St Bride’s is an early 20th century church, built from red sandstone in the English Decorated style, also known as Gothic Revival. The chancel was designed by George Frederick Bodley (1827-1907) and built in 1903-04. The nave, also designed by Bodley, was built in 1906-07 and restored by H. O. Tarbolton in 1913-14. The tower, north aisle, Lady Chapel, Chantry Chapel and porch were designed by Tarbolton and built in 1913-14 by the second Rector, the Revd E. T. S. Reid, and his brothers in memory of their sister Elizabeth.
The church is incomplete. Bodley’s design for the chancel included a carved reredos depicting Gospel scenes, to cover the blank east wall (behind the High Altar). A very long green drape hangs there now instead, accentuating the graceful, sweeping height of the interior. Tarbolton planned a south aisle with a minstrel gallery and, at the north side of the church, a hall and verger’s house, none of which was built.
Unusually, the pulpit and choir stalls are a memorial to the members of St Bride’s who lost their lives during the First World War.
The niche to the right of the Lady Chapel altar contains a statue of the Madonna and Child, the work of the controversial artist and sculptor Eric Gill (1882-1940). It is an early work of the sculptor (1915) and, with its fully clothed Virgin, is unusual in its restraint.
The carved wooden panel above the outside of the leather-covered north doors (at the top of the steps when you come in the side porch door) represents the figure of Silence, his finger at his lips. At his feet are the hills of the earth; above him, the domes of the heavenly city.
Around the top of the tower are carved the symbols of the four Evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), Biblical fruits and local coats of arms. There is one bell in the tower, dating from 1914.
The statue in the niche on the exterior West Wall is of St Bride of Kildare. Her staff symbolises her office as Abbess of Kildare; her lamp represents the light of the Gospel which she carried to the people of Ireland. Her pedestal is decorated with Irish shamrocks. She is surrounded by two doves, a squirrel and a peacock, since according to tradition, St Bride loved birds and animals.
Bodley was a well known and much admired church architect who specialised in buildings in the Decorated style of Gothic design. His other commissions included the Chapel of Queen’s College, Cambridge and the parish church at Eccleston, Cheshire, for the Duke of Westminster. Bodley also co-designed Washington National Cathedral, Washington, D.C., USA. There is only one other Bodley church in Scotland – St Salvador’s Episcopal Church, Dundee.
Most of the windows at St Bride’s are of plain, clear glass, including the great west window. On sunny days, these windows allow a great deal of natural light into the church, giving it an air of spaciousness. After Sunday morning Choral Eucharist, there is often a feast of sunbeams streaming into the nave, great shafts of light forming in the clouds of incense.
We have five stained glass windows, all dating from the first part of the 20th century, and all on the north (completed) side of the church:
West end of north aisle: The Marriage at Cana (Edward Woore, 1920, with tracery added by J. Ballantine in 1929).
Lady Chapel: The Nativity (Karl Parsons, 1915); The Sorrowful Mysteries (Herbert Hendrie, 1934).
East end of north aisle, above the sacristy door: Deliverance Through Sacrifice (Edward Woore, 1919).
Chantry Chapel: St Kentigern (J. C. Bewsey, 1921).
There are information leaflets in church, which give more details about the stained glass. Come in, walk around and enjoy the beautiful interior of St Bride’s. Choose a sunny day if you can!
The majority of the information on this page is taken from ‘A Short History of St. Bride’s Episcopal Church, Glasgow’ by Helen Ball, 2004.