A Summary of the History
of the Building of
St Margaret of Scotland, Bedfordview

The Church of St Margaret of Scotland, Bedfordview, is approached from Harper Road. The first impression is of a traditional stone Anglican Church, probably built round 1900. Nothing could be further from the truth, as building on this beautiful church was started in 1981.

The miracles of St Margaret’s were an inspiration to all those who worked on the building of the Church, and will be an inspiration to all those who worship here.

The building of St. Margaret of Scotland started with the sum of R7,500.00 in the bank. With the teamwork of the community, many miracles took place while the Church began to rise. A few of the miracles which were witnessed are:

  •  The ‘koppie-klip’ stone from the Germiston Civic Centre was delivered free of charge.
  • The property on which our Church stands was made available for purchase by the Bedfordview Council.
  • For 5 years, cement arrived as a gift from a parishioner year after year, to build the main Church.
  • Cranes and riggers were lent for the erecting of the steel and scaffolding.
  • A parishioner, Iona Sleep, went to the Isle of Iona, where St. Margaret had lived, and brought back a special piece of stone which was built into the existing walls.
  • Bishop Simeon Nkwane gave us the Foundation Stone, gathered from the building of St. Mary’s Cathedral.
  • A miracle indeed that a well-built Zulu artisan, named Bethuel, joined the construction team working on the Bell Tower. While work was in progress, William, a stone mason, tripped and fell out of the archway at the top of the tower. Bethuel moved like lightening to catch William by his ankle and held him until he was rescued by the Fire Department.

The Church was financed by fundraising and generous donations from parishioners and others and was debt-free when completed.

Mac McLachlan spent many hours building the model of the Lych Gate, and the construction of the roof, held in abeyance for many years, was completed by Mark Lucas in December 2009. Most of the structural steel used was recycled, and the balance was bought new. The roof sheeting was taken from the North East corner of the existing Church roof, where this sheeting had to be replaced due to the leak over the pulpit. The Lych Gate was blessed by Bishop Brian of Johannesburg on 10th January 2010 and a Dombeya Rotundifolia (wild pear) tree was planted by the Bishop in celebration.

Standing in the Lych Gate, the view is of an impressive Church and Bell Tower connected by a covered, arched cloister that encircles the Garden of Remembrance. To the left the “cloister” effect is repeated in front of the hall and Sunday school classrooms. To the extreme left is the Rectory, which completes the Church complex.

Take a closer look at the stonework. It is of African traditional “random stone walling” constructed using “kopje-klip” (of the type found on the Primrose Kopje) chosen by architect, Thurston Raats, to have the Church blend into its surroundings. Architect Ralph Pugh later designed the hall, repeating this stonework. Ralph was also responsible for the design of the Rectory.

Enter the Church through the doors to the right of the Bell Tower.

To the right is the Chapel, small and intimate. The beautiful antique gates in front of the altar were found in an antique shop in Jeppestown and donated by Bob Bruning in memory of his wife, Barbara. The kneelers were embroidered by Pat Lucas. This chapel is the ideal setting for quiet prayer and meditation. It was in this partially completed, unroofed Chapel that St Margaret’s first baptisms took place during 1983.

From the Chapel extends the body of the Church. It is traditional in its design of nave, transepts and high vaulted ceiling, with its Gothic arch at the extreme end in which the organ pipes are housed. Departing from the traditional, the altar is located at the intersection of the nave and transept, which allows for “Worship-in-the-round”.

At the entrance to the nave is the baptismal font, built from the same stone as the Church, with a traditional African grinding stone as the basin. This stone was brought from Swaziland by Paul le Frere. The font, at the entrance to the Church, is symbolic of Baptism being our entrance into Christianity.
On the wall on either side of the nave are the 14 “Stations of the Cross”. These original plaques were designed by Annette Stork and blessed during the 25th Patronal Festival in 2001.

Sit and take a moment to contemplate the beauty of God’s house. To left and right, alcoves in the back transept walls allow for softening floral arrangements, with brass candlesticks donated by Peggy Marshall.

