I’ll be the first to admit that until I’d read Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, I’d never heard of Rosslyn Chapel, and although the book had its critics, it obviously captured the imagination of plenty of other people too.
When the book was written in 2003 the chapel was receiving around 45,000 visitors a year, but in 2004 the numbers were nearer to 70,000, and by the time the film had come out the annual figure had shot up to 159,000.
All this extra interest had substantial financial benefits for the chapel and the St. Clair family who own it, but it also had some drawbacks as well, one of which was the banning of photography inside the chapel to prevent inconvenience to others.
To be fair, it is a fairly confined space and the restrictions are understandable in a way, but for somebody like me it’s a big disappointment because I can’t show you the interior of this magnificent building.
“A picture paints a thousand words” as they say, and I could have taken scores of pictures in here, but as I’m someone who need a thousand words to describe something that should be said in just a few, you can see the problem that I have.
Whilst I can’t describe everything about this wonderful 15th century building, I’ll restrict myself to what I can remember – and the thing I remember the most is the Apprentice Pillar.
The interior is embellished with some unbelievable stonework, but the Apprentice Pillar is the most outstanding.
There’s a story attached to this work of art, in which the Master Craftsman was asked to produce a pillar to a specified drawing by Sir William St. Clair. Whilst he was away checking it all out, his apprentice duly got on with the job in hand and produced this magnificent piece of ornate stonework.
You would think, would you not, that that the Master Craftsman would be pleased with his apprentice’s ability to cover his back while he was away, but it had the opposite effect. In fact, he was so annoyed at being upstaged, that apparently, he dealt him a fatal blow to the head for his efforts. I know only too well how unthankful tradesmen can be to apprentices, but I can’t remember it ever going that far.
Rosslyn Chapel has been in the St. Clair family since its foundation in 1446 and today is under the guidance of the Rosslyn Chapel Trust.
Whatever people think about the Da Vinci Code, there’s no denying that it has been a boon for the survival of this architectural gem. The extra revenue has enabled the Trust to carry out important conservation work so that future generations can enjoy its beauty and craftsmanship for years to come.
I was tempted not to write an article about Rosslyn Chapel as I didn’t think it would be of much use without being able to show people what the interior looked like, but in the end I decided to go ahead regardless, as it’s somewhere you should come and see if at all possible.
Rosslyn Chapel is located in the small village of Roslin, Midlothian, and to get there we caught Lothian bus number 37 from Princes Street (towards Penicuik) which takes around 45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic.
For more information follow the link below.