1885. Farquhar wrote in his diary that he ‘chanted the litany and the old Bishop was greatly pleased at the way I did it, saying to Mother he had not heard it done so well since he heard it at Winchester. It is a great thing to have got the old man into this mood who for 24 years past has shaken its dust off his feet’. 10 But earlier in the same year the cathedral had suffered a severe financial setback as did the Cathedral and College at Cumbrae. The Hon. George Boyle, now the Earl of Glasgow met with ‘some catastrophe’ in his private affairs and his estate had to be put into the hands of trustees so that ‘his great annual contribution of £600 must inevitably cease’. Fortunately just before that event, Horace Forbes, who had succeeded as the 20th Lord Forbes in 1868 made over £5,000 for the endowment of the Precentor’s stall. To provide for the provost, a capital sum of £8,000 was accumulated to provide an income and at Easter 1886 he took up residence at 11 Melville Street, previously occupied by Provost Burton. Boyle lived in much reduced circumstances until 1890 when he died in Edinburgh.
The cathedral faced a further major financial problem when the school building was condemned by government authorities but the Earl of Strathmore rescued the situation by agreeing to erect a new building. With the arrival of Rorison, support for the cathedral increased dramatically and Easter communicants rose from 100 in 1886 to 250 in 1890. This increase in support prompted the authorities to complete the nave and at a meeting in October 1887 the chapter formally gave consent to the building being enlarged. 11
To this end a building committee was formed consisting of the Earl of Strathmore as chairman, T T Oliphant as secretary, along with Provost Rorison, Canons Farquhar, Baillie and Malcolm, the Earl of Kinnoull, Mr P Stirling of Kippendavie, Mr C L Wood of Freeland, Mr E G Baxter of Teasses, Sir Robert Moncrieffe, Mr H Mercer of Gorthy, Lord Forbes and Mr C T C Grant of Kilgraston. In sharp contrast to the building committee of 1849, the main support was from local people. By September 1890, close on £7,000 would be collected and before long another £1,000 would be given for furnishing and decoration.
On October 25th 1887 Farquhar was to record that ‘Mr Butterfield … came down from London last night and has spent the whole of today taking measurements for the extension. Mr B has materially altered the original design. Instead of the hitherto double towers of small size at the west which have been intended he wishes to substitute one larger one … The single tower is a very fine one. Moreover with the old double tower the grand entrance doorway would have been from the west and hidden by the Barrack wall, but with the one tower it will be from the north-west and will thus be visible as an ornament from the street’. The original design with twin towers is shown in Plate 5. The single tower and spire substituted by Butterfield is shown in Plate 6. The building committee next arranged for estimates and that of Fraser and Morton of South William Street, Perth was accepted and on April 30th 1888 they started work. Progress in the work was recorded in the diary. By July 17th there were 12 men on the site carving stones and 1 building. The Clerk of Works, Mr Higgs was ‘very impatient at the slowness’. By February of the following year there was a problem. ‘The weight of the tower is so great that it has begun to sink in the soft clay foundation. This will necessitate the rebuilding of the aisle next the tower’. On March 20th 1889 Mr Butterfield arrived to ‘see how the Cathedral building is getting on’. By April 6th they were getting ‘a little anxious as it must have sunk a good deal over a foot … and the pedestals of the pier pillars are beneath the floor level’. They decided to halt work until the sinking stopped and on July 1st came the good news: ‘the tower having remained stationary for a month Mr Butterfield has sent orders for the resumption of the work’. On July 12th there was concern that ‘the tower which had been at rest for five weeks sank another ¼ inch’ but by July 30th ‘the sinking of the tower went no further and now they are busy with the clerestory’. By October 6th they were taking down the 1850 west wall and it was arranged for services to be held in the City Hall. On October 22nd Farquhar was complaining that ‘they are making very slow progress at the Cathedral. The contractor is taking on other jobs’ but by December 11th 1889 ‘they have now only to complete the western transepts’ and on December 31st in his review of the year he wrote that ‘the Cathedral has been built all through the year. There has been some delay about the beginning owing to the very disappointing sinking of the tower, which I am strongly of the opinion will render the completion of the spire impossible in the future – cause, the soft nature of the clay soil on which the foundations rest. It is now approaching completion: the roofs require to be put on the western transepts and the floor, glazing, heating, gas, seating etc to be undertaken in the nave. It looks very fine and Cathedral like now – the realisation of many a day dream’.
The congregation at this time continued to increase and by February 23rd 1890 Farquhar wrote that ‘The congregation has been gathered together for the most part since 1886; at least it has been trebled in that time. The newcomers have chiefly been Presbyterians, low church people from St. John’s, respectable but not very “Churchy” new arrivals in Perth and religious wanderers’. On March 2nd 1890 we read that Nellie Farquhar ‘having come into £500 we are going to fill in the little window of the south-east transept. We suggested a Scotch saint as a subject but Mr Butterfield wants the Virgin and Child’
This bay of the building was to become the Memorial Chapel for the South African War. At this time Col. Sir Robert Moncreiffe, C.B., C.M.G., A.D.C., the 8th Baronet of Moncreiffe, was on the cathedral building committee. His wife was Evelyn Elizabeth Vane Hay, eldest daughter of Col. The Hon. Charles Hay-Drummond of Cromlix and Innerpeffray. She was a niece of the 12th Earl of Kinnoull and acted as President of the Memorial Committee which raised funds for the window and the brass tablet. These were dedicated by Bishop Wordsworth on the 5th May 1903. Col. Moncreiffe had had a long association with the Black Watch; he had joined the Perthshire Militia in 1874 and after regular service joined the 1st Perthshire Volunteer Battalion in 1884. This unit later became the 6th Battalion of the Black Watch which he commanded for eighteen years up to 1911. Following the end of the South African War in 1901 he no doubt arranged for the memorial window and this was combined with the saints that Nellie Farquhar wanted. The right hand panel depicts Saint Margaret of Scotland and her son, King David. The left hand panel shows St. Magnus who was murdered on Egilsay in 1115 and Joshua, who in the Biblical narrative killed thirty-one kings before dying of natural causes at the age of one hundred and ten. The central panel contains Our Lord in Glory, St. Michael curbing the Dragon, St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland and the Crest of the Black Watch. This window and all the other windows in the cathedral nave were by Burlison and Grylls, a London firm which began operations at 23 Newman Street, London in 1868 with encouragement from Bodley and Garner and had been employed by them at St. Salvadors in Dundee. John Burlison (1843-91) and Thomas John Grylls (1845-1913) had trained with Clayton and Bell. The son and two daughters of Thomas Grylls all assisted with cartoons. The firm was taken over by Thomas Henry ‘Harry’ Grylls (1873-1953) in 1913 and continued in business until his death in 1953. At some stage the chapter decided that no other glass maker was to be used, though this was subsequently overruled when the lady chapel was under construction in 1908.
Lord Forbes had earlier agreed to fill in the west window in memory of his father ‘the Founder’, but on June 20th 1889 announced at a meeting that he could not afford to do so but would fill in one of the side windows instead. On August 25th 1891 Farquhar was to record that ‘we had a wonderful number of celebrities about the Cathedral this week i.e. Bp of Manchester (Moorhouse), Bp Wilkinson late of Truro; the Lord Mayor of London and several Aldermen; Canon Scott Holland and Madame Albain.12 The last I shewed over the Cathedral without in the least knowing who she was. Burlison and Grylls are putting in the Childrens’ and the Forbes – Glasgow windows in the Cathedral. I like their glass immensely’ !
The Kinnoull Window on the south aisle was installed in April 1893 and commemorates one of the founders of the nave, the 12th Earl of Kinnoull, his wife Emily Blanche Charlotte and their children. The Earl was a member of the building committee of 1887 13 and was the uncle of Evelyn Moncreiffe. The Earl was born in London in 1827, died at Torquay on the 31st January 1897 and was buried at Dupplin. He was predeceased by his wife, Emily Blanche, daughter of the 7th Duke of Beaufort, who died of bronchitis in the Berkeley Hotel, London on the 27th January 1895. It was a measure of the reconciliation that had taken place; his father, the 11th Earl took no part in the cathedral; he had been a vestry member at St. John’s, Princes Street, Perth and along with the Earl of Mansfield, had campaigned to retain St. John’s as an English Chapel, out-with the authority of the Scottish church in 1848. In this window mediaeval precedent is followed and the people commemorated are portrayed as Biblical characters. The left hand panel shows The Raising of Jairus’ Daughter. The right hand panel shows the Raising of Lazarus and in the centre panel is depicted the Healing of the Widow’s Son of Nain and Elijah Restoring a Child to Life.
The Children’s window in the south aisle was a votive offering from the children of the diocese in 1891. The left hand panel shows Shepherds at the Manger. The right hand panel shows the Presentation in the Temple and the Centre Panel depicts the Good Shepherd. The cost of the window was subscribed for out of collections made at children’s services and baptisms but the nucleus of the fund was a sum of money belonging to Ruth Mary Oliphant who had died aged four months on the 1st January 1886.
Ruth was a daughter of Thomas Truman Oliphant (1839-1902), secretary of the 1887 building committee who is commemorated by a window in the north aisle. It shows St. Ninian’s Cathedral in the left hand panel with St. Ninian consecrating the elements of bread and wine. The Centre Panel shows the Risen Christ above Knights at a Vigil before Knighthood and in the right hand panel the Martyrdom of St. Andrew above the ruins of St. Andrews Cathedral. Oliphant had died at Alassio in Italy on March 31st 1902 and was cremated there. His ashes were returned to his home town of St. Andrews and a funeral service took place within the ruined nave of the mediaeval cathedral. He lived at Queen Mary’s House on South Street although the family had owned Rossie House at Forgandenny—an estate they had held since 1583. He had a long record of service to the Episcopal Church having been honorary secretary and treasurer of the Diocesan Council of St. Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane since 1877 and Diocesan Registrar from 1884. He had had to resign as diocesan secretary in 1891 and retire to Italy for health reasons. His normal place of worship was at St. Andrews Church in St. Andrews.
