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A £2million Facelift

Charlotte Chapel in Edinburgh have now moved into their new church building – a completely refurbished former Church of Scotland building in the City Centre. Their first service there took place on Sunday 29 May as Phil Topham has been finding out.

A £2million Facelift primary image

The former St George’s West church is one of the most iconic buildings in Edinburgh. Back in 2012, it was purchased by Charlotte Chapel – an FIEC church in the city – who had grand plans to turn it into their new home.

Now the Grade A listed building has been through a huge facelift which began back in February 2015. Fifteen months and £2million later, Charlotte Chapel met for the first time in their new building on Sunday 29 May.

the congregation on the first Sunday

Located on Shandwick Place just off Princes Street in the centre of the historic city, a huge amount of work has been carried out to refurbish the church. The pews have been removed to create a large worship space and a number of rooms in the lower ground floor have been knocked together to provide flexible space for Sunday School activities.

Work to update the heating, lighting and plumbing has also taken place while a new solid wood floor was fitted in the main venue. A refurbishment of the organ completed the building’s transformation.

The work was funded after the church sold its existing building in nearby Rose Street and leased it back from the company that bought it from them while the refurbishment took place in Shandwick Place.

A long history

It’s a huge change for a congregation who have gathered for almost 200 years at their previous location. Founded in 1808, Charlotte Chapel moved to Rose Street eight years later and have been there ever since, seeing God do amazing things through revivals in 1859/60, 1873 and then again in 1905/06.

This move to a larger premises will help to make the church more visible in the city centre and give room for further growth in congregation numbers.

the outside of the buildingBetween 600 and 800 people gather for worship at Charlotte Chapel every week and Lead Pastor Paul Rees says the move to Shandwick Place is a huge encouragement for everyone. He said:

“This is a great moment for our congregation as we begin a new phase of our life as a church. We’re excited about the potential this gives us to contribute to this vibrant west end community.

“God willing we will continue our ministry as a city centre church, proclaiming the life changing hope and amazing grace of the Christian gospel for everyone.”

Events week

An opening week of events is planned later this month for the community, culminating in an official opening service on Sunday 19 June.

During the week there will be an open event for local businesses to find out a bit more about the church, along with daily open days to provide tours of the building and introduce people to a café area built in as part of the refurbishment.

The new building will also be used by a number of local groups including Brownies, Cubs, Guides and Scouts, so one of the evenings of the events week will be set aside especially for them and their parents.

A women’s meeting, a craft event and a free English class complete the list of special opening events at the refurbished building. Paul Rees added:

“We’ve got a full programme of activities throughout the week for people at all ages and stages of life, those for whom Edinburgh is home and those who have come to this wonderful city to study or work. Please pray that we would be able to welcome many people during our Week of Events.”

Phil Topham photo
Phil Topham - FIEC Executive Director

Phil started working for FIEC in the role of Head of Communication, but then became our Executive Director at the start of 2019. He is married to Kath and they live near Market Harborough and attend Christ Church in the town.