St John’s – Early History
St John’s today can claim descent from the mediaeval burghal church of St Nicholas: in 1693 Dr George Garden, the first Rector of St John’s, was ejected from the second charge of the East Kirk of St Nicholas for refusing to conform to the Presbyterian establishment. Those of his congregation who still adhered to Episcopacy left with him. In 1720, after five years in exile, he returned to Aberdeen and gathered the remnants of his congregation together. This was the real beginning of St John’s Church.
Initially, the little congregation worshipped in a chapel in the Clergyman’s house. However, after the repeal of the Penal Laws in 1792, they prospered and, in 1806 built a church in Golden Square. It was dedicated to St John the Evangelist and was said to be a handsome edifice with a spire. The Rev. Patrick Cheyne was the driving force behind the move to Crown Terrace and the foundation stone of the present beautiful building was laid on 20th November 1849. The church was consecrated and opened for workship by the Primus, Bishop William Skinner, on 6th May 1851.
Two other city churches may be regarded as daughter churches of St John’s. Mr Cheyne’s successor, the Rev. Frederick G Lee left, with his supporters, to form a new congregation and they built St Mary’s, Carden Place. His successor was the the Rev. John Comper. He left St John’s to start a mission in the Gallowgate from which St Margaret’s Church evolved.
The architects were Messrs. Matthew and Mackenzie and the building in the early Decorated Style, prevalent at the beginning of the fourteenth century. The windows have geometrical tracery. When the church was consecrated only the chancel, nave and south aisle had been completed, the north aisle was added in 1898 and the tower was not completed until 1913. The walls were built of hammer-dressed Aberdeen granite but the dressings at the quoins and voids are in freestone from Burntisland. The nave roof is timber and the sedilia, piscine and altar are made from Caen stone (the present altar cover the stone altar), the fine shelly limestone from Normandy, was often used in mediaeval buildings.
Right Image: St John’s Church Aberdeen Ceiling Organ