History of All Saints' church, St Andrews

From 1824 to present
All Saints’ church is the younger of the two Scottish Episcopal churches in St Andrews. For 150 years after the disestablishment of the Episcopal church in the reign of William and Mary, there was no church building in St Andrews. The various meeting places used by the congregation included a private house called Priorsgate on South Street, and an outhouse on Westburn Lane. The restrictions on the Episcopal church were relaxed after the death of Prince Charles Edward Stuart in 1788.

Episcopal chapel

In 1824 the foundation stone was laid of an Episcopal chapel on North Street, and this building was consecrated in 1825 and dedicated to St Andrew. By 1860 this building, with a maximum capacity of 220, was outgrown. The chapel was sold to the Free Church congregation in Buckhaven. The building was dismantled, the stones transported by sea to Buckhaven and rebuilt there.

St Andrew’s church

The present site of St Andrew’s church, in Queen’s Terrace, was acquired, and the new building there was consecrated in 1869. In 1895 a member of its congregation, TT Oliphant, observed that the poor had great difficulty in obtaining seats at the morning service because of a shortage of room and the custom of pew renting. An additional church was clearly necessary, and following the death of TT Oliphant in 1902 it was proposed that part of the new church should be a memorial to him.

All Saints’ church

The site at the corner of North Street and North Castle Street was chosen to enable the church to serve as a mission to the fishing community based in this part of the town. A temporary iron church from Spiers of Glasgow was consecrated in May 1903, and provided free seating for a congregation of 150. Meanwhile the Oliphant memorial fund had been started, and this provided the means to build a stone chancel. The foundation stone for the chancel was laid on Monday 11 March 1907 and the completed chancel was consecrated on Saturday 2 November 1907. The temporary iron structure was moved into a new position to form the nave of the church. All Saints’ became known at this time as ‘The Bundle Kirk’ because charitable parcels were distributed by the congregation.

All Saints’ Church Building in 1914

At the end of the first world war Mrs Annie Younger, wife of Dr James Younger of Mount Melville, gave money for the completion and endowment of the church. More ground was bought around the church, and fisherfolk displaced from their houses were rehoused in St Gregory’s Buildings overlooking the castle beach. The land made available was used to build the nave, chapel and baptistry of the church. Other buildings including the rectory, a church hall for theatricals and film shows, a well-equipped gymnasium, a guide hall, women’s and men’s club rooms with a library and a billiard room, were either newly built or provided by alterations to existing buildings. In addition to the buildings Mrs Younger provided money for vestments, altar furnishings and church furniture, pulpit, font, and all details down to the provision of notice boards and flower bowls. Mrs Younger provided the buildings and endowments as a memorial to her daughter and son-in-law. A condition of Mrs Younger’s endowment of the church was that the Eucharist would be the main morning service every Sunday.

The foundation stone was laid for the new nave in June 1920. In the same month the Revd Piers Holt Wilson (known as Peter or PH Wilson, later Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness) was installed as priest-in-charge and All Saints’ became independent from St Andrew’s Church. The service of consecration was held in the new building on All Saints’ Day, Thursday 1 November 1923.

In November 1930 All Saints’ became an incumbency. The rectory, ready in 1939, was the last building to be completed.

All the buildings provided by Mrs Younger have been retained by All Saints’ Church, but some have changed use in the intervening years. Castle Wynd House, once the club rooms, is now let to students. The former guide hall was for many years the Ladyhead coffee shop and bookshop, run by volunteers from churches in St Andrews; it closed in 2012. For many years, the former gymnasium was let to a local amateur dramatic society for rehearsals and prop storage but it has recently been restored for community use as a large meeting room.

List of incumbents

1903–1915 All Saints’ mission

  • 1903–1904 Kenneth Lyle Reid
  • 1904–1909 Henry Francis Plant
  • 1909–1915 William Collins

1915–1920 Served from St Andrew’s church

  • 1915–1916 Edward George Adlington
  • 1916–1920 George Nowell Price

1920– Independent congregation

  • 1920–1943 Piers Holt Wilson
  • 1943–1946 David Stewart Borland
  • 1946–1976 Alexander Macdonald
  • 1977–1991 Russell Edward Ingham
  • 1991–1996 Brian Albert Hardy
  • 1996–2014 Jonathan Patrick Mason
  • 2015-          Alasdair Charles Coles

