THE oldest surviving parish school building in Edinburgh has been put on the market for £450,000.
For the past ten years the 173-year-old former Buccleuch Parish School at Meadow Lane has been used as a church – but the growing popularity of the Orthodox Church of St Andrew means it has been forced to relocate to bigger premises.
A congregation of more than 250 people featuring a mix of more than 70 nationalities, such as English, Scottish, Greek, Russian, Serbian, and Romanian, regularly meets in the former schoolhouse.
Originally Hope Park Halls of Buccleuch Parish School, the B-listed property was built in the Jacobean style common to Edinburgh schools of the time to a design by architect George Smith in 1839.
The two-storey property at the Meadows had fallen into disrepair over the years, leading The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) to add it to the Buildings at Risk register in 2001.
However, it was saved in 2003 when it was bought from the city council by the Orthodox Church.
Now fears for its future prospects have been allayed as selling agents have been inudated with interest.
Campbell Whyte of property advisers Ryden said: “We have had a lot of interest in the property, mainly from local developers but also from local churches and community groups.
“The building faces the Meadows Tennis Courts and is a fantastic redevelopment opportunity. I don’t see it lying empty for too long.”
Fr John Raffan of the Orthodox Community of St Andrew said: “We are sad to leave but we have simply outgrown the premises.
“We are in early negotiations to move to larger premises in a similar location but we are yet to sign on the dotted line.”
This is the church’s second relocation to larger premises in under ten years, after they left their former home at George Square in 2003.
During this time their congregation has almost doubled in size, something Fr Raphael Pavouris puts down to increased immigration and converts from other faiths.
He said: “The Orthodox Church is one of the few churches in the world to still be growing. Each year we have several people who convert from other faiths and we have also seen a rise in immigrants from countries, such as Greece and Romania. A third of our congregation also comes from the university.”
The Orthodox Church in Scotland was founded 90 years ago in 1922 by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to serve Orthodox Christians living in Britain.
The Edinburgh parish started life as a chaplaincy, mainly for Polish servicemen during the Second World War and, initially, the liturgical language used was Slavonic.
Today, services are largely conducted in English, Greek, and Slavonic.