The Society of The Friends of St Magnus Cathedral

A dedicated group of people who contribute to the life of the Cathedral through fund raising to support the maintenance and development of the building.


The Society also seeks to promote increased awareness and knowledge of the Cathedral to the general public. By joining the Friends you are supporting the Cathedral and helping to secure this magnificent building for future generations.


The Society of The Friends of St Magnus Cathedral was formed in 1958 when it became apparent that additional funds would be required for the long term maintenance and development of the Cathedral. The main objective of the Society is to raise funds to ensure the preservation of St Magnus Cathedral as an inspiring place to visit and worship. Members of the Society come from all over the world and are united in a common love for this beautiful and ancient holy place.

The Society welcomes as members, those who have an interest in the history, architecture or music of the Cathedral, and who are willing to help in any way in its preservation and welfare.

When established the objective of The Society was the support of any project connected with, or incidental to, the care and improvement of the Cathedral and its furnishings, together with the raising of funds for these purposes. All this was to be done in association with the Local Authority, at that time Kirkwall Town Council (now Orkney Islands Council {OIC}). The then Provost James Scott was appointed Chairman of the Society and Cathedral Minister the Revd John Rose vice chairman.

A Council of Members was set up to manage the affairs of The Society and its membership comprises representatives of OIC, the Cathedral congregation, and four other independent members. The Lord lieutenant of Orkney is the Chairperson of the society under the patronage of the Duke of Gloucester.

Over the last sixty years the Society has contributed over £1.5 million towards Cathedral Projects.

Scottish Charity Number SC007980

Projects Completed

In 1964 the Society sponsored the refurbishment of the St Rognvald Chapel to the designs of Stanley Cursiter, CBE, The Queen’s Painter and Limner.

In 1972 when the west end of the Cathedral was in danger of collapse, the Society launched a successful ‘Save St Magnus’ Appeal under the patronage of HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. The Appeal raised some £300,000 enabling steel support girders to be installed above the nave at the west end.

Since then the Society has been closely involved in a whole range of projects, large and small. These include:

  • The installation of the West Window to celebrate the 850th anniversary of the Cathedral
  • The renewal of the spire
  • Renewal of the sound system
  • Sponsoring a video of ‘the Saga of St Magnus’
  • The reconstruction of the Rose window in the south transept.
  • Construction of new toilet block
  • The publication of the Cathedral guide book now in its 4th edition.
  • The installation of the west window to celebrate the 850th anniversary of the Cathedral
  • The maintenance of the stained glass windows
  • Sponsoring the ‘Friends Room’ in the St Magnus Centre
  • Major refurbishment and ongoing repairs to the Willis organ
  • Replacement of 700 chairs in the Cathedral
  • New internal and external lighting system
  • Automation of Cathedral clock
  • Part time assistant custodian
  • West door and access to the Cathedral
  • New version of Saga of St Magnus and provision of projection equipment

Future Projects

The Society continues to provide funds to ensure the Cathedral remains open daily so that visitors can tour the building and can benefit from the expert knowledge of Cathedral Custodians.

The Friends are also part funding the very important position of the traditional stone mason.

How you can Help

The Cathedral plays a very important role in the life of Orkney, and we are glad to welcome through its doors people from all over the world.

We are proud to say:-

‘This Cathedral belongs to the people of Orkney. Its doors are open to all’

We would be delighted if you wish to support the work of the Society of Friends. Locally this can be done by purchasing a copy of the St Magnus Cathedral Guidebook, making a donation after viewing the ‘Saga of St Magnus’ video, which can be viewed at the St Magnus Centre on a daily basis, or putting a donation in one of the boxes.

If you wish to become a ‘Friend’ please complete an application form, available from the Cathedral, the St Magnus Centre or as a download below, and send it to the honorary Treasurer whose details are on the form.

If you are a UK tax payer you can increase your donation at no cost to yourself by completing the gift aid declaration part of the form.

Download the Membership form – 269kb