Fringe venue St Stephen’s for sale

May 14, 2013 | By | 3 Replies More

Church of Scotland puts landmark venue on the market

The St Stephens Centre is on the market with a price tag of over £500,000.  Photo: property particulars.

The St Stephen’s Centre is on the market with a price tag of over £500,000. Photo: property particulars.

By Thom Dibdin

St Stephen’s in Stockbridge, a fringe venue for several years and year-round community space for local schools and organisations, has been put on the market for offers over £500,000.

The one-time church is a grade A listed building. It was designed by William Playfair and completed in 1828 as the St. Stephen’s Parish Church. The interior was reconfigured in 1956 and it became the St. Stephen’s Centre 1992. It is owned by the Church of Scotland.

As a fringe venue it rose in prominence after being taken over by Wolfgang Hoffman’s Aurora Nova for the fringe in 2001. Hoffman programmed a  mix of international visual theatre and dance with England’s Komedia and Scotland’s Theatre Cryptic featuring in that first year.

Aurora Nova became a must-see part of the fringe, winning The Guardian Award for Best Venue 2004. There were numerous Fringe Firsts, Herald Angels and Total Theare Awards for the various shows programmed at the venue, until rising costs, a loss of sponsor and the general southward movement of the fringe forced Hoffman to withdraw in 2008.

The main floor of the St Stephens Centre.  Photo: property particulars.

The main floor of the St Stephens Centre. Photo: property particulars.

In recent years it has been used during the fringe as a venue by the Arches and the Traverse theatre, with Northern Stage taking over in 2012.

The imposing structure, built in a diamond shape, lies at the bottom of St Vincent Street with the steps looking up the hill to George Street.

Following the 1956 reconstruction the space between the gallery of the original church was floored over, to room for up to 450 between the sloping pews of the original gallery. It contains one of the few unaltered “Father Willis” organs in Britain.

The floor below now contains a small theatre and open dance floor/seating area, with gallery, kitchen and meeting spaces off. It’s well-used by the local community with a regular playgroup, ceilidhs and is a regular venue for parties.

The downstairs hall of the St Stephens Centre. Photo: property particulars.

The downstairs hall of the St Stephens Centre. Photo: property particulars.

St Stephens was featured in the 2009 television drama New Town, although renamed as St Cuthbert’s. Ironically, the plot centred around efforts by an Edinburgh property developer to turn the church into “high end retail units”, a step too far (in more ways that one) for the head of Scottish Heritage and guardian of all Georgian architecture in the city, Archie Linklater, played by John Bett.

Particulars for the sale are available on the Church of Scotland website at: www.churchofscotland.org.uk

They are also available on the ESPC website:  www.espc.com

ENDS

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Comments (3)

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  1. Marion says:

    I spent many happy Fringe Festivals here in the 70s and 80s working backstage with Onstage 66.

  2. Emily says:

    I hope it ends up in safe hands and can continue as a brilliant venue.

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