Also on the north aisle there is the window commemorating Elizabeth Lindesay Watson Wemyss, the widow of Alexander Watson Wemyss MD, of Denbrae, St. Andrews. She died on the 25th April 1892 at Denbrae, leaving in her will £44,248.15s.1d, then a very substantial fortune. In the three panels are depicted St. Margaret of Scotland, St. Elizabeth of Hungary and St. Catherine of Siena with a background of Perpendicular Gothic architecture. Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-31) was canonised by Pope Gregory IX in 1235 only four years after her early death. Interest in her was revived in 1835 when the Life of Elizabeth of Hungary was published by the Comte de Montalembert (1810-70) who had discovered her desecrated shrine at Marburg. The Comte was born in London, the eldest son of a French émigré father and an English mother. The book was illustrated by Edward Hauser, an artist of the Nazarene school and was translated into English by Ambrose Phillips who became a Catholic and a patron of Pugin. He attempted to dedicate the English version to Queen Victoria but was firmly and predictably snubbed. Phillips became a friend of Montalembert for whom the greatest Christian painters were Fra Angelico and Overbeck. The portrayal of this saint in stained glass is nevertheless rare and is an interesting commentary on the ideals of the Wemyss family. 14
The west window, with its stunning tracery, was paid for out of the estate of the Gothenburg merchant, David Carnegie of Stronvar who died at Aytoun Hall in Fife on the 15th February 1890 leaving close to a quarter of a million pounds. It depicts the Fall and Redemption of Man and has twelve pictures depicting on the bottom row the Expulsion from Eden, the Offering of Isaac, the Brazen Serpent and the Annunciation. In the centre row is depicted the Agony in the Garden, the Kiss of Judas, the Denial of Peter and the Scourging. On the top row is shown the verdict of Pilate ‘I Find no Fault in Him’, Behold the Man, the Bearing of the Cross and Nailing to the Cross. Above the mullions is shown the Crucifixion, the Roman Centurion Nicodemus, a Group of Angels and the Crown of Life. This window was completed in July 1890. At around this time also the clerestory windows of the nave were glazed and from west to east show the arms of Perth, Strathmore, Oliphant, Grant, Mercer, Baxter and Carnegie.
Farquhar’s fear that ‘the completion of the spire (would be) impossible in the future’ proved correct. The ambitious spire which had been designed for a peal of bells was abandoned and the tower finished off with a pyramidal cap (Plate 7) which Farquhar was to note, on a holiday in N Wales to be ‘like Bangor Cathedral’. It was, in fact, simply a low-cost method of capping off the abandoned spire. In plan the cathedral was now as shown on Plate 8. The entrance door to the sacristy was the one that the clergy would have used and the new entrance at the north-west was now available for public use. From the sacristy the clergy entered for services by the door from the sacristy to the chancel which is still in use at the present day.
In 1891 the authorities decided that they should own a residence for the provost and paid £2,400 for 11 Barossa Place (now part of St. Johnstone Nursing Home) and he moved there from the rented accommodation at 11 Melville Street. It was described as ‘not much to look at from the outside but very comfortable inside’, which is probably still a pretty fair description today. It was in 1891 that Wordsworth decided to change the title of provost to dean and to appoint an archdeacon for the diocese. The Rev. Anthony Stocker Aglen, a Somerset man who from 1872 had been the incumbent of Alyth and Meigle, was appointed to the latter post. In response to this Rorison wrote ‘a war-like letter saying that he is Dean of the Diocese and Provost of the Cathedral and that he will not have the Statutes altered ’.
The following year Charles Wordsworth ‘paid his debt to nature’ at the age of eighty-six and his funeral took place at St. Andrews on December 10th 1892. Two years earlier he had expressed a wish to be buried at St. Ninian’s but his family decided otherwise.15
CHAPTER THREE THE EPISCOPATE OF GEORGE WILKINSON
George Howard Wilkinson was elected to replace Wordsworth on February 9th 1893 and was enthroned on April 27th. He was educated at Durham Grammar School and in 1851 matriculated at Brasenose College, Oxford. After only three weeks there, he was elected to a scholarship at Oriel, the college where George Frederick Boyle had studied. In December 1855 he met a Church of Scotland minister, the Rev. Donald Macleod at the Hotel d’Angleterre in Rome and they formed a life-long friendship. Donald Macleod functioned from Park Church, Glasgow, an ambitious gothic Established church designed in 1858. He was a brother of the Rev. Dr. Norman Macleod and a cousin of the Rev. George Macleod. Dr. Norman was the minister at Barony Church in Glasgow and was chaplain to the queen from 1857 until his death in 1872. As such he had a considerable influence on her perception of Scottish church matters.
Wilkinson studied for Holy Orders under the direction of Mr T F Stokes, the Prebendary at St. Paul’s in London and was ordained a deacon there on June 7th 1857 by the Bishop of London, Archibald Campbell Tait. On the same date a year later he was ordained to the priesthood and was licensed a curate at St. Mary Abbots, one of the most important churches in London. The vicar there was Archdeacon Sinclair, related to the Hon. George Boyle on his mother’s side.
In the autumn of 1859 he took up an offer of the vicarage of Seaham Harbour in his native Durham and then in 1863 moved to Bishop Auckland which provided a living of £600 per year. In 1857 he had become engaged to Miss Caroline des Voeux, a niece of Lady Grey and they married two years later. After four years at Bishop Auckland he was offered a small benefice in London by Mr Kempe, the rector of St. James, Piccadilly and they accepted this at a much reduced income, perhaps because he had a difficult relationship with his bishop in the north-east. His church in London was St. Peter’s in Gt. Windmill Street and he was given a house at 46 Devonshire Street, Portland Place. From there he moved to St. Peter’s, Eaton Square where he ‘read himself in’ on January 2nd 1870. His income there was £1,000 per year. The church in Eaton Square had been built in 1826 and was of a design totally unsuited to the time, having old-fashioned high pews, no chancel, galleries on three sides and a three-decker pulpit with reading desk and clerk’s desk attached.1 Wilkinson arranged for the pews to be replaced by open seats 2 and for a chancel to be added along with other alterations to a design by Arthur Blomfield (1829-99) and it was there in July 1882 that the Rev. George Macleod met the architect, Robert Rowand Anderson prior to the rebuilding of Govan Old, a design that was to set new standards in Presbyterian church design in Scotland.3
Wilkinson remained at Eaton Place until his consecration to the see of Truro on St. Mark’s Day 1883. His predecessor at Truro was the Archbishop of Canterbury, Edward White Benson who had engaged John Loughborough Pearson to design a cathedral for the diocese. By a coincidence Wilkinson’s first visit to Truro coincided with the first visit to the site by Pearson and so he was involved with the planning of that cathedral in its earliest stages.
By 1890 Wilkinson was suffering from a depressive illness. His wife had died on September 6th 1887, less than a fortnight after the birth of their daughter, Margaret Cara on August 27th, but he recovered and on July 18th 1890 wrote to Benson saying how well he was feeling and then in August and September went on holiday to Scotland calling on Mr R T N Speir at Culdees and staying at Sir Archibald Campbell’s shooting lodge at Glenshee. He paid a visit to St. Ninian’s and then went to Lord Haddington’s at Tyninghame but when he arrived back down south his health got worse again and on April 14th 1891 published a letter to the diocese saying he was about to resign. Within two weeks of this announcement Mr Speir was in touch with him saying that ‘Our bishop is past eighty, and practically for years has done nothing …. The work of our northern dioceses is very light, and Scotch air is very different to Cornish. Is it the least use my endeavouring to bring about the offering of this appointment to you, or could you not give it favourable consideration ’ ? In 1892 Wilkinson went off to South Africa where his health improved dramatically and the Bishop of Capetown offered him the position of coadjutor 4 but he returned to England in October.
On December 5th 1892, Charles Wordsworth died and Speir immediately got back in touch with Wilkinson as a replacement. Two names were subsequently considered for the post – Wilkinson and Dr. Kelly, Bishop of Moray and Ross. At the election both the lay electors and clergy voted unanimously for Wilkinson. The Rt. Rev. John Dowden, Bishop of Edinburgh (who was Irish), raised a protest arguing that the church was being damaged by the importation of so many outsiders ! 5 Wilkinson was himself very uncertain about accepting and went to Canterbury to see Archbishop Benson. He directed him to accept, which he at once did. 6
Following his consecration Wilkinson took up residence at Birnam and it was there that the clergy met on July 22nd 1893 for a conference and retreat. Wilkinson announced that he hoped to revise the cathedral statutes and make the cathedral the real centre of the diocese. A fortnight later there was a Diocesan Council meeting in the cathedral where Wilkinson impressed with his ‘orderliness, gentleness and goodness’ and the large attendance at that meeting said that ‘they never remember so satisfactory a meeting’. 7 At this meeting it was resolved to create a memorial to Bishop Wordsworth.
Buying his library and building a chapter house to contain it was one of the ideas suggested.
In February of the following year work on rebuilding and enlarging the organ was completed at a cost of £600. 8 The sanctuary was laid with tiles at the expense of Mr Grant of Kilgraston and it was announced that Lord Rollo had collected £610 towards a memorial for Bishop Wordsworth which it was hoped would take the form of a chapter house. It was presumably in anticipation of that happening that in October 1894, the Wordsworths wrote from St. Andrews offering 3000 of his books to be kept in the cathedral library. On the 3rd December of that year Dr. Buchanan White died resulting in a further addition to the cathedral glass. He lived at Annat Lodge in Perth and was the son of Dr. Francis Isaiah White, the member of the original committee of 1847 referred to at the beginning of this paper. On October 15th 1896 the Pentecostal window showing a dove with a choir of angels was installed as a memorial to him in the wheel window of the south transept. The elder White was to outlive his son, dying on October 8th 1898.
