High Kirk of St Giles, Edinburgh – Acrylic/Ink in an A4 Watercolour Moleskine

This is a painting of the distinctive steeple of St. Giles. It is said to be the finest example of a “Crown Steeple” anywhere. The steeple can be spotted from many parts of the city and adds, greatly, to the world heritage skyline, something which is jealously guarded when planning for new buildings. It is probably one of the highest structures in in the centre of the city. Nothing is allowed to be built higher than this. The Kirk (Church) sits right in the centre of the Royal Mile approximately halfway between Edinburgh Castle, at the top, and Holyrood Palace at the bottom. The Kirk is sometimes referred to as “St Giles’ Cathedral” but this is not its true name as it was only the seat of a bishop twice (1635-1638 & 1661-1689) during the period of the crown-backed Episcopalian Church. These days it is known as the “Mother of Presbyterianism”. The church was at the centre of the reformation where John Knox preached and every schoolchild knows the story of Jennie Geddes hurling her stool at the minister who preached using the “Anglican Book of Common Prayer” instigated by Charles 1st. A riot followed and some think this contributed to the start of the civil war and, ultimately, the execution of that monarch. In 1707, when the treaty joining the parliaments of Scotland and England was singed, the church bells rang out the tune, “Why should I be so sad on my wedding day?”

This scene shows the east side of the church with the Mercat Cross in the foreground. This strange shaped structure is the place where proclamations were/still are made. In years gone by, news, such as royal visits, public executions etc would be announced while today the tradition continues giving the date of forthcoming general elections as well as the results afterwards – even if today’s media is faster. This “cross” however, is not the original one. It was erected in 1885 so is quite new, considering the church, and its surrounds have been on this spot for over 900 years.