Diocese of Edinburgh

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Coordinates: 55°58′26″N 3°34′01″W / 55.974°N 3.567°W / 55.974; -3.567

Diocese of Edinburgh
Dioecesis Edimburgensis
Ecclesiastical province Scotland
Congregations 54
Cathedral St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh
Current leadership
Bishop John Armes, Bishop of Edinburgh
Dean Frances Burberry, Dean of Edinburgh
Map showing Edinburgh Diocese as a coloured area around the Lothians and the Borders
Map showing Edinburgh Diocese within Scotland

The Diocese of Edinburgh is one of the seven dioceses of the Scottish Episcopal Church. It covers the City of Edinburgh, the Lothians, the Borders and Falkirk. The diocesan centre is St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh. The Bishop of Edinburgh is the Right Revd Dr John Armes.


A number of important events took place in the city which put the Edinburgh diocese at the centre of the formation of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Unlike the other dioceses of the Episcopal Church which were inherited from the organisation of the Catholic Church, the Diocese of Edinburgh is a relatively recent creation, having been founded in 1633 by King Charles I, the year of his Scottish coronation. William Forbes was consecrated on 23 January 1634 in St. Giles' Cathedral as the first bishop of Edinburgh.[1]

Bishop Forbes died only three months after his consecration and David Lindsay succeeded him on the Episcopal see. At this time, the effects of the Scottish Reformation were taking a new turn and Lindsay, along with all other bishops in Scotland, was deposed in 1638 and the heritage and jurisdiction of the church passed into the hands of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. A period of great political and ecclesiastical turmoil ensued with the Bishops' Wars and the Wars of the Three Kingdoms engulfing Scotland and England. It was not until the Restoration of the monarchy that the Episcopacy was restored to the Scottish Church and George Wishart was consecrated as the new Bishop of Edinburgh in 1662.

Episcopal rule was short-lived. In 1689 Bishop Alexander Rose (1687-1720) found himself caught up in the Jacobite conflict following the Glorious Revolution. Scottish bishops were under pressure to declare their allegiance to William of Orange over the Stuart King James VII

During an audience with the new King William in 1690, Rose's ambiguous declaration arose royal displeasure:

With Jacobite sympathies running throughout the Episcopal wing of the church, the Scottish Episcopalians were disestablished and Presbyterian polity was permanently established in the Church of Scotland. Rose departed from St Giles' Cathedral in 1689 and took with him a number of supporters from the congregation to begin a separate church. They took over a former wool store a short distance down the Royal Mile as a venue for their worship; today, Old St Paul's Church is located on this site, and claims to be the oldest Episcopal congregation in Scotland.[1][2]

St. Giles, the cathedral from 1635–1638 and 1661–1689 (now Church of Scotland)
St. Mary's, the Episcopal cathedral from 1879

For many years, Edinburgh (like the other Episcopal dioceses in Scotland) had no cathedral church. Gradually, as Non-Jurors and Qualified congregations were reconciled and the penal laws were repealed (1792), the Episcopal Church moved back into the mainstream of Scottish religious life; secret Episcopalian meeting houses were replaced by churches, a number of which served as pro-cathedrals for Edinburgh. By the late nineteenth century, the Diocese of Edinburgh was in a position to build its own cathedral through donations from wealthy benefactors, and in 1874 the foundations were laid for St Mary's Cathedral on Palmerston Place in the West End. This new cathedral, completed in 1879, was designed in the Gothic Revival style by Sir George Gilbert Scott and its three massive spires reaching 90 metres (300 ft) and 60 metres (200 ft) can be seen on the western skyline from Princes Street.[3]

The High Kirk of St Giles still stands today on the Royal Mile; while it is commonly referred to as "St Giles' Cathedral" this is an honorary title as, being a Presbyterian church, lacks a cathedra (the throne of a Bishop). It should be noted that another St Mary's Cathedral also exists in Edinburgh, the Roman Catholic Cathedral which is situated on Picardy Place at the top of Leith Walk.

Notable people


Prior to the Reformation, Edinburgh was part of the Diocese of St Andrews, under the Archbishop of St Andrews and throughout the mediaeval period the episcopal seat was St Andrew's Cathedral. The line of Bishops of Edinburgh began with the creation of the See of Edinburgh in 1633. After the break with the Church of Scotland in 1689, Bishops of Edinburgh acted as metropolitan bishops until this rank was abolished by a concordat of 1731. Since then, the Episcopal Church has been led by a Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church elected from among any of the Scottish dioceses.[4]

Following disagreements over church polity and the failure of the Jacobite rising of 1745, there was an interruption in the line of Bishops 1739-76, and another interregnum 1784-88.

