Saints and sinners: a Glasgow urban walk

St Mungo mural
St Mungo mural

A couple of weeks ago, Facebook was full of a new Glasgow mural so at the first opportunity we went to see it for ourselves. The artist, known as Smug, has chosen his subject matter to match its location. It’s on a gable-end near St Mungo’s Cathedral, which is named after the city’s founder and patron saint, and represents a modern-day representation of one of his miracles, the bird that never flew. St Serf, St Mungo’s old master, tamed a robin which was accidentally killed by some of his disciples. They blamed Mungo who took the dead bird in his hands and prayed over it, restoring it to life. Look carefully, and you will see a halo round the modern Mungo’s head.

From the mural we crossed the road to the Cathedral and cut through the Necropolis. I was looking for a particular grave, that of William Minnoch, which I needed for another project. Successfully found!

From the Necropolis, we continued down to Duke Street and the Tennent’s Brewery. Now, I’m not saying people who drink beer are sinners – I’m more than partial to a pint myself – but it makes for a good post title. Mind you, some of the characters in the many murals which line the brewery walls look as though they might well be acquainted with a little bit of sin.

I’ve long meant to take a guided tour of the brewery but you need to book and, as I’ve never got round to it, we turned round and continued our circular walk. Plenty of interest as we headed back up towards the Cathedral.

For our final stop, we were back to saints. Provand’s Lordship is the oldest house in Glasgow – it was built in 1471 as the manse of the Master of the Chapel and Hospital of St Nicholas. After the Reformation, it had many secular uses before opening as a museum in the 1980s.

In one of the upstairs rooms, there was a collection of paintings of old Glasgow created in the early 1990s by Tom McGroran. I liked this one of Bridgeton Cross, a place I’m very familiar with, in the 1950s. For comparison, here it is today.

St Nicholas’s Garden, behind Provand’s Lordship, was laid out in the 1990s after the fashion of a 15th century physic or medicinal garden, so each bed has plants to treat different parts of the body, indicated by a moulding on the paving stones in front of it. The example below is for reproductive medicine.

The garden also features coats of arms, including Glasgow’s with the motto “Let Glasgow flourish” and the symbols of Mungo’s miracles (you’ll need to enlarge, I think, to see the bird that never flew perching in the tree that never grew!)

Around the cloisters are the Tontine Heads, so-called because they came from the old Tontine Hotel. There are 13 in total, varying in date from about 1737 to 1873. I’ve chosen two to display, because they reminded us of certain Scottish politicians. Anyone with knowledge of Scottish politics may wish to hazard a guess…

By this time, the weather was very wet and we hurried off to find a warm drink then get the Subway home. I hope you’ve enjoyed this stroll with some of Glasgow’s saints and sinners which I’m linking to Jo’s Monday Walks,  Monday Murals and  Art in the Streets.

70 thoughts on “Saints and sinners: a Glasgow urban walk

  1. jazzfeathers March 26, 2016 / 20:28

    Anabel, I don’t knwo what happened. I checked our blog and discovered I’m so bahind with your posts!

    I really enjoyed this strol with you. And I really liked the story at the beginning. why don’t you share more of these local stories? 🙂


    • Anabel Marsh March 26, 2016 / 23:25

      I would love to – good intentions, but not enough time!


  2. inesephoto March 6, 2016 / 20:14

    Beautiful murals and the story!
    Resemblance to the politicians only proves that our history goes in circles 🙂


  3. Ketty March 5, 2016 / 17:19

    The St Mungo mural is fab!


  4. hungrydai March 4, 2016 / 07:43

    Hi Anabel and good morning to you. I just saw that you clicked LIKE under one of my blogs so I guess you’re an earlybird like me. The mural at the top of this blog is amazing.


  5. Jessica (Diverting Journeys) March 2, 2016 / 20:09

    I like the looks of that physic garden! Those paving stones look very cool, I’d love to see more of them! All your Glasgow posts have me convinced I should really make the effort to head up there one of these days!


    • Anabel Marsh March 2, 2016 / 20:30

      You certainly should – unaccountably left out of your last trip!


  6. justmeplease_travel March 2, 2016 / 11:29

    Thanks for sharing the photos from your walk in Art in the Streets. Seeing them makes me wish I was following along in your footsteps through the Glasgow streets.


  7. anotherday2paradise March 2, 2016 / 00:20

    A wonderful mural. Anabel. Very interesting bits and bobs you photographed. The reproductive medicine stone is fascinating.


    • Anabel Marsh March 2, 2016 / 07:34

      Thank you – there’s a rich heritage in a very small area in that post.


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