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Cathedral of the Isles, Millport, Great Cumbrae Island, Ayreshire

Visiting Great Cumbrae Island off Ayrshire these days is a great day out. It is a very quick hop across on the ferry from Largs. If you are up to it, you take a bicycle or rent one in Millport and cycle right around the island with stops for ice cream. Millport itself has several interesting buildings to visit while you are there. My favourite is the cathedral. It is most properly called the Cathedral of the Isles and Collegiate Church of the Holy Spirit.

Millport is a small port town on a small island. So how did it get a cathedral?

This is actually part of a complex of buildings that owe their existence to their founder G. F. Boyle, later 6th Earle of Glasgow, who had the vision to establish a Collegiate Church on the island based on a model advocated by the Oxford Movement. The buildings were designed in 1851 by the renowned architect, William Butterfield. The Cathedral is the smallest in Britain. It only seats 80 people. The college buildings stretch out extensively to one side, but that doesn't detract from the quaint well proportioned scale of the cathedral itself. Inside the most eye catching features are the richly-coloured encaustic tiles and stained glass windows typical of the Gothic style as embraced by the Oxford Movement. The chancel ceiling depicts the island’s ferns and wild flowers. Historic vestments and Communion plate are used on special occasions. Symbolism of the Holy Spirit and the Trinity are found repeatedly throughout the Cathedral buildings, inside and out. The Cathedral is the place of worship for St Andrew’s Episcopal Congregation, and retains its status as one of the two Cathedrals of the Diocese of Argyll and The Isles, the Cathedral of St John the Divine in Oban being the other.

The College which adjoins the Cathedral, was for many years a residential theological college serving, inter alia, the needs of the Gaelic ministry. North College was originally the Choristers’ house and South College the Canons’ house.

When the building was completed in 1851, it was consecrated as the Cathedral of the Isles and Pro-Cathedral of Argyll in 1876. (Pro-cathedral means a parish church that is temporarily serving as a cathedral or co-cathedral of a diocese). The complex continues to play an active role as a college and study centre and has a programme of conferences, retreats and seminars.

My photograph depicts some of the colourful encaustic tiles on both the floor and walls.

Cathedral of the Isles website : https://cathedraloftheisles.org/cathedral/a-brief-history/

Undiscovered Scotland website : http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/cumbrae/cathedral/

Millport website : http://www.millport.org/listing/catherdral-of-the-isles/

Canmore : https://canmore.org.uk/site/120846/great-cumbrae-island-millport-college-street-cathedral-of-the-isles-and-collegiate-church-of-the-holy-spirit




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