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ST MARGARET'S

A Brief History

Margaret's Episcopal Church, Easter Road, has its origin in the mission work of two remarkable Edinburgh ladies, Miss Marion Weir and Miss Margaret Weir, who lived in Regent Terrace, an elegant Georgian street overlooking the Palace of Holyroodhouse. In the 1870s on the other side of Calton Hill was a large and growing working class district around the St Margaret's Railway Workshops and a number of foundries and glass works. The Misses Weir began visiting in this district and in 1877 established a savings bank, mothers' meeting, Sunday school and mission services with the help of the Revd J.W. Burrows of Loretto School. In May of that year the 'Abbeyhill Mission' moved into two converted flats in Salmond Place. The mission grew and in 1878 moved into larger premises at Comely Green.


The Abbeyhill Mission was in the pastoral district of St Paul's Episcopal Church, York Place (now St Paul's and St George's) and when it had grown to over a hundred members the decision was made to build a church.


Land was obtained on Easter Road and the well-known Edinburgh architect Hippolyte J Blanc was commissioned by the Vestry of St Paul's to draw up plans. The new church cost £1394, was dedicated to St Margaret of Scotland and was consecrated on Thursday 4 November 1880 by Bishop Henry Cotterill. This is commemorated in a stone panel over the main door.


'The Buildings of Scotland' describes it as 'a village-scale church with a broad but cosy interior'. It is a small cruciform gothic church orientated north-south (the liturgical east where the altar and sanctuary is to the north). It has a three-bay aisle-less nave, a braced wagon roof, a polygonal apse containing the sanctuary, a north transept containing the old high altar, and a south transept used as the vestry.


The nave has stained glass windows of SS Margaret and Michael (a First World War memorial by G Brodrick of Twickenham), and SS Andrew and Margaret by William Wilson, 1947. The organ was built in 1893 by Eustace Ingram and rebuilt by same firm in 1945.

 
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OUR ANTIQUE ORGAN

 

Under the leadership of a number of priests, the congregation of St Margaret's continued mission work in the Easter Road area. The church became independent of St Paul's in 1898 and was made an incumbency in 1925.

The Lectern and front Altar was made by Harry Femister in memory of his comrades who drowned when HMS Anselm, a British Troop transport ship, was sunk by a U boat en route from Gourock to Freetown,  on 5 July 1941 during WW2.  Harry served St Margaret's as head Sacristan from 1990 until his death in 2010. He would have been 100 on the 14 September 2021, and was remembered by the congregation for the work he did for the church he loved so much.

The church has been an important centre for the Easter Road area and some members of the present congregation have family links with the church going back to the early days. The church school closed after the Second World War.


St Margaret’s shares the building with a Presbyterian group which meets twice a month on Sunday afternoons. The building is also used by Mustard Seed*. Mustard Seed Edinburgh is an Episcopal church that started in June 2017. It offers services and is sharing food and hospitality with homeless people in the area who meet on