Montrose Parish Church

National Grid Reference (NGR): NO 71450 57750, map


Address

High Street
Montrose
Angus
DD10 8QL
Scotland

Introduction

The current parish church of Montrose was built in 1791 by David Logan, but there have been a number of ecclesiastical structures on the site since the medieval period. The earliest is thought to have been built in the 12th century  and dedicated to St John the Evangelist. The immediate predecessor to the current church was a 16th century church and bell tower, extended in 1643. The new church initially had seating for 2,700 people. The steeple, built to replace an earlier one which had to be demolished due to structural weaknesses, was built in 1832-4 and designed by Gillespie Graham.

The church is located on the historic High Street in the old Burgh centre. The west steeple and gable faces the street and the church extends to the east, with a long, narrow graveyard reaching Baltic Street downhill to the east.

The church has an ashlar west front, using high quality yellow sandstone, while the other (earlier) elevations were built in red rubble sandstone. The roof of the church is double-pitched and clad in slate.


Description (exterior)

The west frontage of the church is dominated by the imposing 36m high central tower. It has four stages with a tall spire. It replaced an earlier square tower and spire (decorated with oyster shells) that was demolished after an inspection by Robert Stevenson found it to be structurally weakened. The main entrance into the church is through the doorway in the tower's west face. The pointed-arch doorway is framed by four stages of attached columns and pointed-arches, with a carved ogee hoodmould above, topped with an intricate finial. The doorway has two-leaf panelled doors with a crenellated architrave above and traceried fanlight. The tower has four string courses, arranged in pairs. The first two stages of the tower have large pointed-arch windows with simple tracery and hoodmoulds. The third stage has a clockface (on all tower faces) set in a stone architrave with decorative stone panelling. The clocks were made by James Clarke of Edinburgh. Above, at the belfry stage, are pairs of narrow, chamfered lancet (pointed-arch) openings with wooden louvres. They have thin ogee hoodmoulds with finials. At the top of the tower is a small parapet with traceried decoration. The tower has corner buttresses ('clasping'), which are topped by tall, gabletted and crocketed pinnacles. These support flying buttresses (largely hidden from ground level) attached to the central spire. The 31m stone spire is octagonal and has crocketed decoration and mini lancet openings. There is a large metal weathervane mounted on the spire. The original cockeral weathervane is now housed in Montrose Museum. A number of bells from the medieval tower were installed in the new tower. This includes a bell cast by Peter Ostens and dated 1678, and three cast by Thomas Mears of London (dated 1801 and 1836).

 

The west gable was re-faced with the same ashlar masonry as the tower not long after the new tower was built. It has large, chamfered, pointed-arch windows with quatrefoil tracery and hoodmoulds, on either side of the tower.  Above is a short section of crenellated parapet. At the corners are stepped, three-stage buttresses with crocketed pinnacles. The buttresses have quatre-foil panels and there are gabletted lucarnes (openings) in the pinnacles.

 

The north elevation has four bays with pointed-arch, traceried windows. The upper windows, lighting the gallery within, are shorter than the lower windows. The windows had their tracery inserted in around 1860, along with those in the south elevation. Set into the external boundary wall of the church is a late 19th century porch, which gives entry to the nave. It has a pointed-arch doorway with prominent voussoirs and a simple cornice and parapet.

 

The south elevation is similar to the north, with pointed-arch windows, the largest at ground level. Unlike the north elevation, the south elevation has a large, full height apse, added in 1885. The apse has large pointed-arch windows with tracery in its west and east faces.

 

The east elevation of the church is a single, large gable. It has large pointed-arch windows at ground level and smaller pointed-arch windows above, at gallery and gablehead level.

 

The graveyard to the east is divided by a public path, called Churchyard Walk. There are metal railings with arched lamps over entrances. The gravestones within date from mainly the mid 17th to early 19th centuries.


Description (interior)

The interior features a double gallery, which rises almost to ceiling height. It is horseshoe shaped and faces the pulpit centrally placed along the south wall. The galleries are supported by Roman doric columns.

 

The octagonal pulpit is wooden and has carved panels. There is a wooden sounding board behind, mounted on a balustraded podium. The pulpit is located in the late 19th century apse. There is a later glazed screen to the west of the pulpit.

 

The pews of the church are simple and wooden. There is timber panelling to the walls and pew fronts and an adjacent meeting room is also wood-panelled.

JD


People / Organisations:

NameRoleDatesNotes
David LoganArchitect1791Built new church
Robert StevensonEngineer1832Examined original tower and revealed it to be unsafe
J Gillespie GrahamArchitect1832-4Built new tower and spire
Peter OstensMade church bells1801-1836

Events:

  • Church built (1791)
    Nave built and attached to surviving medieval tower
  • Tower and spire built (1834)
    Built to replace demolished original
  • Nave's windows altered (1860)
    Tracery added
  • South apse built (1885)

Archive References:

NameReferenceNotes
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 38084A-listed
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: NO75NW 4:00
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 1414

Bibliographic References:

NameAuthorDateNotes
Old Statistical Account of Scotland1791-9Vol. 5, p32-33
New Statistical Accountof ScotlandVol. XI, p282
Memorials of the Parish Church of MontroseJ G Low1891p136-140
History of MontroseD Mitchell1866
Angus or Forfarshire: the land and people, descriptive and historicalA J Warden1880-5