This side chapel on the south side of the Chancel is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. There is a fine mosaic over the altar depicting the Annunciation, together with a small shrine to the Virgin. The altar was brought from the former St Paul’s Chapel in Castle Street
Originally, while St Paul’s was under construction, it was planned to build the organ in this space. However, Castle Street Chapel had been sold to a group of Dundee Congregationalists, led by the Rev. Alexander Hannay. They objected to siting the organ on the south side, because of possible disturbance to their own worship. The St Paul’s Vestry agreed to relocate the organ to its present position on the north side of the Chancel.
When St Paul’s Church opened for worship in 1855, there was no Lady Chapel. There was an open space here, used as a clergy vestry and separated from the Chancel and choir stalls by a curtain. By the 1880s, this area became known as the Bishops’ Chapel, because of its windows, which are of particular historical interest.
The windows commemorate the three Bishops of Brechin who were also Incumbents of St Paul’s, depicting the arms of the See of Brechin and their respective arms and mottoes. The east window over the altar is dedicated to Bishop Alexander Forbes. The two-light window on the south side is dedicated to two of his memorable forebears: Bishop James Rait; and Bishop John Strachan.
James Rait, Bishop from 1742-1778, was the nephew of one of the last Episcopalian parish ministers in Dundee. His uncle, the Rev Robert Rait, was deprived of his charge in 1689, like other Episcopal ministers who remained loyal to the Stuart, or Jacobite, cause and who refused to pray for King William III – thus known as ‘non-jurors’. The Rev James Rait also had strong Jacobite sympathies and led the small St Paul’s congregation at Yeaman Shore. He was consecrated Bishop of Brechin in 1742, but after the failure of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745-46, all clergy were required by law to pray for the King and royal family by name. Episcopalian failure to comply with these Penal Laws meant that their meeting houses were closed, and no more than four people were permitted to gather for worship. In Dundee, Bishop Rait ministered to his flock in his house until 1763, when restrictions lessened and the St Paul’s community resumed worship in a new Seagate Chapel. Bishop Rait died in 1777, at the age of 89. His motto, ‘Dread God’, can be seen at the foot of the left-hand light.
The right-hand light is dedicated to Bishop John Strachan, Bishop from 1787-1810. John Strachan was born in 1720, ordained in 1764 and came to St Paul’s Seagate Chapel when he was consecrated Bishop of Brechin in 1787. He travelled to London in 1789, as part of the delegation requesting easing of the Penal Laws. These were repealed in 1792. When Bishop Strachan died in 1810, at the age of 90, he was remembered as the last survivor of suffering under these laws, who was known to have to have ‘read the Service’ up to twelve times on one Sunday, each time to the legal number of four people. Appropriately, his motto was ‘Spero meliora’ (I hope for better things). Bishop Strachan was buried in Dundee’s Howff graveyard.