History II

The Good Shepherd Window
The Good Shepherd Window

The first thing that the 5th Duke of Richmond did on taking possession of the chapel was to consult the Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness, the Right Reverend Robert Eden (later Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church) about the future of the chapel.  Together they agreed on the appointment of the Reverend Thomas Ferguson Creery as Rector and Chaplain.  The Chapel was formally re-opened on Sunday, October 25th, 1852.  Bishop Eden delivered the sermon.

The Reverend Mr Creery remained at Fochabers for only three years.  In 1855, the Reverend William Christie came to the chapel as incumbent.  He had previously been incumbent at Buckie.  William Christie was to remain at Gordon Chapel for the next thirty years for many of which he was also Dean of the Diocese.  Dean Christie and 6th Duke of Richmond (who succeeded his father in 1860) are largely responsible for the chapel as we see it today.

It seems likely that Dean Christie persuaded the Duke of the need for complete restoration of the chapel.  In the event the Duke went much further.  The flat ceiling was replaced with the present pitched one, enabling the inserting of the Rose window on the East wall.  The stairs which had led directly from the West door to the chapel itself were relocated to the purpose built wing at the side.  The tall central pulpit and the high enclosed pews were banished.  A new pulpit and matching reading desk, together with a wrought-iron and brass communion rail were placed at the front of the sanctuary whilst the lower part of the East wall, behind the altar, were covered with painted canvas.  The architect employed to undertake the work was Alexander Ross who would go on to design St Margaret’s, Aberlour and the Orphanage buildings for Canon Jupp and Miss Macpherson Grant.

It was at this time that the first of the Burne-Jones windows (the Rose and the three lancets) were installed.  These windows have no dedicatory inscriptions.  It has been suggested that they may be dedicated either to Elizabeth Brodie Duchess of Gordon (who had died in 1864) or Caroline Paget, Duchess of Richmond (who had died in March 1874 and was the widow of the 5th Duke).  Additionally, a new organ was also inserted below the West window.  It was played by the Countess of March at the rededication service conducted by the Bishop of Rochester on Sunday, September 13th, 1874.  The Duke paid for the full cost of the alterations, some £2,000.

Further windows were added after the deaths of the Countess of March and the Duchess of Richmond and Gordon.  In 1898, the 6th Duke attempted to secure the future of the chapel for all time.  With the Bishop of Moray, the Right Reverend J.B.K. Kelly, he agreed a Constitution for the chapel which stated that the Duke and his successors owned the Chapel and would undertake all repairs to it and would pay the stipend of the incumbent at a rate agreed with the Bishop.  The Constitution finally drew the chapel fully into the Episcopal Church of Scotland.  The 6th Duke died at Gordon Castle on September 27th 1903 (he was the only Duke of Richmond to die at Gordon Castle and was remembered with prayers in Gordon Chapel).  The following year he was commemorated in the Chapel with the installation of the Good Shepherd window.  At the same time, the safe return from the South African war of members of the Gordon Lennox family was commemorated by the St Raphael window.

The Gordon Lennox family would reside at the Castle throughout the late summer and autumn, although during the 7th Duke’s reign the castle was often extensively used at other times of the year.  The family would come across the park on Sunday mornings to the chapel.  They had their own private entrance and stairway (now removed) and would make their way to the ‘Castle Pew’ (traditionally the front two on the left of the aisle).  The 7th Duke would invariably be accompanied by his redoubtable sister, Lady Caroline Gordon Lennox. This contented situation was destined to come to an end in 1928 when the 7th Duke died.  Interestingly, this most beloved of Dukes was not commemorated by a window but by the addition of an inscription to the memorial tablet to the right of the altar.   Following the death of the 7th Duke it became apparent to his successor that it was impossible to maintain the family’s financial commitments, in particular the payment of a salary to the Rector.  Consequently, Mr Atthill (who had only taken up his post in 1926) left and Gordon Chapel ceased to have its own incumbent.