The Preston Aisle Holy Table
Standing in the Preston Aisle of St Giles’ is an elaborate and colourful Communion Table designed by the famous Scottish architect Sir Robert Lorimer. It is carved from solid oak and the central panel shows the Lamb of God, a well-known symbol for Jesus Christ. The other bays have angels carrying shields carved with the symbols of Christ’s Passion, and St Giles himself on a panel at the back. The gift of an anonymous member of the congregation, the Table was made by Nathaniel Grieve, with a modeller, probably Louis Reid Deuchars, supplying models of the figures.
The Table was placed under the East Window of St Giles’, and dedicated on Christmas Day 1911. In 1953 it was lengthened for a very special service, the end panels being incorporated in the front by the firm of Scott Morton. The National Service of Dedication and Thanksgiving on 24 June marked Queen Elizabeth II’s first visit to Scotland after her coronation. The Scottish crown jewels – the crown, sword and sceptre – were carried through the streets of Edinburgh before her in the carriage procession to St Giles’, and displayed on the Table. At the end of the service, Dr Warr, the Minister of the Cathedral, solemnly handed them to Her Majesty, who returned them to their aristocratic bearers. They carried them in front of her once more when her procession left St Giles’. This historic occasion was televised.
In the early 1980s it was decided to move the Holy Table to the centre of St Giles’, but its long, rectangular shape was not suitable for that space. It was therefore replaced, and transferred to the Preston Aisle instead.