Donibristle Chapel

National Grid Reference (NGR): NT 15820 82780, map


Chapel Villas
Dalgety Bay

Also known as:

  • Mortuary Chapel of Earls of Moray (1731)
    Private chapel for the fifth and sixth Earls of Moray.


This chapel was built as a private mortuary chapel for Donibristle House and nine earls of Moray are buried here.   Donibristle House has now been demolished and the town of Dalgety Bay has been built on the lands formerly belonging to the house.    The chapel is now therefore surrounded by a modern housing development.

Description (exterior)


The chapel, which is now roofless, is ashlar built with a slightly advanced base course on all faces, rusticated margins and pediment detail to the gables.  

At the western gable wall the central square headed door is set at the top of a small flight of stone steps, and is flanked on either side by a large round arched window.    All the openings have Gibb surrounds (rusticated margins with alternating large and small stone blocks).   Above the doorway  is an oval opening.    The gable is topped by a pediment, in which there is an armorial plaque, and on the apex there is an octagonal three-stage bellcote, the square base of which is topped by an octagonal stage with rusticated detailing.    There are round arch openings on each of the cardinal faces, whilst on the alternating faces the round arches are blank. The belfry is topped by a stone lantern finial.

In the north and south nave walls there are three evenly spaces round arched openings, all of which have Gibb surrounds.   The westernmost of these openings is infilled with plaster, whilst the other two are covered with metal bars.   There is weathering to the stonework and a small amount of graffiti on the northern wall.

At the eastern gable, there are two large round arched windows with Gibb surrounds on either side of the centre which are covered with metal grates. The gable is topped by a pediment and in the tympanum there is a blank oculus.   There is some vegetation growth and structural damage on the skews at the southern side of the face and evidence of a down pipe which has now been removed at the northern side of the face. 
Armorial Plaque

In the tympanum of the pedimented western gable, a stone armorial plaque is flanked by decorative scrolls and is topped by a coat of arms. The English translation of the Latin inscription is:

            holy religion, for their heirs a spur to that true nobility which is grounded in virtue, for         themselves and their descendants a haven where with furled sails they may find rest in the    place where they would be, Charles and Anne, Earl and Countess of Moray, caused to be built  and decorated in the 1731st year of the Christian era and the 5th year of the reign of George      2nd'  (From CANMORE)

Description (interior)

The interior is overgrown and all the openings are covered with metal bars.     The walls are constructed from random rubble with the remains of a plaster skim. Surrounding the walls is a ledge, suggesting there was a gallery on the interior.   The remains of a timber door with iron stud work is visible at the western entrance and inside the entranceway there is a small porch area.    To the north of this porch area there is a turnpike staircase up to first floor level. Here there is a round arched doorway into the main chapel area and a square headed doorway onto a landing above the porch area.   The remains of a wooden floor are visible above the entrance porch.   To the south of the porch there are small rooms at ground and first floor levels, each of which has a fireplace, which were possibly private parlour pews (comfortable seating areas furnished with fireplaces, chairs and tables).   At first floor level there is a round arched doorway into the main chapel area and a square headed doorway onto a landing above the porch area.

People / Organisations:

Alexander McGillArchitect
Earl of MorayOwner


  • Chapel: Build/construction (1731)
  • Bellcote: Build/construction (1731)
  • Memorial: Build/construction (1731)

Archive References:

Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 3650
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 50877
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 2228

Bibliographic References:

Buildings of Scotland: FifeGifford, J1988p. 172