The history of Carrubbers


Carrubbers Close Mission was founded in 1858 in Carrubbers Close, an alley leading off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. It met in an old theatre, which came to be known as the Whitefield Chapel as George Whitefield had preached there but was originally known as “the celebrated cathedral of the prince of darkness”!’ The area around the Royal Mile was one of deep social deprivation and the mission was originally founded to reach out to children in the area, providing a Sabbath school for them but would grow to include all ages in its scope. The mission was founded by the Rev. James Gall, who was assisted by Alexander Jenkinson, who ran the Edinburgh and Leith Flint Glass Company, which was later known as “The Edinburgh Crystal Glass Company” and manufactured the cut glass known as Edinburgh Crystal, one of a series of public figures to be associated with the mission.

In 1859, a great evangelical revival occurred in Scotland, of which Carrubbers Close Mission was at the centre. From then and well into the twentieth century, daily evangelistic services took place at the mission.

These efforts had a significant social impact. Public records for the period 1859-1865 indicate the numbers of people arrested for drunkenness fell by half.


The reputation of Carrubbers Close Mission spread quickly and came to the attention of Dwight L Moddy [DL Moody], the American evangelist. He visited the mission and was impressed by what he saw. The same year the Whitefield Chapel was demolished and the mission found itself without a home. It would not have a permanent location until 1884. Moody approached Sir Alexander Simpson, then the President of the Mission. Simpson was a distinguished physician and Professor of Midwifery at Edinburgh University, who invested the obstetrics forceps and was the nephew of James Young Simpson [James Young Simpson] who demonstrated the anesthetic properties of chloroform. At Moody’s behest they hired a horse and cart and went through the streets collecting money for the mission. The fund raising effort raised around £10,000 (around £1m in today’s money).


In 1883, Moody laid the foundation stone of what is now 65 Hight Street. Beneath the foundation stone, he depositied a jar in the foundation containing a Bible, a history of the Mission, coins of the realm and the Edinburgh newspapers of the day. The placing of the Bible under the cornerstone would set the tone for the culture of the mission, which to this day seeks to reach and Honour the World of God faithfully. Horatious Bonar, the hymnwriter, attended the ceremony and led in prayer.


The work of the mission continued over the next hundred and more years, spanning two world wars and hosting a number of famous evangelists, including Major Daniel Whittle, The story of Whittle’s conversion during the American Civil War and subsequent ministry can be found her. Other visiting evangelists include Billy Graham and local men Jock Toop and Seth Sykes. The American connect was maintained by the appointment of Wayne Sutton as Youth Pastor in XXXX. Wayne is now the Senior Pastor of the church.

It was during the 1980s that the mission evolved from being an inter-church mission to being an independent evangelical church, although the DNA of the old mission still continues with outreaches such as More Than a Meal and Soul Food, which continue the proud tradition of supporting and sharing the Gospel with those suffering from food poverty, homelessness and loneliness.


The church had reached a nadir by the late 1980s, with few members. However, those who were left did not lack for vision and in December 1987 they bagan to pray for funding to renovate the building. The story of this time is recounted in Eric Scott’s 150 years of Carrubbers Christian Centre from which many of the details on this page are also derived. Over the course of a number of years, the building was renovated to leave it substantially as it is today. That renovation has served the church very well in the intervening years but now there is a new vision to refresh the church building and bring it up to standard for Gospel ministry and outreach for the new century.

2023 onwards

Now we look to the next 140 years in this building………..

If you are interested in finding out more about the architectural detail of the building, you will find its listing details at

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