The first Skelmorlie Church was designed by the distinguished Glasgow architect John Honeyman.
In 1893 he was again commissioned to design the present sanctuary – reputedly one of his best works – in a style similar to that employed in the restoration of Brechin Cathedral. Other examples of Honeyman’s work can be seen locally, most notably Stroove – where he lived for a time – Clutha, Morland, The Cliff, Chasley (now demolished to make way for flats) and a number of other houses which he either built or enlarged.
In 1888 Honeyman entered intopartnership with John Keppie. One of their draughtsman recruits was Charles Rennie Mackintosh, details of whose work are evident throughout the building; but the lamp which graces the main entrance is his most notable design feature. In the years that followed, the decoration of the church was further enhanced by the addition of a lavishly carved reredos and five stained-glass memorial windows. The reredos is the work of John Crawford described by John Honeyman as “our best Gothic wood-carver”. Statues of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John stand in niches, and the three panels depict the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus. The chancel panelling and furnishings were designed by William Gibson Rowan.
Honeyman, the architect of the first Skelmorlie Church, also created the three subjects of the side windows in the chancel – St Columba, St Mungo, and St Ninian. The work of a number of notable artists is seen in the five memorial windows along the west wall. The window adjacent to the pulpit bears the inscription of Stephen Adam (FSA Scot), Glasgow and dated 1909. The subjects of the windows are female figures personifying CARITAS (Charity) and VERITAS (Truth).
The next window, the work of Douglas Strachan, depicts Christ “Stilling the Storm”. It is on the same theme as his great window in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh. The standing Christ, with hand raised and head framed in an unconventional halo, is the one still element in the composition. Examples Strachan’s work can be seen at the Palace of Peace in the Hague, the Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle, the Goldsmiths’ window in St Paul’s Cathedral, and the Whittington window in the Guildhall, London.
The third window in this series depicts the three Marys at the empty Tomb. It was designed and produced by the Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Coley Burne Jones (1833-98) in 1918. The figures were drawn by J Henry Dearle, and the rose above – a ‘Salvator Mundi’ – is adapted from a Burne Jones drawing.
Nothing is known of the maker of the fourth window which depicts female figures personifying LOVE and FAITH standing against a background of foliage and fruits, and flying doves with angels bearing scrolls.
The last window in this series depicts St Michael and St George with the coat-of-arms of Lord and Lady Inverclyde above. The window is the work of Charles Eamer Kempe (1837-1907).
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