Love your local church – The Robin Chapel, Edinburgh

In the latest of our new occasional series, where our bloggers share accounts of their favourite Scottish church buildings, here’s Major Jamie Erskine, one of our charity’s Trustees, offering some thoughts why he loves the Robin Chapel in Craigmillar in Edinburgh.

The Robin Chapel is a beautiful chapel built in 1950 at the centre of a unique housing complex – The Thistle Foundation– in the Craigmillar area of south-east Edinburgh. It also holds a unique place within the ecclesiastical life of Scotland in being interdenominational. 

Robin Chapel, Edinburgh

All photographs in this blog are by Simon Filsell

The Thistle Foundation was established as a charity by Sir Francis and Lady Tudsberry to provide housing and care for disabled war veterans and their families.   The Tudsberrys’ only son, Robin, was killed as a 25 year old in the Royal Horse Guards (The Blues) in the last days of World War II.  They decided to build the chapel in his memory. Designed by architect John F. Matthew, its foundation stone was laid in 1950 and it was completed in 1953 when it was dedicated in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret.  

Many craftspeople were involved in the finish of the interior, where stained glass windows by Sadie McLellan feature scenes from The Pilgrim’s Progress. The oak panelling by Thomas Good and choir stalls show carvings of animals and birds, a reminder of Robin Tudsberry’s love of animals and the countryside surrounding the family home in West Lothian.

The link with today’s Regiment, the Blues and Royals, is strong and the Sovereign’s Standard of that Regiment was laid up in the Chapel in 2015 at a special service to mark the occasion.  

As well as a memorial, the Chapel has long been a pioneering home of ecumenical worship. Today, as has happened ever since it was built, there is a truly inspirational choral evensong at 4pm every Sunday to which everyone is invited.

The ecumenical nature of the Chapel is reflected in the invitation to clergy of many denominations being asked to preach. The spirit of the building is reflected in the short statement which can be found at the opening of the service sheet:

“The Robin Chapel is dedicated to the glory of God, and to his services, by all Christians and by all denominations of Christ’s Church. Every Service held within the Robin Chapel shall be open accordingly to all Christians of any denomination.”

The Robin Chapel, Queens Walk, Craigmillar, Edinburgh, EH16 4EA

A beautiful and incredibly touching living memorial to a beloved fallen son, who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country, and a wonderful reflective space in the heart of this Edinburgh community, the Robin Chapel really is a unique place to visit and to worship.

Our thanks to Major Jamie Erskine for authoring this blog for us and to Simon Filsell for kindly giving us his permission to share his wonderful photographs of the Robin Chapel.