Some time ago, I promised a post devoted to St. Mary’s Episcopal church on Carden Place, known as “the Tartan Kirkie” (the small tartan church – Aberdonians love to add -ie to words as an affectionate diminutive). The reason it’s known as the Tartan Kirkie is because the building uses several kinds of granite very decoratively, giving a kind of “tartan” effect to the fabric of the building.
It was built in 1865, designed by Alexander Ellis. (See this page by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland for more technical information.)
In 2010, Grampian Police held an online exhibition of police photographs taken after German bombing raids on Aberdeen during WWII. It was grim and fascinating to look at the photographs of familiar streets with huge bites taken out of them. I was startled to see a photo of the Tartan Kirkie with the entire back of the sanctuary torn off and lying open and exposed to the elements. I had never noticed before that that section is far from tartan because it was rebuilt after the War:
I’ve never been to a service at St. Mary’s, but I once went there to walk the labyrinth. They had laid out a very large floorcloth that reproduces the pattern of the labyrinth on the floor of Chartres cathedral, and anyone was welcome to come. I didn’t know if I would find walking the labyrinth tedious, or significant, or neither. But I found it fascinating: once I had begun I could no longer see the pattern of the labyrinth. Try as I might, I could only concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other. I took that lesson away with me: all I have to do is put one foot in front of the other, and I’ll get there eventually. I don’t need to understand how it all connects up, or what the pattern is. Or where “there” is for that matter!