Magdalen Chapel

Magdalen Chapel, Edinburgh

Magdalen Chapel
Architectural Buildings • Religious Sites • Theatre & Performances

Tours and Tickets

The area
Neighbourhood: Old Town
Few Edinburghers live in the Old Town, but its labyrinth of dank alleys and steep streets suggests this was not always the case. Today, it’s mostly visitors, tartan-flavoured souvenir shops, and pipers that you’ll find on its cobbled streets. This is the place to get a feel for Auld Reekie (Old Smelly), as the town was once nicknamed, and stroll the Royal Mile, the thoroughfare that links the castle with the royal palace – two of Edinburgh’s great set-piece attractions. But there’s lots more exploring to do here down dozens of little alleys, or wynds, while at night the city’s busiest clubs erupt along the Cowgate which is closed to traffic for this purpose.
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2,026 within 5 kms
394 within 5 kms
Popular mentions

18 reviews
Very good

Edinburgh, UK699 contributions
Oldest chapel in Edinburgh
May 2021 • Friends
This is a hidden gem in the Cowgate area, it is tucked away and often overlooked which is a shame because it’s such a historical building with fantastic treasures inside including the pre reformation stained glass window still intact, the deacons chair, the 200 year old chandelier and the mortuary table where martyrs where taken after execution to be dressed in their grave clothes. In the 19th century the famous preacher Thomas Guthrie preached at this chapel. The chapel is small but mighty with the wall to wall gold inscribed panels of gifts and legacies displayed. As you would expect the chapel is old and dusty and historically authentic, however I think little tweaks could be made to the appearance of the chapel, although stunning it could go a bit further in the authenticity by maybe removing the chairs so there is more space making the platform instantly stand out. the carpet to show the original floorboards and definitely uncovering the tomb of Janet Rynd by removing the carpet and making that a bit more of a spectacle but apart from a few minor things to be improved upon, we loved our visit and Allan was so welcoming and friendly and knowledgeable and he really made our visit all the more interesting. The best way to arrange a visit is to call or email or Facebook message (which I did) beforehand because the chapel isn’t always open due to it not being that busy but if you let them know you wish to visit they will be more than happy and grateful to oblige. This is a must see when in the Grassmarket/Cowgate area and before or after visiting Greyfriers Kirk. Loved it
Written 1 June 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

10,349 contributions
A very interesting chapel in the Edinburgh map
Oct. 2019
I spotted this chapel as I walked down Cowgate towards the Grassmarket. I am really glad that I noticed it and it was open to visitors. The Magdalen Chapel is a 16th century chapel located almost beneath the George IV bridge in the Cowgate in the Old Town of Edinburgh. The chapel was built between 1541 and 1544. It was bequeathed by Michael MacQueen and also his wife Janet Rynd who is buried within. A semi-circular wooden platform was installed at the east end around 1615 and the layout of the Chapel was altered. The tower and spire were added about 1620. The stained glass in the middle window of the south wall features the Royal Arms of Scotland and the Arms of Mary of Guise. It is the only intact pre-Reformation stained glass window in Scotland. The Victorian façade obscures the ancient stonework. An inscription over the door reads 'He that hath pity upon the poore lendeth unto the Lord and the Lord will recompence him that which he hath given''. Architects Simpson and Brown undertook a major restoration programme in 1992/93. It is now the headquarters of the Scottish Reformation Society. A small but really interesting chapel worth seeing.
Written 16 September 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Jan H
Dallas, TX231 contributions
Incredible Chapel with Christian Heritage
Sep. 2019
Magdalen Chapel is a small chapel with a rich history, from the Incorporation of Hammermen to the home of the Scottish Reformation Society. Contains the only pre-Reformation stained glass windows still intact in Scotland. Free admission, but donations welcome. Not always open, but take advantage when open. Located on the Cowgate just east of the roundabout at the Grassmarket and Candlemaker Row. Definitely worth a visit. Highly recommend.
Written 7 December 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Karen W
Dunfermline, UK120 contributions
A hidden gem
Sep. 2018 • Friends
Visited with a group of friends as part of Doors Open Day. What a small but beautiful chapel. A guide gave a very informative talk. Definitely a must see. The stained glass window is lovely.
Written 2 October 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Michael G
Edinburgh, UK42 contributions
Make time to visit this delight.
Sep. 2018 • Solo
If you visiting the Grassmarket make sure you take time to go along the Cowgate and a short distance along, on your right, you will find the Magdalen Chapel wedged in between its rather grimy neighbours. There's little on the outside to hint at what you will find inside the chapel. It's a tiny oasis of peace in a bustling city so have a seat and reflect on its history. Its main attraction is the stained glass window but there are other links with some turbulent periods of Scotland's history. Make sure you purchase one of the well-presented, illustrated and detailed guide books (recommended donation £1.00). Check the opening times as well as these can be restricted.
Written 30 September 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Akron, OH60 contributions
Time Stands Still
Jun. 2018 • Friends
The Magdalen Chapel was founded on its current site in about the year 1541.There are four stained-glass shields in the center window. This is the only pre-Reformation stained glass in Scotland which is still intact. If you are interested in the history of the Scottish Reformation this is the place for viewing the structure and talking to the staff. The staff is knowledgeable and more than willing to share information. This is a convenient location not far from the castle.
Written 10 July 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Fiona S
Edinburgh, UK22 contributions
Hidden gem!
Jun. 2018 • Friends
Having lived in or near Edinburgh all my life I was entranced by this little chapel - so old, so authentic and so fascinating- and yet, such a surprise. Our guide was charming and very knowledgeable but even she did not know it’s whole story, not surprising as it’s almost 500 years old with a chequered history. If or when it’s ‘discovered’ it may lose some of its magic so go soon!
Written 22 June 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Melbourne, Australia786 contributions
Small unassuming building you could miss.
Apr. 2018 • Couples
Walking up the street and noticed many plaques on the wall. Telling us it was the house of the Magdalen Chapel. Never heard of them. Inquired and was told. Started 1540 odd. All that history and had no idea. Only a small venue but worth a look.
Written 23 May 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Charles R
31 contributions
A little known part of Edinburgh history
Feb. 2018 • Friends
Be aware that the Chapel is only open certain days. It is a small chapel built in the mid 16th century to pray for the soul of Mary Queen of Scots and to provide a chapel for the Hammermen, one of the original guilds that preceded trades unions. Altho' only a small building, with no great architecture to boast of, it does contain the only pre-Reformation stained glass in Scotland to survive.It is also significant in Covenanting history.All in, it has had a varied history and anyone who is interested in the history of Edinburgh should pay it a visit.
Written 4 March 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Galashiels, United Kingdom126 contributions
Excellent attraction that is easy to miss
Jun. 2017 • Solo
The chapel is somewhat out of the way but is well worth the trouble of finding it's location. It is only open on certain days so check availability. Others have written more fully on the chapel, suffice it to say that it is definitely a building that is redolent of history and has a unique character..
Written 2 June 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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