Holy Trinity Scottish Episcopal Church, Stirling

Trinity Church: 1845-1878

Barnto Street Church 1845-1878In due course, the congregation outgrew the chapel and it was decided to replace it with a larger church on the same site. Rev. Henderson was presumably a prime mover in bringing this about. A photograph of this second building can be seen in the foyer of the present church and a detailed description of it was given in the Stirling Journal of 21 February 1845 in the account of its consecration by Rt Rev. Charles Terrot, Bishop of Edinburgh. By this time, the Oxford or Tractarian Movement in England was making itself felt far beyond the bounds of its original home and was welcomed in Scotland precisely because its promoters were seeking to maintain principles for which the Episcopal Church had contended through many decades. One aspect of the Movement was a revival of the mediaeval or Gothic style in architecture, converting churches from 'the preaching boxes they had become to meaningful articulated structures, possessing all the parts, adornments and fittings deemed to have been customary in former times'.

The architect of the second Barnton Street church was John Henderson (1804-1862). He was well known for his studies of standard works on Gothic architecture and his knowledge is reflected in the various churches he built in Scotland. Only two years after his work in Stirling he was commissioned to design the School and College of the Holy Trinity, Glenalmond, a foundation sponsored by men of known Tractarian sympathies, including the future prime minister, W. E. Gladstone. This may have provided Holy Trinity with its patronal title, no known reference having been found for its progress from 'the chapel', 'the congregation', 'the society', to the time when the minute book first refers to Trinity Church in 1851.

The second Barnton Street church was a much more elaborate building than the first, containing 'a spacious nave and north aisle, and a chancel in the form of an apse', with stained glass windows presented by the countess of Dunmore. Much of the work within was of polished stone'giving the building an appearance of great substantiality and richness'. Whereas no records of the consecration of the earlier chapel have been found, we have a full account of the consecration of the second church in the Stirling Journal, together with testimony to the increasing prestige of the Episcopal community. 'Upwards of forty gentlemen afterwards dined together at Gibb's Hotel (now the Golden Lion), and the gathering was chaired by John Stirling of Kippendavie, who, though not a member himself, expressed great pleasure in its growth and development, remembering that his grandfather had been one of its earliest founders.'

Rev. R. H. HendersonThe minute book next deals with the organisation of the congregation. Under Rev. Henderson, whose ministry lasted for forty years, a Vestry was formed, as was the case in almost every other congregation, and a constitution drawn up. Its first three permanent members were Sir Henry Seton-Steuart of Touch, Lt Col. John Murray of Touchadam and Polmaise and Lt Col. John Stirling of Gargunnock. The first two of these played a large part in developing the church community for many subsequent years and are indeed still referred to as being among the 'founders' of the present building. By 1862, an Episcopal School existed in St Mary's Wynd, subject to inspection and receiving government grant under the system of payment by results.

Rev. Thomas WilsonRev, Henderson retired in 1868 and died on 16 February 1875. His successor was Rev. Thomas Wilson, a graduate of Queen's College, Oxford. He had become Henderson's curate in 1865, having previously served as curate at Buxton, Derbyshire and as chaplain to the Devonshire Hospital there. Rev. Wilson 'endeared himself not only to his congregation, but was held in high regard by members of other denominations in Stirling'. Unfortunately, his health broke down and he died on 7 November 1873.

Although he was incumbent for only a few years, three notable events occurred while he was in post. Firstly, a memorial window and plaque were erected to the memory of Col. Edward Priestly of the Black Watch, who died in 1868. This is now the oldest of Holy Trinity's military memorials. Secondly, in 1869, a parsonage was bought at 10 Clarendon Place.  Thirdly, in 1872, the 91st Argyllshire Highlanders, mustered for the first time at Stirling Castle in 1794 (as the 98th), became 'Princess Louise's Argyllshire Highlanders' and subsequently established a permanent depot at the castle. This was to be significant to the future development of the church. 

Rev C L ColdwellIn December 1873, the late Rev. Wilson was succeeded by Rev. Clement Leigh Coldwell, a graduate of Pembroke College, Oxford and one of the most remarkable of the church's incumbents. He had been ordained deacon and priest by Bishop Lonsdale in Lichfield Cathedral and, before coming to Stirling, had been Vicar at Pemberton, Lancashire. The last words of the last sermon that he preached in the Barnton Street church, before moving to the present building in Albert Place, were: "Change is everywhere at work and moves quickly. Whither shall God by all these changes lead us? We know not. Time will reveal His will, but we must continue to keep His word and not deny His name. Built on that Rock, nothing can shake us."

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