The Earl Haig Banner

In 1928, Dr Charles Warr, Minister of St Giles’, decided to change the Chambers Memorial Aisle into a Chapel of Youth. This had been suggested by his predecessor’s daughter, Verona Wallace Williamson, who was much involved with the Girl Guides. The idea was that the banners of the Guides, the YWCA, the Boy Scouts and various other Edinburgh youth organisations should be laid up there.

The widow of Douglas, 1st Earl Haig, agreed WIN_20160129_10_02_07_Proto donate her late husband’s banner as Knight Grand Cross Order of the Bath, to be hung there too. He had been Commander of the British Expeditionary Force from 1915-18 during World War I, and after he was knighted in 1919 his banner had hung in Westminster Abbey until his death in January 1928. His coffin lay in state there and then for three days in St Giles’ Cathedral, before being buried at Dryburgh Abbey.

The interior of the Chambers Aisle was re-designed by Sir Robert Lorimer. Haig’s 10-year-old son, George, 2nd Earl Haig, formally opened the gates of the Chapel of Youth on 28 December 1929, and carried in the banner. His father in his retirement had devoted himself to the welfare of ex-servicemen, and a press report of the occasion remarked that his strong advocacy of peace was being advanced by the youth of the country, so this was an appropriate place for the banner to rest.