All Saints’ 1903–1923

1903, a year like others

1903 was a year like others. Edward VII was acclaimed Emperor in Delhi. There was a pogrom of Jews at Kishinev, in what is now Moldova. The Ford Motor Company was incorporated. Motor cars in Britain were to be registered and numbered. Bulgarians were massacred by Turks, and Muslims by Bulgarians. The Wright brothers flew the first heavier-than-air machine. Randall Davidson became Archbishop of Canterbury. Pepsi-Cola was registered as a trademark. Russia annexed Manchuria, leading next year to war with Japan. Reports of widespread massacres in the Belgian Congo were confirmed by the British consul. A treaty was signed for the building of the Panama canal.

And in St Andrews, there was concern about all kinds of terrible things. The year began with the Citizen warning of the “Slaughter of the Innocents”, or “injuries caused by the callousness of parents who leave their children to the tender mercies of servants are as fatal, if not as immediate, as those wrought by the swords of the King’s soldiers of old.” At Hogmanay, “Bands of youths, aping the gaiety of tipsy persons, paraded the streets, and sang with more vigour than harmony such popular songs as, “Whistling Rufus”, “Dolly Gray”, and, “The Honeysuckle and the Bee.” In the previous year, the Memorial cottage hospital had been opened, and plans set in foot to restore the town kirk, Holy Trinity, and so to “obliterate a rare specimen of the type of church buildings which found favour in the eyes of our Calvinist forefathers, but on the site will be raised a church in keeping with modern ideas.”

Increased membership

Nor was this all, “In the Episcopal church the membership has reached that stage at which additional pew accommodation is necessary. This can only he provided by the erection of another church, and there is a scheme on foot to do so. It is proposed to dedicate part of this new church to the memory of Mr TT Oliphant, who in his day laboured so well for the cause of episcopacy not only in St Andrews but throughout Scotland. By Mr Oliphant’s death this year, it may be remarked in passing, the city lost one of its most respected and public-spirited citizens, and one who did many kind actions, and St Leonard’s school has lost a hard-working and faithful secretary.”

But the Citizen had other concerns. Girls who undertook higher education put themselves in danger, “the reaction from over brain fag seems to be almost synonymous with the stagnation of utter ignorance”, and “a passion for physical activity seems to be nature’s rebound from the strain of overmuch brain work …” By February there was news of a bazaar to be held by the Episcopal church to pay off a debt and the town kirk was appealing for restoration money, in memory of their former minister, AKH Boyd, a noted author and raconteur, and in view of “the part it has played in the moulding of Scottish character.” Plans had been prepared by P McGregor Chalmers; “The main idea is to preserve the fine old tower and all that remains of the medieval church, and to rebuild the remainder upon the original plan …” Which in due course led to the striking beauty of the church we see today.

All of which was combined with assurances that cancer was not caused by tomatoes or smoking, and that it would soon be “amenable to treatment”. And a query, “Is it now becoming common practice among the youths belonging to the student class to go about bareheaded?” By April there were growlings about Irish land reform, “Buying up a Country”. And Mr Lemaitre was being heralded as the new headmaster of St Salvator’s school for boys. By June “small boards requesting gentlemen ‘not to spit on the pavement’ ” were being fixed to lamp posts at street corners, and the clock at the harbour had stopped at half-post four, but should follow the example of golfers and do its two rounds a day. And the first mention of All Saints’ appeared in a note about the Rev. Mr Reid of All Saints’ being at a presentation to a departing organist.

May 1903

But we have evidence from another source, the voluminous diaries which the Rev. GTS Farquhar, later to be Dean Farquhar, kept from 1881 until his death in 1927. The entry for May 6 1903 says it all, “Yesterday we went to St Andrews where Canon Winter has opened a second church an iron one intended for mission work. He has had prolonged opposition from the church people to encounter, but he has doggedly persevered. The bishop dedicated it and preached. I carried the pastoral staff. Very few of the well-to-do St Andrews people seemed to me to be there. May God bless the work!” Was there opposition? According to the diaries, the idea of a second church went back to Winter’s predecessor, the Rev. LG Owen, in the year 1897. And an entry of 12 December 1904, when Farquhar went to take a service for Winter in St Andrew’s Church, notes that there were scarcely any men turning out for church (of 60 at eight o’clock all but one were women, of 350 at eleven o’clock all but 14 were women). This is not quite described as a boycott, but it is followed by the words, “I know that Canon Winter, who is a first-rate man, has had to fight his Vestry and contend with the rabidest of Protestants over the mission church, but this disproportion is alarming.” Finally, there is an entry for 1 November 1923, at the consecration of the completed building, “This new independent incumbency was started as a mission about 20 years ago by Canon Winter. It was meant as a safety-valve for those of our people who did not consider St Andrew’s church ‘high’ or Catholic enough for them. It struggled along for a time but at last Mrs Younger of Mt. Melville took it up … “.

