St George’s West Church in Shandwick Place, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Designed by David Bryce, the renowned architect whose work includes the Bank of Scotland headquarters on the Mound, and founded in 1843. The campanile, or bell tower, by Rowan Anderson, was added in 1881. Beautifully proportioned, with deft, Italian influences, the building was more than in keeping with the large and fashionable residential area it served. Well-heeled families from the nearby mansions on Melville Street would gather in their Sunday best to hear the Presbyterian minister, Alexander Whyte, preach humility and compassion. A marble bust of Whyte still sits in the entrance hall. No doubt the world-famous preacher, whose sermons included one about a washerwoman who was more deserving of a place in heaven than he was, would approve of the welcome sign, written in five languages, emblazoned on the door.
If some churches are a haven of quiet contemplation for the majority of the week, St George’s West is buzzing. Passers-by wander in for a look at the Palestinian craft shop on the ground floor or grab a cup of tea and a scone in the Olive Tree Cafe. Meanwhile, in the revamped basement, various voluntary groups – including Edinburgh Care and Support for the Homeless and Befriending Network Scotland – are busy answering telephones and meeting clients in modern office environments.
There’s so much going on, WeightWatchers, Alcoholics Anonymous, choirs, a drop-in centre for asylum-seekers, every group you can think of, meeting here every week.
Camera: Canon EOS 450D (Digital Rebel XSi in the USA)
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