Church reaches out to ensure war dead not forgotten

Ian Ramsay is an elder at the Parish Church of Craigentinny St Christoper's. Picture: Julie Bull

Ian Ramsay is an elder at the Parish Church of Craigentinny St Christoper's. Picture: Julie Bull

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A RIOT of colour, the imposing window stands tall above the church, light flooding through the stained glass on to the floor below.

The intricate depiction of the Ascension is the pride and joy of the close-knit community at Craigentinny St Christopher’s Parish Church.

But there is an additional meaning to the grand window – it commemorates all those from the parish who lost their lives in the Second World War between 1939 and 1945.

The congregation is keen to keep the church’s history alive and by sharing and learning more about the stories of those who served their country.

Ian Ramsay – who has been an elder for about 15 years at the church, which stands on the junction between Craigentinny Avenue and Craigentinny Road – said he was concerned that the story behind the window would be lost.

The grounds of the impressive church, which has an almost 90-strong congregation, was gifted to the Craigentinny community by the Christie Miller Trust for religious purposes.

The hall of the church was built first, and the foundation stone was laid by John Buchan, the celebrated writer of the thriller The Thirty Nine Steps and by then the Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

A small plaque sits below the memorial Fleming Window, installed in 1958 to pay tribute to the people of Craigentinny who were killed in the war.

The striking image features the symbol of the water of life, angels, and the risen Lord Jesus with a rainbow behind him. It is flanked by two other windows; one depicting the start of all creation, the Moon and Sun, wildlife and Adam and Eve, with the other showing Judgment Day, featuring angels and the judge of the cosmos.

Mr Ramsay said the Christmas period had been a good time to take stock and to ­celebrate the church’s rich history.

“It’s quite unusual in its brickwork,” he said. “Most churches are either stone or partly painted.”

The church and the hall are built from brick from the Niddrie works which closed in 1991.

Built in the name of St Christopher, the patron saint of travellers, it was the first church so named in Scotland.

To this day, the church remains popular with the travelling community and travellers’ funerals are often held there.

“We have a strong community spirit,” Mr Ramsay said.