St. Andrew’s Cathedral, situated south of the Ness Bridge in Inverness, is a grand testament to faith and architectural innovation. Completed in 1869 and consecrated in 1874, it was envisioned by Robert Eden, who became the Bishop of Moray and Ross in 1851 and Primus in 1862. After adding Caitlmess to the Diocese in 1864, Bishop Eden moved to Inverness, believing it to be a more suitable centre for the Diocese.
Bishop Eden's desire to build a Cathedral in Inverness was an ambitious task. A man of great faith, enthusiasm, and energy, he managed to rally support not only from Episcopalians but also from others in the community. Dr Alexander Ross, often referred to as the Christopher Wren of the Highlands, was soon appointed as the architect, and the design underwent several iterations.
The contract drawings, dated 1866, depict the Cathedral more or less as it stands today, although with added spires. The towers rise to a height of 100 feet, and the spires would have extended another 100 feet. An early plan, found on linen drawings, revealed an even more grand design, but financial constraints led to scaling back. This original vision included a semi-circular apse with ambulatory and flying buttresses, with the choir extending 54 feet beyond its current length.
The Cathedral, designed in the Gothic Revival style, showcases nave arcades supported by polished granite columns, arches with clerestory windows above, and a nave roof adorned with scissors trusses and wood-lined ceilings. A cast-iron flèche that had been removed in 1963 for structural reasons was replaced by a copper Celtic cross.
Of particular interest are the horse and wheel sculptures outside the transept window facing the river. These commemorate a horse that was killed by a falling stone, a tragic accident that occurred during the lifting of rocks by a pulley and horizontal wheel. Inside the Cathedral, sculptured heads, including those of St. Margaret, King Charles I, Dr. Ross, and Bishop Eden, add character and history to the space. The altar and reredos are crafted from coloured marble and tiles, and the Cathedral houses several intriguing memorials.
Among the Cathedral's features are eleven bells, ten hung for ringing and one for tolling, restored as a memorial to Bishop Maclnnes. These bells can also be chimed. In addition, Eden Court, built just after the Cathedral, served as the residence for the Bishops and now forms part of Eden Court Theatre, housing offices and rooms for small gatherings and rehearsals. The impressive Cathedral is a timeless piece of Inverness's rich architectural heritage and a living tribute to the faith and vision of those who conceived and built it.