On December 8th 1896 a representative from Pearson’s appeared at the cathedral and spent the whole day taking measurements. Farquhar noted in his diary that ‘I do not quite know what the Bp is contemplating at present—whether it is the Chapter House or New Stalls or what. In any case something is in view’. What he had in view was to be revealed in May 1897 when he ‘exhibited plans of proposed alterations showing the removal of the organ from the north of the chancel to the south transept, the opening out on the south chancel wall of an archway leading into space corresponding to that on the north now occupied by the organ : then aisles would be opened out in the north end of each transept : also a Cloister is to open out of the south transept and lead into a Chapter House in memory of Bp Wordsworth : also the Stalls are to be brought down from the chancel and good oak ones substituted in the transepts’.9 Three months later he announced ‘with some eloquence’ at a Diocesan Council that he had made up his mind to make a beginning with Pearson’s plans for enlarging the cathedral. He did not ask the Council to proceed with the plans but to pass a resolution ‘wishing him God speed in the work’, which they did. 10
The plans Wilkinson had for the cathedral were for major alterations and additions which externally included a reshaping of the west end, the addition of corner pinnacles at the east end to match those added at the west end, a lady chapel and a new block on the south side to accommodate the chapter house and vestries. Internally the sanctuary at the east end was to have arcading in Aberfeldy stone with a piscina, along with the addition of a baldacchino, (which was to cost £900), and there were to be new stalls for the clergy and choir and a new pulpit all to the design of the Pearsons, father and son. No plans are known to have survived of the Pearson alterations and additions. The elder Pearson (1817-97) was almost an exact contemporary of Butterfield and not dissimilar in character, both tending to shyness and shunning publicity, but in their architectural style they differed in that Pearson’s influence was from the architecture of 13th and 14th century France and in particular of Normandy. William Butterfield was the oldest in the family; John Pearson was the last of nine children, that figure including his twin sister who was still-born. In 1831 he was placed in the Durham office of Ignatius Bonomi whose father Joseph Bonomi, an Italian immigrant working for Robert and James Adam, had been well known as a designer of neo-classical country houses.
In a long working life the elder Pearson designed a large number of churches and with one exception all were for the Anglicans which he piously supported all his life. In 1842 he moved to London and for six months worked for Salvin (referred to on page 11) before moving on to work for Philip Hardwick and his son, Philip Charles. A year later he began to practice on his own account; his first designs were strikingly dependant on Pugin but he soon developed an independent style. His first London church was Holy Trinity, Bessborough Gardens (demolished in the 1950’s) and on its completion the Ecclesiologist was to note that Pearson was ‘One of whom we know little … but that little is all good’.
For Truro Cathedral Pearson had been chosen from a short list of seven who submitted drawings and photographs of previous work; the list was narrowed down to Pearson and Bodley and it was Bishop Benson who chose Pearson. Truro was begun in 1880 and was completed and blessed in 1903. The addition of the west towers in 1910 brought the main building campaign to a close. In 1935 one bay of the intended cloisters was added, but thirty years later Pearson’s designs for the chapter house and other buildings there were formally abandoned.11 Unusually for Pearson, the cathedral has a square east end, but at Perth his design for the lady chapel and for the chapter house holds no surprises. The east end of the chapel has a polygonal apse in the continental manner and its roof was vaulted to the delight of the clergy then in charge.
In December of 1897, J L Pearson died following an operation and it was then that his 38 year-old son, Frank Loughborough Pearson became involved in the project. In March 1898, Wilkinson returned from his annual holiday and was very keen to see some progress with the work. There was opposition to the proposed removal of Butterfield’s screen but Wilkinson announced that he did not intend to do without a screen but to erect a wooden screen (by Pearson) instead, at the new entrance to the chancel. The Butterfield screen was to be re-erected at the west end.
At a chapter meeting on April 28th 1898 attended by Lord Forbes, T T Oliphant, J Carnegie, R Kinloch, J B Don, E W Burton, F Norie Miller and F W Burton, there was general support for carrying out alterations. It was decided that the bishop and dean should visit Pearson in London ‘to see if it is quite impossible (as he had said) to remodel the east end and still retain the screen’. By June of that year about £7,000 had been gathered into the building fund 12 and a resolution was passed asking Pearson to prepare working designs for improvements costing £10,000. At this time it was agreed to let Pearson ‘have his own way’ and remove the screen.
Pearson attended a chapter meeting in September and was authorised to get estimates for the alterations to the chancel and the building of the chapter house. At that meeting the only dissenting voice was that of the Very Rev. Rorison who ‘by refusing to allow his seat to be moved a single foot he quite upset Mr Pearson’s whole plans and they had to be considerably modified in consequence’. 13 By the end of December 1898 the Building Fund stood at £9,000 and ‘as usual’ the bishop went off on a two months holiday.
In April 1899 the committee received estimates from half a dozen English firms and one Scottish one – Fraser and Morton of South William Street, Perth and their tender, which not surprisingly was the lowest, was £14,000 ; double Pearson’s estimate of £7,000, so they next tried to decide what parts of the plans could be left out. The following month they decided not to proceed with the vestries and the lady chapel which would save them £5,000, but to go ahead with the chapter house and the aisles to the chancel and to build a new organ chamber. 14 They also decided to proceed with the bishop’s throne and the pulpit. In June the committee ‘abandoned … opposition to what appears to be the exorbitant scale of Mr P’s charges’ (probably resulting from the changes required by Rorison)’ … ‘and authorised Messrs Oliphant and Kinloch to put the contract into final form and sign it’. The contract stipulated that completion should be by March 1st 1901 and on All Souls Day 15 the bishop placed the foundation stone of the chapter house and Lord Rollo laid it.
In June of 1900 work began on the new south choir aisle which now houses the organ and forms the entrance to the lady chapel with its lancet windows facing south. The present organ was then installed by the Dundee organ builder, John R Miller. An impressive organ case was designed by Pearson which was to feature on Miller’s letterhead until the death of John Miller in 1941 when the firm was taken over by Larg’s of Dundee. Unfortunately this organ case was never built—instead the fairly standard Scottish ‘pipe-rack’ arrangement in use today was installed. Subsequent additions have made this instrument very highly rated. Later that year they had sufficient money to allow building of the cloister at the west side of the new chapter house block. On the north side a new archway was formed from the transept into the new north chancel aisle. The following January the Butterfield screen was removed and at a meeting that month, July 31st was fixed for the opening.
The commitment to re-erect the Butterfield screen at the west end was apparently forgotten about but Wilkinson had insisted that it could only be removed if another home could be found for it. Finally a new home was found for it at St. Devenick’s, Bieldside, Aberdeen, where it was to remain until May 1997 when the congregation there decided that they no longer wanted it. Prior to 1997 efforts were made to find another home for it and St. Ninian’s were asked if they wanted it back. In the end they found contractors, (Chap Construction of Aberdeen), who agreed to remove it for nothing for the salvage value.
In May 1901 at a chapter meeting it was ‘sorrowfully concluded’ that another £2,000 would have to be raised, making the cost £13,000 in all 16 and in July the workmen were fitting in the organ, the stalls and the book cases in the chapter house. The canopies on the stalls of the provost and precentor were set up, as was the one on the bishop’s throne which was detached from the others. The Pearson pulpit was finished, replacing ‘the shabbiest pulpit in all Christendom’. The carvings on the pulpit represent St. Cuthbert holding the head of King Oswald. St. Mungo preaching to Artisans. St Columba speaking to Brude, King of the Picts and St. Patrick preaching to Irish princesses. Also the canopies on the stalls of the provost and precentor were set up, as was the one on the bishop’s throne.
On December 1st 1906 the crucifixion window high up on the east wall of the south aisle was dedicated to the memory of Beatrice Marianne Jane Graeme who died on the 9th October 1905. She had been a Queen Victoria Jubilee Nurse and Superintendent of Perth Sick Poor Nursing Society. A tablet in her memory was also dedicated at the west end of this aisle.
The completion of the lady chapel was shelved but in 1907 Mr Athol MacGregor of Ard Choille was bereaved of his wife. He collected £1,950 and said that he wished this money to be used for the building of the chapel in her memory provided that the foundations, ( which had been laid at the time of the earlier Pearson alterations), were sound. These foundations were investigated and Pearson reported that they were adequate for the chapel he had designed. It was estimated that the work would cost £2,400 and Mr Baxter of Teasses said that they could use as much as was necessary of £1,000 that he had given. At this time also the ground at the west end was investigated to a depth of 80ft which was soft clay but at 35ft there was a bed of gravel, and Pearson reported that if the western tower was to be completed the existing foundations were inadequate for a structure 72ft high, saying that the existing tower would have to be pulled down, and the ground piled down to the bed of gravel 35ft below the surface. This would be sufficient to carry a tower and spire but to do that would cost £2,000 to £3,000 even before the rebuilding was begun. At this meeting the provost reported that ‘certain rich men, I think he means Athol MacGregor and James Carnegie of Ayton, are to meet tomorrow to consider the financial situation … Mr Pearson is also full of minor plans for the beautification of the Cathedral :- eg adding flying buttresses to the exterior, removing the present fall-to roof of the north choir aisle and substituting a better one, and elevating the great east window 4ft and toning down its somewhat crude colours etc’. 17
In the following September there was an anonymous offer (which was from James Carnegie) of £11,000 for the western tower and spire. Because the cost of pulling down the unfinished tower was so high, Pearson was asked to devise ‘some scheme of a new tower on new foundations.’ Clearly the tower in the water colour drawing at St. Ninian’s by F L Pearson, showing it on the south side of the nave, was what was intended (Plate 9) and it would have been a truly spectacular piece of work, but even at that stage it was thought that it would be much better to spend the money, or part of it at least, on an endowment. Subsequently there were grave doubts about accepting the money. How could they ask the public for money to cover normal expenses when they had just spent £11,000 on a tower and moreover if they went ahead with it at that price it would probably finish up costing £13,000.
