Anne Lister diary transcriptions Anne Lister's diary 1828 Anne Lister's diary June 1828

Sunday 8 June 1828

9 35/60
11 35/60

Two last night and the same number this morning, the latter a good one. She wetter than before and doing it with all her heart however anxious to get up in time for church. Miss McL- breakfasted before me & went to church beginning at 11. I breakfasted alone at 10 50/60 at 11½. Seeing in “Wade’s Tour of Modern & Peep into Ancient Glasgow” 241/320 12[?] the Roman Catholic chapel, Clyde Street mentioned as “one of the chief architectural ornaments of Glasgow, & is also most happily placed for the further embellishment of one of the most beautiful parts of the city,” determined to go. Got there (went out at 11 40/60) at 11 50/60. Dr Scott did all the duty. Crowded as much at St. George’s church, Edinburgh to hear Mr Irvine. Very neat, pretty, perfectly plain gothic church galleried all round. No pictures, no image but a small crucifix over the altar. Very good organ & singing. Came in for 25 minutes of mass, about 20 minutes of exhortation to attend the sacrament & to subscribe for paying the debt of the church & to attend church in an afternoon (out of a congregation of 400 surprised to have so few at church in an afternoon; published the bans of 9 or 10 couples) & read the epistles & gospel. The latter taken from the parable of the invitation to the marriage supper. Some had bought [one]. Some had married a wife etc etc, & could not go there in a very fair sermon of ½ hour. On the subject of the gospel read said that marriage supper was supposed by interpreters of scripture to allude to the sacrament of the Lord’s supper. And that man being in trouble etc like Elias (vid. The book of Kings) who fleeing from Jezebel was fed by [?] an angel & went in the strength of that meat 40 days & 40 nights. In partaking of the Lord’s supper was so strengthened etc. My neighbour told me there were supposed to be 30,000 Roman Catholics in & immediately about Glasgow & only 4 priests. Chiefly poor people could not afford to have more priests. Dr S- said in his sermon they ought to subscribe what they could for the church [sensible] that the building of it had been mainly instrumental in spreading the true faith. He also spoke of this country (Scotland) as “a persecuting country.” [1]

St Andrew’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Glasgow, seen from across Clyde Street, on
21 September 2014 (nearly 185 years after Anne Lister visited)

Got home at 1 35/60. Found Miss McL- & we set off almost immediately for the high church or cathedral. Got there at 2 10/60. Service begun. ¼ hour more psalm singing & extemporising prayer & then ¾ hour very good sermon from the preacher (Mr McFarlane?) in the inner church from Ecclesiastes vii 15. Have seen the wicked prosper in his wickedness & the righteous perish (“or be brought into difficulty”) in his righteousness (excellent exposition of this text), not by his righteousness but by the failure of it, by the want of prudence & discretion in which the wicked man by his constant jealously & suspicion of others abounds. “For the children of the world are often wiser in this generation than the children of light.” Good illustration [this] of the parable of the unjust steward vid. St. Matthew. After the sermon a psalm & prayer then looked at the church. Asked a man belonging to it to shew it. He answered gruffly we might look about. By & by another stopped our entry into the consistorial court old chapter house ? & on asking if strangers might not see the church, “yes!” said he more gruffly than the man before, “on a week-day.” The ill-fated cathedral, tho’ “the only uninjured cathedral, 1 perhaps excepted in all North Britain,” that of St. Magus at Kirkwall in the Orkneys (Glasgow Guide as above 25/320), the ill-fated cathedral is divided into 3 Presbyterian churches, inner & outer constantly used, & one not used which we could not get into but, which judging from the outside, seems somewhat neglected & in ruin. The inner church the choir of the old cathedral very beautiful. A middle & 2 side aisles. 5 beautifully proportioned gothic arches with 2 rows of windows above, something as in the nave of York cathedral. Galleried all round. The great arch under which the organ would be made up & a [complete] gallery of [pews] underneath. The great handsome pointed tower over the junction of the [short] transepts made up [even] with the roof of the transepts. The nave rudely partitioned off & forming the outer church galleried round something like a Methodist meeting house. What of the transept & little bit of nave left open miserably out of repair. Should have noted that at the end of the inner church behind where the great altar would formerly stand is a chapel like that of the nine altars at Durham. On each side of the great entrance arch (now made up) to the ancient choir, now inner church, are steps down to the crypt now used as burial places. The mutilated state of this fine cathedral quite miserable. The most melancholy thing I have seen in Scotland.

