Dunblane Cathedral

Dunblane Cathedral
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Dunblane Cathedral

Located in the centre of Dunblane, high above the Allan Water and a quarter-mile (0.5 km) north of the railway station, Dunblane Cathedral is dedicated to St. Blane, who preached to the Picts in this area in the 7th century. A church was established here in the 12th C. following the creation of a bishopric by King David I (c.1080 - 1153) and the lower courses of the tower date from round that time. However, the building we see today was principally the work of Bishop Clement, appointed in 1233 and responsible for the choir, chapter house and nave, although the latter was probably still incomplete when he died in 1258. Over the succeeding 300 years the cathedral was improved and altars, statuary and stained glass added. All of this came to an end at the Reformation, when such decoration was considered popery and destroyed. The now-Protestant church had a much-reduced function and only the choir was needed for worship; the nave was abandoned and by 1600 had lost its roof.

In 1819, architect James Gillespie Graham, born in Dunblane in 1776, undertook a restoration of the choir. Further work followed in 1861 and 1872, but the most important was completed 1889-93 under the direction of Sir Robert Rowand Anderson (1834 - 1921) which brought the nave back into use. The fine east window was installed in 1901 and the west window followed in 1906. A further series of four fine stained glass windows in the South Choir were installed in 1915 and represent the themes of Allegory, Chaos, Earth and Humanity. The Chaos window features fire, storm, cold and snow, and serves as a memorial to Captain Robert F. Scott and his four companions who lost their lives in 1912 while returning from the South Pole. Sir Robert Lorimer (1864 - 1929) was responsible for much of the beautiful carved woodwork 1911-12, including the choir, organ case and the pews. The old choir stalls, dating from the 15th C. and representing some of the finest wood carving in Scotland, were re-located to beside the west door.

In 1990, the Dutch builders Flentrop Orgelbouw installed a new organ, the fourth since 1873, which is regularly used for recitals and recordings. It also has an important teaching role, with the cathedral sponsoring an organ scholarship.

A 9th-century Pictish cross-slab found nearby now stands inside the church at the west entrance. Another standing stone commemorating the Dunblane Massacre (1996) was the work of Richard Kindersley and was dedicated on the 12th March, 2000.

Also inside the church are memorials to the Stirlings of Keir, Prof. James Finlayson (1858 - 1808) and Margaret Drummond, consort of King James IV (1473 - 1513) who was poisoned to clear the way for his marriage to Margaret Tudor of England. There is also a tomb in the choir, said to be the last resting place of Bishop Clement.

The Crown had received an income from the bishopric since the time of the Reformation and contributed to the upkeep of the buildings in the 19th C. At the time of the 1889 restoration responsibility for the cathedral premises passed to the Board of Manufactures in Edinburgh, then to the Ministry of Works (from 1906) and subsequently to Historic Scotland acting on behalf of the Scottish Executive. The cathedral continues to serve as a fine parish church for the Church of Scotland with a congregation exceeding 1000.

The cathedral is maintained by Historic Environment Scotland and is open to visitors daily.

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