On December 11th 1907 Wilkinson was in Edinburgh addressing a meeting of the Clergy Fund Board. At the end of his speech he fell down dead. On December 23rd about thirty leading laity and clergy met to plan a memorial to him. It was unanimously agreed that this should be in the cathedral – some wanted a statue, some suggested further decoration in the building and others said that an endowment should be set up in his name. Mr Carnegie said that he wished the £10,000 he was giving for the tower to be In Memoriam of Wilkinson and that it should be called The Bishop’s Tower. On the 1st January 1908 F L Pearson wrote from London expressing his shock at the death of the bishop, saying that in one of the last letters he had received from him he had expressed his satisfaction with the designs for the cathedral. His letter recalled that when he had designed the tower it was on the basis that the money available was £10,000 but this would not cover the cost of the octagon lantern stage at the top, but the tower would be quite satisfactory without this feature. He went on to say ‘ The alteration of the upper part of the present tower so as to carry the roof through to the west end and forming a gable there would probably cost about £500 but I can too earnestly trust that such an idea is not in contemplation … As to the foundation of the tower the best way will be to carry them right down to the bed of gravel underlying the present west wall which will be the east wall of the tower’. 18
The following month Wilkinson’s coadjutor, Bishop Richardson, ‘that most guileless of prelates’ 19 left Perth for retirement and in that month also it was decided that additional buttressing was required at the south side of the sanctuary and that an effective way to do this would be to build the lady chapel and so on December 31st 1907 instructions were given for this to be done. Wilkinson’s collaboration with Pearson on the alterations must have been helped by the similarity in their self-effacing personalities.20 The emphasis on Wilkinson’s episcopacy was on mission and in making the cathedral the real centre of the diocese and the diocesan festivals held there, ( at which eminent divines from England and elsewhere were invited to preach ), brought together the scattered and often small congregations in the diocese and gave a sense of diocesan solidarity which was certainly not experienced before. These diocesan festivals were to continue long after his death with an interruption for the 1914-18 war.
At no time during his period in Perth could the bishop be said to be in good health and it was after an illness in 1907 that the ladies of the diocese, as a thank-offering, gathered together several hundred pounds to pay for the installation of electric light in the building.
CHAPTER FOUR 1908-1914
On February 12th 1908 the provost, Charles Edward Plumb was elected bishop and consecrated on the 25th March, though he was to retain the position of provost until 1911. Plumb was educated at Lichfield College and Worcester College, Oxford and had worked in England and France prior to his appointment at St. Ninian’s. A year after he arrived at the cathedral he declared that he was contemplating the introduction of the English Communion Office, once a month but it was pointed out to him that ‘historically the Cathedral had been built as a citadel of the Scotch Office’. 1
Three months after his election, at a meeting on May 18th 1908 it was reported that a memorial fund for Bishop Wilkinson stood at about £3,000 and in the following November it was agreed that a commission for a statue was to be offered to Mr Frampton (shortly to become Sir George) – the figure to cost £800 and the surroundings £200. Part of the £3,000 raised for the memorial was to be used for improvements in addition to the statue and part was to be put to an endowment. They agreed that Pearson’s plan for a tower was ‘quite tempting’, except that it seemed to be attached to the cathedral and they were concerned again about the foundations. Finally in May 1908 it was agreed that instead of a tower, £5,000 could be put in to an endowment and £5,000 to the general improvement of the whole building. In October scaffolding was erected at the west end in order to pull down the top part of the Butterfield tower and to extend the nave roof to a gable at the west end, to correspond with the east end. This entailed removing Butterfield’s windows above the west window replacing them by the Pearson design of today.
In November the Pearson pinnacles at the west end were added – presumably the £5,000 allocated by Mr Carnegie for improvements covered these costs. At the same time the interior of the west end was ’completely reorganised’ and no doubt it was at this time that the Butterfield font of 1853 was relocated at the west end. At this time the library was boosted by the addition of 150 books from Archdeacon Aglen’s library—chiefly Wellhausen, Evould, Theuren and Co ! The library was to get a further boost in December 1911 by the addition of 150 volumes from the library of the Rev. William Taylor Farquhar of Pitscandly, late father of the Rev George Farquhar. These and the other books gifted earlier were disposed of during the episcopate of the Rt. Rev. Michael Hare Duke (Bp 1969-94).
On December 17th 1908 Pearson visited the cathedral and said that he had interviewed Sir George Frampton about the statue and he ‘seemed inclined to undertake the commission.’ A bronze figure could be had for £800 and the same thing in marble would cost £1,500 (if a suitable piece of marble could be obtained), and so bronze was chosen. The monument to the Most Rev. George Howard Wilkinson can be counted among his best monumental works, combined as it is with the Pearson-designed setting on a tomb chest before a prayer desk. Before the work started there was the inevitable debate about dress. Should he be wearing a cope and mitre or be dressed in plain rochet? The present site was strongly advocated by Pearson who thought that ‘the light would be admirable there and that the necessary arch-way would add richness, complication and mystery to the Cathedral – which it much wants’. 2 On March 19th 1909 George Farquhar was told by his wife that Sir George Frampton was expected at the cathedral and he ‘hastened along and found Mr Kinloch and Mr Athol MacGregor waiting for him. In a little the cloister door opened and in came a stranger, who was evidently Sir George. He pulled off his overcoat and said he had only a quarter of an hour between trains. We at once took him up to the high altar and showed him the wall in which an arch is to be made for the figure of the Primus which Sir G had undertaken. He studied the height, the lights and the ground plan. We then hurried him out and he entered the chapel through one of its windows. As he was going he asked me to have the Primus’ robes sent to him. I asked “which”? He said “I suppose the rochet, as I suppose there would be a difficulty about the Cope, but I should much prefer the Cope”. He then went off in a cab. He is a keen clever looking man. I wrote at once to the Bishop, who is at Oxford, about the robe’. 3
Sir George Frampton (1860-1928) was a leading figure in the New Sculpture movement which began in the third quarter of the 19th century. He was one of the generation of sculptors who came into prominence following the election of Frederic, Lord Leighton, as President of the Royal Academy in 1878. Leighton was himself an excellent sculptor as well as a painter. The New Sculpture of the late 19th century broke out from the limits imposed on the genre by those such as Francis Chantrey, John Gibson and their followers, whose work suppressed any form of self expression in favour of narrow standards of classical purity, severity and dignity, a set of disciplines which combined neatly with the exigencies of Victorian morality. Three years after Leighton’s election, Hamo Thorneycroft was admitted to an Associateship. He began teaching sculpture at the Royal Academy Schools in 1882 and continued to do so until 1914. Virtually all the men who later achieved prominence trained either under Thorneycroft at the Royal Academy Schools or the National Art Training School at South Kensington, often after a period at the Lambeth Art School where Harry Bates, Frederick W Pomeroy, Goscombe John, Tweed and Frampton all achieved distinction between 1879 and 1890.
Frampton was born in London and was admitted to the RA schools in 1881. In 1887 he won a gold medal and travelling scholarship and went to Paris where he became a pupil of Antonin Mercié. He returned to England and was appointed teacher of sculpture at the Slade School and joint head with W R Lethaby of the Central School of Arts and Crafts. The first significant example of this new style is generally reckoned to be Frederic Leighton’s Athlete Wrestling with a Python of 1877 inspired by creations he had seen at the Paris Salon of 1876. 4 Following his two-year spell with Antonin Mercié, Frampton received a mention for two works produced for the Salon of 1889, namely The Angel of Death, a life-sized figure in plaster and Christabel, a bust also in plaster which established his reputation as a major European artist.
Frampton’s mature style emerged in 1895 with his portrayal of his wife and child in a silvered bronze relief panel entitled Mother and Child, exhibited at the Royal Academy in that year. His career perhaps peaked with his Lamia of 1899-1900 in bronze and ivory with opals which a visitor to the Academy was to describe as ‘a life-size face of extraordinary beauty, mysterious and sad … she makes an absolute silence in the room; whoever turns his head in passing stops and remains enchanted’. 5
Frampton was knighted in 1908 and was to be awarded medals and honours at exhibitions all over Europe. In 1897 he had been appointed supervising sculptor for the Kelvinside Art Galleries in Glasgow and personally executed the model of St. Mungo as Patron of the Arts, 6 a commission which followed earlier work in Glasgow at the Savings Bank in Ingram Street in 1894-6. But as he moved into the 20th century the avante garde Art Nouveau and Symbolism of his early work was replaced by more traditional and less inspired monuments, the best known of which is Peter Pan erected in Kensington Gardens. His other commemorative work in Scotland includes a modest monument to General W S A Lockhart, commissioned for St. Giles Cathedral in 1908 and a recumbent effigy of the 8th Duke of Argyll in Iona Cathedral. Frampton’s early training was in an architect’s office and this has been held to explain some of the distinguishing characteristics in his work, 7 one of which was a particular gift for integrating sculpture and architecture.
In April 1909 the glass to be used at the east end of the lady chapel came up for discussion. There was a Chapter regulation that all the windows in the cathedral were to be by Burlison and Grylls but it was said that the quality of their work had fallen off. Also, since the chapel was in a sense separate from the cathedral they did not feel bound by the regulation and the Wilkinsons, who were paying for it, were keen to employ Powell and so it was agreed that their glass was to be used.
Powell’s firm was of considerable historic significance. The Whitefriars Glass Company had been in existence for a century when it was bought in 1834 by James Powell, a successful London wine merchant. Following the Reformation stained glass production almost died out in this country and in the 18th century enamelled, rather than stained glass was produced. Following the purchase by James Powell of Whitefriars, a barrister, Charles Winston (1814-64) worked with Dr Medlock of the Royal College of Chemistry. At Powell’s Glass Works they developed good blue glass from cobalt and a good olive colour out of sulphate of iron so together they revived the art of stained glass and raised the quality of the glass to mediaeval standards.
Edward Burne-Jones (1833-98) was for a time their chief designer but he left in 1861. He was replaced by Henry Holliday (1839-1927) who joined the firm in 1863 but left to set up on his own in 1891. Holliday continued to design for Whitefriars but it is likely that the designs at St. Ninian’s would have been drawn by James Crofts Powell who was to have a long association with Giles Gilbert Scott doing work in the new Anglican Cathedral at Liverpool. By 1908 when the St. Ninian’s windows were produced Harry Powell was in control, having joined the family firm in August 1873 at the age of twenty. From 1875 he became manager – he was extremely knowledgeable technically and artistically talented. James Croft Powell, who was his cousin and slightly older, took charge of the stained glass windows and tile work done by the firm, which remained in existence until 1980. Depicted in the window are St. Stephen, St. Peter, St. Michael the Archangel, the Madonna and Child, St. John the Apostle, St. Paul and John the Baptist. On the south wall of the chapel is the nunc dimittis window in memory of Athol MacGregor which on stylistic grounds is attributed to Burlison and Grylls.
