The Stained Glass and the Mediaeval Silver of the Kirk
This booklet is not a history of Saint John's Kirk. We hope to publish that as a companion booklet next year. But in the meantime this will give you all the authoritative information that is known about such diverse things as the Stained Glass, the silver Baptismal Basin and Communion Cups, the mediaeval Collection Box on the northern pillar at the West door, and the fifteenth century Candelabrum which hangs in front of the Shrine in the North transept. These are possessions of which Saint John's Kirk may well be proud, and the artistic glories of the modern Scottish stained glass in no way fail by comparison with the sublime mediaeval craftsmanship of The ‘Mary’ Cup and the Baptismal Basin.
As you walk round, please bear in mind that Saint John's is very old, just how old no one knows. There must have been primitive Christian shrines on this spot long before the Church of David I was dedicated in 1242. The building was twice burnt and underwent extensive repair in the fifteenth century. At the beginning of the 18th century it was divided, first into two and later into three churches West, Middle and East. In the course of the ensuing structural alterations many of the mediaeval features of the original church were lost.
Between 1923 and 1928 the Kirk was restored to its original plan by that great Scottish architect Sir Robert Lorimer, and largely through the munificence of the First Baron Forteviot of Dupplin. The restoration constituted the memorial to the men of the City and County of Perth who fell in the First World War. One of the chief features of this restoration is the lovely woodwork of the Choir, especially of the pulpit, organ case, choir screen and pews. The carving was done by the Clow brothers who were among Sir Robert Lorimer's chief craftsmen. One of Sir Robert's pupils, an Indian sculptor, the late Finandra Bose, carried out the work on the bronze figure of St John the Baptist which stands at the side of the War Memorial Shrine in the North transept. Another feature of the War Memorial restoration is the carved and coloured wooden bosses on the roof of the nave. These are the work of the late Mr and Mrs Meredith Williams.
The most recent addition to the Kirk is the John Knox Chapel at the East end, which incorporates the congregational memorial to those who gave their lives in the Second World War. The designing and furnishing of this Chapel were the work of Mr Ian G. Lindsay, A.R.S.A., F.R.I.B.A.
The mediaeval church was traditionally rich in colour and highly ornate. The Reformers, in their zeal, went to the other extreme and bequeathed a legacy of bare stone and austerity. But in Saint John's they have left untouched the beautiful elegance of the Choir and the high dignity of the roof. The House of God should be rich and lovely. It should contain the best that we can offer. It should be a worthy reminder of the wealth of artistic talent which is God's gift. Remember this as you walk round and look at the features of this historic building. You will then have an idea of the magnitude of the task which The Society of Friends of Saint John 's Kirk of Perth have set themselves.
Our special thanks are due to Mr J. L. Anderson, of Langfauld, Glenfarg, who has made it possible to reproduce the coloured photographs of the stained glass and the illustrations of the Communion Cups and Baptismal Basin. His generosity and his sustained interest in this booklet have been greatly appreciated. All the photography in connection with this booklet, with the exception of the Roof Bosses in the nave and the Baptismal Basin, has been given by courtesy of Mr P. K. McLaren of 75 Kinnoull Street, Perth. We are most indebted to him for his skill and generosity.
MARGARET E. C. STEWART. Hon. Secretary,
The Society of Friends
of Saint John's Kirk of Perth.