Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site


Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Supplementary Information Updated
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 26123 73610
326123, 673610


Original church John Baxter junior, 1772-4, with later additions, James Graham Fairley (1898), and Reginald Fairlie (1929). Two-storey rectangular-plan pedimented church with central steeple, polygonal apse to east and 1929 Fairlie triumphal-arch entrance elevation to south. Cream sandstone polished ashlar to south (principal elevation), dressed ashlar to rear with ashlar margins. Low base course, dentilled cornice. Round and segmental-arched window openings to east and west elevations with raised, key-stoned architraves. Internal link at north to later presbytery.

South (entrance) elevation: steps lead to central double-height round-arched entrance arch leading to lower recessed two-leaf timber entrance doors with decorative carved panels and with raised, key-stoned architrave. Flanking niches with Saint Patrick and Saint Bridget. Slightly advanced outer bays with consoled pedimented architraves to upper windows. Panels with carved swags below. Parapet, balustraded at centre. Recessed pediment. Central recessed 1772-4 square-plan tiered steeple with octagonal top stage with round-arched louvred openings and surmounted by ogee cap.

Interior: (seen 2007). White painted interior with marble panelled sanctuary and flanking chapels, timber gallery to S and wall paintings by Alexander Runciman to polygonal east apse. Entrance lobby with Doric-columned glass and timber screen leading to nave. Timber pews. Decorative plaster cornice. Segmental-arch with fluted clasping pilasters leads to flat-roofed sanctuary. Flanking round-arched barrel-vaulted chapels.

Statement of Special Interest

Ecclesiastical building in use as such.

St Patrick's Church is set back from the Cowgate with an imposing triumphal arch entrance elevation and notable interior murals by Alexander Runciman. Although it has undergone several phases of alteration it retains much streetscape presence. The 1929 entrance elevation by Fairlie is of some quality and a good example of his work.

The church was originally conceived as a qualified Episcopal Chapel and is shown on the 1784 Map as such. The axis at this time ran from east to west with the apse at the east and there were galleries on three sides. In 1818 it became a United Presbyterian congregation and then Roman Catholic in 1856 when the UP congregation vacated the building and sold it to the Roman Catholic Church for £4300. It is shown on 1st Edition Ordnance Survey Map 0f 1849-53 as Cowgate Church (United Presbyterian with seating for 1700).

In 1898, the interior of the church was realigned north to south and a new sanctuary was built by Edinburgh architect James Graham Fairley. The South entrance elevation was added in 1929 by Reginald Fairlie.

Alexander Runciman (1736-1785) was one of Scotland's most distinguished decorative painters. The original Episcopal congregation commission Runciman to decorate the east apse and the murals include the Return of the Prodigal Son and Elijah and the Ascension. These were painted over by the subsequent Presbyterian congregation, but some have been uncovered. Much of Runciman's other in situ work has been lost.

Reginald Fairlie (1883-1952) was a celebrated and distinguished architect, based in Edinburgh. He was a devout Roman Catholic and came from an aristocratic family. His output concentrated mainly on country houses and Roman Catholic Churches throughout Scotland.

List description revised as part of Edinburgh Holyrood Ward resurvey 2007-08.



Alexander Kincaid, A Plan of the City and Suburbs of Edinburgh, 1784, NLS. 1st Edition Ordnance Survey Map, (1849-53). George Hay, The Architecture of Post Reformation Churches 1560-1843, 1957 pf146. John Gifford, Colin McWilliam and David Walker, The Buildings of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1984. p168-9. Charles McKean, Edinburgh, An Illustrated Architectural Guide, 1992, p45-6. Other information courtesy of church members and leaflet.

Dictionary of Scottish Architects: St Patrick's RC Church (accessed October 2021).

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

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Printed: 09/02/2023 09:45