On June 4th 1909 there was a meeting to again discuss whether the statue of Wilkinson should show him dressed in a Cope or in Rochet and Chimere. ‘The Dean (Rorison) thundered in true Protestant style against the Cope and unfortunately Miss Wilkinson, to my surprise, took the same line in a letter. Mr Kinloch the Secretary took the same line but the rest of us led by the Bp inclined to the Cope, chiefly on artistic grounds. I certainly think that great prudence should be used in actually wearing the Cope and Mitre, on account of popular prejudices, but in the case of the statue, the Mitre which is the chief cause of offence would not be worn, as the figure would be kneeling, and the flow of the drapery is much more elegant. The Primus used to wear the Cope on great occasions, so it is quite truthful’. 8 There had been no such prejudices in the depiction of St. Mungo at Kelvinside Art Gallery which is shown mitred.
At a meeting on June 24th the same matter of dress was again discussed when the Dean and Miss Wilkinson again suggested that he should be in Rochet whereas the others were in favour of Cope and Rochet. In the end they decided to let Sir George Frampton decide ‘on artistic grounds’ and the Cope and Rochet won the day. Whilst working on the statue Sir George complained that the photographs lent to him of the bishop were inadequate and all from one angle. In a letter to Mr Kinloch of the 30th July 1909 he wrote ‘I need hardly say that I have worked a very long time on the bust under the directions of some of the family and after much thought and labour the Rev. George Wilkinson considered the likeness of his father to be as good as it could be under the circumstances’. 9 At the meeting on the 24th June Pearson produced plans for the high altar, showing it brought out from the east wall and placed under a baldacchino, supported on four columns. The chapter also decided on the subjects to be carved on the bosses of the chapel roof vaults.
The following month the sacristy and north aisle walls were pulled down and rebuilt higher with twin lancets to Pearson’s design and by the end of 1909 these additions were more or less complete except for the Whitefriars glass which was installed in the following April. In May 1910 the two Pearson turrets at the east end were added to match those at the west end. In August the stone arcading had still not been completed because ‘there had been the most extraordinary difficulty in getting the grey Aberfeldy stone.’ 10 Also in August the Butterfield reredos was removed and the big white marble cross, which was part of it, was also removed to be reset above Bishop Torry’s tomb. Also that month the wall was pierced between the chancel and the lady chapel and the tomb chest and prayer desk built for the Frampton sculpture. December saw the arrival of the statue, ‘a very beautiful work of art and the likeness is distinctly good, quite wonderful for one who never saw the Bp’. 11 The work on the chapel was completed and on November 30th 1909 was dedicated by the bishop.
In March 1911 services had to be held in the chapter house because work was being done on the baldacchino, using stone brought from Cornwall because there had been such difficulty in getting Aberfeldy stone. The cost of the baldacchino came in at £900 but sufficient Aberfeldy stone was obtained for the Wilkinson tomb chest and there was pressure to have the work completed before a meeting of the Representative Church Council in Perth at the beginning of May. It was at this time that the carving of the canopies on the north wall of the sanctuary were finished and on May 5th 1911, Holy Communion was celebrated in the completed cathedral for the first time.
In 1911 also, the Scottish Liturgy of 1764 which the cathedral had steadfastly defended was superseded by the liturgy passed by the Provincial Synod of 1911 and this new liturgy adopted by the College of Bishops in November 1912 was immediately accepted at St. Ninian’s along with a new Table of Lessons.
Notable Developments After 1914
Bishop Plumb remained in office at the cathedral until 1930. During the war forty-six men of the congregation lost their lives. Among them was John Athol MacGregor who was killed at the Battle of the Somme on the 26th May 1916 and the carved font canopy to the design of F L Pearson was erected in his memory in 1919. 12 On the 4th May 1917 Claude Norie-Miller was killed and the rood screen designed by the architect and stained glass artist, Sir John Ninian Comper was erected in his memory in 1924. 13 The lower half of this was later removed and the existing upper section installed as it is today. Comper was born in Aberdeen and was the son of the Rev. John Comper who was ordained at St. Ninian’s Cathedral on the day after it was consecrated in December 1850. He was educated at Glenalmond and spent a year in the stained glass works of Charles Eames Kempe before being articled to Bodley and Garner. Though based in London he worked frequently in Scotland notably at St. Mary’s, Kirriemuir. He also completed alterations and additions to St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church and convent in Aberdeen where his father was in charge.
Mr R M Pullar of Brahan became treasurer of the cathedral in 1921. He died in 1930 and as part of a memorial to him a figure of Christ was gifted. This figure of Christ, carved in wood, is unsigned but has been attributed, by older members of the congregation, to Hew Lorimer. 14 He was Sir Robert Lorimer’s youngest son who had worked with Eric Gill. This artist’s independent professional career began in 1934 and further research will accurately confirm the provenance. This statue is displayed inside the small west entrance in what was originally the mortuary chapel. The final completion of the cathedral came with the building of the present entrance and cloister to the cathedral from North Methven Street, added to the design of Harold Ogle Tarbolton and Sir Matthew Ochterlony of Edinburgh in 1939, in a style which acknowledged Pearson’s in a modernised form.
When the Butterfield screen was removed in the Pearson alterations there were many who bemoaned the loss and viewing it today, as shown in Plate 1, it has to be said that the difficult decision taken at the time, to remove it, was a regrettable one. However the designs of Pearson were, as the Ecclesiologist said, ‘all good’ and the designs of Butterfield and Pearson are seen today to blend in a very special way and with the fine glass and sculpture added during the period of this study, Perth has a cathedral building of outstanding merit.
Notes to Introduction
1. G St. Quintin, p9
2. Montagu Abercromby was born on 10.8.1835 and died aged ninety-five on 22.4.1931. Her dates are given on the altar rail of the Cathedral of the Isles at Millport
3. Alumni Oxoniese 1715-1886
4. Hunt and Company, City of Oxford Directory
5. Tayler p267
6. Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology, (Edinburgh 1907) p775
7. Sir John Balfour, Ed, The Scots Peerage Vol III (Edinburgh 1907) p183
8. Gentleman’s Magazine (1889) p625
9. Ingram p97
10. Neale p807
11. Viscount Campden was born in Edinburgh in 1818. He married a daughter of the Earl of Errol and in 1866 succeeded to the title of Earl of Gainsborough.
12. The Stirling home was Kippenross, a mansion atr Kippendavie, 3/4 mile south-east of Dunblane. John Stirling is interred in the burial ground of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Dunblane, along with other members of the family. In Dunblane Cathedral there is a plaque ‘In memory of those members of the House of Stirling at Kippendavie interred in the aisle 1595-1895.
13. He had a home at 4 Shandwick Place, Edinburgh and was presumably related to Lord Medwyn.
14. Obituary in Perthshire Advertiser, 9th October 1898.
15. Thompson p45
16. Statistical Account 1791-9, p511
17. 1855 Map of Perth
18. Statistical Account 1844
19. Blackwood’s Magazine Aug 1850
21. Directory of Scottish Episcopal Church (1878) p1
22. Transactions of the Aberdeen Ecclesiological Society, Vol I, 1886-99
23. The consecration of Dr. Hook’s church in Leeds was attended not only by English bishops, but also the Bishop of New Jersey and his old friend, Bishop Low of Moray, Ross and Argyll. Lady Lothian met Dr. Hook in about 1842 and he became her confidant and spiritual advisor.
24. J Marshall, A History of Scottish and Ecclesiastical Affairs. (Edinburgh 1859)
25. At the opening of the church the Rev. Marshall said that ‘the sole architect in the construction …. Has been my own step-son, Master J B Henderson, a boy of fifteen years of age, whose general acquirements, and whose knowledge of the various styles of church architecture in particular are such as might confer honour upon individuals, who with all the assistance which a regular professional occupation can afford, have arrived in the full maturity of manhood’. J Marshall, The Lord’s House, Being a Discourse Preached at the Opening of a House of Prayer on the Fifth Wednesday in Lent. ( Edinburgh 1843)
26. White p27
27. Ecclesiologist No 1. p2
Notes to Chapter One
1. Daily Telegraph. 9th October
2. R M Cook, Greek Art (1972) p237-8
& Pl 87
3. Ecclesiologist Vol II, p19
4. Thompson p44
5. Ibid. p44
6. White p114-15
7. Ibid. p38
8. Ibid. p60
9. Ibid. p118
10. Ecclesiologist, Vol I, Nov 1841, p10
11. St. John’s Minute Book, p213
12. Curl p54
13. D M Walker, Rhind Lectures, 1990-91,
14. Thompson p15
15. Ibid. p14
16. Building News (78) 1900 p292
17. Thompson p19
18. Ibid p54
19. Farquhar (1927) p22
20. Bertie p261
21. Thompson p44
22. Ibid p62
23. Scott p133
24. Ibid. p122
25. Thompson p279
26. Ibid. p95
27. Ibid. p88
28. Ibid. p61
29. Ibid. p62
30. Ibid. p54
31. Neale p343-4
32. Ibid. p348
33. Ibid. p349
35. Ibid. p33
36. Ibid. p37
37. Ibid. p170
38. Ibid. p118
39. See R Bauckham, The Theology of the
Book of Revelation. p17-24.
‘Understanding the Imagery’
40 The Architect Vol 18
41. The firm was established in 1858 as the
Bloomsbury Stained Glass Works at 38
Bedford Square, London moving in 1876
to Bloomsbury Street.
42 Thomson p249
43. Pow p1
44. Wordsworth p45
45. Cheyne p43
46. See my St. Andrews University
Dissertation. The Architecture of
Hippolyte Jean Blanc with Particular
Reference to his Churches at Invergowrie
and Broughty Ferry , (1998)
Notes to Chapter Two
1. Farrquhar (1927) p23
2. Ibid. p36
3. Ibid. p35
4. Bertie p209
5. My thanks to Professor D M Walker for
bringing this to my attention.
6. Farquhar (1927) p36
7. .A K Bell Library, MS 181. Farquhar
Diaries, 8th August 1883
8. Ibid. 26th October 1883
9. Ibid. 19th June 1884
10. Ibid. 16th December 1885
11. Farquhar (1927) p29
12. In fact this must have been Madame
Albani , the international soprano. Born
in Montreal, she spent most of her life in
Britain after 1872
13. A K Bell Library MS 181 17th October
14. Hall pp168-174
15. A K Bell Library MS 181 10th Dec.
Notes to Chapter Three.
