St Paul’s Rothesay – History

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.

The windows

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

Other features: 

  • 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

Vacant                                             1975-1978

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

Vacant                                             1996-2001

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