The Gardner Memorial Church was designed by Sir John James Burnet and built between 1896 and 1900.
Burnet was one of Scotland’s leading architects and over a period of twenty years, designed “a family of long, low, friendly churches” as well as a number of other significant buildings nationally.
Other examples include;
- St Molio’s, Shiskine, Isle of Arran (1887-90) – Category A listed,
- Dundas Memorial Church in Grangemouth (1894) – Category A listed and
- The Burnet family’s own church, Broomhill Trinity Congregational Church in Glasgow (1899-1907) – Category B Listed.
All are constructed with squat pyramid-roofed towers with mixed Romanesque and late Gothic detail. They were perceived to be lower cost, easier to heat alternatives to the tall Gothic Revival style churches.
Our church is simple in style but is filled with an incredible amount of detail both in the materials and its construction, and it is this detailing that is captivating for the visitor and worshipper alike. On entering the sanctuary, you descend the steps to the cross aisle emulating Christ’s descent into the River Jordan and his baptism by John the Baptist. Thus when entering the church, the congregation seek God’s presence and blessing.
To the right of the steps, there is a small alcove and a large marble font. As the design of the building is based on a Medieval Anglican layout, the font is positioned here to signify entrance to both the building and the faith.
There are three bays to the Nave supported by three ornate pillars each with unique decorative carvings. The North aisle is almost the same height as the Nave, both having similar, but most unusual and very distinctive, open scissor braced roofs.
Throughout the church there are a number of empty plinths and niches in which other denominations might place statues and images. However, the Presbyterian tradition of the Church of Scotland suggests that the display of such images reflect s the workmanship of man rather than the creations of the Father.
Carvings and Beasts
The church also has a number of carvings in both wood and stone. There are over thirty floral patterns round the front of the gallery. and eight angel faces around the pulpit.
Sixteen “creatures” decorate the front of the choir pews including a bear, a butterfly, an owl and perhaps a dragon.
Throughout the building there are various pieces of undressed stonework. These rough-hewn blocks of stone have been left deliberately unfinished as a reminder that the work of God is never finished.
Details and Doors
Not only are there impressive carvings throughout the building, but the doors are also worthy of a closer inspection. Whilst at first glance, they might appear to be covered with tooled leather, it is in fact equally rare Tynecastle Tapestry created by Wm. Scott Morton & Co of Edinburgh.