1. Mason Vol 1 p246
2. Ibid. P257
3. McKinstry p105
4. Mason Vol 2 p229
5. A K Bell Library MS 181 Farquhar
Diaries, 19th Feb. 1893
6. Mason Vol II p234
7 . A K Bell Library, MS 181. 8th Aug.
8. Ibid. 26th Feb. 1894
9. Ibid. 20th May 1897
10. Ibid. 12th Aug. 1897
11. Quiney p148
12. A K Bell Libray MS 181 26th June 1898
13. Ibid. 30th Sept. 1898
14. Ibid. 12th May 1899
15. Ibid. 2nd Nov. 1899
16. Ibid. 22nd May 1901
17. Ibid. 7th June 1907
18. A K Bell Library MS 104, Box 2, Bundle 3
19. A K Bell MS 181 31st Jan. 1908
20. Quiney p5
Notes to Chapter Four
1. A K Bell Library MS 181, 8th May 1909
2. A K Bell Library MS 181 17th December
3. Ibid. 19th March 1909
4. Beattie p7
5. Ibid. P161
6. Ibid. P94
7. See W K West, Some Recent Monumental
Sculpture by Sir George Frampton in The
Studio No 54 (1911-12) pp35-43
8. Ibid. 4th June 1909
9. A K Bell Library MS 104 Box 4, Bundle 6
10. Ibid. 4th August 1910
11. Ibid. 15th December 1910
12. Illustrated in Farquhar (1927) p60
13. Farquhar (1927) p59
14. See St. Andrews University PhD thesis, B
Fenton, Hew Lorimer. A Special Kind of
Guardian September 19th 1849
On Saturday September 15th being the eve of St. Ninian’s Day the Bishop of Brechin, as representative of the aged Bishop of Dunkeld, laid the first stone of a church which is designed for a cathedral in the diocese, the venerable edifice of Dunkeld being occupied by the Presbyterian establishment. There are at present two Episcopal congregations in Perth, one of some standing as an English congregation, and attended by many influential persons in the neighbourhood, which has, however, but very lately come into communion with the Church by placing itself under the authority of the Bishop; the other recently formed by the mission of the Rev. J Chambers, who has hitherto occupied a large room in Athole Street as school and chapel. At nine o’clock the bishop confirmed eight persons, nearly all adults, and at ten celebrated the holy communion according to the Scottish Office in the temporary chapel in Athole Street, assisted by Mr Chambers and Mr Gleig, his own curate at Dundee. Twenty clergymen were present, and about forty laity communicated. The bishop walked in procession to the site, which is near the barracks, preceded by the choristers and clergy, who on entering the ground sung the Veni Creator. The service for laying the stone was that published by Mr Masters, in which the psalms and responses were duly chanted. A bottle containing the Scottish Communion Office, and a copy of the inscription on the stone, with coins of the present reign, were enclosed in a cavity. The ground was crowded with spectators, who in general behaved with propriety. Many of the Established and the Free Kirk showed no unfriendly feeling, and some who anxiously observed the ceremony went away with the impression that there was less harm in it than they had supposed; some even appeared to join in the service. The blast of a bugle caused a momentary impression that some neighbours wished to interrupt the solemnity of the proceedings, but it was instantly recollected that the barracks were just over the way, and that the military clock could not be expected to forbear striking. The clergy finally returned to the chapel, and as there was no public entertainment, those who needed refreshment were hospitably received by Mr Chambers. The meeting was a solemn and quiet one, suited to the character of a missionary church. The dedication to St. Ninian is appropriate, since he was the apostle of that part of Scotland. The design for the church, by Mr Butterfield, is in the bold and severe style of that architect, and promises an aspect not unworthy of the purpose for which it is intended. Only the choir can be executed at present, but that, it is hoped, may be completed by this time next year.
Ecclesiologist. Volume IX February 1851
On the 11th December, 1850, so much of the cathedral church of S Ninian, at Perth, as is already erected, was consecrated by the Bishop of Brechin, acting for the Bishop of S Andrew’s. As this is one of the most important ecclesiological works of the day, and perhaps, if both size and means be taken into consideration, the greatest effort yet made since the revival, we shall be excused for giving a detailed account of the building. The architect, as our readers know, is Mr Butterfield.
The building, when finished, will consist of choir, sacristy, extending along its whole north side, quasi-transepts, nave of five bays with aisles, two engaged western towers with spires, and a light central campanile. At present, one bay only of the nave is completed. The finished cathedral will be somewhat under 200 feet in length, and therefore of the average size of the ancient Scottish cathedrals : but in its height, which is nearly seventy feet, it rivals Glasgow, the highest of them. The style is Middle-Pointed, of course; but not in its earliest phase.
In the choir, the great east window has five lights, with an eight-foiled wheel for its tracery; and in the gable is a small quatrefoiled circle, which adds very much to its effect. On each side of the choir is one quasi-clerestory window of four lights, with a touch of that Flamboyant character which appears pretty early in the Middle Pointed of Scotland. The altar is well thrown up, and its large size adds greatly to the dignity of the cathedral. We should have preferred, for the form, some more usual mediaeval arrangement : the mensa is supported on side slabs, which latter are pierced in a saltire-wise quatrefoil. This is of course not visible. The altar cross is singularly happy; the centre is jewelled. The whole east end of the choir is hung with silk this, though rich and good, when closely inspected has at a distance, to our eyes, somewhat of a dingy effect. The altar-hangings were not completed by the consecration; they are by Mr French of Bolton, whose late works of this kind we can most cordially recommend. The footpace, &c., have encaustic tiles, not rich, but very effectively laid. The combinations and contrasts of coloured half-tiles, particularly, deserve notice. We may here observe that all the decorations are of the simplest kind. The only wonder is, that such a sum could in Scotland have been collected for such a purpose, and that so much could have been done for that sum. The sedilla are perfectly plain, and under one obtuse arch. The whole back is coloured; we believe that the architect is not responsible for this arrangement, though it is not bad. On the north side of the sanctuary is the bishop’s altar chair, one of the prettiest pieces of woodwork we ever saw. To the west of this is a trefoiled door, leading into the sacristy : and again, to the west of that, and filling the space under the window, a very well turned arch, in which the organ pipes find their place, and thus form a kind of northern screen. The polychrome here is very successful. We now come to the stalls. Both these and the subsellae are of deal, and very simple; and, as the present foundation of the cathedral is only for four dignitaries, there are, very properly, but four elbowed stalls, the other seats being a mere bench. Nevertheless, we cannot but regard the arrangement here as the worst thing in the cathedral. The stalls are not returned (we do not enter into the question whether the stalls of a cathedral should not always be returned); but nevertheless a separate – what shall we call it? chair, seat, or stasidion is placed for the dean and for the chanter, where they would have sat had the usual arrangement been carried out. The backs of these chairs, seen above the iron grill of the screen, catch the eye of the spectator in the nave, and rivet it on themselves. Now we do maintain that, if the returned arrangement were given up, it ought to have been so altogether; the dean and chanter should have been placed at the west end of the north and south stalls. As it is, all the objections which are alleged against returns are still in force; and an arrangement without precedent, is also without meaning. The bishop’s throne is in the usual place, and not a very fortunate design. The stalls are not floored, but paved and carpeted. We believe however, that the present stalls, and also the sedilia, are but temporary.
We proceed to the screen. It was the architect’s desire to combine a complete separation of choir and nave, with a great degree of lightness and pervisibleness (if we may coin a word), but in this he has most completely succeeded. The choir is raised on three steps, which of course only jut out opposite the holy doors, and leave the aggregate height of the perpyn wall, which forms the foundation of the stalls. On the top of this is a low fence of—what is Mr. Butterfield’s forte—wrought iron, partially gilt to great effect. The doors are of the same material. If this were all, though the division of choir and nave would in reality be complete, yet a constructional appearance of such division would have been wanting. Now then, comes the happy, though perhaps not very English idea. Three immense stone arches (they are nearly twenty feet in height from the floor of the nave) span the chancel arch. The shafts are circular, of polished Peterhead marble. The mouldings are very fine; the spandrels partly pierced, and the effect altogether remarkable. If we regret anything, it is, that with such a substructure, a jubé, most convenient for such a cathedral, was not introduced. Above the screen rises the simple choir arch from corbelled imposts. The roof of the choir is simply coved, and powdered with red flowers; that of the sanctuary, ribbed, and diapered in quatrefoils. The westernmost of these ribs springs from a shaft which, dividing sanctuary and choir, is corbelled off at its junction on the string, returned from the east window. In the centre of the choir is a brazen lettern, [sic] very imposing. It is not, however, quite finished, as there is at present no bottom to the gable. We are very glad to say, that this lettern is not used for reading the lessons, but simply for the hymns and anthems, And we can assure our readers that, had they seen, as we did on the day of dedication, the priests and choir cluster round this lettern, and then thunder out the Urbs beata Jerusalem, as arranged in our own Hymnal Noted, they would have some idea how glorious a thing is Gregorian Hymnody.
It is now proper to speak of the arrangement for light. With the exception of the lights on the altar, gas is everywhere else employed. In the sanctuary are two brazen standards, very prettily floriated, and carrying very numerous jets; and in the nave is a simple corona, lighted in the same way. But the principle effect depends on the following arrangement. Along the west side of the rood beam runs a gas-pipe, pierced with innumerable jets; these, seen from the eastward, form a cresting of beads of light; while, invisible from the nave, they light up the whole choir with an effect almost magical. The gas-apparatus, and that for warm air, is in a crypt below the sacristy
The principle feature in the transepts is the great rose of fifteen lights. The tracery has as it ought to have, a foreign air. The window itself is externally recessed under a pointed arch . There are double angular buttresses, and a central one. The door at the north-west, though ingeniously enough put in, certainly rather impairs the effect of the transept. One bay only of the nave is finished; but others, we believe, will be a repetition of this. A three-light window, with cinqfoiled circle over the central light, and trefoils over the side lights, in the aisle, and a rather indescribable, but not inelegant, cinqfoiled circle, recessed internally in a spherical triangle and externally in a mere pointed arch, with all below the spring wanting, in the clerestory. Of the western towers our readers can judge from the plate. They are very simple broach spires, with double angular buttresses, and three lights, under straight-sided canopies, in the upper stage. Of that great trial of an architect, the west front, we have seen no drawing. There is a light and very elegant little campanile in the centre.
