Major Adrian Gilbert Scott and Cairo’s Lost Cathedral

Major Adrian Gilbert Scott M.C (1882 – 1963), Royal Engineers, who served in the first World War at Gallipoli and in Palestine was the grandson of Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811-1878), one of the leading English architects of the Victorian age.

In July 1928 the Egyptian government authorised the sale of a plot of land just to the north of the Kasr al-Nil barracks on the east bank of the Nile to site a new Cathedral. Major Adrian Gilbert Scott was selected as the architect. He reported, ‘The site is a very fine one and by far the best of the various ones considered. Its frontage to the Nile is a very fine asset while gardens should provide a very peaceful atmosphere rarely obtainable in a town site’.

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A foundation stone was laid on Friday 20th November 1936 and just 18 months later, on 25th April 1938 (St Marks Day – an appropriate tribute to the acknowledged founder of Christianity in Egypt), in a ceremony attended by the Architect, the Cathedral was consecrated and dedicated to All Saints.

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The peaceful atmosphere promised by the site did not last long. The Cathedral had been built on the site of a disused lock on the Ismailia Canal, long since filled in but with earth but subject to uneven settlement.

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By the 1950s cracks had started to show in the building. Relations between Britain and Egypt were strained by first Independence then the Suez affair, and no serious steps could be taken by the Church to make the necessary repairs. Meanwhile a new riverside highway, the Corniche, was created between the river and the Cathedral, with all the attendant noise and vibrations. The threat caused by traffic didn’t stop there. Further road-building plans of the Cairo Governorate involved the creation of a Ramses Bridge (since renamed the 6th October Bridge) crossing the Nile at the very site of the Cathedral itself.

The deconsecration of Gilbert Scott’s Cairo Anglican Cathedral took place on 10th February 1978, less than 40 years after the opening ceremony. The Cathedral was demolished in 1970 to make way for the building of the 6th October Bridge.

 

Sources:

http://dioceseofegypt.org/

http://grandhotelsegypt.com/

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