Barclay Church was built in 1862-64 to the powerful Victorian Gothic design of Frederick Thomas Pilkington following an architectural competition. Heavily influenced by John Ruskin, Pilkington mixed northern medieval elements with those from Gothic architecture in France and Italy.
By skilful design, he used the tight irregular sloping site to full advantage. Externally, the 76m high steeple dominates the view from Tollcross, acting as a focus for several converging streets, and is prominent in the city’s whole southwest skyline. Indeed, the only steeple in Edinburgh that is higher is that of St Mary’s Cathedral. The exterior of the church is characterised by its multitude of gables, door openings, arches, stair-towers and window tracery, all surmounted by a highly complex roof. Internally, the vast Church Sanctuary is broadly heartshaped with an elaborate timber roof structure supported by four massive pillars. The seating is arranged in arcs at ground level and in two tiers of galleries, focused on the pulpit. The church is much admired for its wealth of decorative features, particularly the barley-sugar wood carvings to the gallery fronts, the bow-fronted marble pulpit, the stenciled decoration on the roof and the lacy gothic organ case.
Architect: F T Pilkington
Building Date: 1862-4