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Glasgow Cathedral
High Kirk of Glasgow
St Kentigern's Cathedral
St Mungo's Cathedral
Cathair-eaglais Ghlaschu
Glasgow-cathedral-may-2007.jpg
The west front of Glasgow Cathedral, from Cathedral Square
Glasgow Cathedral is located in Central Glasgow
Glasgow Cathedral
Glasgow Cathedral
Location in Central Glasgow
55°51′47″N 4°14′05″W / 55.8630°N 4.2346°W / 55.8630; -4.2346
Location Glasgow
Country Scotland
Denomination Church of Scotland
Previous denomination Roman Catholic
History
Status Parish church
Founded 12th century
Dedication Saint Mungo
Consecrated 1197
Past bishop(s) Archbishop of Glasgow
Architecture
Functional status Active
Heritage designation Category A listed building
Designated 15 December 1970
Style Gothic
Specifications
Length 285 feet (87 metres)
Width 65 feet (20 metres)
Height 105 feet (32 metres)
Spire height 225 feet (68 metres)
Administration
Presbytery Glasgow
Clergy
Minister(s) Mark E. Johnstone
Laity
Organist/Director of music Andrew Forbes
Listed Building – Category A
Official name: Glasgow Cathedral, 70 Cathedral Square, Glasgow
Designated 15 December 1970
Reference no. LB32654

Glasgow Cathedral (Scottish Gaelic: Cathair-eaglais Ghlaschu) is a parish church of the Church of Scotland in Glasgow, Scotland. It is the oldest cathedral in mainland Scotland and the oldest building in Glasgow. The cathedral was the seat of the Archbishop of Glasgow, and the mother church of the Archdiocese of Glasgow and the Province of Glasgow, until the Scottish Reformation in the 16th century. Glasgow Cathedral and St Magnus Cathedral in Orkney are the only medieval cathedrals in Scotland to have survived the Reformation virtually intact.

The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Mungo, the patron saint of Glasgow, whose tomb lies at the centre of the building's Lower Church. The first stone cathedral was dedicated in 1136, in the presence of David I. Fragments of this building have been found beneath the structure of the present cathedral, which was dedicated in 1197, although much of the present cathedral dates from a major rebuilding in the 13th century. Following its foundation in 1451, the University of Glasgow held its first classes within the cathedral's chapter house. After the Reformation, Glasgow Cathedral was internally partitioned to serve three separate congregations (Inner High, Outer High and Barony). The early 19th century saw a growing appreciation of the cathedral's medieval architecture, and by 1835 both the Outer High and Barony congregations had moved elsewhere in the city, allowing the restoration of the cathedral to something approaching its former glory.

Inside Glasgow Cathedral
360° panorama inside the cathedral (2021)
(view as a 360° interactive panorama)

Glasgow Cathedral has been Crown property since 1587. The entire cathedral building passed into the care of the state in 1857, and today it is the responsibility of Historic Environment Scotland. The congregation is today part of the Church of Scotland's Presbytery of Glasgow.

History

Glasgowcathedral
Glasgow Cathedral with Cathedral Square

The history of the cathedral is linked with that of the city, and is allegedly located where the patron saint of Glasgow, Saint Mungo, built his church. The tomb of the saint is in the lower crypt. Walter Scott's novel Rob Roy gives an account of the kirk.

John Slezer - Engraving of Glasgow Cathedral
Glasgow Cathedral, engraving by John Slezer, (1693)
Valentine's postcard of Glasgow Cathedral And Necropolis
An old postcard view of the Cathedral (1893)
Glasgow Cathedral - Choir
Glasgow Cathedral choir

Built before the Reformation from the late 12th century onwards and serving as the seat of the Bishop and later the Archbishop of Glasgow, the building is a superb example of Scottish Gothic architecture. It is also one of the few Scottish medieval churches (and the only medieval cathedral on the Scottish mainland) to have survived the Reformation not unroofed.

James IV ratified the treaty of Perpetual Peace with England at the high altar on 10 December 1502. The cathedral and the nearby castle played a part in the battles of Glasgow in 1544 and 1560. Twenty years after the Reformation, on 22 April 1581 James VI granted the income from a number of lands to Glasgow town for the kirk's upkeep. He traced the ownership of these lands to money left by Archbishop Gavin Dunbar as a legacy for repairing the cathedral. The town council agreed on 27 February 1583 to take responsibility for repairing the kirk, while recording they had no obligation to do so. The church survives because of this resolution. Inside, the rood screen is also a very rare survivor in Scottish churches.

Technically, the building is no longer a cathedral, since it has not been the seat of a bishop since 1690. However, like many other pre-Reformation cathedrals in Scotland, it is still a place of active Christian worship, hosting a Church of Scotland congregation. The current minister (since 15 February 2007) is the Rev Laurence A. B. Whitley, PhD, who was previously minister at Montrose Old and St Andrew's Parish Church. The previous minister was the Very Rev William Morris, who was minister from 1967 until retiring in November 2005. The building itself is in the ownership of the Crown, is maintained by Historic Scotland, and is a popular destination for tourists.

University of Glasgow

The University of Glasgow originated in classes held within the precinct of the Cathedral. William Turnbull, Bishop of Glasgow was primarily responsible for the foundation of the University around the year 1451. The Bishops of Glasgow served as Chancellors of the University for around two hundred years. In 1460, the University moved out of the Cathedral to an adjacent site on the east side of the High Street, and moved to its current home on Gilmorehill in 1870.

Music

Glasgow Cathedral's professional choir is composed of 4 Choristers and 6 Choral Scholars. The current Director of Music is Andrew Forbes and the Cathedral Organist is Dr. Malcolm Sim. The four-manual Father Willis organ was installed in 1879, and has been maintained by Harrison & Harrison since they rebuilt the instrument in 1996.

Herbert Walton 001
Herbert Walton 1903
Glasgow Cathedral. Crypt (Interior) (3611594532)
Glasgow Cathedral. Crypt (Interior) (3611594532)

Directors of Music

  • 1879 Alfred Peace
  • 1897 Herbert Walton
  • 1929 R H Clifford Smith
  • 1936 Walter Emery
  • 1965 John Turner
  • 2010 Ian Simcock
  • 2012 Richard Pratt
  • 2014 Andrew Forbes

Other cathedrals in Glasgow

Other cathedrals in Glasgow are St. Andrew's Cathedral (Roman Catholic), St. Mary's Cathedral (Scottish Episcopal) and St Luke's Cathedral (Greek Orthodox).

Other burials

  • Robert Wishart, Bishop of Glasgow
  • James Law, Archbishop of Glasgow (1615–1632)
  • Peter Lowe (surgeon), (1550-1610) doctor and medical author
  • Charles Macintosh, inventor of the MacKintosh
  • Glasgow Cathedral – site information from Historic Environment Scotland

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