Diocese of Edinburgh

This article is about the diocese of the Scottish Episcopal Church. For the Catholic diocese, see Archdiocese of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh.

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 57
Cathedral St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh
Current leadership
Bishop Bishop 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 VI. During an audience with the new King William in 1690, Rose's ambiguous declaration arose royal displeasure:

Sir, I will serve you as far as law, reason, or conscience shall allow me.
Alexander Rose, 1690, Quoted in Clarke, "Rose , Alexander (1645/6–1720)".

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.


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


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 Episcopalian 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.

Church Location Town/city
Anglican Chaplaincy, Edinburgh University of Edinburgh, 1 Bristo Square, Edinburgh
Christ Church, Duns Teindhillgreen, Duns
Christ Church, Edinburgh 6a Morningside Road, Edinburgh
Christ Church, Falkirk Kerse Lane, Falkirk
Ecumenical Parish, Livingston St Paul's Church, Fernbank, Livingston
Emmanuel Church, Clermiston c/o 6 Wellhead Close (Edinburgh Capital Hotel), South Queensferry, Edinburgh
Good Shepherd, Edinburgh 13(A) Murreyfield Avenue, Edinburgh
Holy Cross, Edinburgh Quality Street, Davidson's Mains, Edinburgh
Holy Trinity, Haddington Church Street, Haddington
Holy Trinity, Melrose 20 High Cross Avenue, Melrose
Old Saint Paul's, Edinburgh 63 Jeffrey Street, Edinburgh
Priory Church of St Mary of Mt Carmel Hopetoun Road, South Queensferry
Rosslyn Chapel Chapel Loan, Roslin
St Adrian, Gullane Sandyloan, Gullane
St Andrew's, Innerleithen Church Street, Innerleithen
St Andrew's, Kelso Belmont Place, Kelso
St Andrew's, Prestonpans 2 West Loan, Prestonpans
St Anne's, Dunbar Westgate, Dunbar
St Baldred's, North Berwick Dirleton Avenue, North Berwick
St Barnabas, Edinburgh Moredun Park View, Edinburgh
St Catherine's, Bo'ness Cadzow Crescent Bo'ness
St Columba's, Bathgate Glasgow Road, Bathgate
St Columba's-by-the-Castle 14 Johnston Terrace, Edinburgh
St Cuthbert's, Edinburgh Westgarth Avenue, Colinton, Edinburgh
St Cuthbert's, Hawick Slitrig Crescent, Hawick
St David of Scotland, Edinburgh Royston Mains Place, Edinburgh
St Ebba's, Eyemouth Fort View, Paxton Terrace, Eyemouth
St Fillan's, Edinburgh 8 Buckstone Drive, Edinburgh
St James the Less, Leith, Edinburgh John's Place, Leith, Edinburgh
St James the Less, Penicuik Broomhill Road, Penicuik
Church of St John the Evangelist, Edinburgh 140 Princes Street, Edinburgh
St John's, Jedburgh The Pleasance, Jedburgh
St John's, Selkirk Shawpark Road, Selkirk
St Leonard's, Lasswade 2B Dobbie's Road, Lasswade
St Margaret of Scotland, Edinburgh 170 Easter Road, Edinburgh
St Mark's, Portobello Portobello High Street, Edinburgh
St Martin's, Edinburgh 232 Dalry Road, Edinburgh
St Mary and All Souls, Coldstream Lennel Road, Coldstream
St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh Palmerston Place, Edinburgh
St Mary's, Dalkeith Dalkeith Country Palace Gates, High Street, Dalkeith
St Mary's, Dalmahoy The Parish Centre, Kirknewton, Dalmahoy
St Mary's, Grangemouth Ronaldshay Crescent, Grangemouth
St Michael and All Saints, Edinburgh 26 Brougham Street, Edinburgh
St Mungo's, Balerno Ladycroft, Balerno & Currie
St Mungo's, West Linton Biggar Road West Linton
St Ninian's, Edinburgh Comely Bank, Edinburgh
St Paul's and St George's Church 10 Broughton Street, Edinburgh
St Peter's, Galashiels Abbotsford Road, Galashiels
St Peter's, Linlithgow 153 High Street, Linlithgow
St Peter's, Lutton Place, Edinburgh Lutton Place, Edinburgh
St Peter's, Musselburgh High Street, Musselburgh
St Peter's, Peebles Eastgate, Peebles
St Philip's and St James, Edinburgh 57B Inverleith Row, Edinburgh
St Salvador's, Edinburgh 61 Saughton Mains Street, Edinburgh
St Thomas', Edinburgh 79 Glasgow Road, Edinburgh
St Vincent's, Edinburgh St Stephen Street, Edinburgh


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


  1. 1 2 "History of the Diocese". Diocese of Edinburgh official website. 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.
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