In December 1917, when General Allenby entered the Old City of Jerusalem on foot through the Jaffa Gate, British rule over Palestine began.
The British, who governed first by military government, and then later by Mandatory administration (until the declaration of Israel State in 1948), set up their administrative centre for the country in Jerusalem. During these years, Jerusalem began its transformation from a provincial town of the Ottoman era to a modern administrative, political, religious and cultural centre.
Building activity began almost immediately and Jerusalem expanded to the north, south and west. The British determined the municipal zones, commercial areas, density of construction, use of materials and height of buildings. Perhaps their most influential contribution to the character of architecture in Jerusalem was a municipal ordinance which remains in effect to this day requiring all new buildings to be faced with stone, giving a certain romantic quality to the buildings.
While much of the public building in Jerusalem was best assignment writing service is here initiated and financed by Jewish organizations, the British constructed Government House (the residence of the High Commissioner), St Andrew’s Church, the Central Post Office and the Government Printing House. (From an article on Architecture in the British Mandate period by Lili Eylon).
One writer describes St Andrew’s as follows: “The clean, plain lines of St Andrew’s Scots Memorial Church and Hospice standing on the edge of the Valley of Hinnom evoke images of a Highland castle and keep”.
This is appropriate since the Church was built as a memorial to Scottish soldiers who fell fighting in this region during World War I. The Church was built in 1927 to the design of Clifford Holiday. The large, Crusader-style windows in the sanctuary use small, round panels of blue Hebron glass.
The building is a mixture of oriental and western elements. Some of the distinguishing features of the building reflect that of another building, Government House, designed by the architects A. Harrison and C. Holliday, including the beautiful Armenian tiles outside the entrance to the Guest House, the Church and the Veranda.
These were created by David Ohanessian (1884-1953) in his Dome of the Rock Workshop on the Via Dolorosa. During more recent years, excavations have revealed archaeological finds both in the Loggia (a roofed arcade or gallery with open sides stretching along the front or side of a building; often at an upper level) of St Andrew’s, and more recently on the land immediately in front of the grounds of St Andrew’s. Some of these further discoveries can be seen from the driveway and parking area for the Guesthouse and Church. The site of St Andrew’s has meant that it is an architectural landmark, even in the significant skyline of Jerusalem. The spacious public rooms give a feeling of tranquillity.
There is an unforgettable view of the Old City from the veranda. The whole building, Church and Guesthouse together, is a lasting tribute to the generous response of the parishes and people of Scotland and to the vision of the architect, Clifford Holliday (who also designed the Rockefeller Museum in East Jerusalem).
The St Andrew’s Church and Guest House are part of the Church of Scotland, a Christian denomination in the Reformed, Presbyterian, and Protestant tradition.
Back in Scotland the feeling grew that there should be some fitting memorial and in January 1918, not long after the capture of Jerusalem, Ninian Hill, a ship owner and Kirk elder from Edinburgh, proposed that a Scottish Church should be built in Jerusalem to act as a war memorial.
This gained widespread support and the money was raised through a nationwide campaign; and on May 7th 1927, the now Field Marshall Lord Allenby laid the foundation stone (which can still be seen outside, at the corner of the steps) on a lofty site across the Hinnom Valley, from Mount Zion.
The Church, with its accompanying Hospice, was dedicated in 1930, with Ninian Hill being introduced as the first minister of the Church. From its inception the hospice has been a popular temporary home for those in the sizeable Scottish population who lived and worked in Jerusalem during the years of the British Mandate.
An Israeli lady who arrived in Jerusalem in 1933 remembers the hospice as the place to stay and as being very upmarket; The Lady Warden at that time, Mrs Macrae, ruled the hospice with a firm but kindly hand. Dress had to be formal in the dining room and was compatible with military life. Ties and long trousers were compulsory, regardless of temperature. In the vestry there is a splendidly evocative photograph of the 2nd Battalion, the Cameron Highlanders, on church parade, kilts, pipes and drums and pith helmets which give us some understanding as to the lifestyle presided over by the lady wardens of pre-Second World War days.
The character of St Andrew’s changed dramatically in 1947/48 with the end of the British Mandate and the establishment of the State of Israel and the associated war, which led to a division of both Jerusalem and the Holy Land. The Scottish population of the city plummeted with the withdrawal of the British military administration and St Andrew’s found itself just on the western side of the Green line that divided the city, cut off from most of Jerusalem Christian community and the majority of the Holy sites, which were in the part of the city controlled by Jordan. The minister of St Andrew’s used to ring St Bride’s bell at a fixed time each day to indicate that he was still alive; there was no more conventional contact between East and West Jerusalem.
The hospice during this time was operating only intermittently. The Rev Clark Kerr, who was in charge, was often the only person at church for the Sunday morning service. On his departure, the Church and hospice were left in the care of the sometime Session Clerk and Treasurer, a former policeman and foundation member of St Andrew’s named Mr John Reid who volunteered as guardian while his wife Mary worked as Lady Warden of the hospice. With the Rev Hall they maintained worship at a time when this proved to be of great spiritual and religious value, and Mrs Reid relied on her resourcefulness to keep the hospice serviceable and prevent it from falling into complete disrepair.. Mr Reid was awarded an MBE for his efforts, a recognition which reflected also the innumerable services to the Church of Mrs Reid and their children Melville, Mary and Catherine, through this time of political turmoil, acute danger, and socio-economic problems. In 1955 the Rev and Mrs William Gardiner Scott took over the care of the Church and hospice.
Bill and Darinka recorded that the hospice was a terrible mess. Junk was stored everywhere, rooms had been let out to missionaries, orange boxes were piled high to the ceiling, only primus stoves were available for cooking and laundry had to be washed in large metal tubs heated over stoves on the floor. As reliable domestic staff proved difficult, so the Gardiner Scott’s did most of the work themselves.
During the 1967 Six Day War, St Andrew’s was placed in a dangerous position as it was in the firing line between the Israeli and Jordanian forces and the bullet marks on the outside of the building still bear witness to the fierce fighting that took place.
Although there were other wardens that took their turn at St Andrew’s, the Gardiner Scott’s came back for a second stint and soon faced the short but grim Six Day War. Catering for the hospice guests (plus eight people who had been decanted from the British Consulate) was, to say the least, difficult. The result of the Six Day War was that Jerusalem was once again physically, if not socially united, with access again to the Holy sites and the wider Christian community.
As a result there was a considerable increase in the pilgrim traffic coming to the Church and Hospice and while there continued to be a small local congregation, made up of Palestinian and expatriate Christians living in the city, a ministry to Pilgrims became the central focus of St Andrew’s.
In recent years, the Church of Scotland, through its local congregation at St Andrew’s and at the level of its World Mission Council, has become conscious of the need not only to minister to pilgrims from overseas, but also to engage more fully with the people and problems of this troubled land.
As a result several steps have been taken, including the creation of two formal partnerships between the Church of Scotland and, the Diocese of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and another with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.
The Church is seeking to develop a greater educational emphasis, by organising programmes and alternative pilgrimages that will enable visitors to meet local people, especially local Christians, and so deepen their understanding of the contemporary problems of the Holy Land.
Sunbula, a non-profit organisation which markets handicrafts from self-supporting women’s groups was located at St Andrew’s in 1988, founded on principles of justice and fair-trading. The organisation has a shop in the Guesthouse which is open to visitors and guests at specific times of the day.