Hippolyte J Blanc, 1892-5, incorporating earlier fabric (see Notes) and later alterations and additions. Church with Renaissance/Baroque detailing, retaining tower (James Weir, 1775) and spire (built, and possibly designed, by Alexander Stevens 1789-90). Wide pitch-roofed nave, shallow pedimented transepts, paired Baroque E cupolas and semi-domed apse. Squared and snecked bull-faced cream sandstone (coursed rubble to 18th century section) with polished ashlar dressings. Broad moulded band between ground and 1st floors; panelled parapet. Windows in moulded architraves, corniced at ground floor, round-arched with Corinthian pilasters at 1st floor; half-fluted Corinthian pilasters clasping corners at transepts and advanced W bays; long and short quoins.
W ELEVATION: tall narrow 2-storey pedimented advanced centre bay (remnant of 1775 church) with memorial sculpture in channelled blind arch (1844 - see Notes) inserted at ground floor, Serliana at 1st floor and sundial (dated) above. 3-stage square tower above (1789) with circular windows at 1st stage, round-arched windows with latticed glazing at 2nd stage, and clocks in consoled and pedimented frames at 3rd; moulded bands between each stage, corner urns at 2nd and 3rd; octagonal stone belfry and spire with round-arched louvred openings flanked by Doric pilasters to belfry, circular openings and weathervane to spire. Flanking bays (Blanc): wall tablets to ground, single round-arched windows flanked by half-fluted Corinthian pilasters to 1st floor.
N ELEVATION: N elevation of 1775 tower to outer right with apse of War Memorial chapel projecting at ground floor; small circular window above and small Diocletian window at 2nd floor level. Slightly advanced right bay: stone steps with cast-iron railings to 2-leaf timber panelled door in corniced moulded surround flanked to right by small window; round-arched window above. 3 central bays with single windows to ground, round-arched windows above. Advanced pedimented penultimate bay to left (transept): stone steps with cast-iron railings to timber panelled door in Doric pilastered frame, flanked by small windows to ground; tripartite arcaded window above with Corinthian columns/pilasters; stone steps down to round-arched key-blocked entrance to Nisbet of Dean vault (1692, see Notes) in W re-entrant angle, with inscribed tablet and coat of arms above. 3-storey recessed bay to outer left: stone steps with stone balustrade to timber panelled door in moulded surround; small windows at 2nd and 3rd stages.
E ELEVATION: cross finial to pedimented gable; lead half dome to apsed bay at centre; tall base course with small door; 3 single windows to upper level with decorative carved panels above, flanked by half-fluted Corinthian pilasters. Narrow flanking bays, corniced and scrolled, with small windows at ground. Small windows at 1st and 2nd floors in outer bays; square-plan key-blocked arcaded 1st stage of cupolas: half-fluted paired Ionic pilasters to angled buttresses, surmounted by decorative scrolls; key-blocked circular openings to octagonal base of domed lanterns.
S ELEVATION: 3-storey recessed bay to outer right: stone steps with cast-iron railings to timber panelled door in moulded surround at ground floor; small windows at 1st and 2nd floors. Advanced penultimate bay to right: stone steps with cast-iron railings to timber panelled door in corniced surround with Doric pilasters, flanked by small windows; tripartite arcaded window above with Corinthian columns/pilasters. 3 central bays with single windows to ground, round-arched windows above. Slightly advanced penultimate bay to left with 2-leaf panelled door (principal entrance) in corniced moulded surround flanked by small windows; round-arched window above. S elevation of 1775 tower to outer left with segmental-arched window at ground, small circular window above, and small Diocletian window at 2nd floor.
INTERIOR: wide nave with U-plan galleries (supported on marbled Corinthian columns), shortened in 1990 (see Notes). Chancel arch painted in vault (Gerald E Moira, 4 Evangelists, see Notes) and spandrels (John Duncan, 1931, 2 angels); mosaic floor and carved elders' seats with Renaissance details in chancel; spandrels of apse painted (Robert Hope, Christ in Glory and angels); alabaster wall frieze (Bridgeman of Lichfield, 1906-8, high relief version of Leonardo's 'Last Supper'), divided by orange marble-clad pilasters; central white marble communion table with semi-precious inserts; lectern with carved angel (DW Stevenson 1895); marble-clad steps to panelled marble pulpit (Blanc, 1897-8) with carved angel, supported on red marble columns with white Ionic capitals, to left of chancel arch; font to right of chancel arch )Thomas Armstrong, 1908, see Notes): white marble bowl with bronze profile portrait (MacGill), supporting bronze copy of Michelangelo's Bruges Madonna. Compartmented ceiling; scrolled pew ends (Blanc); organ in N transept arch (see Notes); decorative glazed screen (see Notes) in S transept arch. Wood-panelled War Memorial screen and doors at W (Ian G Lindsay, 1950), framed by Corinthian pilasters. Important stained glass (see Notes). Principal entrance at SW: full width vestibule (Napier wall tablet - see Notes) with 2 sets curved stairs leading to upper meeting room (formerly rear of gallery) with large mural (Moira, 'St Cuthbert on Lindisfarne'). War Memorial Chapel (P MacGregor Chalmers, 1921) at ground floor of 1775 tower: vaulted roof with compartmented low relief plasterwork; gold mosaic and small round-headed window (see Notes) in apse to S; segmental-arched window with leaded glass window (see Notes) to S; marble floor; marble panels to walls with names of fallen inlaid in lead. Session room above and cantilevered wooden stair to wood-panelled choir room at 2nd floor.
