Edinburgh World Heritage

St John's Church Princes Street

Unlike Edinburgh's other public buildings, churches like St John's were built in the newly fashionable Gothic style.

St John's was built between 1816 - 18 and was designed by William Burn, one of the foremost architects of his day.

He chose to design in the 'Perpendicular Gothic' style, reviving medieval features such as pointed arches, vaulted roofs and tall spires. The church was intended to have a large open turret, or 'lantern', on top of its tower, but this blew down in a storm and was never replaced.

On the inside of the church, just look up to see more impressive Gothic features. The elaborate vaulted ceiling is actually made of plaster, and inspired by the memorial to Henry VII in Westminster Abbey.

Also look out for an odd memorial on the North side of the church. It commemorates John S.S. Forbes, who died at Custer's Last Stand at the Little Big Horn in 1876.

Forbes came from a wealthy background, but perhaps because of gambling debts he left the country travelling to New Zealand and America. There he joined the cavalry under an assumed name, and had almost completed his three years service when he died in battle. Amongst his belongings was found a letter from his mother inviting him back home.

Download a leaflet about the architecture of the church.

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