Churches - Gary Cook

Thistle Chapel.

Thistle Chapel. The Thistle Chapel sits in a quiet corner of Saint Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Cathedral of Saint Giles has origins dating back to the 12th century, but the Thistle Chapel itself originates from the 19th century. The Chapel has the most intricate wood carving I have ever seen in a place of worship. The craftsmanship is quite wonderful. The Chapel is dedicated to the Order of the Thistle, the foremost order of chivalry in Scotland, founded by King James VII in 1687. The walls are decorated with the shields and emblems of the knights of the order, dating back from 1687 to the present day.
Now the sad part. When I first visited the Chapel it was freely open to the public. Today, it can only be accessed during one of the prescribed accompanied tours. The reason? The Chapel has been desecrated several times by theft of emblems and wood carvings. These historical artifacts have be wrenched from the walls of the Chapel as “souvenirs” by people who have no respect for history, chivalry or culture. The guide who showed me around was almost shaking in rage as he recounted these events. I was left utterly speechless as I cannot comprehend how someone who has sufficient interest to visit a historical monument, yet in the same breath can have so little regard for their surrounds, or for their own actions.
But it’s still a beautiful place. If you visit Edinburgh, be sure to see the Thistle Chapel in the Cathedral of Saint Giles.