Edinburgh’s Ecclesiastical Heritage

40 church buildings in and around Edinburgh

Ian was involved when the Chapels Society (www.chapelssociety.org.uk) visited Edinburgh in May 2015.

church_tour_edinburgh_40The members were primarily interested in the ‘architecture and historical importance’ of church buildings, and arranged two walking tours and one self-guided tour. The notes they provided, edited here by Ian, give an excellent overview of the profusion and variety of church buildings in the area.


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40 Church Buildings


cameras Ian Balfour

Balfour Family Holidays 1947-53

Over the years the Balfour family captured some fascinating footage on a cine film camera. Here you can see footage from 1947 all the way through to 1958, covering family holidays, Ian and Joyce’s wedding, a train journey to Newtonmore and a trip to Nepal and North India. You can even see the Edinburgh trams, circa 1952.


Click to view a film:

1947 Tiree, Scotland
1948 Westray, Scotland
1949 County Antrim, Northern Ireland
1950 Edinburgh and the Highlands
1951 Guernsey and other Channel Islands
1952 Teignmouth, Devon and Princes Street, Edinburgh
1953 West Coast of Scotland and Brora by caravan
The Good Samaritan by Jan Wijnants

The Peril of Taking a Lawyer’s Advice

In one of Shakespeare’s plays, Dick the Butcher and Smith the Weaver are planning how to make the world a better place. “The first thing we do”, says Dick, “let’s kill all the lawyers”. This is taken up enthusiastically by the others, and they make a start by hanging the Town Clerk of Latham.


For the Baptist Union of Scotland 1976 Presidential Address, Ian Balfour expressed his own concern about four lawyers found in the New Testament, whose attitudes have had influence in our Churches. He goes further, warning the reader against taking their advice.


The Peril of Taking a Lawyer’s Advice

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Dome of the Rock

The Lands of the Book – 1953

Ian Balfour’s twenty-first birthday present was a rail ticket on 11 March 1953 from Edinburgh to the border of Syria, an airline ticket from Tel Aviv to Athens and Rome on 7 April and then rail back to Edinburgh, with some spending money but no fixed itinerary for the fortnight between the Syrian border and Tel Aviv. So many people asked about the experience that he wrote it up in the form of a diary. One of Ian’s friends returned the book with the illustrated cover and the phrase ‘The Lands of the Book’ on it.

Part 1: Edinburgh – Istanbul

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Part 2: Smyrna – JerusalemIsrael Air logo

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Part 3: Bethany – Calvary

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Part 4: Damascus Gate – Corinth

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Part 5: Greece – Edinburgh

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Tertullian: a second century lawyer and early church forefather

Tertullian – Second Century Christianity in Carthage

During his student days, Ian developed an interest in Church History, and embarked in 1971 on a Doctorate of Philosophy as a part-time post-graduate student at New College, Edinburgh. The thesis was on The Relationship of Man to God in the writings of Tertullian – a second century lawyer who was converted in his thirties and who gave the remainder of his life to teaching in the Church in Carthage. The Ph.D. degree was awarded in 1980.

Tertullian: The relationship of man to God [thesis]

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historic map of Carthage and Tunisia

Terullian – Oxford Papers

Ian’s interest in Tertullian continued and he has given Papers at the International Conference on Patristic Studies, held in Oxford every four years. They have published all his Papers – the first from the 1975 Conference (‘The fate of the soul in induced abortion in the writings of Tertullian’) and the last from the 2015 Conference (‘Tertullian and Roman Law – What Do We (Not) Know?’).

Apart from the last one, they are available for download, below. The 2015 Paper will not be available on this website until October 2020, when the publishers’ copyright expires. In the meantime, paper copies are available on request to Ian and the pdf file is available, on request, for ‘relations’.

Until October 2020, the download below for 2015 has (a) an Abstract of the Paper and (b) the ISBN reference for finding the publication in libraries, such as New College, Edinburgh, who subscribe to Studia Patrictica, the Conference Papers.

Ian’s 2015 Paper gave him particular pleasure, for two reasons. First, it combined his interest in Tertullian with another long-term interest, Roman Law, from which much of early Scots Law was derived; it was a compulsory subject for Scottish Law students when he was at university – see, on this website, ‘Law – Exam papers – 1953 – Civil Law, I and II’.

Secondly, it happened that Marcus Vinzent, the editor of Studia Patrictica, the publishers of the Conference Papers, was in the audience when Ian gave his Paper. Participants are invited to lodge their Papers with the Conference Office at the end of the week, but Marcus Vinzent asked Ian for an advance copy and sent an email, a short time later, to say that it was the first Paper to be approved for publication.

With advancing years, Ian will not manage to give any more Oxford Conferences. He is, however, working at home on an updated Bibliography of published works which have Tertullian’s name in their title – an expansion of the third download here, ‘Tertullian on and off the Internet’.


Fate of the soul in induced abortionUniversity of Oxford logo

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Tertullian’s beliefs before conversion

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Tertullian on and off the internet
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Tertullian’s description of the heathen
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Tertullian and Roman Law – What Do We (Not) Know?
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The full Oxford paper “Tertullian_and_Roman_Law_Full_Paper.pdf” now available for download
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Charlotte Baptist Chapel Historical image of the exterior

200 years of Charlotte Baptist Chapel

Revival in Rose Street, by Ian Balfour

In 2008, Charlotte Baptist Chapel in Edinburgh celebrated its two hundredth anniversary.  Ian, who had been an elder there since 1965 and Church Secretary from 1980 to 2000, wrote a history and also put a lot of additional information onto a CD which went with the book. For a download with the text of the Charlotte Chapel History without the photographs but with footnotes click here.
Copies of the printed book, with the CD, are available at £5 plus postage:

email: [email protected]


Revival in Rose Street

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Additional material for download:

index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | R | S | T | V | W | Y


To see the “Charlotte Chapel History in 10-minutes” film click here.

For the appendix photo-galleries click here.

HMS Cossack arrives in Leith, greeted by onlookers

War Diary 1940 – 1944

When it seemed, in the summer of 1940, that Britain might be invaded by German forces, a cousin in Hamilton, Ontario, pressed the family to be his guests for the duration of the war.  After initial reluctance, Ian’s mother accepted the invitation and in August 1940 took Ian and his brother William to Hamilton, returning to Edinburgh in August 1944. Francis Balfour stayed in Edinburgh and the diary which he wrote during these years is available to download below. Please allow a couple of minutes for download as these are large documents.

Part 1: 1939-1940

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Gas masks demonstrated for babies in Edinburgh circa 1940

Part 2: 1941-1942

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Part 3: 1943-1944

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