Praise Where Praise is Due

This is good news. Old news now but worth a mention. The St Stephen’s Church at the end of our street has been bought and will stay as a community orientated building. Indeed, I would think it is likely to be used more often now.

Over the past few years I’ve walked past the tower of St Stephen’s church on the way down Frederick Street to the shop. It’s a formidable sight, an architectural colossus. Those are big hand cut stones. It’s nice and cuboid too, unlike the disgraceful Broughton St Mary’s at Bellevue. Edinburghers, you know what I’m talking about…

Broughton St. Mary's Parish Church

Broughton St. Mary’s Parish Church

As with so many religious buildings, St Stephen’s church is tremendous. Imposing from the outside and incredibly grand inside with plenty nooks and crannies for Batman to hide in. It is of Gotham proportions. So there is plenty space to be used. A factoid that crops up is that it has the longest pendulum in Europe… Well I suppose if I had a big pendulum, I’d drop it into the VoxBox advertising as well.

Phallic towers, gigantic swinging pendulums and no doubt massive organs (there is one). It seems the Georgians liked a Carry On.

So anyway, back to the best potential venue in Stockbridge.

For the previous 2 years Northern Stage Theatre Company and St Vincent’s Bar had taken the church over in August. This year it was empty again in August due to the sale going through. Due to the uncertainty, the theatre company found another venue. The Festival doesn’t really come to Stockbridge which is kind of nice is some ways but frustrating if you have a nice selection of independent businesses that tourists would be interested in. It’s certainly bizarre that some small areas are mobbed and some nice streets just round the corner are neither up nor down. St Stephen’s Church has certainly been missed when it has not been used.

It’s sad to see a Church going.* But on the other hand there was probably a whole pew for every Edinburgh resident for 2 centuries. There was an interesting exhibition by Nathan Coley a wee while ago based on the fact that Edinburgh had 286 places of (Christian) worship listed in 2004’s Yellow Pages.
Nathan Coley

I actually started buying lottery tickets when I first saw that it was for sale with the idea of splurging the winnings on the church and opening a record museum. – A museum of music with a wee venue attached. Some cruel or- maybe complimentary -so and so said I already had a record museum -the fiend! It’s hard to buy a grade A listed church though. Even sticking in better toilets means a visit from Historic Scotland and a change of use is incredibly difficult. You can only get planning permission to open a community centre, gallery, museum, youth club or erm… a church, so in rare praise to Edinburgh’s planners, it could only really be bought by a nice person or cult leader.

Leslie Benzies, one of the chaps responsible for the Grand Theft Auto cult lives locally and has bought the chvrch. So crack dens, prostitution, ultra violence, gold teeth and flash cars beckon! Too good to be true. No, silly! It’s been announced as a philanthropic venture so we won’t be getting the dirty cash high rollers coming down the street but instead, pensioners, dancers, karateists (is that a word?) and chess clubs. Or who knows, maybe something very different. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store. He’s a bit of a private guy so a committee will run the place with the community in mind.

I’m not expecting a record museum but with the huge space available, there is real potential here. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s coming.

So many thanks to Mr Benzies, it’s such a nice and Rock and Roll thing to do.


St Stephen's Church (Pic from Wikipedia)

St Stephen’s Church (Pic from Wikipedia)


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