Subtitled “The Great and the Good, and the Curmudgeonly…..”

(This page is under development but, on the grounds that something is better than nothing, I will keep publishing it on an ongoing basis. Thomas Grainger and Colin Campbell Mitchell presently have their own posts on this blog(q.v.). They also feature in Tony Jervis’s article on his visit to Gogar recently published in the Scottish Industrial Heritage Society magazine – well worth a read for its quixotic approach to the English language alone (and loads of facts besides). Download it by clicking on SIHS visits Gogar).  By a remarkable co-incidence, the life’s work of CCM’s father John, artist and RSA member who died in 1922 and who is also buried at Gogar is up for auction in Edinburgh this October, details at (copy and paste into your browser)


Anyway, down to business, starting with the (reputed) curmudgeon…..


Let me refer you straight away to Louise Boreham’s excellent article  in the Autumn 2004 issue of FOLIO on her personal voyage around Macgillivray (as always, just google it) and steer clear of the formulaic “electricscotland” entry for the man(which practically guarantees you will look at it).

Some public sculptures

John Knox - New College

John Knox in St Giles

Rabbie Burns in Irvine

A major exhibition of his work was held at Aberdeen  Art Gallery in 1988.  Our workshop has the catalogue for this exhibition.

His family grave at Gogar is a fine, and finely scripted, example of his work

James and Frieda

Daughters Ina and Ehrna


This is his Monumental Work. Originally designed for Coates Crescent, Shandwick Place, the owners of the gardens objected and it finished up in St Andrew Square, not in the gardens but, bizarely, pretty much in the middle of the road!  MacGillivray fumed……..but to avail.By the mid fifties, increased traffic necessitated its removal. This picture dates from 1953. Note carefully the proximate tramlines!

Gladstone Monument in St Andrews Square 1953

This time it was installed in Coates Crescent Gardens. It is re-assuring to know then, that once TIE has completed its own Monumental Work, it will be possible for followers of the MacGillivray Tourist Trail to travel entirely between grave and masterpiece by tram.  Which begs the question of whether this is a unique happenstance within the annals of Edinburgh’s excursion into 20th century public transport????!!!! For a man who saught tranquillity, at least for the last resting place for himself and his family, Macgillivrary seems to have been vigorously pursued by transport developments in general and tramlines in particular.


The “Great” part of this page’s subtitle.. the main man around these parts in the first half of the nineteenth century.

Diplomat and friend of George Washington but, going by his wife’s diaries, not averse to inveigling with the Native Americans in an attempt (as yet unsuccessful) to recover the United States for the British Empire. (More of this anon).

robert liston's obelisk


When RL acquired the lands around Gogar, and the kirkyard itself, in the early 19th century, he was at least partly motivated by the desire to build a family mausoleum in the centre of the kirkyard next to the ruined chapel. This he duly did but, having no descendants, when they came to build the church there in 1890, the mausoleum was demolished and Liston finished up with this small obelisk to the N of the church; thereby being comprehensively upstaged in the magnitude-of-headstones stakes by the local lad Thomas Grainger (q.v.) who, after all, had merely worked for him.



  1. Michelle Roberts Says:

    Many, many thanks to Chris for taking time out of his busy day to take complete strangers on a tour around the graveyard where his workplace is situated. I volunteer for a website, where I photograph graveyards when the weather permits, but have never been met with such friendliness and my own personal tour of a graveyard – and such a friendly dog! When so often you get the feeling you’re intruding in these tiny, out of the way graveyards, Chris made me and my Dad feel welcome.

  2. Macgillivray fan Says:

    Just to let you know that the statue of John Knox at New College is NOT by Macgillivray!

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