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Spital, St Margaret of Scotland Chapel and Former Convent Wing

A Category A Listed Building in Aberdeen, Aberdeen

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.1575 / 57°9'26"N

Longitude: -2.0999 / 2°5'59"W

OS Eastings: 394056

OS Northings: 807407

OS Grid: NJ940074

Mapcode National: GBR SC6.1L

Mapcode Global: WH9QQ.QC8B

Entry Name: Spital, St Margaret of Scotland Chapel and Former Convent Wing

Listing Date: 12 January 1967

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 354392

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB19961

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Aberdeen

County: Aberdeen

Town: Aberdeen

Electoral Ward: George St/Harbour

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

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Old Aberdeen

Description

Sir J Ninian Comper of Bucknall and Comper; designed 1891, dated 1892 (see Notes); restored 1988 by Lyon & McPherson. Particularly fine Gothic chapel with canted, buttressed and castellated apsidal chancel springing from steep hillside and adjoining 2-storey and attic, 2-bay convent wing with transomed and mullioned windows and distinctive V-plan bay rising through 2 floors. Squared and pinned granite rubble with polished ashlar dressings. Part of a wider former convent complex (see Notes).

CHAPEL: monumental appearance of chapel accentuated by steeply falling ground at principal E elevation and comprising dominant full-height buttresses flanking 2-light traceried window high up over decorative niche with statue of St Margaret, further taller windows to flanking angled faces. Principal entrance to rear through diminutive porch with pyramidal pantiled roof leading to doorway dated '1892'.

INTERIOR: finely furnished, aisleless, galleried, whitewashed interior with stencilled groin vaulting over apsidal chancel, and stencilled timber wagon roof to nave. Decorative detailing includes blind ogee arched arcading, carved timber stalls and tiny watching chamber accessed from adjoining convent.

CONVENT: 2 horizontally-emphasised bays with transomed, mullioned and traceried windows to V-plan bay at E elevation. Rear elevation with porch reflecting main entrance to Chapel, and asymmetrical fenestration. Canted stair tower in re-entrant angle formed with Chapel.

INTERIOR: 6-panelled timber doors; stone fireplaces with variety of overmantels, cast iron grates, tiled slips and hearths; cast iron radiators. Finely-detailed principal rooms with timber window seats.

Stained glass glazing to Chapel; leaded and margined diamond pattern, and plate glass glazing in fixed and casement windows to convent wing; largely 4-pane glazing pattern in timber sash and case windows elsewhere. Red pantiled roofs with some use of grey slate.

Statement of Interest

Place of worship no longer in use as such. Part of an 'A' Group including '15 and 17 Spital' (see separate listing) formerly linked and adapted as accommodation for Comper's 1890s convent scheme.

The former Episcopal Chapel and Convent of St Margaret is an exceptional and important example of its date in Scotland. Built at the close of the 19th century, it was a major milestone in the career of nationally renowned architect Sir J Ninian Comper as his first major commission. Occupying an imposing position on high ground visible from the sea shore, and on the main route to the University and Old Aberdeen, the Chapel and Convent group contribute significantly to the architectural interest of the city. The fine interiors are also of a particularly high quality.

The plans, which were held at the Convent at the time of the original listing, were approved on 24 September 1891 although building was not completed until 1898. After restoration work in 1988, the Convent was closed in the early years of the 21st century.

J Ninian Comper (1864-1960) was born in Aberdeen, the son of an Episcopalian clergyman, and was articled to Bodley and Garner from 1883 to 1887. Working in Scotland, England and Wales, his list of ecclesiastical commissions is vast, incorporating all aspects of restoration and additional work as well as new churches and memorials. Other churches designed by Comper include St Margaret's at Braemar and St Mary's at Kirriemuir (see separate listings) and St Cyprian in Marylebone, London.

List description revised 2011.

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