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St Patrick's Catholic Church, Edinburgh

Located on Cowgate street, named appropriately as the old route to the cattle market, in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, St Patrick’s Catholic church has a long and intriguing history. Being in the Old Town is itself a connection to the medieval world conjured up in Notre-Dame de Paris as the area retains much of its irregular medieval street plan that plays such a strong part in the adventures in Paris of the poet Gringoire in Victor Hugo’s novel. The medieval city planning that Scots baronial style as a neo-Gothic revival and the medieval city planning. St Patrick’s is a highly significant building in Edinburgh’s Old Town, its tower a notable part of the skyline, along with the 19th century additions of Scottish Baronial architecture, inspired by the Gothic spirit of the Victorian era.

In 1856 the church was bought to serve the growing number of Irish immigrants who had settled in Cowgate, known as ‘Little Ireland’, and which from the 18th century until the end of the nineteen fifties was Edinburgh’s slum area. The new church cost 4000 pounds and with half paid for by the Church, the rest was raised by the people who although they lived in poverty were determined to raise money for a church of their own. St Patrick’s was officially opened as a Catholic church on Sunday 3rd August 1856 by Bishop Gillis so it will be on the 163rd anniversary exactly that we have our first performance. Likewise in Paris, it was an effect of a petition from the people, encouraged by Victor Hugo’s adoration of Notre-Dame Cathedral in his novel, that their Gothic Cathedral was restored by Viollet-le-Duc from 1845 to 1864.

It is an honour to bring one of Victor Hugo’s best-known works to Edinburgh, the birth and death-place of Robert Louis Stevenson who was greatly inspired by Hugo’s romanticist works and as Scotland’s National author is buried in the Thistle Chapel of the beautifully Gothic St Giles’ Cathedral, the Thistle being a order of chivalry from the Middle Ages. Ironically, Stevenson was an almost lifelong conservative and is interred in this church that has been used so communally, for some time subdivided to serve different communities with buildings pressing against its sides while Hugo as France’s best known writer and a liberal romantic was such a proponent of Gothic architecture and a critic of post sixteenth century efforts at creating anything new yet was buried in the very building he criticised, the Sainte-Geneviève, now known as the Panthéon, a style of architecture hiding its Gothic influences under a Byzantine dome and a Classical portico.