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The growth of the city and harbour in Victorian times ensured a strong period of consolidation for the Church.

Late Victorian Prosperity

The late Victorian period was one of considerable material and ecclesiastical prosperity. The two congregations more than recovered the ground they had lost in the nationwide Disruption of 1843, and a greater liberality both of mind and of pursuit lead to the introduction of stained glass windows and pipe organs in both parts of the church.

Considerable additions were made to the communion silver and other adornments were provided. Some of these were designed and made by local artists and craftsmen, such as Douglas Strachan, James Cromar Watt and William Kelly. This trend was greatly fostered by the Aberdeen (later, Scottish) Ecclesiological Society. The founder-president, Dr James Cooper, was minister of the East Kirk.

Within six years, the Society had a membership approaching 300 and members spread across the world from Toronto to Burma; and from Inverness to South and Central Africa. 

Among members of the Society from the West Kirk were the artist brothers, George and Alexander Reid. George became the President of the Royal Scottish Academy and was knighted in 1891. Several of their drawings and paintings depicting parts of the Kirk are on display around the building.

Towards the end of Dr Cooper’s ministry – during which the Kirk had been used as a prison for witches, a plumbers’ warehouse and a meeting place for the Presbytery of Aberdeen – a thorough restoration of St Mary’s Chapel was undertaken. The original floor level was reinstated, and its walls were paneled with much of the surviving 16th and 17th century carved woodwork. A granite font and holy table, both embellished with enamels, were also introduced. 

In 1898, the Chapel was rededicated during the course of the celebration of the fourth centenary of Bishop Elphinsone’s act of dedication of the church.

 

Beginnings
Reformation
Decay & Rebuilding
Late Victorian Prosperity
Twentieth Century
New Millenium
Significant Artefacts
History Timeline
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