The walls are adorned with processional banners made by Pat Lucas. One for each discipline in the Church. The large appliquéd hangings under the Organ Pipes were made by Margot Swan, Pat Lucas and Marguerite Sheffield, and are changed according to the seasons of the biblical calendar.

The organ pipes come from a church near Bradford in England, and were shipped to us for use in the Church. No church is complete without a “Church Mouse” and if you look carefully, on the ledge under the organ pipes, is our Church Mouse (made by Gail Cridlan). Traditionally, organ mice collect dropped cents!

The choir stalls and Bradford organ are behind the altar. Music at St Margaret’s has been a long-standing tradition since the Church was built. The acoustics were designed for this purpose.

The eye travels upwards to the vast wooden ceiling, varnished form high scaffolding by parishioners. The wood used in this ceiling, land end-to-end would stretch from the Johannesburg City Hall to the O.R. Tambo international airport!

Above the altar hangs a plain wooden cross, made by Frank Lucas. This cross is of special significance to the congregation of St Margaret’s as it is a copy of the original cross, also made by Frank and used at the first Sunrise Service on Easter Day, shortly after the site was acquired. The cross forms the centre of our worship as it did on that Easter day, or when it was planted in the earth below where it now hangs, for the Foundation Stone laying and for the many services held during the years it took to build the Church.

The altar was donated by the Anglican Women’s Fellowship and the silver candlesticks by Michael Semple.

Before the church was completed, ashes of deceased members of the congregation were interred under the cross.

To the left and back of the altar is a magnificent pulpit, lovingly carved and built by Arnold Raats in his garage. It took a year to complete. He was also responsible for the making of the altar rails in the main Church and the Chapel.

The Foundation Stone was laid under the Pulpit by Bishop Timothy Bavin (then Bishop of Johannesburg) on 5th July 1981. This stone was acquired by Fr Simeon Nkoane CR, and was one left over from the building of St Mary’s Cathedral. Johannesburg. The silver trowel used at the laying was donated by Iona and Bernie Sleep, and is in Bishop Timothy’s possession.

To the left of the pulpit is the Bishop’s Throne (donated by Avis Farr in memory of her mother) and next to it, built into the wall, are two small beach pebbles brought back from holiday by two elderly congregants, in response to the building committee’s appeal for more stone to build the church.

To the right, we have the Credence Table (donated by the Basterfield family in memory of their father and grandmother) above which hangs the Eternal Light with its element in the shape of a Cross (donated by Mac and Noreen McLachlan). This indicates the presence of the Reserved Sacrament. The processional candlesticks were donated by Ree and Des Sonnenfeld and were inherited from Ree’s parents.

Built into the wall to the right of the Credence Table is a small, polished piece of stone from the island of Iona in Scotland, which was brought back from the island by Iona and Bernie Sleep. In 1072 when the Western Isles, which had for many years been in the hands of the Norwegians came into the charge of King Malcolm, he and Queen Margaret went to Iona where they rebuilt the monastery – thus the relevance of the stone from Iona!

The stained glass in the three rose windows in the gable walls was funded by money donated in memory of parishioners who have died.

The multiple arches (fondly christened “The Catacombs” by the builders) to left and right of the choir stalls lead to the Vestries and on the first floor, function rooms with the organ loft above.

Many willing parishioners assisted in the building of St Margaret’s and their contributions, both physical and financial, were made at various stages of the construction. The initial “dreamers” and motivators were:

Plans were approved in 2015 for a Wall of Remembrance for parishioners of St Margaret of Scotland. The wall was constructed on the south side of the Church and the surrounding gardens are an ongoing project, managed by Robyn Jelley and her team.

Planning and construction: Mac McLachlan, Noreen McLachlan, Arnold and Ann Raats,
Assistance during construction: Paul le Frere, Ian Clark, Fred Erikkson
Fund raising: Pat Lucas and a small band of hard workers
Architect: Thurston Raats
Rector: Fr Ian Anderson