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.

The diocese currently has 52 stipendiary clergy and 54 churches.

Name Ref Clergy Founded History/notes
St Columba, Bathgate [1]
  • Rector: Christine Barclay
pre-1915 Building 1915. Linked with Linlithgow 1970s
St Peter's, Linlithgow [2] 1928 Daughter church of St Catherine's Bo'ness. Linked with Bathgate 1970s
St Catharine, Bo'ness
  • Rector: Willie Shaw
1864 First building 1889, current building 1921. Linked with Grangemouth since 1979
St Mary, Grangemouth 1901 Building 1938
St Mary & All Souls, Coldstream [3]
  • Rector: Jeffry Smith
1872 Building 1897, current building 1913-1914
St Ebba, Eyemouth [4]
  • Rector: Vacant
c. 1689 Building 1887
St Mary, Dalmahoy [5]
  • Rector: Christine Downey
St Anne, Dunbar [6]
  • Rector: Diana Hall
1874 Building 1890. Joint SEC/Methodist church, using two buildings
Christ Church, Duns [7]
  • Rector: Vacant
St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh [8]
  • Provost: John Conway
  • Vice-Provost: John McLuckie
  • Chaplain:
  • NSM: Paul Foster
c. 1689 Pro-cathedral in early C19th. Current building 1874-1876
Old St Paul's, Edinburgh [9]
  • Rector: Ian Paton
  • Curate: Jenny Wright
  • Hon. Curate: Charles Davies-Cole
  • Hon. Curate: Colin Reed
1689 Building 1883
St Margaret of Scotland, Edinburgh [10]
  • Priest-in-Charge: Colin Reed
1877 Building 1880. Independent of St Paul's 1898
St Columba's-by-the-Castle [11]
  • Rector: David Paton-Williams
  • Team Vicar: Robert Gould
  • Assoc. Priest: Alison Wagstaff
1846-1847 LEP with Greyfriars Kirk and Augustine United Church
St John the Evangelist, Edinburgh [12]
  • Rector: Markus Dünzkofer
  • Associate Rector: Stephen Holmes
  • NSM: Rosie Addis
  • NSM: Clephane Hume
  • NSM: Eileen Thompson
  • NSM: Kenneth Boyd
1792 Congregation originally met in Charlotte Chapel. Current building 1816-1818
St Philip and St James, Edinburgh [13]
  • Rector: Tembu Rongong
1888 Two buildings, St Philip's (1908) & St James (1888)
St Paul and St George, Edinburgh [14]
  • Rector: Dave Richards
  • Curate: Libby Talbot
pre-1816 Building 1816-18. Merged with St George's 1932. Church graft from St Thomas' 1985. Evangelical
St Peter, Lutton Place [15]
  • Rector: Fred Tomlinson
1807 Planted from Old St Paul's. Building 1860
St Mungo, Balerno [16]
  • Rector: Malcolm Round
1869 Evangelical
Emmanuel, Clermiston [17]
  • Rector/Priest-in-C: Terence Harkin
  • NSM (Queensf): Iain MacRobert
1988 Planted from St Thomas, Corstorphine 1988. Meets in a community centre. Evangelical
St Mary of Mt Carmel, Queensferry [18] 1890 Building C15th, fell into disrepair C17th, reconsecrated as Episcopal church 1890
St Cuthbert, Colinton [19]
  • Rector: Nicki McNelly
1883 Building 1888-1893
St Ninian, Comely Bank [20] mid C19th First building and independent church 1920, current building 1952
St Thomas, Corstorphine [21]
  • Incumbent: David McCarthy
1844 Began as independent Anglican chapel, full member of SEC 1991. Evangelical
St Martin of Tours, Gorgie & Dalry [22]
  • Rector: Vacant
  • NSM: David Warnes
1883 New building 1980s. Partners with St Colm's, St Michael's & Gorgie CoS churches
Holy Cross, Davidson's Mains [23]
  • Rector: Douglas Kornahrens
1898 Building 1912-1913
St Fillan, Buckstone [24]
  • Rector: Ruth Innes
1894 Current building consecrated 1939
St James the Less, Leith [25]
  • Rector: Stephen Butler
  • NSM: Michael Northcott
  • NSM: Jane MacLaren
  • NSM: Jolyon Mitchell
1863 Victorian church closed late 1970s, meetings now in smaller building
St Barnabas, Edinburgh
  • Priest-in-Charge: David Dixon
  • NSM: Alice Anderson
Christ Church, Morningside [26] 1876
Good Shepherd, Murrayfield [27]
  • Rector: Dean Fostekew
  • Curate: Rosie Addis 34
1899 Ecumenical parish with Murrayfield CoS and Saughtonhall URC
St David of Scotland, Edinburgh [28]
  • Rector: Ruth Green
St Mark, Portobello [29]
  • Clergy: Sophia Marriage
St Salvador's, Edinburgh [30]
  • Priest-in-Charge: Vacant
  • Curate: Mariusz Wojciechowski
1934 Building 1937-1938
St Vincent's Chapel, Edinburgh [31]
  • Priest-in-Charge: Allan Maclean
  • Curate: William Mounsey
1857 Began as English Episcopal Church, joined SEC 1882. Out of diocese 1971-2014 (Order of St Lazarus)
St Michael and All Saints, Edinburgh [32]
  • Rector: Martin Robson
  • Curate: John Penman
1853 Building 1866-1867. United with St Michael's (began 1881) in 1965
Christ Church, Falkirk [33]
  • Rector: Sarah Shaw
St Peter, Galashiels [34]
  • Clergy: Vacant
1851 Building 1853
St John, Selkirk [35]
  • Priest-in-Charge: Vacant
  • Hon. Curate: David Sceats
1867-1869 Linked with Galashiels
Holy Trinity, Haddington [36]
  • Rector: Anne Dyer
  • NSM: John Wood
pre-1770 Building 1770 (oldest continuously Episcopal building on this list)
St Cuthbert, Hawick
  • Clergy: Vacant
St John the Evangelist, Jedburgh [37]
  • Rector: Vacant
  • Hon. Curate: John Grover
St Andrew, Kelso [38]
  • Rector: Bob King
St Leonard, Lasswade & Bonnyrigg [39]
  • Rector: Peter Harris
  • Curate: Jacqui du Rocher
  • NSM: Michael Jones
  • NSM: Elizabeth Jones
  • NSM: Jennie Godfrey
St Mary, Dalkeith [40] 1843 Linked with Lasswade
Livingston United Parish Church [41]
  • Ministers: From other denoms
1966 Building dedicated to St Paul. Joint initiative between SEC, CoS, Methodist and URC
Holy Trinity, Melrose [42]
  • Rector: Philip Blackledge
  • Curate: Margaret Pederson
  • NSM: Dennis Wood
1849 Enlarged into a church 1900
St Peter, Musselburgh [43]
  • Rector: Andy Reid
St Baldred, North Berwick
  • Clergy: Vacant
St Adrian, Gullane [44] 1901 Building 1903, current building 1927. Linked with North Berwick
St Peter, Peebles [45]
  • Rector: Jim Benton-Evans
  • Asst Priest: Colin Chaplin
  • NSM: Charles Aitchison
St Andrew, Innerleithen 1904
St James the Less, Penicuik [46]
  • Rector: Lynsay Downs
  • NSM: Neville Suttle
St Mungo, West Linton [47] 1851
Rosslyn Chapel [48]
  • Priest-in-Charge: Joseph Roulston
1861 Privately owned. Dedicated to St Matthew. Building C15th, closed 1560-1861, Episcopal 1861


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. 
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