Greyfriars traces its origin to the south-west parish of Edinburgh, founded in 1598. In the wake of the Scottish Reformation, the grounds of the abandoned Friary were repurposed as a cemetery, in which the current church was constructed between 1602 and 1620. In 1638, National Covenant was signed in the Kirk. The church was damaged during the Protectorate, when it was used as barracks by troops under Oliver Cromwell. In 1718, an explosion destroyed the church tower. During the reconstruction, the church was partitioned to hold two congregations: Old Greyfriars and New Greyfriars. In 1845, fire ravaged Old Greyfriars. After its reconstruction, the minister, Robert Lee, introduced the first organ and stained glass windows in a Scottish parish church since the Reformation. In 1929, Old and New Greyfriars united and the church was restored as one sanctuary. In the following years, the depopulation of the Old Town saw Greyfriars unite with a number of neighbouring congregations.

The church of Greyfriars is a simple aisled nave of eight bays; the style is Survival Gothic fused with Baroque elements. The church initially consisted of six bays and a west tower. After the explosion of 1718 destroyed the tower, Alexander McGill added two new bays and a Palladian north porch to create one building divided into two churches of four bays each. After it was gutted by fire in 1845, David Cousin rebuilt Old Greyfriars with an open, un-aisled interior. Between 1932 and 1938, the interior and arcades were restored by Henry F. Kerr. Notable features of the church include historic stained glass windows by James Ballantine; the 17th century monument to Margaret, Lady Yester; and an original copy of the National Covenant of 1638.

Since the 18th century, the congregations of Greyfriars have been notable for their missionary work within the parish. This continues to the present day through the church's work with the Grassmarket Community Project and the Greyfriars Charteris Centre. Greyfriars holds weekly Gaelic services, maintaining a tradition of Gaelic worship in Edinburgh that goes back to the beginning of the 18th century.



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Founded: 1602
Category: Religious sites in United Kingdom

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User Reviews

Gazza Bear (12 months ago)
A very popular tourist attraction and the resting place of Auld Jock and Bobby ...youll find this next to the Grassmarket. Edinburgh.
Shooting Sean (14 months ago)
A 15th century graveyard in Edinburgh with large crypts and headstones. very interesting and a 100% must see. A mysterious place with so much history and stories. Said to be very haunted! ghost tours are available
Joyful Dreams (14 months ago)
A mysterious and very charming place. I love visiting graveyard because I think it's so peaceful. It was just a bit disappointing that a lot of guides were here talking loud and blocking the views... But it was just my personal opinion.
Sean Howells (15 months ago)
Some very old monuments here (some from the 1500s I think). Lovely well kept grounds where you can meander around in peace. Also, Tom Riddles gravestone is tucked away in the back corner!
Terry Dowdeswell (15 months ago)
We didnt know the history of Greyfriars but we spoke to a nice man working there, a local historian who had been a volunteer for some time and we found it so Interesting. He told us all about the graves, different types of graves in the yard and what they markings meant. He also told us about the Harry Potter connection and all about Greyfriars Bobby. We could have listened to him all day
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