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Duddingston Kirk, Edinburgh

All services are cancelled until further notice.

Letter from the Manse

March 2020

Dear Friends

A few weeks ago I attended a service of worship at Mearns Kirk in Renfrewshire. As I sat in a pew of this old but beautiful church building, I noticed a stained glass window that looked familiar to me. I started playing that children’s game of spot the difference.

At the end of the service I managed to speak with the Church Officer, whose mother turned out to have been one of my friends at college whilst studying for the ministry! I asked if she knew who had designed their window as I believed it to be the same designer of our window back at Duddingston. Before she went off to find out I told her that I thought that it was likely to have been the Scottish artist, Douglas Strachan.

The Church Officer returned with a little pamphlet that confirmed that the Mearns Kirk window was indeed by Douglas Strachan and the same artist as the Duddingston window!

The late Douglas Strachan never signed his work and a list of his work was only compiled by his widow from notes and recollections from the workers in his studio. Strachan was born in 1875 and died at his home at Lasswade in 1950. He had spent time in London as a portrait painter. After a time in Aberdeen he moved to Lasswade in 1928 where part of his home became his studio.

Strachan carried out many commissions and his work can be found in places like Edinburgh Castle, New College Library, Westminster College Cambridge, and even in the Palace of Peace at the Hague. He did many church windows. Our window at Duddingston was carried out in 1935 in memory of Joan Carfrae Pinkerton (wife of the American detective). Mrs Pinkerton was born at Duddingston and had been a great friend of the Thomsons in the manse at that time. Our window depicts motherhood and has two main panels. To the left is the baby Jesus held by Mary his mother with John the Baptist by their side. The right-hand panel has the grow-up Jesus blessing the children that are brought to him by their mothers.

The window at Mearns Kirk was designed in 1937 (two years after the Duddingston window). It clearly takes the subjects of the Duddingston design and amalgamates the two Duddingston panels into one. The Mearns Kirk window is in memory of a Mrs Davie and is Christ blessing the children.

Our window at Duddingston is on the Prestonfield Gallery and I can see it during services from the pulpit! We are blessed at Duddingston to have such beautiful windows. I encourage you to climb the stairs and have a look at the Pinkerton windows – a little piece of American history in Duddingston – but that is another story!

Rev. Dr Jim Jack

           Duddingston window, 1935                                         Mearns window, 1937