Thistle Chapel to reopen more than a year after thefts

Thistle Chapel ceiling. Picture: Carlos Delgado (cc-by-sa 3.0)

Thistle Chapel ceiling. Picture: Carlos Delgado (cc-by-sa 3.0)

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A ROYAL chapel considered to be one of Scotland’s architectural jewels is to reopen to the public more than a year after a spate of thefts forced its closure.

The Thistle Chapel in St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh was closed last February after ceremonial items including a seat cover, a 19th-century Dutch alms plate, an altar cloth, a tassel from the Queens’s throne cushion and a plaque commemorating Alexander Bruce, the 6th Lord Balfour of Burleigh, were stolen.

An angel playing bagpipes in Thistle Chapel. Picture: Kim Traynor (cc-by-sa 3.0)

An angel playing bagpipes in Thistle Chapel. Picture: Kim Traynor (cc-by-sa 3.0)

The chapel is the spiritual home of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle - Scotland’s order of chivalry.

Membership of the Order of the Thistle, thought to have been established in the 15th century, is considered to be one of the country’s highest honours and bestowed on Scots or people of Scots ancestry who have given distinguished service.

The chapel’s members, a personal gift of the sovereign, include the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Phillip, the Duke of Rothesay Prince Charles and the Earl of Strathearn Prince William.

The cathedral wants to recruit two part-time members of staff responsible for the security of the chapel, designed by famed architect Robert Lorimer and built in the style of the High Gothic architecture of the 15th century, and providing the highest standard of visitor care.

Following the difficult decision to close it in early 2015, we are delighted that we will soon be in a position to be able to offer open access to visitors once more from mid-March.

Sarah Phemister

The jobs will be for six months from mid-March.

Sarah Phemister, visitor services manager, said: “The Thistle Chapel is one of Scotland’s architectural jewels and St Giles’ Cathedral is passionate about preserving it for future generations, whilst maintaining access for visitors from around the world.

“Following the difficult decision to close it early 2015, we are delighted that we will soon be in a position to be able to offer open access to visitors once more from mid-March.

“We are extremely grateful to the public for their generous donations which are very important to the upkeep of St Giles Cathedral and the Thistle Chapel.”