Images from the Aberdeen University image store. The first 5 images are from 1877, the last image is from 1904.

Note (in the second image) the large fruit/vegetable garden to the left of the buildings, and the greenhouse to the left of that.

Note the side of the South College building, no protruding window, that was added later.

Also note in the second last image, there is a building behind the South College, where the current Annexe stands.  This spot appears to have hosted different buildings over the years.

Selection of images from various sources.  Note that the building to the rear of the south college in the 1939 photograph now looks like a larger wooden structure different from the hint of the building in the 1877 photograph.

1st Image – 1876 Consecration of church as a Cathedral (no larger version is available).

2nd image – 1878 – no larger version available, 3rd image – 1889,

4th image – 1893, 5th image – 1904, 6th image – 1908, 7th image – 1908

8th image – 1939

The Cumbrae College Calendar

The Cumbrae College Calendar was a publication by the Cathedral clergy that was in essence a calendar of religious events for the coming year, printed locally at the Garrison Press.  It also contains general descriptions of the local area, along with descriptions of the Cathedral itself and the land upon which it sits.

The 1878 version contains a notice of the “Deed of Cathederization” by George Richard, Bishop of Argyll and the Isles. The 1878 Calendar also contains an advert by local photograph David Alexander. The College Calendars linked to here are from the Google digitization project. The Cathedral itself holds a paper copy of one of the calendars.

1872 Cumbrae College Calendar click here.

1873-74 Cumbrae College Calendar click here.

1878 Cumbrae College Calendar click here.


Collegiate Church and College

Another google digitization project book. This book contains the minutes of a meeting: “Special meeting of the Chapter” of the Collegiate Church and College, July 30 and 31 1874.

The minutes talk about dwindling congregations and in areas of strong church going, a lack of ministers, the minutes set out the Bishop’s vision for addressing these issues.

“For this purpose Cumbrae must become what it was intended to be – a Missionary College. That must be its primary aim.
It may do much in the Educational department. I hope and trust it will. In so far as it trains young men for the Ministry of the Church it is of course strictly carrying out the first principles of a Missionary College.
The education of choristers may work to the same end, and I for one fully recognize the value of the Long Vacation Students, and believe that under certain limitations their encouragement may be a great help to our proper work , but first and foremost I suggest that there shall be at least four Missionary Clergy, including the Provost, and that one at least of them shall always be a Gaelic- speaking Priest, one who can go about, preaching, and ministering the Sacraments among those Gaelic speaking congregations, in whom your late Bishop took such a warm and loving interest.”

Collegiate Church and College – Special Meeting of the Chapter 1874 – Click here.


The High Price of Heaven

The High Price of Heaven – The 6th Earl of Glasgow and the College of the Holy Spirit on the Isle of Cumbrae by Micheal Moss, appears in the journal Architectural Heritage, November 2011, vo. 22, No. 1 : pp. 77-98.

Abstract. “On a wild and stormy Whitsunday, 8 June 1851, the Chapel of the College of the Holy Spirit was opened for worship with the Provost, the Reverend George Cosby White, late warden of the House of Charity St Anne’s Soho, as celebrant. He was a close friend and collaborator of Henry Manning, who had recently converted to Roman Catholicism and was to become a Cardinal. The resident Canons Reverend A. Wilson and the Reverend F. H. Freeth of University College Durham assisted. Celebrations continued for the next two days, with several Episcopal clergy coming to visit the spectacular new buildings that had been designed by the architect William Butterfield.”

An article profiling the life of George Frederick Boyle and the Cathedral of the Isles.  Link to the article archive (unfortunately you have to pay for a copy of the article, or if you are a student, you can obtain access via your university access). Click here for link.


