About The Cathedral
The first stone built Glasgow Cathedral was dedicated in the presence of King David I in 1136. The present building was consecrated in 1197. Since that same period the Cathedral has never been unroofed and the worship of God has been carried out within its walls for more than 800 years.
The splendid achievements of the architects and builders of those far off days can be studied and admired. Not everything, however, is old and the Cathedral has one of the finest post-war collections of stained glass windows to be found in Britain.
The Cathedral has a regular and active congregation, and no visitor should leave the city without making a visit.
Unusually, the church is Crown property and is cared for by Historic Scotland on behalf of Scottish Ministers. Historic Scotland have written a souvenir guidebook, and provide expert interpretation to help bring the medieval Cathedral to life – after all, this is the best preserved example of a large church to have survived from the medieval period in Scotland.
The History of Glasgow Cathedral
The patron saint of Glasgow, Saint Mungo, is said to be buried here – at least, that’s what folklore tells us. He was the very first bishop in the British Kingdom of Strathclyde, dating back to the 7th century. And it’s in AD 612 that the legend truly begins…
It’s estimated that building began in the late 12th century with the aim of creating a seat for the Bishop of Glasgow. The building you see before you today, however, had most of its work done in following two centuries.
It’s currently regarded as being a primary example of the celebrated Gothic style, which is why it currently enjoys such popularity amongst tourists, artists, and historians alike. It’s also unique in that it’s the only example of a Scottish church that managed to escape the clutches of Scottish reformers.
The Current Congregation
Glasgow Cathedral isn’t just a beautiful building that seeped in tradition and history. It’s also a living and breathing church. In other words, it’s still an active part of the Christian community in Glasgow.
The congregation is part of the Presbytery of Glasgow – in other words, part of the Church of Scotland. The reformation changed a thing or two, however. You won’t find a Catholic anywhere near this ‘cathedral’ – find out why below.
Why a Cathedral?
So wait, it’s part of the Church of Scotland? How does that work? Well, it all has to do with the Scottish Reformation. When those pesky reformers decided that the man in the robe (aka the Pope) didn’t have the authority he claimed, they decided to stir up a bit of trouble.
It was actually quite a horrific period of Scottish history, regardless of whether they were right about papal authority. We’re talking thousands of deaths of innocent people, the destruction of countless Catholic Churches, and a struggle that wasn’t resolved for hundreds of years.
But before the Reformation, Glasgow Cathedral was the Roman Catholic so-called ‘mother church’ of the Archdiocese of Glasgow. In other words, it was pretty important for the garbed members of society.
Now, however, the building is not a cathedral. Call the title something akin to an honorary degree, a homage to its celebrated past. It’s not been a Cathedral since 1690!
When someone first asked me where the High Kirk of Glasgow was, I looked at them with a befuddled expression and sincere confusion. “Ohhhh, you mean Glasgow Cathedral?”
Yes, it has other names. You may also hear it referred to as St.Mungo’s Cathedral or St. Kentigern’s. That’s four separate names. Talk about making things a little confusing for the average tourist.
Who Owns the Cathedral?
Glasgow Cathedral is owned by the Crown (oh, how posh!). Maintenance is led by Historic Scotland, a great organisation that works for the preservation of monuments and buildings throughout the country. We highly recommend you visit other properties maintained by the organisation – you’ll find gorgeous examples of medieval castles, churches unique to Scotland, and a wide variety of other properties that are certain to please the history enthusiasts amongst you.
This aisle, probably intended as an undercroft for a chapel above, is said to occupy the site of the cemetary consecrated at the beginning of the 5th century by St. Ninian.
It now stands as it was built during the primacy of Archbishop Blacader. The ceiling displays a number of carved bosses of late medieval character.
This is one of the chief glories of medieval Scottish architecture. In the centre stands the shrine of St. Mungo, patron saint of Glasgow who died in 603. To this sacred spot thousands of pilgrims made their way in medieval times. Indeed, in 1451, the pope declared it to be as meritorious to make a pilgrimage to Glasgow Cathedral as to Rome itself.
