The Cathedral of The Isles and the College of the Holy Spirit owe their existence to the Founder, Hon. G. F. Boyle (later 6th Earl of Glasgow) whose vision was to establish on Cumbrae a Collegiate Church (later Cathedral) on a model advocated by the Oxford Movement. The buildings (1851) were designed by the renowned architect, William Butterfield, whose other works include Keble College, Oxford, All Saints Margaret Street, London and St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne.
The Cathedral is the smallest in Britain (the nave seating just 80 people) and an architectural gem. Beautifully proportioned, it has fine examples of the richly-coloured encaustic tiles and stained glass windows typical of the Gothic style embraced by the Oxford Movement. The chancel ceiling depicts the island’s ferns and wild flowers. Historic vestments and Communion plate are used on special occasions. Symbolism of the Holy Spirit and the Trinity are found repeatedly throughout the Cathedral buildings, inside and out.
The Cathedral is the place of worship for St Andrew’s Episcopal Congregation, and retains its status as one of the two Cathedrals of the Diocese of Argyll and The Isles, the Cathedral of St John the Divine in Oban being the other. It has a rich tradition of liturgical and secular music-making, a fine collection of instruments, and musicians who come from near and far to support us. Within its modest resources the Cathedral continues to do all it can to live up to its origins as a Collegiate Church, aiming to maintain the highest standards of worship.
The College which adjoins the Cathedral, was for many years a residential theological college serving, inter alia, the needs of the Gaelic ministry. North College was originally the Choristers’ house and South College the Canons’ house.