Salisbury Church

Salisbury Church was built and opened in 1863 as a United Presbyterian Church, with seats for 1000. It was the product of several unions and enjoyed almost 100 years of congregational life. One of the uniting churches was Hope Park Church, originally Potterrow, built in 1793 as an Antiburgher congregation. By 1867 a new church was built at the corner of Hope Park and Causewayside. In 1848 Duncan Street Baptist Chapel was bought as a meeting place for the congregation known as Newington South which moved again in 1863 when the new church was built in Grange Road. In 1873 a substantial number of members were lost over the question of the use of fermented wine at communion. The dissenters left and were in part linked to the establishment of the Argyle Place Church. In 1940 when the Hope Park and Newington South congregations united, the Hope Park buildings were sold and the Royal Dick Veterinary College was built in its place. The name of the congregation changed again for the final time in 1959, to Salisbury Church.

Although the church is now used as commercial premises, much of the beautiful interior decoration can still be seen. As a side note, while considering a planning application for the installation of a telecommunications mast in the tower of the Salisbury Church building, some members of the Committee (Chairman included) first learned the useful architectural term ‘brattishing’, which describes the decorative ironwork on the tower.

The former Salisbury Church
Rev Brian Casebow
In 1967 I was called to be minister of Salisbury Church. I remember thinking, when I saw it for the first time, that the exterior was rather ugly! But the interior was quite different. It was a surprise when you entered it because it seemed such a comfortable and airy church, with its blue carpets and padded pews. Although it seated 1000 it never seemed so big; no one seemed to be too far away from the minister and I found it an easy church to speak in. I only saw it full on one occasion – when I preached there for the first time. The elders had made sure that there would be a good turn-out. Unfortunately I never saw it filled again, except for the end of term services with Sciennes School when we enjoyed some enterprising services with the school orchestra. The manse was in Fountainhall Road and my impression of the Grange was of trees and lovely gardens and wide streets. Nowadays that impression is rather spoilt by the traffic calming measures. In those days the church served a very mixed community. I remember visiting some very poor homes in those early days – some still with primitive conditions. Since then Causewayside and Grange Court have fairly come up in the world. In Sciennes was Bertams, the engineering firm that employed so many local people. I was not only chaplain to Sciennes School where Miss McColl was the head teacher before she retired to Jersey but also to Bruntsfield Hospital, in Bruntsfield Loan, a delightful hospital of four wards for women patients only. Miss Elspeth Baxter was the Matron and I was there for about thirteen years until I became chaplain to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in 1980. I have very happy memories of the wonderful work done in the Neo-natal Unit and even when it proved not to be a happy experience, it was still a privilege to be part of the care and concern of such dedicated staff. I had to give up my chaplaincy work in 1986 owing to ill health, but managed to continue my ministry at Salisbury until, when Dr Macdonald of Mayfield Church was retiring, I was asked if I would take early retirement in favour of a union. Out of this union came the present church of Mayfield Salisbury.

Rev Brian Casebow – June 2003