The piers, clustered of four, are very simple and good specimens of Middle-Pointed.
The pulpit, wooden, on a stone stem, is less to our taste. There are some moveable
benches in nave and aisles; but the greater part of the “accommodation” is by chairs. If
– as was, we believe, thought by most of those then present – the ceremonial of the
consecration was the finest that has yet been seen among us, it was in great measure
owing to the “ample room and verge enough” which this, and other the like
We have not yet spoken of the sacristy. It has three square-headed windows, of two lights, on the north, with a trefoiled exterior door; to the east, a similar window but larger, and transomed in square-headed trefoils. The chimney, we must think, is rather too conspicuous. On the south side are three recesses, for the communion plate, for the piscina (surely one piscina, at least, should be in the sanctuary), and for the reservation of the Consecrated Gifts, according to the Scotch Liturgy
And here we might end; but that, as Mr E A Freeman has favoured us with a very long criticism on the engraving of this cathedral, it would perhaps not be courteous to him to pass it altogether in silence. We do not, we think, do him injustice when we say that he utterly condemns the whole design, and considers that “due chastisement” should be administered to Mr Butterfield for it; and that S. Ninian’s “seems to be about as miserable a composition as could well be imagined.”
1. Because it has no central tower. Of course, this is the most perfect shape; but we think that Mr. Butterfield is not only justified in omitting, but was called to omit it, because (1) it is the most awkward for the offices for which the cathedral is intended; (2) it always involves risk, often instability; (3) it is decidedly not a Scotch feature. Elgin, the Cologne of Scotland, never had, and never was intended to have a central tower. What Westminster and Cologne have not, and, as Mr. Freeman allows, could not have, – what tenth-rate cathedrals, like S Asaph, exhibit, – cannot seriously be meant by him to be so essential, as that its absence, without some extraordinary counter excellence, “destroys all pretensions to high merit in an architect.”
2. Because the sacristy does not explain itself. We think our readers will agree with us that it is nearly as self-explanatory as a font.
3. Because the roses are recessed under circular arches. This is a fault of the engraving; the arches are pointed.
4. The foreign character of some of the details; e.g. the rose. Mr Freeman can never have been in Scotland, or must have been there, ecclesiologically, to very little purpose. This foreign character is the character of Scotch architecture. We would remind Mr Freeman that there are churches in Scotland, – Elgin, Glasgow, Dunblane, Dunkeld. S. Magnus, Fortrose, – any one of them worth the five best churches of Wales; and that, till he has studied these, he is scarcely a judge of what a Scotch cathedral ought, or ought not, to be.
Many other points, which are really matters of taste, are brought forward by our critic, together with plenty of severe remarks on Mr Butterfield, and a great quotation of Welsh churches. Will he allow us to remind him of a speech of Dr. Johnson? – “I wish, Bozzy, you would put Corsica out of your head, for I think it has filled it quite long enough.”
One or two remarks we still have to make; and first, we will say a word of caution to Mr Butterfield. We are no wholesale condemners of mannerism ; we have no great prejudice against the recognition of the individual artist by the individual work. But there is a kind of mannerism in idea, arising from the disproportionate importance attached to one true principle, the telos of which is to Christian art what heresy is to Christian faith. Now we think that one great principle which animates Mr Butterfield’s works – most true, most essential in itself – is tending to occupy a space in them which the analogy of the art cannot allow. We need not say that this principle is the religious effect of the sanctuary, and especially of the altar. To this everything is sacrificed; and hence the large blank walls which are so often seen in Mr Butterfield’s churches. Light must be concentrated on the altar; therefore it must be excluded elsewhere. We know that he would reply that, had he funds, he would arcade all such spaces. This answer, however, is not quite satisfactory, because it is morally certain that such funds never will be forthcoming, and therefore such arcades never added; and if they were, this would not effect the exterior wall. A striking instance of what we mean is given by the eastern façade of S. Ninian’s. Here the east side of the south transept has absolutely only one little clerestory window, quite high up under the eaves. Certainly, mediaeval architects would not so have done. We are quite ready to allow that the fault is a noble one; that eschewing scattered prettiness, and concentrating effect, is of the essence of Catholic art; but an exaggeration of a truth is not the less dangerous, because that truth itself is of the highest importance.
We would warmly congratulate all concerned in the work, on the successful way in which, spite of great difficulties, it has been begun and continued. We hope its opponents will now be shamed, if not into sense, which might be difficult, into silence, which is comparatively easy. And we trust that the establishment in the Scotch church of the dean of a cathedral , will lead to the extinction of that anomalous race who are in Scotland called deans of the diocese, on the lucas a non lucendo principle; because they are a kind of mixture of archdeacon, prolocutor, vicar-general, and syncellus, – anything and everything in the world but deans.
In conclusion we would offer, with the deepest respect, our warmest sympathy to that venerable Bishop, who, ordained under the penal acts, when the kitchen or outhouse so often witnessed the celebration of the Scotch Liturgy, has been spared to see the first cathedral of the reformed Church rise in his diocese; and, as if that were not enough honour, unshrinkingly to bear the persecution of those Clergy to whom, in the words of his own beautiful letter, he has been a kinder friend than they have been to themselves.
In a correction to the above the Ecclesiologist reported – We wish to correct two misprints in our article on Perth Cathedral. Page 26, line 43, we said :- “Along the west side of the rood-beam runs a gas pipe pierced with innumerable jets.” It should have been, – as indeed the context shows, east. Page 27, line 45, “Elgin, the Cologne of Scotland, never had a central tower.” Elgin was hurriedly written for Glasgow. Elgin, as everybody knows, had a very large central tower, – and it was in no sense the Cologne of Scotland, being, however magnificent, comparatively late.
Ecclesiologist . Volume X . February 1852
On referring to the Scottish Magazine for November, we find there a description of the church of S. John at Perth, then recently consecrated by the Bishop of Edinburgh, acting for the Bishop of S. Andrew’s, in whose diocese it is situated. We abridge the notice given by our contemporary. “The architect appears to have done his best in accommodating his plans to the site (80 ft by 75 ft) and funds subscribed. But here he seems to have been crippled. Yet he need not have run up a spire 100 ft high, and made a low roof to the church, so low, that Lords Mansfield and Kinnoull sit in a gallery, so as to give the appearance of birds roosting in a barn. The arches all seem to be part of the roof. Had we been in the committee, we should have insisted on the sum expended on the useless spire being applied to heighten the walls. And that at this time of day, the architect should have made the seats so utterly incompatible with kneeling, by reason of their narrowness, and the breadth of seats and bookboards, is perfectly inexcusable. We were, however, glad to see the organ excluded from its accustomed place to the obscuration of the west window, and placed in a recess to the north. The style of the building seems Pointed. We were astonished, at the conclusion of the sermon, to be called upon by the Bishop to contribute towards clearing off the debt of the building. We do wonder, in the present day, how our rich nobles and lairds can condescend to hand round a begging box to help in building churches for them.
We must remark, that it is a pity our clergy do not manage their processions better. Really let us have no surpliced priests at consecrations, if they do not choose to go in order. Here there was no idea of propriety.
Again, we do think at this time of day, Bishops and their chaplains need not be seen making a book-board of the Communion Table. (‘Holy Table’ our contemporary means.)
We may add to our account of S. John’s, that the pulpit is a very striking feature, being of handsomely carved Caen stone.” We gather from another source, that there are transepts in which the roost-like galleries are placed.
Our readers may be surprised at our going out of our way to extract the description of a very inferior church, while we have allowed many of a really satisfactory character in all directions to pass unnoticed, from our inability to subject then to personal criticism. We assure them that we have not given preference to S. John’s, Perth from any vehement affection we have conceived to its style or its appointments as above detailed. But, as we have already described above at length, – nay, given an engraving of another church built in the same city, also for the use of our own communion, – we felt that the younger structure had a claim upon our impartiality.
But, to be serious, S. John’s, Perth, is not, we fear, a genuine offshoot of the spirit of church extension, but the crystallization rather of a vicious state of things, under which our sister communion of Scotland has long suffered, and must continue to suffer, until her sons see that – a small body in an alien land – it is in their interest no less than their duty to keep together. The wicked penal laws of the last century, combined with the attractions of English Establishmentarianism had, it is well known, created throughout Scotland alongside her genuine reformed Catholic Church, a series of chapels owing obedience to no one, and served by refugee English Clergymen, who used the English Prayer Book at their own free will, and under pretence of being English churchmen. One of the last of these – the last but one we believe of the old stock to join the Church; for a fresh crop has grown up in the Dunbar, Drummond, &c schisms – was that of Perth, which did not place itself under Episcopal regimen till a very recent incumbent of S. John’s. In the interim, Perth was not left destitute of canonical sacraments, for the venerable Bishop of S. Andrew’s opened a mission; it is under a zealous English Priest. While matters were in this condition, the city attracted the attention of those Churchmen who were most anxious to consolidate in a most impressive manifestation the Scottish tradition of sound words, and S. Ninian’s Cathedral was the result; more than ordinary solemnity invested the foundation of the work, as it commenced under the active and willing co-operation of a Bishop then eighty-four years of age, now eighty-eight, who heartily embraced a scheme for the exaltation of that Church and that truth, which he is old enough to remember persecuted and despised; which he has lived to see tempted by the allurements of wealth and fashion. S. Ninian’s Cathedral completed would, we are convinced, have fully sufficed for the actual Churchmen of Perth and its vicinity. But there was something in some quarters more precious than even forms of sound words – self-exaltation, and the “squirism” of the English Establishment. Of this magnanimous feeling we may, we believe, without fear of contradiction, say that S. John’s church is the emanation, the after-echo as it were of the old schismatic chapel. We do not mean to we do not mean to write an essay on the subject. Those who agree with us will at once see it in all its bearings. Those who patronise S. John’s will not, we fancy, be much persuaded (if they even read this notice) were we to fill the whole number with arguments directed to them.
It is sufficient to know – and we could not but bring this knowledge home to our readers as intensely as we feel it ourselves, that the Presbyterians of Perth behold the edifying spectacle, of one of the greatest instances of private church building undertaken for many a year in our communion standing unfinished in the city; while, hard-by, another building, devoted to a deteriorated and self-seeking reproduction of the same worship of the communion, has been run up at a cost which would have consummated the first and nobler work. Will their comment be “How these Episcopalians love one another?”
