Scottish Tour Guide's Blog

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St. Vincent Street Church, Glasgow, Scotland

This morning, in extremely wet conditions, I paid a visit to St. Vincent Street Church, corner of St.Vincent Street and Pitt Street, central Glasgow, Scotland.

This church is still used for worship and is known as The Glasgow City Free Church (Presbyterian).

The building is important because it is the only surviving intact church designed by Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson ( 1817-1875) , who has been described as having the greatest mind in Scottish architecture.

Although Thomson never left British shores he was greatly inspired by the architecture of ancient Greece. He was also a devout Christian and allowed images of Old Testament catastrophes to influence his work, along with other styles such as Italian Romanesque and Scottish Baronial.

The St. Vincent Street Church dates from 1857-9 and is constructed of local sandstone. Particular features of the building:

  • Built on an elevated, man-made Acropolis on a steeply sloping site.
  • The impressive Ionic porticoes are purely symbolic.
  • The tall steeple is richly embellished with architectural features (image number 3 below) which suggest Indian influences.
  • Inside, Thomson used latest technology of the day which included columns made of cast-iron¬†and sheets of rolled glass.

The church can be accessed via a 10 minute walk from central Glasgow.

Ionic Porticoes of St Vincent Street Church, Glasgow, Scotland

Rear elevation of St Vincent Street Church, Glasgow, Scotland

Steeple of St Vincent Street Church, Glasgow, Scotland

Main body of St.Vincent Street, Glasgow, Scotland

View of St Vincent St Church from St Vincent Street and Pitt Street, Glasgow

Reenactment Roman Soldiers at Housesteads Roman Fort, England

This evening, I am posting information on Housesteads Roman Fort on Hadrian’s Wall in England.

Housesteads is located on a ridge known as the Whin Sill escarpment about 25 miles east of Carlisle which itself is on the line of the Wall. Access entails a 10 minute walk up an incline.

It is believed the Roman name for the fort was Vercovicium.

Summary information on Housesteads as follows:

  • One of twelve permanent forts built by Hadrian on the Wall and one of the few examples of a complete Roman Fort in Britain.
  • The site extends to five acres and is strategically situated on what was the northern edge of the Roman Empire, facing enemy territory to the North.
  • Constructed around AD 124 but subject to various changes over the succeeding centuries through to departure of the Romans in AD 410.
  • Within the Fort’s curtain walls were four imposing gates facing North, South, East and West plus interval towers.
  • Within the confines of the Fort were standard buildings: H.Q., Commandant’s House, Barracks, Granaries, Hospital and Latrines. Just outside the South Gate can be viewed remains of a civilian settlement known as a Vicus.
  • The Fort was home to a unit (cohort) of auxiliary soldiers, comprising infantry and cavalry,from what is now known as Belgium and spoke a Germanic language. This unit was known as the First Cohort of Tungrians (Cohors Tungrorum) and totalled about 800 men.
  • Image at foot of this post shows Knag Burn Gate. This gate and flanking towers were constructed in the third century to provide an alternative access through the Wall after the Fort’s North Gate fell out of use.

View of Housesteads Roman Fort looking S.E.with Hospital and H.Q. buildings.

Housesteads Roman Fort viewed from South

Granary Building, Housesteads Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall

Hypocaust under floor heating in Commandant’s House

Looking South-West with Latrine Block

View of Hadrian’s Wall looking east from Housesteads Roman Fort

Knag Burn Gate, east of Housesteads

Castlemilk Stables, Glasgow, Scotland

This evening, I am posting information on a restored stables block from 1800 which sits, somewhat incongruously, in a high density social housing development in Castlemilk, South Glasgow which was initiated in the 1950s.

Incredibly, this building provides multi-faceted links with Scotland’s past including Scottish Borders region, the Royal House of Stuart, Siege of Orleans (France) 1429, Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1587), David Hamilton (famous architect) and the Battle of Langside 1568.

Summary information as follows:

  • Named after Castlemilk in Dumfries-shire in the Scottish Borders region from whence the Stuarts of Castlemilk originated. This family was connected with the Scottish Royal House of Stuart and acquired lands in Glasgow from around 1474.
  • Two members of the Stuart family fought in France against the English in the 15th century. This military service is commemorated in a carving (below) over a fireplace which was rescued from Castlemilk House ¬†and transferred to the Stable Block. The scene depicts the Siege of Orleans, 1429.
  • Castlemilk House ( which the stable block served) had its origins as fortified tower in medieval times and ¬†was progressively evolved into a grand mansion during the Victorian era. The property was acquired by Glasgow Corporation ( Council) in 1938 and demolished to make way for new housing in 1969.
  • The Stables Block ¬†dates from 1800 and is attributed to leading Scottish architect, David Hamilton (1768-1843) who also designed a number of important public buildings in Glasgow.
  • Mary, Queen of Scots is believed to have stayed at Castlemilk Castle on the eve of the Battle of Langside in 1568.

Whilst the Stables Block escaped demolition it deteriorated into a poor state of repair. However, funds were raised for restoration, a project which was completed in 2007. The building is now a base for social enterprises and community uses.

Detail from Fireplace at Castlemilk Stables, Glasgow, Scotland

Fireplace from Castlemilk House, Glasgow, Scotland

Stables Courtyard, Castlemilk, Glasgow, Scotland

Clock Tower at Castlemilk Stables, Glasgow, Scotland

Stables at Castlemilk, Glasgow, Scotland