East end of Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh, Scotland.

This evening I am posting information on Greyfriars Kirk which is located on the southern edge of Edinburgh’s Old Town, Scotland.

Greyfriars is a Presbyterian church located close to the site of a former Roman Catholic, Franciscan convent from where the name ‘Grey Friars’ emanates.

Northern entrance to Greyfriars Kirk.

The origins of the church date to 1562 when Mary, Queen of Scots granted land for burials. Subsequent events summarised as follows:

  • Construction of the church had commenced by 1602 using stone recycled from the former convent nearby.
  • Church opened in 1620.
  • In 1638 Scotland’s National Covenant, a very important document, was presented and signed in front of the pulpit. This concerned the governance of the (national) Church in Scotland.
  • Used as a barracks by Cromwell’s forces during period 1650-1653.
  • Various structural changes and embellishments were effected.
  • The tower, used a gunpowder store, was accidentally blown up in 1718.
  • A new church was added on the building’s western side in the 18th century resulting in two discrete congregations.
  • The kirkyard was used to hold 1200 Covenanter prisoners in 1675 pending trail.
  • Extensive fire damage in 1845.
  • In the mid-19th century two radical innovations were introduced namely, musical accompaniment to singing and stained glass.
  • The ‘Greyfriars Bobby‘ story gained momentum after 1872.
  • In 1929 the hitherto separate congregations merged and dividing wall removed.
  • In 1979 the Greyfriars congregation merged with the nearby Highland Tolbooth St John’s subsequent to which services in Gaelic have been held on Sundays.

Southern aspect of Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh.

The Kirkyard holds the burial places of many famous Scotsmen, as shown in image below.

Listing of famous persons buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh.

The Kirkyard is accessible throughout the year whilst the building interior is open between April and October.