1. The Church shall continue to bear the name of ST. NINIAN’s, and to be THE CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF THE UNITED DIOCESE OF ST ANDREW’S ,DUNKELD, AND DUNBLANE, or, in case of separation of the Diocese at any future time, of that Diocese in which Perth shall be situate.
2. The BISHOP OF ST ANDREW’S, or of that Diocese to which Perth shall belong, being a true and duly-consecrated Bishop of the Church commonly called THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF SCOTLAND, shall exercise the same rights of visitation over the Cathedral as over all other Churches within his Diocese, with full power to assist in the performance of divine service therein, as and when he pleases; and the Clergy of the Cathedral shall be subject to the Bishop, and amenable to Canonical Jurisdiction, Provincial and Diocesan, in all respects as the other Clergy of the Diocese.
3. The Clergy shall consist of a Superior Officer, to be named ( provisionally ) PROVOST, and of THREE OR MORE CANONS RESIDENTIARY.
4. It shall be the duty of the PROVOST (under the Bishop) to govern the whole Institution, Cathedral and Collegiate, to superintend and control the performance of all Divine Offices, and especially to take the chief part in preaching Sermons.
5. The Canon next in rank to the Provost shall hold the place of PRECENTOR, whose office it shall be to manage the details of the Choral Service, to assist the Provost in preaching, and to act as Bursar and Librarian.
6. The CANON OF THE SECOND Stall shall be the Rector of a Collegiate School for Boys of the Middle Classes, to be attached to the Cathedral.
7. The CANON OF THE THIRD STALL shall be the Principle of a Diocesan Central or Model School, for Children, male and female, of the Labouring Class, also to be attached to the Cathedral.
8. It shall be the duty of the Provost and Precentor (and of the other Canons also, so far as may be done conveniently with their respective offices, of which the Provost shall be the judge), to attend the ordinary Daily Service of the Church. |The Precentor, Third Canon or Principal, and any other Residentiary who may hereafter be added to the Chapter, shall severally be charged (under direction of the Provost) with some portion of Pastoral or Missionary Duty, with a view to the extension of the Church in Perth; and any such additional Residentiary shall, as occasion may require, act as a Supernumerary or Missionary Clergyman in the Diocese.
9. The Bishop shall hold a QUARTERLY MEETING OF CHAPTER at the Cathedral, at the four seasons. Previously to the Advent Meeting the Accounts of the past year shall be audited, so as to be drawn out and ready for the Bishop’s inspection, if required. If the Bishop be absent, the Provost shall preside
10. The Provost shall be appointed by the Bishop; the Canons Residentiary by the Bishop and Provost conjointly. The Lay Vicars Choral and Choristers by the Provost and Precentor. It shall be competent for the Bishop, with the concurrence of two-thirds of the votes of the Chapter, to remove the Provost, or any of the Canons Residentiary, for insubordination, habitual neglect of duty, or any grave delinquency. No Canon Residentiary shall go out of Residence without leave of the Provost, nor shall the Provost, or any of the Residentiaries, be absent from the Cathedral for more than a month, without express leave from the Bishop.
11. The DEAN OF THE DIOCESE, the WARDEN OF TRINITY COLLEGE (if not otherwise a member of the Chapter), and the FIVE SENIOR PRESBYTERS OF THE DIOCESE (ranking from the date of their first Ordination), shall be requested to accept the office of Prebendaries, or Canons Non-Residentiary; and, as such, shall be invited to preach in rotation, monthly, i.e. one in each month, at the Cathedral, and to attend the quarterly meetings of the Chapter.
12. No business shall be brought forward at any Chapter Meeting, unless approved of by the Bishop, and nothing adopted without his concurrence.
13. In all business of Chapter which is brought to suffrage, the Prebendaries shall have a single, the Residentiaries a double, and the Provost a triple vote. In case of an equality of votes, the Bishop shall decide.
14. The Bishop shall have no power to make new laws, or to alter any of these Statutes, unless supported by two-thirds of votes of Chapter.
15. The Cathedral Church, College, and School, with their arretinencies, shall be vested in the Bishop of the Diocese and Provost and Chapter. The present Committee shall be superseded by SEVEN TRUSTEES, in whom all the property subscribed or conveyed for the purpose of the Institution, shall be vested :-viz, the Bishop of the Diocese and Provost of the Cathedral, both ex0officio; the Lord Kippendavie, and two other laymen to be hereafter named, one residing in the Diocese of St. Andrews, and the other of Dunkeld. Provided always that no one shall become, or continue to be, a Trustee, accept he be in full communion with the Church. In case of the death or resignation of any one of the three last Trustees, the vacancy shall be supplied by Election, on the part of the whole Chapter (each member, for that occasion, having a single vote); in which Election, preference shall always be given to a Layman residing within the same Division of the united Diocese to which the Trustee, who caused the vacancy, belonged. The five Lay Trustees shall be invited to attend the quarterly meetings of the Chapter.
16. The foregoing laws shall constitute the CODE OF STATUTES for the government of the Institution. Any additions to be made to them, and especially the adjustment of details with respect to Stipends to be assigned to the Cathedral Offices, shall be considered and determined on from time to time by the Bishop in Chapter; for which purpose special meetings may be held. Provided always that nothing be done to dispose of the same sums already bestowed otherwise than according to the will of the Donors :-viz., £200 per annum, for ever, given by the Honourable George Frederick Boyle, for the endowment of the Provostship; and 100 per annum, for ever, given by the Right Honourable Lord Forbes, for the Endowment of the Stall, held by the Precentor
THE POSITION OF THE INSTITUTION IN THE DIOCESE SHALL BE AS FOLLOWS :
1. The Provost to hold rank next to the Dean of the Diocese, and to have a vote in Synod, in right of his Cathedral Church.
2. The Canons Residentiary to rank according to the date of their ordination , in common with the other (instituted) Clergy, but not to be entitled to a vote in Synod.
3. The Bishop to hold his Synods, Visitations, and Ordinations, at the Cathedral; except he may see fit, under special circumstances, to order otherwise.
The foregoing Code of Statutes received their unanimous acceptance, and approval, o
of the Synod of the united Dioceses, held at Trinity College, July 6, 1853. And having
been subsequently consented to by the Chapter of St. Ninian’s, was solemnly ratified
and confirmed by the Bishop.
A K Bell Library MS 181
Our Consecration is the great matter in hand for me. Every one of the Scotch Bishops came also Archbp of Dublin (Lord Plunkett), Bp of Litchfield (Maclagan) and Bp Mitchison. The augmented Choir got through their part of the Service, which was fully choral throughout, very creditably. We had an immensely long procession, (1) Cross Bearer (2) About 70 Clergy, (3) 10 Bishops. I sang Matins, everything was of a special character in it and it went very smoothly : our own Bishop, of course, said the Consecration prayers etc. The Provost celebrated. I had celebrated according to the Scotch Office at 7.30 am the Bishop of Argyle being present and that went very smoothly. But the Provost was characteristically stormy at the midday Celebration. I suppose he was very anxious and it came out in irritability. While the Bp was signing the Consecration Deed on the Altar, the Provost, who was down in his Stall kept calling out ‘Go and tell them not to spill the ink’. When the people began to drove out in the middle of the Communion he called out ‘Go and stop them!’ He was constantly calling James and me up to the Altar and issuing orders. The climax came when while the Bishop was pronouncing the Absolution, a Layman rushed in from the Vestry, went right up to the Altar, seized the Alms and disappeared; the Provost,(who was kneeling facing the congregation !) called out ‘How dare you, sir? Put that back!’ Altogether the Celebration was most irreverent and the Bishops must have been shocked. Of course every allowance has to be made for the Provost on such an exciting occasion and he is very excitable and irritable at all times but he really went too far yesterday. I could never stand that kind of thing did I not know that it is he who has saved and increased the Congregation and Cathedral and that he is sincerely good at heart. The Luncheon in the City Hall was very successful. And Evensong, which the Provost sang in the most sombre manner, was very successful also. No one was allowed in without a ticket yesterday morning and the Cathedral, extra seats and all, was very full from end to end. The Bp of Litchfield did not rise to any great height in his Sermon: he wore his scarlet robes. In the evening all the ordinary sitting accommodation was crowded but not the extra seats. The Archbishop of Dublin preached a fine sermon which lasted about ¾ of an hour. He had been previously warned not to say anything compromising about concessions to non-Episcopal communions and, though he is great on the subject, he very kindly refrained himself. We were all attracted by his evident sincerity and goodness. To me, for instance, he said ‘Thank you for sending me your Sonnets: I have read them all through from beginning to end with much interest: you have quite caught the spirit of the Sonnet’. While I am on the subject and as people in general seem indifferent to a surprising degree about my performance, I may add that my own Bishop’s son volunteered the information that he had been reading my Sonnets all the way up to the Commemoration at Glenalmond the day before yesterday and all the way down from it. It is the simple fact that people have spoken to me kindly about them. I have had real encouragement from Canon Liddon, Bps Worsworth and Dowden, Mr Butterfield, Mrs Daniel, who, though a free-thinker and womans-righter, is almost enthusiastic and the Archbp of Dublin. Perhaps the most touching incident of the day was when our old Bishop got up at the luncheon to respond to the toast of his health. He could look back upon 40 years of the Cathedral life, 40 years chiefly of war and strife and all his contemporaries were dead and here he was a survivor from a past generation seeing the long struggle brought to a satisfactory and in some respects brilliant conclusion. He was evidently considerably moved by the enthusiastic applause with which he was received. I am a good deal concerned by the refusals of Canons Liddon and Bright to have anything to do with our Consecration: their reason is because the Archbishop of Dublin, a pronounced low Churchman was invited to preach. Of course I follow the lead of the Canons and not that of the Archbishop in Theology but I really do not see that because the Bp of S. Andrews asked him to preach we are committed to his policy: surely we are fellow Churchmen and can worship with him. He carefully refrained at our request from saying anything compromising and I was attracted by his evident goodness. At the same time I should on theological grounds have much preferred it if the Bp of Derry had been able to accept the invitation to preach.
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