COUPLES booked to marry at an historic A-listed former Glasgow church have been left “devastated” after being told it is to cease trading as a venue.

Glasgow Building Preservation Trust, which owns St Andrew’s in the Square, said it has been left with “no option” but to terminate the lease with the charity which runs events in the building, due to “significant” rent arrears.

The church is also sublet to the Cafe Source restaurant, which provides the catering for weddings and has now taken over the running of the venue until it ceases trading on February 2 next year.

The family-run restaurant said it was “truly sorry” for distress caused to couples who were booked to marry at the venue next year and said all catering deposits would be refunded.

The building dates from the mid 18th century and also host events from festivals including Piping Live! and Celtic Connections. The former church provided a backdrop for scenes in the hit show Outlander. 

Company House records of the last accounts submitted by the Saint Andrews in the Square Trust (SAINTS) in March last year show the charity was running at a deficit. Discussions were said to be underway with the owners to write off historic debts.

Glasgow Building Preservation Trust said the decision to terminate the lease “had not been taken lightly” but that it had a duty to safeguard the historic building including covering maintenance costs.

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Jenny Seftor was due to marry her partner Francesca at the venue in September 2020.

She said: “Francesca and I are devastated that we are unable to have our wedding their next year.

“Many other venues are booked, and we are now thinking we will need to shift the wedding to 2021 for availability. There is likely to be a substantial cost implication for the wedding.

“Deposits from Café Source are being refunded, however we have no idea about those paid to St Andrews in the Square.”

Paul Laurie, Director of Cafe Source Ltd, said: “As Sub-Tenants of the building we, Cafe Source Ltd, tried to negotiate a new lease directly with the owners of the building – GBPT.

“ Unfortunately, due to the costs associated with the operation and maintenance of the building, an agreement to extend that use beyond 2nd February 2020 has not been reached.

“We at Cafe Source are all very sorry and are devastated that, after 19 years of running a family business, we will no longer be able to trade.

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“Confirmed bookings for after 2nd February 2020 were all taken and confirmed in good faith by St Andrews in the Square Trust and Cafe Source before any termination or negotiation process had started.

“ Cafe source were advised to continue with business during negotiations, therefore provisional bookings were taken in good faith but no deposits were accepted during this process until any lease was to be confirmed.

“Cafe Source will reimburse any catering deposits that have been paid.

“Once again we are truly sorry for the upset and stress that this may cause. We will now focus on making our final year a great one.”

The church dates from the mid-18th century and was designed by architect Allan Dreghorn. It features stained glass windows by Stephen Adams and was bought by the Glasgow Building Preservation Trust for £1 million after closing as a church in 1993.

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A spokesperson for the Glasgow Building Preservation Trust said: “Due to non-payment of rent and significant accrual of debt owed by SAINTS to GBPT, we have had no option but to terminate that lease.

“As trustees of a charity, our Board have a duty to act responsibly in safeguarding both our own Trust and the historic building in our ownership.

“We regret that our concerns about the viability of the St Andrews in the Square Trust (SAINTS) have not been shared by the trustees of SAINTS over this last year.

“We have sought to agree terms with the former sub-tenant (Café Source) for their continued use of the building. “Unfortunately, due to the costs associated with the operation and maintenance of the building, an agreement to extend that use beyond 2nd February 2020 has not been reached.

“Glasgow Building Preservation Trust’s priority is to ensure that any use of the building is part of responsible ownership which adequately resources the management and maintenance of this Category A listed building.

“Over the coming months we will be reviewing our options for a financially viable future for the management of the building. “However, at this point, GBPT can offer no guarantee that any event after 2nd February 2020 can be facilitated.”