A brief history
After the 1745 rebellion and the suppression of the Scottish Episcopal Church in the years that followed, there was virtually no trace of Episcopal presence in Argyll or the Isles. By 1804, however, the Episcopal Church was becoming re-established in all areas of Scotland. In the early 1830s, David Low, the Bishop of Ross and Argyll encouraged the establishment of Episcopalian churches in Argyll and Bute. St Paul’s is one of these churches.
~1830 Episcopalian services were reported as being conducted for ‘twenty most respectable persons’ in a drawing room in the town by Bishop David Low, Ross and Argyll. Bishop Low expressed his desire to establish an Episcopalian chapel on Bute.
1838 The Very Rev. Samuel Hood, a rector from Dundee, was appointed as first incumbent
1847 The ‘new’ diocese of Argyll and The Isles, under their bishop Alexander Ewing, was formed.
1853 A wooden church was built on the present site.
The foundation stone of St Paul’s was laid (commemorated by a brass plate at the chancel arch)
1854 Church opened by Bishop Alexander Ewing, Argyll and The Isles
1861 Debt from construction costs finally cleared from the church – allowing the church to be formally consecrated.
1862 Consecration of St Paul’s church
1872 Dean Samuel Hood died, and was buried in Rothesay churchyard.
1878 Proposal to build a new church in East Princes Street were well developed – but never fulfilled.
1900 Present hall and shop built after the demolition of old church buildings on the land in Dean Hood Place.
Features of the church
The church is a Victorian gothic-revival building of the ‘middle-pointed’ style. The porch and a vestry off the church are later additions to the original Victorian structure. The walls are basalt stonework, and the roof is steeply pitched with slates. The small tower, or fleche, has a carillion of bells installed, rung on various occasions in the church year. The internal proportions are narrow and high, as one would expect for a gothic building. A balcony covers the entrance offering additional seating, and regular pews are provided for the congregations.
Far end window, above the sanctuary. This window shows a notional scene of the resurrection Jesus, with (left) St Paul, with his sword of persecution rested, and right: St Peter, with the keys to the kingdom. Saints Peter and Paul share a saints’ day (29th June) The window was installed circa 1910.
Window in right hand wall of chancel: St Michael defeating the dragon from Revelation – 1905
Nave: Right hand wall from front of church:
Window 1. The Christ of Revelation with St John ~1910
Window 2. St Andrew – 1902
Window 3. St Columba preaching to the Picts ~1910
Window 4. St Margaret – 1907
- Stone Font at rear of church – 1854
- Wooden eagle lectern – 1890
- Rector’s Stall – with Frank Matthew’s name carved ~1910
- 1914-1918 War Memorial ‘In grateful memory to the men of St Paul’s who fell in the great war’ – including one ‘Margaret Davidson’ – on the left hand wall of the sanctuary
- Pulpit – 1923
Rectors of St Paul’s Rothesay
Incumbents of Scottish Episcopal churches are usually called ‘rectors’, although occasionally a ‘priest in charge’ is appointed on a temporary basis. The present rector (actually a priest in charge) is the twenty-third priest to serve in succession to Dean Samuel Hood
1. Samuel Hood (Dean) 1838-1872
2. Andrew Turner 1872-1875
3. Robert G Weldon (Canon) 1875-1890
4. Stuart Hall 1890-1892
5. Frank Matthews (Canon) 1892-1909
6. Charles T Beale 1909-1920
7. James MR Gladstone 1920-1922
8. Edmund Greaves 1922-1925
9. Malcolm Smith (Canon) 1925-1933
10. James Courtney Bevin (Dean) 1933-1946
11. William RH Hesketh 1946-1949
12. JR Walker 1949-1957
13. Gordon P Jones 1957-1961
14. John C Hadfield 1962-1964
15. Ian G M Wilson (Dean) 1964-1975
16. Walter F Gunn 1978-1980
17. Desmond A E Ker 1980-1982
18. Ivor R Dowse 1983-1985
19. Edgar Pacey 1986-1994
20. Frank Blanchard 1994-1996
21. Hugh Lee (Canon) 2001-2006
22. Kimberley Bohan 2006-2009
23. Andrew Swift 2010-2018
24. David Railton 2019 to date
Scottish Charities Number SC023178