Category Archives: News

St Mary’s Chapel Open

After forced closure due to the pandemic and then workmen on site, the OpenSpace Trust is pleased to announce that the first of a series of open mornings will take place between

10 – 1 on Saturday 11th June.

Entry will be by the new wheelchair accessible door just inside the Kirkyard (next to the loading bay) at the top of Correction Wynd.

There is no charge, but a donation would be welcomed.

It is also possible now to offer tea/coffee for those who wish to spend a little longer and enjoy the ambience of this special place

Christmas Tree Festival 2021

During autumn 2021, the OpenSpace Trust was approached by Aberdeen City Council to seek help with organising and running a Christmas tree festival for Christmas 2021. We were pleased to agree.

In total 14 different organisations agreed to decorate a tree. Each was given the name of a carol to ‘inspire’ them – some were more challenging than others! Great ingenuity was used both in the way the carols were interpreted but also in the way this was brought to life in the decorations created. Some were highly topical such as using facemasks to make angels! The trees were displayed in Drum’s Aisle at the Kirk of St Nicholas on the three Saturdays in December prior to Christmas. The weather did not cooperate! It was cold and (very) wet each day, but a good number of people did brave the elements and many expressed their pleasure and appreciation of the event. For a ‘first try’ it was encouraging and already suggestions for ‘bigger and better’ in 2022 is being talked about.

We have individual photographs of each tree as well as some more general views (although lighting was rather inadequate for these). Only a selection of these can be shown here, but our thanks go to everyone who decorated a tree and who came along to enjoy the results. The following organisations participated:

Aberdeen City Council

Aberdeen Inspired

Aberdeen Performing Arts

Burgesses of the City of Aberdeen

Disability Equality Partnership

Ferryhill School

Gilcomstoun School

Hanover Street School

OpenSpace Trust

Robert Gordon’s College

Seven Incorporated Trades of Aberdeen

Skene Square School

St Joseph’s RC School

Voluntary Service Aberdeen

We also record our thanks to two other organisations: Aberdeen Inspired who agreed to meet the costs and the General Trustees of the Church of Scotland for making Drum’s Aisle available. Watch out for the Christmas tree festival 2022!

Piper Alpha Disaster

Friday 6th July 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster. On that fateful night the Piper Alpha rig exploded and caught fire killing a total of 167 men. No-one who was in Aberdeen at the time will forget that day nor the subsequent days. It is fitting that various memorials have been created for those who lost their lives. The Piper Alpha Memorial Garden is in Hazlehead Park where an Act of Remembrance will take place at 7 pm on 6th July. There is also a beautiful Piper Alpha memorial window in Ferryhill Parish Church.

At the time of the disaster the ‘Oil Chapel’ was being planned by the oil industry to mark the first 25 years of North Sea oil. This is in the Kirk of St Nicholas and naturally its design was influenced by these events. In particular the furniture, designed and built by Borders craftsman Tim Stead, features strips of native Scottish trees, the initials of which spell out ‘We Remember Yew’. This can be seen, for example, in the backs of the chairs (first photograph). Also in the Oil Chapel is a desk housing a book with the names of all those who lost their life. This is shown in the second photograph. The Chapel can be visited any weekday afternoon (between 12 noon and 4 pm) until the end of September in the Kirk of St Nicholas – entry by the main door facing Union Street.

Two of the chairs created by Tim Stead showing the strips of wood spelling out ‘We Remember Yew’

The memorial desk with the book which lists all those who lost their lives

The front of the notelet explaining the design of the woodwork

Also available is a notelet showing a chair, as shown in the third photograph. In the chapel’s stained glass window there are red (oil) and green (gas) ‘lenses’ representing various fields in the North Sea. There is also one clear glass lens commemorating the Piper Alpha field.

We will remember them.

St Mary’s Chapel Open Day

St Mary’s Chapel will be open to the public as indicated above.

Many of the features in the chapel have appeared in this blog over the years, including the carved wood, stained glass, grave slabs, vaulted ceiling, witches ring, enamel work font etc. It is truly one of the hidden gems of Aberdeen.

Entrance if free, although we always welcome donations. Access is awkward if you have mobility problems and involves steps both up and down. The entry door is at the top of Correction Wynd across from the side of the new TSB bank. It will be signposted.

The chapel will be open again on 11th August and on Doors Open Day (8th September). For Doors Open Day there will also be tours of the archaeological dig site at 11, 12, 2 and 3, conducted by Alison Cameron who led the dig.






The picture is part of a window in the former East Kirk and shows the Angel Gabriel. By tradition, depictions of the angel feature him holding something – a trumpet, a lily, a shining lantern, a scroll, a branch from paradise or a sceptre. Also traditionally, Gabriel wears white or blue clothing. In this window he is shown with mainly white clothing and holding a lily in his left hand.

Gabriel features widely in the Bible, but is also recognised in other major religions, including Judaism and Islam.

St Mary’s Chapel – open times summer 2016

St Mary’s Chapel was built around 1450 before the Kirk of St Nicholas was expanded to its present size towards the end of that century. It is a special place, often described as ‘one of the hidden gems of Aberdeen’. It has a stone-vaulted ceiling, beautiful stained glass, the walls have mostly 17th century carved wood panels, and there is some dating from 1508. Set in the floor are grave stones some of which show the links between the building in the castles of Drum and Crathes.


The Chapel will be open to the public on four Saturdays over the summer between 10 am and 12.30 pm on 14th May, 11th June, 9th July and 13th August. Entry is free, there will be people there to explain and answer questions, but please note that access involves difficult steps and the floors inside are uneven. Entry is by the door at the top of Correction Wynd.


The Chapel will also be open on Doors Open Day on 10th September between 10 am and 4 pm.

Post 3 (c) St Mary's Chapel in 2010

Easter Day

Happy Easter!

Post 36 Easter Cropped Cross in St Johns DSCN0428Easter Day is when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. They often greet each other that day with ‘Christ is Risen, He is risen indeed’. The resurrection is the foundation of the Christian faith, showing as it does the divine in Jesus, that he is the Son of God. Christians believe that through his death and resurrection, despite all that we do wrong, we can be reconciled with God.

Depiction of the resurrection is not as easy as for the crucifixion. Symbolically Jesus is often depicted as the Paschal Lamb, from the Old Testament practice of animal sacrifice as atonement for sin. In the non-conformist churches an empty cross is often used, as in this photograph taken in St John’s Chapel (the ‘Oil Chapel’) in the Kirk of St Nicholas.

Good Friday

Good Friday is one of the most sacred days of the year for Christians, when the death of Jesus by crucifixion is remembered. The exact date when this happened is not known. However, the Gospel accounts make it clear that it was on a Friday and scholars, whilst disagreeing over detail, seem to point towards the year AD33 or 34.

Post 35 Crucifixion, Central Apse window,  East Kirk, Jan 2014 DSCN0162There are representations of the crucifixion in many churches – as paintings, sculptures or in stained glass. The photograph with this post is of the stylised representation of the crucifixion in the apse window of the former East Kirk of St Nicholas.