Kinghorn Parish Church, Fife

National Grid Reference (NGR): NT 27170 86940, map


St James Place

Also known as:

  • Rosslands & St. Leonard's Church (1961)
  • St. Leonard's Parish Church
  • All Saints Church



There has been a Christian church on this site for over 750 years, but its medieval history is obscure.   The present parish church sits in a graveyard on raised ground above the shore and is sometimes called 'The Kirk by the Sea'.. It was built in 1774 to the west of the old parish church (site 2449) parts of which were incorporated into the new building and are visible at the eastern end.  The gates of the graveyard are flanked by large ashlar gatepiers dating from 1839.  The southern transept, or �Sailors' Aisle� (1609) was retained and the northern transept was built in the same place as the transept from the medieval church.   Alterations in 1894-5 included the addition of the bell tower on the northwest corner of the building and the chancel extension at the eastern end.     In 1961 the former United Presbyterian Church (site 8328), known as Rosslands Church, united with this church which at that time was known as St. Leonard's and this church was then called Rosslands and St. Leonard's Church.   Now it is simply called Kinghorn Parish Church.   The former United Presbyterian Church building was retained and now serves as the hall for the parish church.     

In the graveyard there are some eighteenth century examples displaying winged angel heads;   there are also later nineteenth century headstones.  Many of the gravestones have suffered from weathering due to their proximity to the sea.


Description (exterior)

The building is of pebbledash construction with a slate roof laid in diminishing courses.   The western gable was rebuilt in 1894-5.     It is divided into three bays, with the outer two bays of the north and south aisles slightly set apart from the central bay, which has an ashlar door case with pilaster and broken pediment detail and a date stone of 1894.   In the door case there is a two leaf painted square headed door with stained glass fan light above and above the door in the second stage of the central gable there is a tripartite stained glass window;   the central section is raised and round headed whilst the outer sections are square headed.   The gablehead features a lovered roundel and a stone cross finial on the apex.   The set back southern aisle bay is blank and the northern bay is obscured by the bell tower,  erected in 1894-1895, in the angle created by the central bay and the set back aisle.

In the north wall of the nave there are three square headed windows;    the easternmost two are of stained glass, covered with protective metal grates.    The northern transept, which projects from the eastern end of the face,  was rebuilt in 1774 on the line of the preceding transept and is known as the Balmuto Aisle.   A section of ground in front of the transept gable has been cut away and a broad arched doorway set at basement level which gives access to the Balmuto Crypt.    There is a date stone of 1774 above the basement doorway to the west and a blocked square opening to the east.    On the return to the west there are two square headed nine paned windows, and on the return to the east there is a door with a ramp leading up to it.

An advanced lower chancel in the centre of the east gable was added in 1894-5.   In its eastern face there is a large rose stained glass window, covered in a protective metal grate. To the north of the chancel, in the main gable, there is a square headed stained glass window, and at the top of the main gable there is a bipartite louvred opening.   A stone cross finial is on its apex.    The southern side of the main gable is obscured by a later flat roofed vestry extension with hipped roofed porch way.   

The nave of the southern face mirrors that of the northern elevation, but the windows are not of stained glass. The southern transept is of a different size and style from the northern transept because in the northern transept in 1608-9 the Sailors' Aisle was retained from the earlier church, as evidenced by a  date stone of 1609 with an anchor in the gablehead, and a broad arched four light partially stained glass window in the gable transept.    On the return to the west there is a door and a small stained glass window and there is a further stained glass window on the return to the east. There is a stone cross finial on the apex.

The square bell tower is at the northwest corner of the church building, in the angle created by the central bay on the western face and the set back northern aisle. It has stepped arrowslits on the western and northern faces, and is topped by a slate roof with metal cross finial.    The belfry stage is of ashlar with a bipartite round arched opening in each face


Description (interior)

The interior is crurciform, with north and south transepts, and the sanctuary occupying the east end.     The chancel features a large rose stained glass window by I. Goudie, dedicated to the memory of the Revd. Wm. Jardine Dobie by his daughters.     The communion table is below this, behind which the wall is lined with panelling which also provides seating for the elders;   this was given as a memorial to The Revd. Alexander McIlwraith who was minister of the parish from 1908-1926.    The commuion table and its reading desk, the pulpit and the lectern are all of carved wood;   the font is of stone;    all these were given as memorials at one time or another.     Congregational seating is provided by plain wooden pews.   At the west end there is a gallery, with an organ, but a music centre has also been created by removal of some of the pews on the north side of the nave.   Also on the north side at gallery level, there is a loft.    Above the door in the second stage of the central gable there is a tripartite stained glass window designed by J. Blyth (1945-1953);     there are several other stained glass windows, some of which are memorials to individuals or families, and one commemorates the 750th anniversary of the first grant of land for a church in Kinghorn.    An interesting model of the ship 'Unicorn' is on display in the Sailors' Aisle possibly dating from 1567.

People / Organisations:

Church of ScotlandDenomination1774-NOW
Saint LeonardDedicatee1774-NOWSaints Day: November 6th.


  • Church: Build/construction (1200)
    Dedicated in 1243.
  • Graveyard: Build/construction (1200 uncertified)
    There has been a church present on the site since the thirteenth century.
  • Church: Repair (1608 to 1609)
    Repair of southern Sailor\'s Aisle and addition of a loft to the interior.
  • Church: Destruction/demolition (1774)
    The building was partially demolished and replaced by the current church; some of the features of the original church were incorporated into the current building.
  • Church: Build/construction (1775)
    Incorporating Sailor\'s Aisle (south transept) of the earlier church.
  • Church: Alteration/conversion (1894 to 1895)
    Belltower added, west gable rebuilt, chancel extension.
  • Tower: Build/construction (1894 to 1895)
  • Church: Addition (1939)
    Covered in pebbledash.
  • Church: Addition (1939)
    Rose window of stained glass by I. Goudie in memory of Rev. Wm. Jardine Dobie given by his daughters
  • Church: Addition (1945 to 1953)
    Three-light west window by Clokey\'s, designed by J. Blyth

Archive References:

Dictionary of Scottish Architects - Online databaseReference: M007965
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 52759
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 52732
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 36241
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 46851
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 2450J. Dowling

Bibliographic References:

Kinghorn Parish ChurchKant, W.
Buildings of Scotland: FifeGifford, J1988pp. 270-271