Holy Trinity Scottish Episcopal Church, Stirling

Rev. George Stephen Osborn, M.A. (1917-26)

Rev. G. S. OsbornRev. Brown's successor, Rev. George Stephen Osborn, previously Vicar of St Peter's, Oldham, saw out the final year of the war and was subsequently involved in the making of the War Memorial Chapel, the only major change in the church building since 1878.

An economy he gladly accepted was the provision of a smaller house. The Parsonage, now in need of constant repair, was sold and 6 Gladstone Place was substituted as 'a fixed and well-known abode for the minister'. On his arrival, Rev. Osborn had openly admitted his need to acquaint himself with the Scottish Liturgy, whose advantages he readily acknowledged, and was greatly helped by Canon Perry's recent book.

Rev. Osborn's arrived at the beginning of 1918, as the war entered its most critical phase. For the outbreak of revolution in Russia and an accommodation between the Bolshevik and German governments had allowed the Germans to transfer many divisions to the Western Front. On 21 March, they launched the Kaiserschlacht offensive, aiming to break through to Paris before large numbers of fresh American troops could deploy in Europe. The attack broke through the Allied lines and threatened Amiens and the Channel Ports. Bitter defensive fighting by British, French and newly-arrived Americans exhausted the German effort and the Allies were able to regain the initiative. Starting at Amiens in August, the Allies began an almost continuous advance until the Germans called for an Armistice in November.

Holy Trinity's last casualties of the war were Rifleman Richard Counter and Pte Mark Fawley. Counter was demobilised from the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders at the end of hostilities, but re-enlisted in the Queen's Westminster Rifles. He died as part of the British garrison in Cologne, Germany in February 1919, age 26. The circumstances of Fawley's death are unknown. He died in March 1919, aged 22, and is buried in Hawick.

The war cost Holy Trinity's congregation an immense amount of pain. A high proportion were regular soldiers, reservists or territorials and their families. Some survivors no doubt suffered from what today is called post-traumatic stress disorder, where anger is the dominant emotion. The bereaved looked for comfort to the church and Rev. Osborn, who had arrived early in 1918. A magnificent memorial chapel was created and dedicated in 1921, in which the names of the sons of Stirling's great landowning families - the Buchanans, Murrays, Stirlings and Youngers - intermingle with those of the coalman, laundryman, miner and vanman, as do their souls before God.

Despite his wartime preoccupations, Rev. Brown had, before leaving, found time to approach the architect Sir Ninian Comper about converting the east end of the north aisle into a prayer chapel, the need for which both he and his successor felt. This space was being used as a kind of sacristy, concealed from public view by a curtain. An appeal went out to the congregation and, in 1920, a committee accepted a scheme submitted by Sir Robert Lorimer, once Sir Robert Rowand Anderson's pupil and later his colleague, for converting the available space, without and structural alterations, into 'an impressive shrine' to the war dead. The committee also had the help of Sir D. Y. Cameron, a well-known Scottish artist, who lived in Kippen.

The chapel was dedicated in 13 November 1921. General Erskine of Cardross unveiled it and Rt Rev. George Walpole, Bishop of Edinburgh, then consecrated it. An altar had been given with a cross and candlesticks, the work of the Artificers' Guild. Sir Robert Lorimer designed the oak roofing and upon the north wall were oak panels where the names of the fallen and their regiments or service were inscribed. The stained glass window, by Bewsey of London, shows St George, St Michael and St Victor of Marseilles, each under a tall canopy. Over St George's canopy are the figures of the Virgin and Child and beneath the main figures are the arms of Scotland, St George and the Diocese of Edinburgh, to which Holy Trinity belonged until 1991. Eighty years after their creation, the clarity of the colours and the light the glass admits still create a considerable impression. Bishop Gleig's memorial tablet, brought from the second Barnton Street church and hitherto in the curtained 'sacristy', was removed to its present position on the west wall at the end of the south aisle. New marble flooring for the chancel was given at the same time by Major and Mrs Murray in memory of their only son, 2nd Lt Alastair Murray, whose memorial tablet is sunk in the top altar step. The design was also by Sir Robert Lorimer.

A year later, a wrought iron screen for the Memorial Chapel was presented by Sir George Younger. Sir Robert Lorimer designed it and it was felt 'it would give the chapel a certain seclusion without cutting it off or obscuring the window'. Seats and kneelers were already given and it now appeared more like the chapel it was intended to be.

Rev, Osborn had meanwhile been dealing with matters affecting the Home and the School. After the Sisters left, Deaconess Mary Malden took charge of the former, but when, at last, a curate, Rev. J. D. Bisset, was appointed, it was financially impossible to employ both. The Deaconess took a post in Queensferry and a lady worker, Miss Houston, was appointed in her place.

The Education (Scotland) Act 1918 offered the Voluntary Schools much better terms that the 1872 Act had done. The School could now be transferred to Stirling County Council, which would meet all expenses, but the Vestry could still ensure the appointment of teachers who would be qualified to give the Episcopalian religious education desired. The Rector said that this was a victory rather than a defeat for those who had maintained their school against all odds in times of rising costs. 'Your reward is that you are now to have a real place and recognition in the national system of education', he declared. The school site and buildings were valued in February 1921 at £4,150. Since the school premises were church property, the money could be used as the congregation wished. They decided to buy 32 Baker Street (Dalgleish House) a part of which had been used as 'the Home' for so long. This afforded rooms for the Sunday School and the religious and social gatherings still being carried on in the Old Town. Another share went to building the much needed additional vestries and the remainder was invested. Thus, the school was secured as a Church School, the Home, thereafter called Church House, was now their own and the church building was much as we have it today. Holy Trinity Primary School eventually closed in 2004.

Miss Tasker, a well-known and valued worker in church activities, became, in her own right, the first woman member of the new Local Education Committee. Women were first eligible as Vestry members in 1925. Thereafter, women played an increasingly large part in church work, not merely in dispensing hospitality, but in administrative and business matters, in which such personalities as Miss Belford, Miss Dundas (who maintained a beautiful church garden), Miss Tasker and Mrs Thomson showed acumen no less effective than their male predecessors had done. This process culminated in the appointment of the first woman Rector, Rev. Alison Peden, at Holy Trinity in 2003.

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