Bishop Dates Notes
1634 William Forbes
1634 David Lindsay
1662 George Wishart
1672 Alexander Young
1679 John Paterson
1687 Alexander Rose
1720 John Fullarton
1727 Arthur Millar
1727 Andrew Lumsden
1733 David Freebairn
1739-76 Vacant
1776 William Falconer
1784-88 Vacant
1788 William Abernethy Drummond
1806 Daniel Sandford
1830 James Walker
1841 Charles Hughes Terrot
1872 Henry Cotterill
1886 John Dowden
1910 George Henry Somerset Walpole
1929 Harry Seymour Reid
1939 Ernest Denny Logie Danson
1947 Kenneth Charles Harman Warner
1961 Kenneth Moir Carey
1975 Alastair Iain Macdonald Haggart
1986 Richard Frederick Holloway
2001 Brian Arthur Smith
2012 John Andrew Armes


The most senior appointed priest of the Diocese is the Dean of Edinburgh.[5] The dean fulfils a role similar to that of an archdeacon in other provinces of the Anglican Communion. The head of the diocese's cathedral is titled the Provost.


St Paul's and St George's Church, York Place (1818)
Church of St John the Evangelist, Princes Street (1818)
St. Mary's Priory Church, South Queensferry (15th century)
The ornate Apprentice Pillar of Rosslyn Chapel (15th century)

The Episcopal cathedral is St Mary's Cathedral, at the West End of the city. Notable Episcopal churches in the Edinburgh diocese include Rosslyn Chapel, popularised by Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code; the Priory Church, South Queensferry, the only medieval Carmelite church still in use in the British Isles; and Old St Paul's, the oldest Episcopal congregation in Scotland.