The Nave forms the dignified and magnificent entrance to the Cathedral. The open timber roof is of late medieval design and much of the timber may date from the fourteenth century.
The Millennium Window
The Millennium Window on the North wall of the nave was unveiled on 3rd June, 1999 by H.R.H. The Princess Royal.
The glasspainter selected was Mr. John K. Clark who was a student and then lecturer at The Glasgow School of Art. His studio is in Germany. Progress was carefully monitored by Historic Scotland.
The theme that was agreed with the Donors was GROWTH. As the project was mainly funded by three Glasgow schools this is a highly appropriate theme.
This Lofty apartment at the north-east corner of the quire dates from the mid-thirteenth century and was rebuilt in the fifteenth century.
The arms of Bishop Cameron (1426 – 1446) can be seen above the fireplace. On the south wall is a memorial to the Bishops, Archbishops and Ministers of Glasgow from 1115 to 1967.
The Quire is the centre of the religious worship and is where the two Sunday Services are held. Whilst the congregation are members of The Church of Scotland many other denominations attend these Services and others of national and civic importance.
OPEN TO VISITORS
|OCTOBER TO MARCH|
|9.30am – 4pm||2.00pm – 4.00pm|
|APRIL TO SEPTEMBER|
|9.30am – 6pm||2.00pm – 5.00pm|
|11.00am and 6.30pm||Visitors very welcome|
How to Get There
Getting to Glasgow Cathedral is relatively easy – it’s located right off Castle Street, at the eastern section of Cathedral Street. We’ve included a handy Google Map that should help should you get lost.
We’ve also put together some detailed instructions that will get you to Glasgow and then point you in the right direction once you’ve reached the city centre. This information is not ‘official’ so make sure you double check before booking your travel. It’s all correct a the time of publishing but of course each service listed below can change at a moment’s notice – and we can’t guarantee we’ll have the most recent info (though we’ll certainly try!).
Getting to Glasgow
There are frequent bus and train services from the following Scottish cities:
Cheap bus fares can be found on Megabus.com. The company guarantees a selection of buses at just £1, which makes it the cheapest services we’ve found.
Likewise, if that doesn’t take your fancy, you can also opt for Citylink or National Express. Both are safe, reliable, and not too pricey. It comes down to when you want to travel, as the cheaper tickets in particular are a little restrictive.
We suggest taking the train, as it’s much faster and it’s not much more expensive. Book in advance via ScotRail or you’ll be paying a premium if you book on the day. The cheapest tickets are available here (it’s the official website), contrary to what some of those ticket brokers will tell you. Go via the official site and you won’t have to pay one of those pesky booking fees.
We also advise that you go for an open ticket rather than the time-stamped variety, as it gives you a lot more flexibility. Glasgow is a nice city to visit in itself, so once you’ve been to the Cathedral it’s worth wandering through the historic city centre.
Getting There by Foot
So, you’re still relatively fit and you want to head over to the Cathedral by foot. Nothing like a brisk walk to get the heart pumping!
We’re going to explain how you can get there from George Square, which is right in the middle of the city. Go along Queen Street Station on North Hanover Street. once you reach the traffic lights it’s time to go right (East). Follow Cathedral Street right till the end until you reach Castle Street.
It should be fairly obvious at this point – it’s the big Cathedral on your right. 🙂 Also known as the Cathedral Precinct.
Getting There by Bus
There are several buses which pass Glasgow Cathedral, but we’re going to list the ones that go via the city centre – sorry, we’re going to assume you’re a tourist arriving wide-eyed near George Square!
The following buses will get you there. Just make sure you have enough change!
Bus 11, 12, 36, 36A, 38, 38A, 42, 42A, 51, 56, 56A, 213.
Always check the official website first to ensure there are no roadworks and that these service numbers are still running – we can’t guarantee anything!