But there was also a report in the Scottish Guardian as the church paper was then called. “On Friday of last week an iron building, capable of holding one hundred and fifty worshippers, was dedicated under the appropriate name of ‘All Saints’. Messrs Spiers of Glasgow … “had manufactured the building, with “its light walls and red roof and neat belfry, standing out in relief against the grey walls of the old garden in which it has been erected, and the fine old trees just bursting into foliage. And within, all is bright and comfortable and churchlike … painted a creamy yellow, with an open timber roof stained dark, while the sanctuary walls are hung with old gold tapestry …”, and all lit by “three groups of incandescent burners hanging from the roof.” The service was led by “the new choir, preceded by a handsome Florentine processional cross”, singing Hymn 156, “Come, thou Holy Spirit come”, “The rector of St Andrew’s, vested in alb and chasuble, was officiant …. Preaching from Isaiah 6: 1, Bishop Wilkinson said there was one thought present in many of their minds, and that was the longing of the late Mr Oliphant that a mission church should be erected” After the service, “A party of about forty sat down to luncheon in the Cross Keys Hotel …” On the following Sunday there was “a very, good congregation” at ten in the morning, for the choral Eucharist, and “the church was crowded at evensong.” The report ended with the afterthought, “especially we trust that a good work may be done amidst the fisher population who live at the church’s door.” But this was clearly an afterthought; newcomers to the Episcopal church could hardly have provided a congregation for a sung Eucharist every Sunday, as was advertised in the Citizen , nor would they have crowded a church on its first Sunday.

August 1903

Meanwhile, the Citizen continued to please its readers with news, serial fiction, and just about anything else they could dream up. In August of 1903 there was an uproar over “shows” after the Lammas market in the Southfield district, and it was said, as periodically it is still said, “The great charm of St Andrews has always been its restful surroundings, and when these are destroyed, the city’s prosperity will probably be on the wane.” Tom Morris the golfer, who had been laid up for three months with rheumatism, was once again playing golf. And St Andrew’s church was to have its great bazaar, with the town hall decorated to resemble the Delhi Durbar, to clear the debt on the Episcopal parsonage. There would be theatrical performances, musical sketches, Italian marionettes, and other exotic attractions. On August 22 the Citizen listed the various ladies who had served at the various stalls, including Mrs Younger of Alloa, whose name also appeared in the list of visitors to the town, she being at “Russack’s Marine Hotel”. There were various cases brought before the courts; a cyclist was fined five shillings for riding on the Lade Braes, which was an offence even if no pedestrians were present, a labourer was fined one guinea or fourteen days imprisonment for striking his wife and then striking and kicking her on the floor, while a butcher who stole a collie pup from a lorry shed on North Street received a sentence, of twenty eight days. Various bits of Roman Catholic news or self-advertisement appeared from time to time, usually drawn from letters of crashing dullness by the fabulous Father Angus, but a Roman Catholic correspondent named HISTORICUS wrote letters which were both accurate and witty. On the papacy and Scotland he noted that the hierarchy had been restored in 1878, and “this act was solemnly protested against in a curious document issued by the Episcopal bishops in Scotland – which, however, did no more than cause amusement to Scottish Presbyterians as well as to Catholics.”

