Bishop Eden from a print in the Bishop’s Palace, Eden Court Theatre. Original painting by George Richmond (1809 – 1896)
Bishop Eden was born in London in 1804, the third son of Sir Frederick Morton Eden, 2nd Baronet of Truir, Co. Durham. He graduated from Oxford with a degree in arts and divinity. After serving as Rector at Leigh on Sea in Essex, he was a surprise choice of Bishop of Moray and Ross in 1851, aged 47, following the retiral of Bishop David Low. As far as is known, prior to this time Eden had never travelled north of Glasgow. Caithness was added to his Diocese in 1864.
At first Eden was based in Elgin, where the historic Cathedral was a ruin, and he lived in Duffus House. There were only seven or eight congregations in the Diocese, but this was soon built up. He soon realised that Inverness was a much better site for a new Cathedral, and he moved there in 1853.
He drove opinion in the town so much that by 1866 it was possible to lay the foundation stone of St Andrew’s Cathedral, using the local architect Alexander Ross (who was an Episcopalian) to design the building. The stone was laid by Eden’s friend, the Archbishop of Canterbury. This caused quite a stir in Inverness from amongst some members of the established Church of Scotland.
At first he had resided in Hedgefield House in Culduthel Road. However, in return for his efforts at the development of the Church, his congregations raised funds to build Eden Court, the Bishop’s Palace, which now forms part of the Eden Court theatre complex. This was completed in 1878. He was also active locally in educational matters, serving for a time as a director of Inverness Royal Academy.
Eden served as Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church from 1862 to 1886. He renewed contact between Anglican and Eastern Churches when he visited Russia in 1866. The icons given to him by Tsar Alexander II, which are on display in the Cathedral, were gifted to him at this time.
He died in August 1886 in Inverness, after a period of failing health. He married in 1827, and had five sons and five daughters, one of whom, Robert Allan Eden, became a clergyman.
An extract from Am Baile – www.ambaile.org.uk