Canongate Kirk (The Kirk of Holyrood House and Edinburgh Castle)
The present building dates from 1690 when it was built for the Protestant Parish to replace the Abbey Church within the Palace of Holyrood which had been returned to use as a Catholic Chapel by King James VII and II. It had a major refurbishment to its present form and colour scheme in 1950.
It is said that the Canongate connection with Edinburgh Castle goes back through the mists of time to the twelfth century, when the Abbey of the Holy Rood was first established by Canons of the Augustinian order already founded on the castle rock. To this day Edinburgh Castle remains part of the parish of Canongate and the Minister is Chaplain to the Governor, who has a pew in the Kirk.
As a result, Canongate Kirk is widely held to be the military church for Edinburgh – historic connections with The Royal Scots and The King’s Own Scottish Borderers have led to the current designation as Regimental Kirk of The Royal Regiment of Scotland. The Kirk fulfil the same role for The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and the Scots Guards in Scotland. Its War Memorial Chapel also contains the Roll of Honour of 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron RAFVR, which served with such distinction in the Battle of Britain. With its many sets of Regimental Colours hanging from the walls, the Kirk provides an appropriate setting for formal occasions held by all these units from time to time.
The Royal Scots direct link with the Canongate extends back to 1937 when The Reverend Dr Ronnie Selby Wright, Minister at the Canongate, became Padre to the 7th/9th Battalion. He later became famous as ‘The Radio Padre’ broadcasting to British Forces world-wide during World War 2. The Kirk was officially adopted as the Regimental Kirk on 22 May 1983, as part of the 350th Anniversary activities, and a plaque was unveiled beside the pulpit to mark the link. This link was endorsed when the Colours of the 7th/9th were laid up in the Kirk on 29 July 1986, the first of five sets of Regimental Colours and one Royal Tank Regiment standard now laid up there.
The Regimental stained glass window, which had originally been installed at St Matthew’s Garrison Church, Werl, in 1986, was moved to, and installed in the Kirk, on the wall at the end of King David’s Aisle in March 1994.
On 4 February 2012 the final set of 1st Battalion Colours, presented at Dreghorn in 2003, were laid up in the presence of our former Colonel-in-Chief, HRH The Princess Royal. They hang below the East window at the end of King David’s Aisle beside the Werl Window. At the same time the Colours of 2nd Battalion, 52nd Lowland Volunteers, which had contained our last Territorial Army Companies, were laid up and hang immediately opposite, in the War Memorial Chapel on the west side of the Kirk.
The final Regimental links are amongst the Banners of former Governors of Edinburgh Castle. That of Lieutenant General Sir David Young KBE CB DFC, the 29th Colonel of the Regiment, hangs above the Werl Window while that of Major General M J Strudwick CBE, the 32nd Colonel, is on the East wall.
O Lord Jesus Christ, who art the first and the last,
grant, we pray Thee, that, as thou has promised
to be with us even unto the end of the world,
so may The Royal Scots be the first to follow
Thee and the last to forsake Thee, who art,
with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God,
world without end. Amen
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