About Us

In 1992 a group of local citizens, concerned about the condition, both inside and out, of the building and the murals, formed Friends of Mansfield Place Church (now known as Friends of the Mansfield Traquair Centre).

We are a voluntary organisation and registered charity with members mostly drawn from Edinburgh and the surrounding areas but we also have supporters from all over the UK and from overseas.

Our trained guides are on duty on Open Days, offer tours to visitors, answer questions and manage the sales desk. We also provide guides for prearranged private tours and can provide a speaker for local organisations. We produce an annual newsletter and arrange an outing each summer to a place of interest for our members.

We are always looking for new volunteers who would enjoy helping others appreciate the wonderful murals.

‘Edinburgh’s Sistine Chapel’

The building is the work of Robert Rowand Anderson, one of the greatest architects of the Victorian era, who was commissioned in 1872 by the ‘apostles’ or governors of the Catholic Apostolic Church, to erect a new building suitable for their form of worship. The building, in a neo-Romanesque style, was completed by 1885. The vast barrel-vaulted nave has no aisles, allowing the congregation an uninterrupted view of the elaborate and colourful ritual of the Catholic Apostolic services. 

However, what really makes it unique is the spectacular mural decoration which enriches every part of the interior. Painted between 1893 and 1901 by Edinburgh’s leading Arts & Crafts artist Phoebe Anna Traquair, it was designed to enhance a worshipper’s experience. The building is filled with narrative scenes from both the Old and New Testaments including the Parable of the Ten Virgins. The Great West Wall, more than twenty metres in height, illustrates the Second Coming of Christ at the end of time, a core belief of the Church.

Inspired by both the Italian Renaissance and recent Pre-Raphaelite art, Traquair adapted her style and materials to each space. Gold leaf over gesso plaster was used for angels’ trumpets, haloes and the glorious decorative borders which complete many panels. As an art critic writing in the late 1890s noted, it ‘scintillates and glows like a jewelled crown’.

Further information and useful links to other Traquair works in Edinburgh

The Mansfield Traquair Trust was formed in 1993 in response to public concern about the deterioration of the condition of the former Catholic Apostolic Church in Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, damage to Phoebe Anna Traquair’s murals and the lack of an acceptable or viable use for the building. Visit their website for more information about the building, the murals and the restoration.


Further mural works by Phoebe Anna Traquair can also be found at The Song School of St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral.  These depict various scenes from the gospels together with illustrations of various biblical songs and portraits of the choir, clergy and various famous people of the day, including poets, artists and historians.

Phoebe Anna Traquair was a prodigiously talented artist in many media besides mural painting.  At the Scottish National Gallery you can see illuminated manuscripts, various works on paper and a superb series of four huge embroideries in silk and gold threads.

More illuminated manuscripts and embroideries are held in the National Museum of Scotland, together with enamel work, jewellery, bookbinding and even a painted piano.

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