A Description from 1872

From “Glasghu Facies – The History of Glasgow”, 1872 by James Gordon

To the North of the Great Western Road, we have Holyrood Cresent, Burnbank Gardens, and Napiershall Street, where open Fields were found only a few years ago.

In front of Holyrood Crescent, the congregation of St. Mary’s, lately worshipping in Renfield Street (the site of which is now occupied by the offices of the City of Glasgow Assurance Co.),have erected a magnificent church, which was opened on the 9th November, 1871, and promises, when completed, to be one of the finest ecclesiastical edifices in the city. It is estimated to cost about £20,000, and already about £10,000 have been provided towards that amount. So far as the work has yet gone, the outlay has been about £15,000.

The church was designed by Mr. Gilbert Scott, of London, and the architecture is gothic, of the period of the 14th century. The church consists of a nave, 100 feet by 30, north and south aisles and transepts, chancel and chancel aisles. Externally, the walls are of rubble, faced with Lanark stone in courses. At the south-east corner a massive tower has been carried up to a height of 40 feet, and this it is proposed eventually to crown with a spire 200 feet high, in which will be placed a peal of bells; but this portion of the work has been deferred in the meantime.

The principal entrance is from the west, through a very handsome doorway. Internally, the building is a fine specimen of church architecture. The nave is separated from the aisles by arcadings, consisting of six arches with enriched moulded cases, shafts, and capitals; while bold and lofty arches separate the chancel and the transepts from the nave. The pillars are of a beautiful white stone, from Bath, which possesses the very desirable quality of hardening with exposure to the atmosphere, and retaining at the same time its purity of colour.

The walls are in rough plaster, and the whole is covered by a high-pitched timber roof, open, save at the intersection of the nave, chancel and transept, where there is wood-groining. The side-walls are pierced by a number of two-light windows, and in the chancel aisle there is a handsome tri-light window. A fine stained-glass window, by Messrs, Clayton & Bell, of London, has been inserted in the central compartment; and there are other two stained-glass windows in the church – one in the chancel aisle, the other in the south aisle of the nave. The window first mentioned has been procured by subscription; but the other two are gifts to the church – the one by Mr. Angus Turner, and the other by Mrs. Spens, and it is anticipated that other members of the Communion will emulate their example.

The internal fittings are strictly in harmony with the architecture of the church. A very chaste and beautiful reredos has been supplied by Messrs. Farmer & Brindlay, of London. It is of Caen stone, with marble shafts, the cross being white marble inlaid with mosaic, on a background of alabaster. The nave and aisles are seated with open pews in polished pine, the chancel stalls being in oak, and two fine oak screens separate the chancel and the north chancel aisle.

The organ, which has been supplied by Messrs. Hill of London, occupies the south chancel aisle, and presents two fronts, one to the chancel, the other to the aisle. It contains three complete manuals and a pedal organ. The great organ contains all 10 stops; the swell organ, 11 stops; the choir organ, 6; and the pedal organ, 3 stops. The former fine organ, built by Bruce of Edinburgh, was bought for St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Chapel, Calton, immediately before the church in Renfield Street was taken down.

At night the church is lighted by means of a string of lights carried along immediately under the clerestory windows, while corona lights depend from the nave and transepts, and the chancel is lighted by two magnificent standard lights.

The contractor for the work was Mr. John Thomson of Peterborough; Mr. Conradi was clerk of works; and the contractor was represented by Messrs. Bradford, Frisbey, and Pepper. The seats for the nave were fitted up by Messrs. James Lamb & Sons, Glasgow and Greenock; the gas-fittings by Messrs. Potter & Son; and the heating and ventilating apparatus by Messrs. Coombe & Son, Glasgow.

It cannot be made out that this congregation was in existence before 1688. It seems to have been formed, from time to time, out of fragments from several congregations, or individuals scattered about in Glasgow who adhered to the Stuarts. Its first formation is not upon record. According to the Lord Chancellor’s Letter, of date 13th January, 1703, the Rev. Mr. Burgess was the first Minister in Glasgow after the Revolution, who performed Divine Service according to the forms of the Church of England, when the mob broke open and rifled the meeting wherein the small flock assembled. For 15 years after the Revolution, there is an historical blank as to any “non-juring” or Episcopal Minister being in Glasgow. Not until 1724, when Bishop Alexander Duncan was appointed to supervise the Diocese or District of Glasgow, is there any trace of Episcopal surveillance. So, for 36 years after the Revolution, Episcopacy did not exist in Glasgow.