Autumn 1903

And throughout the autumn there, was “howking”, or searching for hidden passages from the cathedral to Bishop’s Hall across the Pends Road (this was named for Bishop Wordsworth but had been College Hall before he lived there) and across North Street. In both cases there were workmen who had been laying drains in 1884 and claimed to have found vaulted passages, and even underground stairways, and the leader of the “howkers” said “the ball is at our feet’, But nothing was discovered and the howkers dehowked. A Mr Skinner was quoted as saying, “The Celtic crosses at the basis of the east gable of the Cathedral were taken from the Culdee Church and used as foundations to show the contempt of the Augustinian monks for the Culdees”. This probably meant nothing to most readers, but it was a relic of the belief, owing much to George Buchanan of Reformation times, that there had been a Celtic church in Scotland with no Roman connections, and with monks called Culdees who had a monastery or settlement at St Mary’s on the Rock, and that this wonderful survival of pure Christianity had been brutally put down by Roman intruders, after which things started to go wrong. And then there were references to St Andrews ghosts, notably the Veiled Nun of St Lgonard’s, who walked the Pends Road with a lantern and, if approached, would raise her lantern and pull back her veil to reveal a horribly mutilated face. She was held to have mutilated herself to dissuade a suitor who wished to remove her from the cloister, but the story is as old as Christianity itself and indeed older. However, most of those legendary ladies who wished to avoid suitors did not resort to mutilation; they merely grew beards. And the first burial took place in the new Western Cemetery. During September there was an election, and the Radical candidate opposed preferential tariffs for the Empire on the grounds that there were only eight million people in Canada, ” ‘And half of them are French’ shouted a man form the back of the, hall, amid loud laughter.” Nobody would want free trade with them. Finally there was the problem of “congestion on the links”, too many wishing to play golf and not enough places. The conflict between local residents and visitors rumbled on, as it has ever since.

Canon Winter

If All Saints owed its beginnings to Canon Winter, what sort of man was he? The record shows that he was the son of a rector of East Bradenham in Suffolk, that he was born in 1853, that he graduated from Oxford in 1876 and became a curate at Reading, and three years later became rector of East Bredenham which was probably a family living, that is, the head of the family might hold the post himself if duly ordained, or give it to another member of the family. He was there for eleven years, then eight years as vicar in Lynn Regis, with an honorary canonry of Norwich cathedral. He moved to St Andrews in 1899 and remained until 1916, when he returned to East Bradenham as rector. He was a canon of St Ninian’s Cathedral in Perth from 1903, and an honorary DD of St Andrews in 1914 – but in those days honorary doctorates in divinity were bestowed rather widely. St Andrew’s church had been afflicted with a rather unsatisfactory rector until 1893, after which they advertised and received 150 applications. The vestry nominated LG Owen of whom Farquhar’s diaries noted waspishly that they would never have taken him if he had a been a Scot; there was much opposition to the policy of the wealthier parishes bringing in English rectors and never considering Scots or the English who had long laboured in Scotland. But when Owen preached at the cathedral Good Friday services, Farquhar said he was “no great preacher” but talked a good deal of sense in a sincere and simple way. As for Winter, when he left in 1916, Farquhar wrote, “I am sorry to say that we are losing a real, good, nice, friendly man. It is to this day a mystery to me that he got so few votes for the Bishopric at the time Bishop Plumb was elected in 1908.” In fact there was likely to be some resentment of the outsider with a family living up his sleeve, who had come in to occupy a parish with over a thousand on its rolls, while most clergy lived lives of financial hardship in charges with limited possibilities. But Plumb was also such an outsider, brought in from the principalship of an Oxford theological college to be provost of the cathedral, and yet he was elected. And it should be noted that Farquhar was as friendly to Plumb as to Winter.

Curates in charge

Then there were the curates in charge at All Saints. The first was Kenneth Reid, a graduate of the University of St Andrews in 1894, then a student at the theological college in Edinburgh, ordained to work in the Diocese of Argyll, at All Saints from the beginnings in 1903 until 1904 when he went to be rector of St Andrew’s Church in Fort William, and for many years rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Murrayfield. He was succeeded in 1905 by the Rev. HF Plant, who had studied at Oxford though without graduating, and who had been ordained in Tasmania. He stayed until 1909 when he went to Dalbeattie. But before his time at St Andrews, Plant had been priest-in-charge at no less than four Scottish churches. That he had found nothing better than a curacy in St Andrews after all those appointments and at a comparatively advanced age suggests that he was an under-achieving cleric who had been forced to seek ordination in Tasmania, and was excluded from his native England by the Colonial Clergy Act. He was succeeded by the Rev. William Collins, a non-graduate, who had been a curate at St Mary’s in Glasgow. From St Andrews, Collins moved to the Glasgow suburb of Lenzie in 1915 and remained there until retirement in 1954. What may be deduced of Collins from his speeches at the Representative Church Council is not encouraging.


