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For the first two years of his episcopate b-and-b inverness he had charge of the congregation in Elgin, but his vision of a Cathedral foundation in the Capital of the Highlands was already formed. In 1853 he moved to Inverness, and opened 'the Bishop's Mission Chapel'. The other candidate for the bishopric had been the Incumbent of St John's, Inverness, and the election divided that congregation, at the time the largest in the diocese. Eden's supporters in St John's formed b-and-b inverness the nucleus of his new congregation, but it rapidly expanded because of the zeal of the Bishop and the clergy who assisted him, the first of whom was the Revd J. Comper.
Services began in the new girls' b-and-b inverness school which was opened in a hall in Academy Street in 1854. Soon a building on the east bank of the river became the Mission Chapel (the school was later transferred across the river to the buildings still occupied by Bishop Eden's Primary School). In 1865 the congregation had grown too large for their chapel, and Eden judged the time was ripe to realize his vision.
The idea of building a Cathedral was mooted publicly in November 1853, and it is noted in the obituary (1855) of the Tractarian architect R.C. Carpenter that he had prepared a design for a cathedral for the Bishop of Moray & Ross. We know nothing of this design. When the congregation agreed, on 17 January 1866, to the Bishop's proposal to build the new cathedral, a young architect from the congregation, Alexander Ross, was commissioned to prepare a design.
The present building was cut down from Ross's original design because of limited funds. Plans exist showing a 4-bay nave and crossing with transepts (all as built), but with a 4-bay chancel with apse and ambulatory, supported by flying buttresses. This would have extended 54' (16½m) beyond the present choir. The minute books reveal that there was originally to be only one tower with a spire, and that the twin towers were adopted to give the building "more of a cathedral character and to relieve its appearing only as a local church".
The foundation-stone of the Cathedral was laid by Dr Charles Longley, Archbishop of Canterbury, on 17 October 1866, the first official act in Scotland by an English Primate since the establishment of Presbyterianism. The Cathedral was opened on 1 September 1869, and inaugural sermons were preached by the Bishop of Oxford (Samuel Wilberforce) and the Bishop of Rochester. That such men should have travelled the enormous distance to Inverness is eloquent testimony to their high regard for Bishop Eden.
Another unexpected expression of that regard was the Archbishop of Canterbury's choice of the new Scottish cathedral for the consecration of the first Bishop of Bloemfontein, on St Andrew's Day 1870. That bishop, Allan Becher Webb, was to return to Inverness at the end of his ministry in South Africa, to be Provost of this Cathedral and Assistant Bishop in the Diocese, 1897-1900.
Building the cathedral cost £15,106:0:4¾d, which did not include the cost of the stained glass, organ, nor any of the donated furnishings (the initial insurance was for £20,000).
When it was opened there was a debt on the building of £6,835. A church cannot be consecrated while any debt is outstanding on the building. Such was the energy of the fund-raisers that the entire debt was extinguished in 5 years, and on 29 September 1874 Bishop Eden consecrated his cathedral church, the fulfilment of his vision and the first new Cathedral to be completed and consecrated in Britain since the Reformation.
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