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Chapel, Former Murray Royal Asylum, Muirhall Road, Perth

A Category B Listed Building in Perth, Perth and Kinross

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Latitude: 56.4009 / 56°24'3"N

Longitude: -3.413 / 3°24'46"W

OS Eastings: 312890

OS Northings: 724077

OS Grid: NO128240

Mapcode National: GBR 20.0M74

Mapcode Global: WH6QC.KC0V

Entry Name: Chapel, Former Murray Royal Asylum, Muirhall Road, Perth

Listing Date: 26 August 1977

Last Amended: 3 September 2014

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 405886

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52277

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Perth

County: Perth and Kinross

Electoral Ward: Perth City Centre

Traditional County: Perthshire

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Dr A. R. Urquhart, 1903-4. 4-bay, buttressed, crow-stepped, Gothic chapel with central entrance tower with timber and lead octagonal cupola with tall weather vane and with canted apse to north west. The high base course and tower are cyclopean (polygonal) whinstone and the nave is rock-faced red sandstone. The entrance elevation to the north east has a round-arched central entrance opening with pair of decorative iron gates, and a timber inner door with decorative hinges. There are flanking smaller round-arched window openings. There are crocketted and pinnacled buttresses. Some tracery windows.

There are green slates to the roof and the windows are predominantly lead-pane fixed glass.

The interior was seen in 2014. The original decorative scheme is largely intact with timber panelling and painted walls to nave, and with bare stone walls to sanctuary. There is a slatted timber, barrel vaulted ceiling and decorative timber pulpit, communion table and lectern. There are some stained glass windows to the sanctuary.

Statement of Interest

Built in 1903-4 and designed by the chief physician of the hospital, Dr A. R. Urquhart, this chapel is an important part of the development of the Murray Royal Asylum complex. The Gothic-inspired church building is individualistic in style with a cyclopean rubble tower and rock-faced red rubble nave. There is a significant amount of decoration to the exterior of the building, including a timber and lead cupola to the tower and decorative buttresses. Internally, the building is unusual in retaining much of its original decorative scheme and is enhanced by the quality of the materials.

The chapel at Murray Royal Asylum was erected in 1904 for the benefit of the patients and the building forms a core part of the asylum complex. It replaced an earlier chapel situated within the main asylum building.

The original Murray Royal Asylum building was designed by William Burn and it opened in 1828. This original building is the earliest surviving asylum building in Scotland. It is not known whether there was a chapel in the building initially, but there was one by 1878, when the chapel was described as recently decorated (Draft Heritage Assessment).

Care for the mentally ill altered a great deal over the course of the 18th and 19th centuries. Before this, people with mental health problems were generally concealed from society and confined often in harsh conditions. Some were looked after in private 'mad-houses', which were unregulated and where the care varied widely.

The first major reform for caring for these patients came from France, particularly Phillipe Pinel (1745-1826) who advocated care and compassion for these patients. These ideas spread to Scotland and the first asylums here, and the Murray Royal was among these, promoted the idea of compassionate care.

By the end of the 19th century, attitudes were again changing in the best way to care for the mentally ill. There was a growing understanding that patients would be better looked after in smaller, more domestic settings, rather than the large, institutional settings. Two villas were built as part of this development at the Murray Royal and these lie on either side of the chapel. The chapel was built at this time.

Over the course of the 20th century, other buildings were added to the complex, the majority of which have since been demolished. The new Murray Royal Hospital was built in 2010-12 and the original buildings were unoccupied by 2014.

Chapels were common additions to large hospital institutions over the course of the 19th century and early 20th century. Some were an integral part of the main hospital building, whilst others, like here, were separate buildings. Hospital chapels were designed to cater for ecumenical worship and at the turn of the twentieth century would often include a variety of architectural styles. A small number still survive from the early 20th century, including those at Bangour, West Lothian (1924) and Gartnavel Royal Hospital, Glasgow (1904). Whilst some retain their original internal features, many have been altered internally and it is unusual for a hospital chapel of this date to have survived with few exterior or interior alterations. In comparison to other chapels of this date, the one at the Murray Royal has some interesting decorative details both externally and internally.

Previously listed with the Main Building. Statutory Address amended, (2014).

Listed Building Record updated following a review of the former Murray Royal Asylum site, (2014).

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