St John, Edinburgh
Episcopal church at the west end of Princes Street

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Notes in italics from Pevsner Architectural Guides, Edinburgh by John Gifford, Colin McWilliam and David Walker (1991), Yale University Press.

St John's, West End, Edinburgh     P1030339-transf-crop-cln-vardk-u1-740-u0.5-q30.jpg (85651 bytes)     P1030338-rotcrop-u1-h552-u0.5-q60.jpg (62961 bytes)    


Revived Perp by William Burn, and not only a good termination for the street but a remarkably convincing Gothic exercise for its date, 1815-18. ... The church is of eight clearstoried bays with buttresses and pinnacles. The end bays have elaborately corbelled niches instead of windows. W tower, originally with single belfry windows and an octagonal lantern ... which blew down during construction. The double-windowed belfry improved the tower, and the only uncertainty of design is in the heavy pinnacles and the perfunctory mouldings of the doorway at the base. In the E bay was the original chancel ...
In 1879-82 Peddie & Kinnear extended the chancel within Burn's burial enclosure by one aisleless bay and a three-sided apse, sympathetic with the older work but much more refined. ...

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Burn's interior was a masterpiece in its time, and is still better now. Tall arcades with clustered shafts, each pier ending with a leaning-out figure of the penitent Magdalen (an odd economy of specification) as a label stop. Thin clearstorey wall-shafts run up into fan-vaults of the same diameter as the central pendant fans; these, like the ribbed aisle vaults, are of course of plaster.

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Peddie & Kinnear's chancel (1879-82), with its slightly steeper stone arch, is more serious and more intricate in detail; the vault has an elaborate pattern of lierne ribs. Last picture: looking west.

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