St Paul’s Church was consecrated on 1 November 1865, All Saints Day, by Alexander Penrose Forbes, Bishop of Brechin.
In 1852, when Bishop Forbes and the architect George Gilbert Scott surveyed possible sites for a new church, they chose Castlehill, because of its unique and striking location. St Paul’s Church was intended to be an inspiring addition to Dundee’s skyline, rising above the crowded town centre. The foundation stone (in the Sacristy) was laid on 21 July 1853, and St Paul’s was opened for worship on 13 December 1855. The church cost over £14,000 and it took ten years to clear a considerable debt, hence the delay in consecration. All Saints Day 1865 is recorded in the Latin inscription at the back of the sedilia (the marble bench to the right of the high altar), – in Festo Omnium Sanctorum. Also listed are the Vestry members, the leading figures in fundraising, headed by Sir John Ogilvie, Dundee’s Liberal MP from 1857-1874
Bishop Forbes died on 8 October 1875, aged 59, and is buried under the brass plate in the chancel. His grave was said to be ‘hewn out of the solid rock of the old Castlehill, on which the foundations of the Church rest’. St Paul’s Church was elevated to the status of Cathedral of Brechin Diocese in 1905.
Timeline of Cathedral History:
1153: Foundation of the Diocese of Brechin, with its Cathedral in Brechin. There had already been a religious community there for hundreds of years.
1559-60: Scottish Reformation: Presbyterian system of church governance, without bishops, established in Church of Scotland. Brechin Cathedral became a local parish church. A significant minority in Scotland continued to want bishops in the church – Episcopacy.
1603: Accession of James I of England and VI of Scotland and Union of Crowns. Under the Stuarts (1603-88), the Church in Scotland alternated between Presbyterianism and Episcopacy.
1660: Restoration of Charles II: Episcopacy re-established.
1688: ‘Glorious Revolution’: James II replaced by William III and Queen Mary. Strong Jacobite party opposes this change and many Episcopalians side with the Jacobites.
1689-90: Episcopacy abolished and Presbyterian government established in Church of Scotland. All ministers commanded to pray for the new King. In Dundee, Rev. Robert Rait and Rev. Robert Norrie deprived for refusing to read Proclamation of Estates proclaiming the new King.
1702: Accession of Queen Anne (daughter of James II). Limited toleration for Scottish clergy, and many prepared to take oath of allegiance to the King. In Dundee in 1704, Rait and Norrie permitted to preach in small Seagate chapel.
1707: Act of Union. Formation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland).
1712: Act of Toleration – limited freedom to use the Episcopal Scottish Prayer Book.
1714: Death of Queen Anne, last monarch of the Stuart family. Accession of George I of the House of Hanover.
1715-16: First Jacobite Rising, supporting restoration of James III and VIII (the Old Chevalier). Rising defeated and remaining Episcopal clergy deprived. In Dundee, Robert Norrie ejected for disloyalty in 1717, prosecuted for ‘intruding into parish churches… and praying for the Chevalier’.
1719: Act to enforce Abjuration Oath. Clergy who refused to swear allegiance to King George I were refused licences, forbidden to officiate to more than nine people, alternatively penalised by fines or transportation.
1745-6: Second Jacobite Rising led by Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie, son of James VIII). Defeat at Culloden left Jacobite cause in ruins. 1746, Parliament passed the Penal Laws, under which Scottish Episcopal clergy were commanded to pray for King and royal family by name, and meeting houses were closed, with imprisonment or transportation if more than four met. In Dundee, Seagate Chapel was closed. Episcopal worship continued in private houses.
1720-1830s: Disputes among Episcopalians about liturgy, appointing Bishops and allegiance to the monarchy. ‘Qualified’ congregations were prepared to swear allegiance to Hanoverians, while and ‘non-jurors’ were remaining Jacobite supporters who maintained allegiance to House of Stuart. In Dundee from 1649, a Qualified Chapel was permitted to open in 1749.
1760: Accession of George III, slight relaxation of Penal Laws. Second St Paul’s Chapel in Seagate was founded in 1763 by the non-juring Scottish Episcopal congregation.
1788: Death of Prince Charles Edward, only surviving heir his brother, Cardinal Henry Stuart. Episcopalians released from obligation to Stuart cause. In Dundee, resolution to pray for George III passed in St Paul’s Chapel.
1792: Repeal of Penal Laws. Since 1688, Episcopal Church in Scotland had been weakened and reduced to four bishops and forty clergy – a ‘shadow of a shade’ (Sir Walter Scott).
1812: The beginnings of revival. Seagate congregation moved to new St Paul’s Chapel in Castle Street.
1829: Qualified congregation in Dundee admitted into communion with Scottish Episcopal Church and united with St. Paul’s Chapel.
1847: Alexander Penrose Forbes, Bishop of Brechin, appointed to St Paul’s Chapel. Influenced by the Oxford Movement, fundraising for building a new church began.
1853: In July, the foundation stone of St Paul’s Church was laid on Castlehill.
1855: St Paul’s Church opened for worship in December, still encumbered by debt.
1865: Debt finally cleared. St Paul’s Church was consecrated on All Saints Day, 1 November 1865.
1875: Death of Bishop Alexander Forbes, 8 October. Since the early nineteenth century, the Episcopal Church had strengthened and prospered in Scotland, especially in its fast-growing cities. Under the leadership of Bishop Forbes, the Diocese of Brechin also flourished, with 5 churches in Dundee,19 in the Diocese and 14 schools.
1904/5: St Paul’s Church became St Paul’s Cathedral, the seat of the Bishops of the Diocese of Brechin.