EDINBURGH


St Peter’s Church, Falcon Avenue
The Roman Catholic church of St Peter’s stands on Falcon Avenue just off Morningside. It has an interesting history. It was designed by the distinguished architect, Sir Robert Lorimer, for Canon John Gray and Marc André Raffalovich, ‘who were poets and playwrights with the highest artistic, spiritual and aesthetic ideals’.20 At the beginning of the 20th century, as a new church was needed in Morningside, the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, the Rector of the Scots College in Rome and Fra John Gray met to discuss the building and finance, in the College’s villa at Marino in Italy. It was decided that the finance would be provided by Gray’s lifelong friend, Raffalovich, and that Gray would be the church’s first incumbent (Plate 8.93).


The church was completed in two parts between 1906 and 1929. In 1963 the Sanctuary area was completely remodelled and a new Carrara marble high altar was placed over the original steps. It retained the original, carefully matched cipollino wall lining 21 (now covered over by red curtaining) (Plate 8.94). This is made up of approximately 16 panels measuring 2.10 m. high and varying in width from .40 m. to .53 m. (Exact measurements were difficult because of the heavy curtaining covering the whole area) (Plate 8.95). At the right hand side it is interrupted by an arched door with the marble panel fitted over the top. Some panels are in two pieces and some have smaller pieces of marble inset. At each corner there are two panels of marble outside the curtain measuring 1.25 in height.


At the foot of the Sanctuary area, in the place where the priest stands while administering Holy Communion, there are slabs of cipollino, interestingly inset with what Mrs Napier calls ‘tiny Sienese marble fish swimming in the cipollino sea’ (Plates 8.96 & 8.97). These, together with other artefacts in the church, echo the fact that the church is dedicated to St Peter, the fisherman. The slabs are surrounded by a strip of lighter green marble, reminiscent of that in the Church of the Wisdom of God, and set in a two types of a darker green marble. The right hand slab (facing the altar) measures 1.86 m. x .62 m. and is cut in three pieces of 1 m., .56 m. and .30 m. wide. The left hand side piece measures 1.77 x .61 m. and is cut in three pieces of .31 m., 1 m. and .46 m. wide.


At the entrance to the church there is a cipollino clad plinth on which there is a figure of St Peter, a copy of the statue in St Peter’s, Rome. It is made up of a rectangular block measuring .91 m. x .73 m. x 1.31 m. and the cladding is 2 cms thick. On top of the block is a solid piece of marble measuring .91 m. x .73 m. and .4 m. thick. It stands on a solid base measuring the same size as the block but .17 m. high; and has a 5 sided front protrusion (of the same height as the base) measuring .35 m. x .30 m. x .35 m. x .30m. x .35 m., and .13 m. thick. On top of this is a further slab of cipollino, with the same measurements and, like the cladding, 2 cms thick (Plate 8.98).

20 Napier, Mrs P., The Church leaflet, St Peter’s Church, Falcon Avenue, Edinburgh, p.2.
21 Napier, Mrs P, p.3.

Maps and Plates

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Plate 8.93 St Peter’s Church, Falcon Avenue, Edinburgh.

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Plate 8.94 The Sanctuary (with cipollino marble behind the curtains), St Peter’s Church, Falcon Avenue, Edinburgh.

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Plate 8.95 16 cipollino panels behind the altar, St Peter’s Church, Falcon Avenue, Edinburgh.

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Plate 8.96 & 8.97 Cipollino panels on the floor below the Sanctuary, inset with Silesian marble fish, St Peter’s Church, Falcon Avenue, Edinburgh.

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Plate 8.96 & 8.97 Cipollino panels on the floor below the Sanctuary, inset with Silesian marble fish, St Peter’s Church, Falcon Avenue, Edinburgh.

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Plate 8.98 Cipollino plinth with statue of St Peter, St Peter’s Church, Falcon Avenue, Edinburgh.