Name Location Ref Founded History/notes
St Columba's, Bathgate Bathgate [6] pre-1915 Building 1915. Linked with Linlithgow 1970s
St Catharine's, Bo'ness Bo'ness 1864 First building 1889, current building 1921. Linked with Grangemouth since 1979
St Mary and All Souls, Coldstream Coldstream [7] 1872 Building 1897, current building 1913-1914
St Mary's, Dalkeith Dalkeith [8] 1843 Linked with Lasswade
St Mary's, Dalmahoy Dalmahoy [9] 1850
St Anne's, Dunbar Dunbar [10] 1874 Building 1890. Joint SEC/Methodist church, using two buildings
Christ Church, Duns Duns [11] 1854
St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh Edinburgh [12] c. 1689 Pro-cathedral in early C19th. Current building 1874-1876
Old Saint Paul's, Edinburgh Edinburgh [13] 1689 Building 1883
St Columba's-by-the-Castle Edinburgh [14] 1846-1847 LEP with Greyfriars Kirk and Augustine United Church
St John the Evangelist, Edinburgh Edinburgh [15] 1792 Congregation originally met in Charlotte Chapel. Current building 1816-1818
St Margaret of Scotland, Edinburgh Edinburgh [16] 1877 Building 1880. Independent of St Paul's 1898
St Philip's and St James, Edinburgh Edinburgh [17] 1888 Two buildings, St Philip's (1908) & St James (1888)
St Paul's and St George's, Edinburgh Edinburgh [18] pre-1816 Building 1816-18. Merged with St George's 1932. Church graft from St Thomas' 1985. Evangelical
St Peter's, Lutton Place Edinburgh [19] 1807 Planted from Old St Paul's. Building 1860
St Mungo's, Balerno & Livingston Edinburgh (Balerno) [20] 1869 Evangelical
Emmanuel Church, Clermiston Edinburgh (Clermiston) [21] 1988 Planted from St Thomas, Corstorphine 1988. Meets in a community centre. Evangelical
St Cuthbert's, Edinburgh Edinburgh (Colinton) [22] 1883 Building 1888-1893
St Ninian's, Edinburgh Edinburgh (Comely Bank) [23] mid C19th First building and independent church 1920, current building 1952
St Thomas', Edinburgh Edinburgh (Corstorphine) [24] 1844 Began as independent Anglican chapel, full member of SEC 1991. Evangelical
St Martin's, Edinburgh Edinburgh (Dalry) [25] 1883 New building 1980s. Partners with St Colm's, St Michael's & Gorgie CoS churches
Holy Cross, Edinburgh Edinburgh (Davidson's Mains) [26] 1898 Building 1912-1913
St Fillan's, Edinburgh Edinburgh (Fairmilehead) [27] 1894 Current building consecrated 1939
St James the Less, Leith Edinburgh (Leith) [28] 1863 Victorian church closed late 1970s, meetings now in smaller building
St Barnabas, Edinburgh Edinburgh (Moredun) 1950
Christ Church, Edinburgh Edinburgh (Morningside) [29] 1876
Good Shepherd, Edinburgh Edinburgh (Murrayfield) [30] 1899 Ecumenical parish with Murrayfield CoS and Saughtonhall URC
St David of Scotland, Edinburgh Edinburgh (Pilton) [31] 1941
St Mark's, Portobello Edinburgh (Portobello) [32] 1826
St Salvador's, Edinburgh Edinburgh (Stenhouse) [33] 1934 Building 1937-1938
St Vincent's Chapel, Edinburgh Edinburgh (Stockbridge) [34] 1857 Began as English Episcopal Church, joined SEC 1882. Out of diocese 1971-2014 (Order of St Lazarus)
St Michael and All Saints, Edinburgh Edinburgh (Tollcross) [35] 1853 Building 1866-1867. United with St Michael's (began 1881) in 1965
St Ebba's, Eyemouth Eyemouth [36] c. 1689 Building 1887
Christ Church, Falkirk Falkirk [37] 1863-1864
St Peter's, Galashiels Galashiels [38] 1851 Building 1853
St Mary's, Grangemouth Grangemouth 1901 Building 1938
St Adrian, Gullane Gullane [39] 1901 Building 1903, current building 1927. Linked with North Berwick
Holy Trinity, Haddington Haddington [40] pre-1770 Building 1770 (oldest continuously Episcopal building on this list)
St Cuthbert's, Hawick Hawick 1858
St Andrew's, Innerleithen Innerleithen [41] 1904
St John the Evangelist, Jedburgh Jedburgh [42] 1844
St Andrew's, Kelso Kelso [43] 1868
St Leonard's, Lasswade & Bonnyrigg Lasswade [44] 1890
St Peter's, Linlithgow Linlithgow [45] 1928 Daughter church of St Catherine's Bo'ness. Linked with Bathgate 1970s
Livingston United Parish Church Livingston [46] 1966 Building dedicated to St Paul. Joint initiative between SEC, CoS, Methodist and Cong. Union
Holy Trinity, Melrose Melrose [47] 1849 Enlarged into a church 1900
St Peter's, Musselburgh Musselburgh [48] 1865
St Baldred's, North Berwick North Berwick 1861
St Peter's, Peebles Peebles [49] 1836-1837
St James the Less, Penicuik Penicuik [50] 1882
Rosslyn Chapel Roslin [51] 1861 Privately owned. Dedicated to St Matthew. Building C15th, closed 1560-1861, Episcopal 1861
St John's, Selkirk Selkirk [52] 1867-1869 Linked with Galashiels
Priory Church of St Mary of Mt Carmel South Queensferry [53] 1890 Building C15th, fell into disrepair C17th, reconsecrated as Episcopal church 1890
St Mungo's, West Linton West Linton [54] 1851


The Diocese of Edinburgh is twinned with the dioceses of two other churches:


