Cataloguer’s conundrum: Can anyone tell us what church this is? Is it still extant?

speccoll
Friday 6 January 2012

Our post last December on an unidentified French Book of Hours received a huge response and helped us to narrow down exactly which book it was. Based on its success, we are now happy to present the first regular post of the new, rebranded blog, Cataloguer’s conundrum! We plan to use this post to bounce hard-to-identifiy photographs, indecipherable inscriptions, bibliographic puzzles and lost attributions from all of our collections off of our readers. Let us know if you recognise something or can help us figure out what an item is!

A unidentified church interior (possibly in St Andrews), showing pulpit with tall ornate spire canopy; three lancet windows above rood screen; organ pipes left.

Our first conundrum comes from the Photographic Collection. The photo above is a glass plate negative in the George Cowie collection, which is actually an old plate from the James Fairweather studio (the Fairweathers were local St Andrews photographers, predating Cowie’s family run firm; Cowie collected both photography and cameras and somehow managed to salvage or purchase some of the earlier firm’s stock). It is of a church interior, c. 1900, showing pulpit with a tall ornate spire canopy, three lancet windows above the rood screen and some organ pipes at left.

It is possibly the old Congregational Church in Bell Street, St Andrews, which was demolished 1966 – but is it? Please get in touch if you recognise this church!

Pam Cranston

Photographic Research and Preservation Officer

***UPDATE (12:05 pm 06/01/2012)***

This photo just came in from Jennifer Reid at The St Andrews Preservation Trust Museum, along with her comment (below):

An image of the exterior of the Congregational Church on Bell Street, supplied by Jennifer Reid from the St Andrews Preservation Trust.

***UPDATE (15:35 pm 06/01/2012)***

Here are the images that Pam Cranston mentions in her reply to a comment below of the interior of Holy Trinity (St Andrews) c. 1905. Pam also suggests that this church may not have been in St Andrews either.

Image GMC-F100, an interior shot of Holy Trinity Church, St Andrews, c. 1905.
Image GMC-F101, an interior shot of Holy Trinity Church, St Andrews, c. 1905, showing the pulpit..

***UPDATE (11:00 am 13/01/2012)***

Here is a closer view of organ loft, at upper left, and better view of the stonework, are those bosses below and the windows?  Note the communion table and elaborate woodwork.

A closer view of the interior of this mystery church.

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24 thoughts on "Cataloguer’s conundrum: Can anyone tell us what church this is? Is it still extant?"

  • Paula Martin
    Paula Martin
    Friday 6 January 2012, 11.50am

    Dear Pam, The pulpit cover reminds me of a similar elaborate piece of carving which used to sit at the foot of the stairs going up to Upper College Hall (or possibly ouside School 1?). I always wondered where it went when Upper and Lower College Halls were done up. Perhaps the Museum people know something about it. Ronald Cant once told me where it came from, but I have forgotten. Could the photo be of Holy Trinity before restoration? With best wishes, Paula

    Reply
    • Pam cranston
      Pam cranston
      Friday 6 January 2012, 4.31pm

      Hello Paula, Thanks for this. Holy Trinity might be an option, I wonder though? We do have one or two images of the old church interior, GMC-F100 and GMC-F101; GMC-F100 shows the pulpit with a dove finial on a plainish canopy. The windows are different too. Then again I am not sure how extensive the alterations were. Pam

      Reply
  • Moira Mackenzie
    Moira Mackenzie
    Friday 6 January 2012, 11.56am

    Hi Daryl, I do not think this will be the old Congreagational Church in Bell Street as the interior is too ornate. I think it might be All Saints Episcopal Church in North Castle Street.

    Reply
  • Jennifer Reid
    Friday 6 January 2012, 12.01pm

    My instinct would be that this isnt the church on Bell Street, I think it is to large, and I am sure their windows at the end were different shapes - I think the left and right ones were smaller than than the middle. Could be completely wrong though!

    Reply
  • Rachel Hart
    Rachel Hart
    Friday 6 January 2012, 12.48pm

    Hi Daryl, I think it is too ornate for a Congregational church. It isn't All Saints either, which is smaller and more intimate, and Byzantine in style with a rounded vault. I would endorse Paula's suggestion about the old Holy Trinity before restoration under Chalmers in 1907-09 although I havent' verified this.

    Reply
  • Gareth J M Saunders
    Friday 6 January 2012, 2.13pm

    As Rachel said, it's definitely not All Saints' (I conducted a service there on Thursday at lunchtime). I was wondering if it was Holy Trinity on South Street too.

    Reply
  • Jennifer Reid
    Friday 6 January 2012, 4.33pm

    I might be wrong but I dont think there are three matching windows like that in Holy Trinity. I think the Great west Window has matching sized panels but there are at least five of those. At the atarts of the book "The Episcopal Congregation at St Andrews" by T.T. Oliphant there is a picture of a church with an alter that has very similar windows - thought I'd cracked it but its not quite right either!

    Reply
  • Gareth J M Saunders
    Friday 6 January 2012, 5.29pm

    I just got an email from Rory MacLeod, the current minister at Holy Trinity who says "It's not HT. Sorry!" My father-in-law, who is a rather widely travelled Church of Scotland minister doesn't recognise the building, either. The layout of the building looks more presbyterian or protestant than Episcopalian.

    Reply
    • Gareth J M Saunders
      Friday 6 January 2012, 5.35pm

      I did a Google Image search for that photo and it appears on one other website called "Washington County "Little Washington" Pennsylvania": http://tinyurl.com/gmc-f89 The photo is simply being used to demonstrate what part of a church building the nave is. The photograph there is marked "University of St Andrews" at the top. Intriguing. I wonder a) where the website owner got that image, and b) if they know where that church building is.

