The Mary Slessor Centre

National Grid Reference (NGR): NO 40160 30140, map


Address

Nethergate
Dundee
Dundee
DD1 4DG
Scotland

Also known as:

  • St. Paul's and St. David's (1948 uncertified)
    created by the amalgamation of two congregations when the roof of the latter collapsed.
  • St. Paul's Church
  • Cross Church
  • Old St. Paul's and St. David's
  • St. Paul's (South)
  • South church

Introduction

The Mary Slessor Centre is one of four churches/former churches within the building known as the City Churches (10888). The earliest church on this site was known as St. Mary’s Church (1082) and dates from the late 12th Century. It was largely destroyed in 1548 by English attack. The site now occupied by the Mary Slessor Centre was originally the transepts of the early 12th Century church. The area was rebuilt and housed the Cross Church (10694), which split in 1582 and became the Cross Church and the South Church. The two transepts did not come together again until the mid-19th Century. The Cross Church (in the north transept) was partly destroyed by fire in 1645 and then used by Monck’s troops six years later. In 1745 it was used by Jacobean troops. It was again destroyed by fire in 1841. In 1846/7 the transepts were rebuilt by Burn & Bryce to house St. Paul’s (South). St. David’s Church (10722) joined the congregation in 1947 becoming Old St. Paul’s and St. David’s. This Church was then joined by the Wishart Memorial (6124) in 1975. Three years later the congregation joined with The Steeple Church (1085) and from 1981 the transepts have been used by the Mary Slessor Centre.


Description (exterior)

Created by the Town Council in the later 16th century and named St Paul's at this point, it is noted that the transepts were shorter than the originals. An image reproduced in A.C Lamb's 'Quaint and Historic Buildings' shows that the windows were rectangular and staircases led to the upper levels. The image reproduced by Lamb shows that, in 1810, the coursed sandstone church had two pinnacled buttresses and altered gable windows. A porch was attached to the south face where its great window is today. The surrounding land was flat but not paved and there was a railing with iron gates. There are distinct signs of neglect to all the city churches complex.The Gothic arches and pillars of this reconstruction were then destroyed by the 1841 fire with damage estimated at £15,000. St. Paul's re-opened for worship in 1844. (K. Nichols)

Today, the brown sandstone building is in the same neo-Gothic style as the rest of the City Churches complex. The Mary Slessor Centre is attached to The Steeple Church (1085) to the west and St Mary’s Parish Church (7844) to the east. Similar to these two churches two string courses can be seen on the lower level of the walls. There is a door located on the western wall of both transepts, both of which interrupt the string courses. The upper string course jumps up to form a frame or hood mould around each door. Above each door is a pointed window with Y tracery and a quatrefoil design. These windows are also seen on the wall opposite (the eastern walls). On the north wall of the north transept and south wall of the south transept there are large pointed windows, as seen on the eastern wall of St Mary’s Parish Church (7844). These windows are decorated with a trefoil and circular design, and the window in the northern transept is made up of stained glass from the Abbey Studio. Tall buttresses flank the window on the southern elevation. Similar also to St Mary’s Parish Church (7844) the roof is gabled and decorated with moulded stone shapes. There is a finial at the top and a spire on each side.


Description (interior)

The Centre is made up of a variety of rooms used as office space for the Hot Chocolate Trust and the work they carry out. The north transept has been turned into a sports hall. It has a vaulted ceiling and a large stained glass window by the Abbey Studio on the north wall. On the most northern end of the east and west walls are smaller arched windows. A gallery overlooks the space in the south end of the room. The entrance area now occupies the southern transept, which has been split into two levels. Stairs are located by the south wall and provide access to the southern window of the transept. The upper level of the southern transept is mostly inaccessible due to wooden scaffolding.

 

There are two other rooms used by the Hot Chocolate youth group: the Chilling Room and the Music Room. Both of these rooms feature artwork and photographs relating to the work carried out by the Trust and the youth group. The Music room is located upstairs and has three locked doors along its western wall that lead into The Steeple Church (1085).


People / Organisations:

NameRoleDatesNotes
Burn & BryceArchitects1846-7Rebuilt Church after fire of 1841

Events:

  • Separation (1582)
    Cross Church separated to become Cross Church (north transept) and South Church (south transept)
  • Church: Destruction/demolition (1645)
    Set alight during raid by Marquis of Montrose. Cross Church partly destroyed.
  • Church: Suppression (1651)
    Cross Church used as stables by troops of General Monck on behalf of Cromwell.
  • Building use (1745)
    Cross Church used by Jacobean troops
  • Destruction (1841)
    Both Cross Church and South Church destroyed by fire
  • Construction (1846 to 1847)
    By Burn & Bryce
  • Church: Alteration/conversion (1978)
    Mary Slessor Centre

Archive References:

NameReferenceNotes
SCHRReference: 10695
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 185631
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 25378

Bibliographic References:

NameAuthorDateNotes
Dundee, its quaint and historical buildingsLamb, A.C.1898reprinted 2005
The Buildings of Scotland: Dundee and AngusGifford, John2012Pgs. 86-90