  1. ^ a b "History of the Diocese". Diocese of Edinburgh official website. Archived from the original on 9 October 2014. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  2. ^ "A History of Old Saint Paul's". Old Saint Paul’s parish website. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  3. ^ "History". St Mary's Cathedral website. Retrieved 6 October 2012. 
  4. ^ Bertie, David (2001). Scottish Episcopal Clergy, 1689-2000. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 561. ISBN 9780567087461. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  5. ^ "A New Dean for Edinburgh". Diocese of Edinburgh. January 2017. Retrieved 7 April 2017. 
  6. ^ "St Columba's Episcopal Church, Bathgate". St Columba's Episcopal Church, Bathgate. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  7. ^ "St Mary & All Souls". stmaryscoldstream.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  8. ^ "St Mary's, Dalkeith – – the church in the park". stmarysdalkeith.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  9. ^ "Welcome to St Mary's Church Dalmahoy". www.stmarysdalmahoy.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  10. ^ "Home". stannesdunbar.org.uk.websitebuilder.prositehosting.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  11. ^ Digital, Progredi. "Christ Church, Duns, Scottish Borders / Christ Church". www.christchurchduns.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-06. 
  12. ^ "St Mary's Cathedral". www.cathedral.net. Retrieved 2017-11-06. 
  13. ^ www.justinreynolds.co.uk. "Old Saint Paul's Scottish Episcopal Church ~ Welcome to Old Saint Paul's Scottish Episcopal Church". www.osp.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-06. 
  14. ^ "St Columba's | Scottish Episcopal Church, Edinburgh". www.stcolumbasbythecastle.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-06. 
  15. ^ "St John's Church - Home". www.stjohns-edinburgh.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-06. 
  16. ^ "Welcome". stmegs.blogspot.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  17. ^ "St Philip's and St James': Goldenacre & Logie Green, Edinburgh". www.stpj.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  18. ^ "Ps & Gs Church – a lively, evangelical church in the heart of Edinburgh". welcome.psandgs.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-06. 
  19. ^ http://stpetersedinburgh.org/
  20. ^ "St Mungo's Church Balerno and Livingston". www.stmungos.org. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  21. ^ Church, Emmanuel Episcopal. "Emmanuel Clermiston Scottish Episcopal Church, Edinburgh - Home Page". www.emmanuelclermiston.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  22. ^ "St Cuthbert's Episcopal Church Colinton". St Cuthbert's Episcopal Church Colinton. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  23. ^ "Home St Ninian's SEC". www.stninians-edinburgh.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  24. ^ "St Thomas's, Corstorphine, Edinburgh : St Thomas's, Corstorphine, Edinburgh". www.saintthomas.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  25. ^ "St Martin of Tours Episcopal Church, Gorgie/Dalry, Edinburgh". stmartinsedinburgh.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  26. ^ "Holy Cross Church, Edinburgh". www.holycrossedinburgh.org. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  27. ^ "St Fillan's, Buckstone: Diocese of Edinburgh". stfillans.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  28. ^ "St James, Leith - Scottish Episcopal Church in Leith, Edinburgh". St James, Leith. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  29. ^ "Welcome to Christ Church Morningside". Christ Church Morningside. Retrieved 2017-11-06. 
  30. ^ "CoGSMurrayfield". www.goodshepherdmurrayfield.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  31. ^ "St David's Episcopal Church". stdavidepiscopal.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  32. ^ "St Mark's Portobello". St Mark's Portobello. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  33. ^ "St Salvador's Episcopal Church, Edinburgh: In the heart of Stenhouse". stsalvadors.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  34. ^ "St Vincent's Chapel, Edinburgh, the village church in the heart of the city". St Vincent's Chapel, Edinburgh, the village church in the heart of the city. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  35. ^ "St Michael & All Saints". www.stmichaelandallsaints.org. Retrieved 2017-11-06. 
  36. ^ "St Ebba's Episcopal Church, Eyemouth: Diocese of Edinburgh". stebbas.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  37. ^ "Christ Church, Falkirk". Christ Church, Falkirk. Retrieved 2017-11-06. 
  38. ^ "St Peter's, Galashiels – Part of the Scottish Episcopal Church". stpetersgala.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  39. ^ "St Adrians, Gullane". stadrianschurch.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  40. ^ "Holy Trinity". holytrinityhaddington.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  41. ^ "Welcome". www.standrewsinnerleithen.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  42. ^ "St John the Evangelist, Jedburgh". St John the Evangelist, Jedburgh. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  43. ^ ke, St Andrews Episcopal Church. "Home. St Andrew's Episcopal Church An Inclusive & Open Church for Kelso Kelso Roxburghshire St Andrew's Episcopal Church". www.standrewskelso.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  44. ^ "St Leonard's Lasswade & Bonnyrigg". stleonardslasswade.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  45. ^ Goldfinch, Paul. "St Peter's, Linlithgow - Home - Welcome!". www.stpeterslinlithgow.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  46. ^ "Livingston United Parish Church – Different by Design". www.livingstonecumenicalparish.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  47. ^ "Holy Trinity Episcopal Church Melrose Scotland". Holy Trinity Episcopal Church Melrose Scotland. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  48. ^ "Home". St Peter's Musselburgh. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  49. ^ "St Peter's Church, Peebles (Scottish charity number SC2002464)". www.stpeterspeebles.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  50. ^ "St James the Less Penicuik". St James the Less Penicuik. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  51. ^ "Home". St Matthew's - Rosslyn Chapel. Retrieved 2017-11-06. 
  52. ^ "St John's Church, Selkirk - Home Page". www.stjohnselkirk.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
  53. ^ Harkin, M J. "Priory Church South Queensferry". www.priorychurch.com. Retrieved 2017-11-06. 
  54. ^ "St Mungo's Episcopal Church, West Linton: Diocese of Edinburgh". stmungoswestlinton.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-07. 
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