THE MACKINTOSH CHURCH
Queens Cross Church aptly labelled as ‘The Mackintosh Church’ in the Maryhill area of Glasgow was commissioned in 1896 as St Mathew’s Church by the Free Church of Scotland. Designed by Honeyman & Keppie’s most renowned Architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, this stunningly beautiful place of worship opened for services on 10 September 1899.
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St Mathew’s is the only Mackintosh Church to be built anywhere and today, it is restored to its late Victorian splendour. The building project commenced when Mackintosh was capable of leading projects form start to finish without Senior Architects intervening and removing his distinctive and extravagant design features. Work on this remarkable building began soon after he submitted the firm’s competition entry for his most celebrated Glasgow building, Glasgow School of Art.
The Mackintosh Church is a complete contrast to many Glasgow churches of its time, featuring a rather short tower as opposed to the tall soaring spires dotted around the city. Mackintosh was inspired by the church at Merriot in Somerset, England and his design of the south-west tower of St Mathew’s Church in Queens Cross was modelled on it, having visited the Somerset village in 1895. Situated on a tight corner, Rennie Mackintosh succeeds in packing a multitude of different elements in to this remarkable building that is completely asymmetrical.
Internally there is unity that is largely achieved by the most stunning timber-lined barrel vault roof, spanning the whole forty feet from the nave. Much of Mackintosh's distinctive details can be seen inside and as a bonus, visitors are invited to take photographs, which is forbidden in other Mackintosh buildings. As far as church stained glass windows are concerned, those in Queen's Cross Church are perhaps not the most ornate; however, they are typically Mackintosh and blend in with the other internal features of the church.
As a result of the decline in church membership in the second half of the 20th century, St Mathew's Church ultimately became surplus to requirements and closed its doors. Many churches in similar situations have been reduced to becoming warehouses, converted to luxury flats or have been sadly demolished. Fortunately, with increasing interest in the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, The Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society formed in 1973 in order to promote greater awareness of the work of this unique Scottish architect.
Today, Mackintosh enthusiasts may visit and relish this hidden Mackintosh monumental treasure situated in the north of the city. It is a fine example of Mackintosh's dynamic symbolism and is a must see attraction when visiting this great city of architectural and cultural contrasts.