The exterior of the building shewing broken windows & every species of want of repair & taste & care. [2] It put me out of patience with all puritanism & Scotch Presbyterianism. [3] Said Miss McL- the Glasgow people are the most bigoted in Scotland. The great east end looks upon the statue of John Knox! That church destroyer! [4] A woman said, of whom we inquired what it was, “the first man who brought religion into Scotland,” correcting another woman who had told us it was the statue of General Moore. By the way, a low pedestaled unworthy statue of the unfortunate sinner John Moore a native of the city stands in St. George’s square, while a lofty pyramid commemorates the [fame] of Nelson, on the green. The cathedral if in English protestant hands would be one of the finest in the United Kingdoms. Shame upon Glasgow & John Knox that it is ruined as it is! [4]

Statue of John Knox at Glasgow Nekropolis

John Knox (c. 1513 – 1572), ‘That church destroyer!’

A fine infirmary house close to the cathedral. In returning down High Street (somewhere) see the Bridewell & father on cross the fine street Trongate, & still in High Street turn into the College Court. A large old building reminding one of an old French hotel. The museum a handsome doric building apart farther back. Then return & make the best of [our] way to the green. Covered with Sunday strollers. A gay & pretty scene. Left Miss McL- sitting under Nelson’s monument & took the road from there of the green, close along the winding Clyde in 25 minutes. Never in England saw anything like this grassy cow-pastured green. The Champs Elysée of Glasgow. A delightful park or [turnout] to the inhabitants of all rank & ages lying or sitting up & down & on the sloping banks down to the river. Charmed with the scene. Return along Clyde Street. Here too a green space on each side the river for the eyes of the inhabitants of Clyde Street & Carlton Place to refresh themselves on. The river about as large as the Ouse at York. The narrow wooded bridge, the old bridge & the new ditto, very picturesque objects. According to the notice posted on the house of the humane society the river near there from 6 to 13 feet deep. Great many lost annually in bathing. By getting into holes, says Miss McL-. In returning inquired about coaches for Lanark. Should be off at 6 in the morning. Pleased with Glasgow as a very handsome town.

 Kirk Street: the Royal Infirmary, Barony Church, and Glasgow Cathedral circa 1829, by John Leighton. From Select views of Glasgow and its Environs, 1829.

Got home at 6. Dinner at 6 10/60. From 7¾ to 9 50/60 wrote the above of today. Vid. Glasgow Guide 26/320 “ ‘Aisle’ is becoming a less common as it is evidently a less correct orthography. The word is derived from the French ‘aile’ into ‘aisle.’ The ‘s’ has crept from our own word ‘isle’ which is occasionally used in the sense of a long walk in a church or public building.” “Crypts designed . . . in undoubted reference to the sepulchre of Christ are by no means of unfrequent occurrence in British churches; chiefly in cathedral, collegiate & monastic ones.” Very fine day. Then settling accounts till 10¼.

[1] From 1560, when Scotland broke with the Roman Catholic church, until the late 18th century, following the passing of the Catholic Relief Act of 1791, Catholics in Scotland had to worship discretely. St. Andrew’s Cathedral (what Anne Lister describes as the Roman Catholic chapel) was completed in 1816, to cater for the increasing number of Roman Catholics in Glasgow who were now free to worship in public.

[2] The High Kirk (church) of Glasgow was built from the late 12th century onwards. It sustained heavy damage during the Scottish Reformation (split from the Roman Catholic Church).

[3] Anne Lister subscribed to the Anglican school of Christianity which developed from the Church of England (born when Henry VIII split the English church from the Roman Catholic church, so he didn’t have to obey the Pope). Here Anne is scornful about puritanism and Scottish Presbyterianism, which were both schools of Christianity which had little truck with hierarchy and materialistic displays of faith, Anglicanism being more ‘traditional’ in this regard.

[4] John Knox (c. 1513 – 1572) was a leading figure in the Scottish Reformation.

You can see the original diary page here:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top