      Reply
      • Pam
        Pam
        Monday 9 January 2012, 11.05am

        Thank you. Well spotted! Pam

        Reply
  • Jennifer Reid
    Friday 6 January 2012, 5.35pm

    I am possitive one of our volunteers will be able to tell me when I am back in next week if we havent figured it out by then!

    Reply
  • Matt Sheard
    Matt Sheard
    Saturday 7 January 2012, 1.47am

    I think I've been in all the surviving St Andrews churches and it doesn't really look like it could be any of them and there are no other likely candidates among congregations from that time that no longer exist. The current Martyr's building dates from the 1920s and was constructed to replace an existing building, so it could potentially be one of the earlier Martyr's buildings. The Free Church (to which Martyr's belonged at that point) didn't introduce its ban on musical instruments and non-Psalms until 1900, so the presence of an organ if this is the case can be explained. There does appear to be a statue on the wall though, which might indicate that it wasn't Martyr's - the Free Church has never been a fan of such "idols".

    Reply
    • Moira Mackenzie
      Moira Mackenzie
      Wednesday 11 January 2012, 11.45am

      It is definitely not Martyr's. The previous building was quite plain with a curving balcony. A photograph of it used to hang in the vestibule of the current building. Martyr's was a United Free Church and did not have either a rood screen or a statue.

      Reply
  • Lis Smith
    Lis Smith
    Saturday 7 January 2012, 10.26pm

    Agree with Rachel that it's too ornate for a Congregational (or probably for any non-conformist) church. What about St Andrews Episcopal in Queen's Terrace ? It is actually very reminiscent of St John's Episcopal in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh.

    Reply
    • Matt Sheard
      Matt Sheard
      Sunday 8 January 2012, 11.41pm

      The architecture of St Andrew Episcopal is quite different and according to the Scottish Church Heritage Research project there've been no major changes that might have affected the way it looks in that respect.

      Reply
      • Rachel Hart
        Rachel Hart
        Monday 9 January 2012, 10.34am

        As a member of St Andrew's Episcopal church on Queen's Gardens it definitely is NOT that church! The building dates from the 1860s and the interior has not been significantly remodelled. Interior shots of St John's Princes Street don't match and neither does the Episcopal Cathedral in Perth. The church must be outwith St Andrews and I hope the blog reaches someone who knows just where!

        Reply
  • Kevin Litster
    Kevin Litster
    Monday 9 January 2012, 10.41pm

    the church is st salvators chapel i think same set up with the windows and carvings at front now on left hand side as you enter chaple which now makes up seats

    Reply
    • St Andrews Special Collections
      Wednesday 11 January 2012, 11.07am

      Hi Kevin, I've had an email back from the University Chaplain, Donald MacEwan, who is quite certain this is not St Salvators. The glass and the placement of the organ do not match up. The general view of things now is that this church is almost certainly outside of St Andrews. This is a bit odd because the Fairweathers didn't do much outside of St Andrews, so it is possible that this might be a Dundee or Cupar church ...

      Reply
      • Norman Reid
        Thursday 12 January 2012, 1.08pm

        I forwarded this on to Iain Flett at the Dundee City Archives, who in turn forwarded to several others (thanks all, for email responses!), but they seem sure that it is not a Dundee Church. The image shows a large building (wide - c.20 seats across the nave; high, and therefore presumably also much longer than the photo shows - has it been taken from the crossing?), with statuary in niches on the walls. It is indeed laid out as a protestant church, with communion or altar table at the end - but post-Reformation such a congregation would not have built with statuary etc. We can assume, therefore, that the building is probably 16th century or earlier . This is not a small-town parish church - it is on a grand scale. It is also very bright, with large windows, which in a medieval building would perhaps suggest English rather than Scottish.

        Reply
  • Mark Ballard
    Mark Ballard
    Thursday 12 January 2012, 12.52pm

    Dear Pam, I think 1983 is more likely for the date of the demolition of the Congregational church than 1966, as I recognize it from my own time at St Andrews (1976-1980). Mark

    Reply
    • Pam
      Pam
      Thursday 12 January 2012, 2.49pm

      Indeed I checked that and you are correct - http://canmore.rcahms.gov.uk/en/site/92209/details/st+andrews+35+bell+street+congregational+church/ Thank you Pam

      Reply
  • St Andrews Special Collections
    Tuesday 14 February 2012, 12.36pm

    Ian McCraw, Dundee, has suggested looking at Dundee churches for a match to this image. He says: "When I gave thought to the St Andrews photo of a church interior ca. 1900 perhaps being in Dundee St Mary Magdalene's (http://stmmdundee.org.uk/worship/worship.html) Episcopal Church came to mind ... However, The original photo was stated to be ca 1900. The pulpit is offset to the right. The church in Dudhope Crescent Road was Catholic Apostolic until ca 1944 when the congregation was dissolved. The building was then sold to St Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church and its congregation moved from Blinshall Street. I have found out that in the C A C it was normal for the pulpit to be set to the left of the altar looking up the nave. It seems we may have to continue searching!"

    Reply
  • Calum Stewart
    Calum Stewart
    Tuesday 14 July 2020, 10.04pm

    Hi Pam - I'd come across your mystery church whilst researching the old interior of Holy Trinity about a year ago, and was suddenly met with a photo of it again today whilst looking into graduate study in Oxford! I'm fairly certain that it's the college chapel of Mansfield College, which is congregationalist and c.19th: https://www.mansfield.ox.ac.uk/mansfield-college-chapel Hope this is of help! Calum

    Reply
    • skr23
      skr23
      Tuesday 21 July 2020, 4.33pm

      Thanks for your post Calum. I will pass this information to our photo collections team.

      Reply

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