From a “High Price of Heaven” “An artist’s impression of the Collegiate church of the Holy Spirit on Isle of Cumbrae, probably by Butterfield. (Courtesy of the Earl of Glasgow)”

Excerpt  “The College, which was not yet complete, had taken three years to build and was modelled on an Augustinian community of missionary priests and, as the name implies, a place where potential candidates for ordination could be taught. By June 1851 the church and the south wing with accommodation for a Provost and clergy, along with three senior and six junior students, had been finished. The other wing, which was completed in October, was to accommodate sixteen boy choristers. The buildings were reportedly in the ‘second pointed style’ with the screen the most striking feature. “

Imperial Gazetteer of Scotland

Extracts from the “1868 – Imperial gazeteer of Scotland, or, Dictionary of Scottish topography” from the National Library of Scotland.

“Compiled from the most recent authorities, and forming a complete body of Scottish geography, physical, statistical, and historical. Edited by the Rev. John Marius Wilson. Illustrated with a complete county atlas, various chorographical maps, plans of ports, harbours, and interesting views. London: A. Fullarton & Co., [n.d.]. 2 volumes. Title page verso in Volume 1: Edinburgh: Fullarton and MacNab, Printers, Leith Walk.”

The entries for Cumbrae and Millport have been extracted from the above archive which is held in image form and run through a conversion program to convert them into text, therefore there may be odd little errors within the text due to the conversion process.

Entry for Cumbray (Cumbrae) – click here.

Entry for Millport – Click here.

Excerpt from 1868 gazetteer  “There is an Episcopalian church, called St. Andrew’s chapel. There is likewise an Episcopalian Collegiate church, built in 1851, situated near the Priory, a seat of the Earl of Glasgow, and founded for a provost, a canon, and five honorary canons.”

Link to 1868 Gazetteer https://digital.nls.uk/gazetteers-of-scotland-1803-1901/archive/97491773

Millport and Cumbrae (Cumbray) are also have entries in the 1842 Gazetteer https://digital.nls.uk/gazetteers-of-scotland-1803-1901/archive/97491772

Link to list of gazetteers https://digital.nls.uk/gazetteers-of-scotland-1803-1901/archive/97491608

1825 Entry “MILNPORT , a small village on the W. side of the isle of the greater Cambray, with a good harbour.”  Note the spellings of Millport and Cumbrae ! In the Cambray entry is is also referred to as Cimbraes and “Population 505“.

1806 Cambray, Cumbray, Cimbraes “There is plenty of limestone, and an inexhaustible fund of excellent freestone, of which last there is exported to theh value of 200l. per annum.” “Population in 1794 509” “Milnport; a small village on the S.W. side of the isle of the Greater Cambray. It is pleasantly situated andn has a commodious dry harbour, where vessels of conisderable burden can unload, or take in cargoes. There is also safe anchoring ground, sheltered by a rocky island. The village contains about 250 inhabitants.”

Internet Links

University of Dundee’s Archive Collection

Collection MS 54 – College and Collegiate Church of The Holy Spirit, Isle of Cumbrae.  About the collection :-

“In 1848 the Honourable George Frederick Boyle (later 6th Earl of Glasgow) set up a choir school attached to the Church of St. Andrews, Millport. In 1849 Boyle founded and endowed the Episcopal College and Collegiate Church of the Holy Spirit, Cumbrae which was completed in 1851 to plans by William Butterfield. The College was consolidated in the 1860s and affiliated to the University of Durham as Cumbrae Theological College. In 1879 the Collegiate Church was elevated to the status of Cathedral of Argyll and the Isles. It closed in 1888, and between 1919 and 1927 the buildings housed the Community of St Andrew of Scotland.”

Mainly an archive of historical documents relating to the College and Cathedral, including collection of letters by the founder George Frederick Boyle, letters from Provost’s and Bishops, and letters on the constitution and statutes.

The Dundee archive also contains copies of the Cumbrae College Calendar for the years 1865, 1870, 1875, 1877 and 1878.

Note most of the Dundee archive cannot be accessed on-line but you can request copies (at a cost one assumes).


University of St Andrew’s Archive

Mainly photographs of the Cathedral, change the search terms to try and track down other photographs of interest.