Leaded glass to most windows. Slated roof; ribbed stone roofs to E belfries. Cast-iron down pipes with decorative hoppers.
CHURCHYARD AND MONUMENTS, BOUNDARY WALLS, RAILINGS AND GATEPIERS: churchyard containing many important monuments, many of which predate present building, including that to John Grant of Kilgraston, 1795; cast-iron tombstone (obelisk on 4 lions couchant, angels in roundels) to Janet Crawford, wife of Alexander Barker, Edinburgh, iron founder; Greek Doric Hamilton enclosure, wall monument to George Winton, architect, 1823, the 3-bay gothic mausoleum of the Gordons of Cluny by Bryce, and the burial places of Thomas de Quincey, Alexander Nasmyth and George Meikle Kemp. Graveyard divided by ashlar-coped rubble walls of varying age. Cast-iron railings mounted on low arch-coped boundary walls; tall pyramidally-capped and corniced octagonal ashlar gatepiers with quatrefoil decoration; cast-iron gates.
Statement of Special Interest
The A Group comprises St Cuthbert's Church, Lothian Road and the Watch Tower in King's Stables Road. Ecclesiastical building in use as such. Built on the site of a medieval foundation (first mentioned 1127). Formerly known as the West Kirk. The Nisbet of Dean Vault of 1692 survives to the N, causing the N transept to be shorter than the S. Rebuilt 1773-5 by the architect/builder James Weir of Tollcross; sundial on W elevation (inscribed VIVETE FUGIO) dated 1774; clock-faces on tower inscribed 1789. This building (illustrated in J and HS Storer VIEWS IN EDINBURGH AND ITS VICINITY (1820) p91) became unsafe and was demolished; a photograph in the church booklet (THE KIRK BELOW THE CASTLE p24) shows the W tower and steeple standing alone, awaiting the construction of the new church. The style and furnishing of St Cuthbert's (central communion table, figurative frieze and paintings, font, stained glass etc), created controversy at the time, reflecting contemporary debate about forms of worship. The font was devised by Thomas Armstrong, Keeper of Fine Arts at the South Kensington Museum, and based on della Quercia's Siena Cathedral font. Gerald Moira was Principal of Edinburgh College of Art 1924-32, and a noted designer both of murals and of stained glass. Organ 1899, R Hope-Jones. 'A general and harmonious scheme of scriptural subjects applying to the whole church' was devised by the Kirk Session in 1893 for the stained glass, and produced by Alexander Ballantyne (lower NE window signed and dated A Ballantyne & Gardiner 1904, and above one commemorating Ballantyne himself). Upper centre N window by Tiffany of New York, circa 1900, 'David going to meet Goliath'; window to left of principal entrance, Mary Wood, 1928, St Cuthbert and St Aidan; 2 windows by Douglas Strachan in War Memorial Chapel, 1922, Crucifixion in apse, St Cuthbert in S wall. In vestibule, inscribed tablet to Robert Pont, 1608; vesica panel, John Flaxman 1802, 'Christ blessing the children', and wall tablet, 1842, memorial to John Napier, reproducing the title page of his book on logarithms. On W front: sculptural memorial to Rev David Dickson, A Handyside Ritchie, 1844. In 1841 a railway tunnel was cut beneath the churchyard, incurring the loss of gravestones above. In 1990 the interior of the church was altered in order to create meeting rooms, kitchen, toilets, disabled access etc; the nave and galleries were foreshortened, the W portion of the ground floor becoming the Lammermuir Hall, the area formerly the rear galleries being known as the Lindisfarne Room (retaining Moira's mural); the upper S transept became the Norloch Room, screened off from the church by a decorative screen designed by students of Edinburgh College of Art.