St Paul's Parish Church

National Grid Reference (NGR): NT 09190 87390, map


Canmore Street
KY12 7PX

Also known as:

  • St. Paul's Parish Church (1958)
    The congregation united with St. John's Church in Bruce Street (site no. 8413).
  • St. Columba’s Church (1929)
  • United Free Abbey Church (1900)


This was the third church to be built on this site in the centre of Dunfermline. It replaced the earlier Abbey and Canmore Street Free Church (site no. 10600), which had itself replaced the Burgher church (later a chapel of ease, site no. 10599). It was situated in a slightly raised precinct fronted by low rubble walls with chamfered coping and topped by iron railings. The foundation stone for the Free Abbey Church was laid in 1882 by Provost Walls and the church opened for worship in 1884. In 1958 the church united with St John's (see separate site) and then became known as St Paul's. The church changed denomination and name several times before it was burned down in 1976 by a fire which started in a neighbouring derelict cinema.

The church, as described by Groome in 1883, was a large Romanesque, octagonal building, which could seat 800 people. It was mostly built of sandstone and had two entrances in its south front. Large gatepiers that originally led into the church grounds have survived today, although they may have been moved slightly from their original location.

Under the minister, the Rev Frank T Smith, the congregation set up an ecumenical church with the Congregational Church, which lasted from 1976 till 2001.

Today the site is a public car park.

Description (exterior)


Description (interior)

People / Organisations:

Campbell Douglas and SellarsArchitect1881architects.
Free ChurchDenomination1882-1900
United Free ChurchDenomination1900-1929
Church of ScotlandDenomination1929-1976


  • Church: Build/construction (1882 to 1884)
  • Church: Installed (1920)
    Heating and lighting installed in the church.
  • Church: Union (1958)
    The congregation from St. John\'s Church in Bruce Street (site no. 8413) joined with this congregation, at which time the name of this church changed from St. Columba\'s to St. Paul\'s Parish Church.
  • Church: Damage (1976)
    Badly damaged by a fire which started at a neighboring derelict cinema.

Archive References:

Dictionary of Scottish Architects - Online databaseReference: M003923
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 49404Images of the church after the fire before it was demolished.
Dunfermline Press Archives - Online databaseReference: 1882, 1884, 1976
Dunfermline Press Archives - Online databaseReference: 1882, 1884, 1976.
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 2266St. Paul's Parish Church
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 10597

Bibliographic References:

The Scottish Burgh Survey: Historic Dunfermline, Archaeology and DevelopmentDennison, E.P;Stronach, S.2007p. 60
Ordnance Gazetteer of ScotlandGroome, F.H.1883Dunfermline Parish
Dunfermline: The Post-War YearsMcEwan, B.2004p. 47