Restoration of Brechin Cathedral

M176 Restoration of Brechin Cathedral

Address: Church Lane, Brechin DD9 6EU
Date: 1892–1901
Client: Brechin Cathedral restoration committee
Authorship: Authorship category 4 (Office) (Office)

Colour photograph of wheel window in N.E. transept, Brechin Cathedral

The nave, choir and transepts of Brechin Cathedral were originally built in the first half of the 13th century. 1 The choir was abandoned at the Reformation and fell into ruin, while the nave continued in use for reformed worship. In 1806–7, the transepts and N. porch were demolished and the aisles widened and raised in height, obscuring the clerestory. Inside, a flat ceiling was installed and galleries were introduced on all four sides. A movement for the reversal of these changes and the restoration of the cathedral to its original form was initiated in 1892, and John Honeyman was consulted. Plans were prepared, but work did not commence on site until 1900. The westernmost bays of the choir were reinstated, and the 19th-century aisles demolished and rebuilt along lines closer to the original medieval building. A new N.E. aisle, or transept, was added to increase seating capacity, along with a new N. porch.

In 1902 John Honeyman & Keppie designed a house in Brechin, The Mary Acre, for a member of the cathedral restoration committee, Alexander Philip.

Authorship: Honeyman was personally responsible for the cathedral restoration. He is named as architect in contemporary press reports, the cash book of John Honeyman & Keppie / Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh records the payment of his expenses for repeated trips to Brechin during the course of the work and there are letters from him to Alexander Philip, Honorary Secretary of the Executive Committee, throughout the course of the project. 2

Cost from office job book: £12813 9s 8d

Status: Standing building

Current use: Cathedral (2014)

Listing category: A

Historic Scotland/HB Number: 22439

RCAHMS Site Number: NO56SE 12

Grid Reference: NO 59625 60091

GPS coordinates: lat = 56.730721, lng = -2.661474   (Map)


1: John Gifford, The Buildings of Scotland: Dundee and Angus, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012, pp. 357–65.

2: Brechin Cathedral archive contains an important group of letters dated between December 1898 and September 1904 (signed by Honeyman or an employee on behalf of John Honeyman & Keppie), as well as estimates, receipts, measurements, press cuttings, and documents related to the fund-raising campaign, meetings of the Executive Committee, and building account. This material is currently (2014) uncatalogued.