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. s.c. February 29, 2016 / 11:07

    Nice mural and other pieces of art in the public domain. I like it.


    • Anabel Marsh February 29, 2016 / 11:17

      Thank you. I think you’ll find that while you were commenting here I was commenting at your blog!


  2. helenmackinven February 29, 2016 / 12:30

    Great post – I’ve been on the brewery tour and would highly recommend it. I haven’t been to the Provand’s Lordship house so must add that to my ever-growing list of places to visit…


    • Anabel Marsh February 29, 2016 / 12:47

      Thanks Helen – my ambition is to do Tennent’s, WEST and Drygate tours. Though not all on the same day……

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lea February 29, 2016 / 12:30

    Very interesting tour.
    The first mural is wonderful! I like it very much!
    Have a great week!


  4. Halcyon February 29, 2016 / 12:54

    That’s a BIG mural! I could also see it fitting in here in Berlin. Love the theme. 🙂


  5. hilarymb February 29, 2016 / 13:54

    Hi Anabel – Glasgow has lots to offer … loved seeing these on your bracing walk. Wonderful range of craftsmanship or views … the St Mungo mural is fun … as too the Tennant advertising images … and I’d do a tour sometime! Cheers Hilary


    • Anabel Marsh February 29, 2016 / 15:24

      Thanks Hilary. If you ever come to Glasgow, give me a shout and I’ll take you on a bespoke tour!


  6. Suzanne et Pierre February 29, 2016 / 13:58

    Lovely tour of Glasgow…I have found memories of my only visit years ago (1994 I think!). One day we will hopefully be back…(Suzanne)


    • Anabel Marsh February 29, 2016 / 15:25

      I think it will have changed quite a lot since then!


  7. joylovestravel February 29, 2016 / 14:02

    Love the murals, have to confess ignorance to St Mungo and his miracle so you’ve taught me something today Anabel. Enjoyed the walk around Glasgow too – right up our street with plenty to see along the way.


    • Anabel Marsh February 29, 2016 / 15:26

      Thanks Joy. I can spend hours happily wandering round the city and never get bored with it.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. restlessjo February 29, 2016 / 14:33

    That first mural is outstanding, Anabel! I really love it. And I enjoyed our little ramble to some interesting places and those Tontine Heads 🙂


    • Anabel Marsh February 29, 2016 / 15:28

      I think it must be the same guy who did some of the other murals – I know you’ve seen them as we discussed them after we first “met”!


      • restlessjo February 29, 2016 / 16:07

        The lovely squirrel and toadstools? I thought of that mural immediately. Wonder if he’d like to come and ‘do’ my house? 🙂


        • Anabel Marsh February 29, 2016 / 16:31

          Yes, those ones! He has a FB page, I could ask if he does houses 😉


  9. Pit February 29, 2016 / 15:06

    Thanks, Anabel, for taking me round, and have a great week,


  10. Cloudia Charters February 29, 2016 / 16:16

    What fabulous quality! Befitting your world gem of a town


  11. Nonnie February 29, 2016 / 16:45

    I love seeing a modern rendition of a saint. Thanks for sharing this interesting urban walk.


    • Anabel Marsh February 29, 2016 / 16:58

      Thanks – it’s a jewel, and glad you enjoyed the stroll too.


  12. Birgit March 1, 2016 / 04:12

    What a great place to visit. I love that mural-very well done. the architecture is beautiful and those heads are funny. the one on the right reminds me of Trump but I am doing a disservice to the statue head.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel Marsh March 1, 2016 / 07:34

      Ha, ha – I can see that! The Scottish politician we were thinking if is rather discredited, but I’d take him over Trump any day.


  13. darwinontherocks March 1, 2016 / 09:21

    This is a huge piece of art ! I love huge mural .. I think it really brighten a part of a city when it’s well done and it’s the case here ! Never made it to Glasgow, but I would love to visit the Necropolis !


    • Anabel Marsh March 1, 2016 / 12:37

      The Necropolis is really interesting especially with a tour booklet / app or a guided walk – we (Glasgow Women’s Library) do a women’s history tour. I’ve learned such a lit working on that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • darwinontherocks March 1, 2016 / 15:24

        Yes, sometimes doing a tour while visiting a city is great. I did a free tour in Edinburgh two years ago and we learnt so much about the city and the cemetery as well

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor March 1, 2016 / 12:06

    When I lived in Glasgow, I always enjoyed walking around the city. So much to see around every corner. The Necropolis is a particular favorite.


    • Anabel Marsh March 1, 2016 / 12:38

      It really is – I’m still finding new places to explore.


  15. Gibbers March 1, 2016 / 15:48

    Love these, the Tennent’s ones always change as well! Have you seen the ones on the side of Strathclyde university (Graham Hills building)? They’ve been there a while now so not sure if it is the same artist, but still amazing work.


    • Anabel Marsh March 1, 2016 / 16:02

      I didn’t know they changed, I’m not down that way very often. I posted about the Strathclyde ones (and others) last year – Glasgow is looking very colourful these days!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Gibbers March 1, 2016 / 18:14

        Yeah Tennent’s have stepped up their game! Cool, I’ll have a look 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Nicol March 1, 2016 / 16:31

    Lovely tour of Glasgow. I never was in Glasgow so the tour was a pleasure for me.
    The first mural is very expressive.


    • Anabel Marsh March 1, 2016 / 17:38

      Thank you for visiting – so glad you enjoyed the tour!


  17. Sarah Ferguson and Choppy March 1, 2016 / 20:19

    I’m pretty sure beer has caused some sinning in the past (and will in the future as well – it’s probably doing so as we speak!).


    • Anabel Marsh March 1, 2016 / 20:49

      Couldn’t possibly comment. Have never seen such a thing *crosses fingers behind back*

      Liked by 1 person

  18. 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.


  19. 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.


  20. 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!


  21. 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.


  22. Ketty March 5, 2016 / 17:19

    The St Mungo mural is fab!


  23. inesephoto March 6, 2016 / 20:14

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


  24. 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!


  25. Candia June 10, 2016 / 06:21

    Have never been to Provand’s L so found this interesting.
    Posted a poem about St Mungo and the robin about 3 posts ago….


  26. claudiabookwright August 6, 2016 / 22:58

    I like the idea of the physic garden and its accompanying paving stones. I’m curious about which plants they felt had curative powers for which body parts.
    Speaking of beer, your Colorado trip will have you leaving before Denver’s Great American Beer Festival Oct. 6 thru Oct. 8. It’s already sold out anyway. The tickets sell out in a matter of minutes. Coloradans love their craft beer.


    • Anabel Marsh August 6, 2016 / 23:09

      I’m sure we will still be able to sample some on our way round!


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