But now it is time to fast-forward from 1903 until 1907 when the chancel was constructed. According to the Scottish Chronicle, as the church paper had become, opening services were spread over November 1 and 2, and on the latter date “the sermon, full of deep and beautiful thoughts, being preached by the Right Rev. Bishop Richardson”, a former Bishop of Zanzibar who had retired to Perth. To continue, “the building is a simple phase of ‘early decorated’, built throughout of white Strathkinness freestone”, and it had “a canopied niche and figure of St Andrew” between the windows at the east end. “Designed by Mr John Douglas of Chester, the work has been efficiently carried out by Messrs A & J Carstairs, builders, Messrs Thom, joiners, and other St Andrews firms.” And anyone living in St Andrews today will be faniiiiar with the names of Carstairs and of Thom on vehicles in the streets. “The whole of the building operations were superintended by Mr CF Anderson, architect in St Andrews. The temporary iron structure now forms the nave and was, a few weeks ago, cleverly moved bodily into its present position by means of rollers and levers …” And a photograph was added, by the well-known Mr T Rodger.


And now, if we may fast-forward again, on 3 November 1919 Dean Farquhar wrote in his diary, “The Bishop called today. He has very good news. Mrs Younger of Mount Melville has given £25,000 to endow All Saints Mission, St Andrews! A trust is to be formed. I tried to get off it but the bishop seemed to think I should not get out of it. So I have consented to go on. The Priest-in-Charge is bound to make the Holy Eucharist the principal service every Sunday. This is a manifestation of the drift of the times.” On June 4 1923 Farquhar wrote that Mrs Younger had made a new endowment of £14,000, in addition to a previous £10,000, on condition that the Eucharist should be the main service, which Farquhar did not like but accepted, believing (wrongly) that with this stipulation the priest could never be a rector, and adding, “the donor’s intentions are deeply religious”. And on 1 November 1923 he recorded the consecration of the completed church.

It was also recorded in the Citizen of 10 November 1923, which stated rather vaguely that “some twenty or thirty years ago, the Rev. Canon Winter, a former rector of St Andrew’s Episcopal church, and now rector of Hedenhan, Norfolk, began a small unpretentious mission, the aim of which was to present to the people in the north-cast of the city the traditional religion of the Scottish Episcopal Church, centred now, as it always has been, round the importance of the Eucharist.” That for nearly half the separate lifetime of the Episcopal church the Eucharist had only been celebrated four or five times a year was not stated. “The mission began in a humble wooden building, to which added, some years ago, a stone chancel ,..”, and the new nave “is of four bays in length, and the columns, although portraying various features, are mainly classical in design, with semi-circular arches joining them. The ceiling of the nave is concrete and rough in character …”. The light from the windows “reminds one of the dim light of medieval ecclesiastical buildings”, which seems to have been considered a good thing. The “chapel is lined with Verde Andice marble and stripe of black.” Bishop Plumb was attended by the Rev. Sutherland Graeme of the cathedral staff, and the Rev. HP Plant, while the Primus, Bishop Robberds, celebrated, with Canon Winter as deacon and the Rev. KL Reid as sub-deacon. And Reid preached at Evensong. If the ceiling of the nave was rough in character, so was the report, but Canon Winter’s difficulty with his vestry would not have been remembered longer than was strictly necessary, and the needs of the area made a better story.

And there the story must rest, though it is worth noting that 1923 issues of the Citizen were not much different from those of 1903. There was a wonderful story of Canada needing girls to work as domestic servants on farms in the prairies, where they were sure to find husbands, and if they did not do this then British settlers in Canada would marry those not of British descent and Canada would become less British. That domestic service on farms where local talent was not available was likely to be ill paid and arduous was not suggested. There was a note about someone writing a feminist history of the world, since previous histories had been written from the male point of view. There was a lot of rubbish about rubbish, which had to be compacted, and the compactor was dismissed as the wrong sort of compactor. Happily, it was too early in history for anyone to complain about wheelie-bins. And there were too many people seeking the times on the links. St Andrews, then, was much as it is now.

The Revd Canon Dr Gavin White

The Revd Canon Dr Gavin White

Honorary assistant clergy

Fr Gavin studied in Toronto, New York, and London; he has served in Canada, Zanzibar, Kenya, New York City, London, as well as here in Scotland. As a lecturer at the University of Glasgow, he retired in 1992. His specialism is in history.