I study history to understand who we are and why we think and act as we do. I found the topic of my PhD when, discussing a new historical booklet for the beautiful church where I sing, I found nobody could explain who founded it or why. My postdoctoral research fellowship, on the episcopal churches built by the great gothic architect George Gilbert Scott, was interrupted by illness so there is still much to write up.
2016- Secretary of the Scottish Church History Society.
2013-15 The Business Networks of George Gilbert Scott (Postdoctoral research fellowship, University of the West of Scotland).
2013 ‘The episcopal congregation of Charlotte Chapel, Edinburgh, 1794-1818’ (PhD, Stirling, 2013) (Stirling University website). This was a collective biography of the 430 people listed in the chapel registers, and their Rector, Bishop Daniel Sandford. You can explore their stories here.
2001 ‘John Jewel, Thomas Harding, and the debate about the Elizabethan Church’, MPhil, Kings College, Cambridge.
2000 MA, New Hall, Cambridge.
A Paper delivered to the Scottish Church History Society, 3 November 2018 Edinburgh at the beginning of the nineteenth century: the height of the Scottish Enlightenment, the start of the romantic period. Scotland is enjoying peace after years of Jacobite civil war, but the French Revolution has challenged the idea that progress will be plain-sailing. … Continue reading “Whig matriarchs and tory missionaries: episcopalian women in early nineteenth-century Edinburgh”
200 years ago this week, St John’s Church in Edinburgh was consecrated, on 19 March 1818. This is interesting to me for two reasons. First because I have been a member of the choir of St John’s (which was founded at the same time) for almost a fifth of that time, and second because I … Continue reading “Happy 200th birthday, St John’s Edinburgh”
About ten years ago, the Rector of St John’s Princes Street, the Edinburgh church where I sing in the choir, gathered together a very small group of us interested in history. The question was how to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the church in 2018. All of us expressed interest in different areas. I was … Continue reading “St John’s 200”
The combination of a showery bank holiday and an exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland gave me a chance to revisit my first old artistic love, the art of the Celts. There was knotwork of course, and the point was made that this is really characteristic of Anglo-Saxons rather than Celts, something I discovered in Jarrow and Hexham. … Continue reading “Back amongst the Celts”
Fashions in accolades change over time. When he was still the anonymous author of the Waverley Novels, Walter Scott was frequently described as a new William Shakespeare. Nowadays, Scott is more likely to be credited with the invention of the historical novel. To our modern artistic tastes, in which originality is all, the comparison with … Continue reading “Shakespeare and Scott: the British Bards”
The congregation of Bishop Sandford in Edinburgh, the subject of my PhD research, built their striking new chapel of St Johns in 1818. So it is not surprising that a few years earlier, when still meeting in their little classical Charlotte Chapel in Rose Street, they should have some Waterloo connections. Charlotte Chapel, Rose Street, … Continue reading “St Johns Edinburgh and the Battle of Waterloo”
I’ve just rediscovered this very funny rant by John Ruskin, speaking in 1853 to the citizens of Edinburgh, about how their architecture was tasteless because they failed to allow themselves to be inspired by nature. You might not agree, but if you compare buildings built in Edinburgh after 1853 to those built before, you’ll see … Continue reading “The Great Blank”
In a scaffy corner in the east end of Edinburgh, down the cobbled, dirty-puddled close that is West Register Street, hides a secret treasure: a Venetian Gothic warehouse, built in 1864. The architect was William Hamilton Beattie, twenty-two years old and still operating under his father’s firm’s name of George Beattie and Sons. He signed … Continue reading “Venice in Edinburgh”
The tremendous thing about Scottish Independence referendum has been the engagement. The 84% turnout was the finale to weeks of often heated, yet almost without exception peaceful, political debate at every level of society. I walked through the departing crowds of the Orange March and counter-demonstrators in Edinburgh the weekend before the vote, through partisan, … Continue reading “On physics and politics, and how to tell the difference”
St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Palmerston Place, Edinburgh was designed by George Gilbert Scott and consecrated in 1879. St Mary’s was funded by the bequest of two sisters, Mary and Barbara Walker, whose fortune as landowners had been made by the housing and railway development of the West End of Edinburgh. How did this new Cathedral … Continue reading “The First Clergy of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral Edinburgh”