Ceres Parish Church

National Grid Reference (NGR): NO 39940 11660, map


Address

3 Kirk Brae
Ceres
Fife
KY15 5NA
Scotland

Introduction

This church was built in 1806 by Alexander Leslie, on the site of a much earlier building. It is on rising ground in the centre of Ceres with a graveyard to the east. The south elevation faces downhill towards the centre of the village.The site is entered though an iron gate on the west side of the church, which is surrounded to the south, east and north by a coped wall.    The churchyard contains a number of interesting seventeenth and eighteenth century memorials.   It also contains the Lindsay Vault which was probably attached to the medieval kirk prior to its demolition,   Inside the vault are sixteenth century memorials. There is evidence on the west wall that the roof has been raised, and that an opening has been blocked.


Description (exterior)

The church is built from sandstone, which is squared on the south, north and west elevations and well dressed at the quoins and margins.   It is roofed in slate.   The church consists of a gabled central cell with a gallery and a south tower with a spire

The east elevation has five clear glass windows which frame a square-headed door.  All of these windows appear to have been inserted in place of earlier ones.   To the south is a smaller window with a vent above.  The face is divided vertically by the tower, and horizontally by a string course, which divides the gable from the windows below.  Two windows, like those on the east, are on either side of the tower. The lower two windows appear to have been inserted in place of earlier openings. A flat-roofed extension protrudes from the southeast corner.

The west wall has three windows just below the roofline, similar to those in the east and south walls.   Below are three blank arches.   Two further (outer) arches have windows cut into them.   The central arch has a door, which is approached by steps.  Above the door is the inscription 'JC 1806', which probably refers to John Corstorphine, who may have worked on this building.

Because the church lies on a slope, the western edge of the north elevation has greater depth than the south, but like the south elevation, the north has a string course, which divides the gable from the windows below.   It is capped by a spherical finial.  There are two stained glass windows with latticed stained glass.

The tower is in the middle of the south elevation. It is divided into three stages below its parapet. On the lower stage to the west, is a door which leads into the vestibule. Above this is a blind Saxon arch, which is repeated on the south elevation. To the east is a window. Above the second string course there are three more Saxon arches, the outer two blind and the central arch louvered.   This arrangement is repeated on every face.   Below the windows on the south and west faces are square vents.  Above the windows is a corbelled parapet with pinnacles on three of its four corners.   The octagonal clock stage has four clocks, one on every other face. There is a stone spire with a weathervane, which is divided into two by a string course.


Description (interior)

The interior of Ceres Parish Church retains much of its original features and fittings, including an impressive curved, horse-shoe gallery, which is supported on classical-style cast-iron columns. The church is rectangular in plan and aligned north-south, with the sanctuary and pulpit against the northern gable. The large gallery stretches the entire length of the west and east walls and curves round against the southern end, where it is reached by a stairway in the central tower.

 

The sanctuary is centrally placed at the northern end of the nave and raised on two steps. There is a large wooden communion table to the front, behind which is the large wooden pulpit. It is painted a soft pink to match the surrounding walls and is reached via a curved stairway on the eastern side. Attached to the rear wall is a tall sounding board and dome. Flanking the pulpit and flooding the interior with light are a pair of very large round-arched Georgian windows with lead panes and some coloured glass.

 

The nave retains its original simple oak pews and features unusual and rare box pews, which convert into two long communion tables with seating, which stretch nearly the entire length of the nave. When not in use for communion, they are arranged as three-four enclosed box pews on either side of the central aisle. Small wooden doors in the side panels provide access to the bench pews, which seat up to four people. They are converted into long communion tables by the removal of the wooden back boards and benches, which fold away and convert into a narrow central table, with bench seating on either side. The gallery is supported on classical-style cast-iron columns and features a large panelled front, in which is a narrow plastered frieze with moulded decoration.

J Dowling 2017


People / Organisations:

NameRoleDatesNotes
Church of ScotlandDenomination1806-NOW
Mr Alexander LeslieArchitect1805-1806The design of the church is attributed to Alexander Leslie.
Mr John CorstorphineArchitect1806The initials JC are inscribed above the door in the east elevation. These may be the initials of John Corstorphine.

Events:

  • Graveyard: Build/construction (11c0)
    There has been a graveyard on this since at least the twelfth century.
  • Church: Build/construction (1805 to 1806)
    The church was built.
  • Tower: Build/construction (1806)
  • Church: Addition (1851 to 1852)
    Hugh Birrell of Drumeldrie added the tower and the spire.
  • Church: Addition (1865)
    John Milne replaced the piended north end of the church with a straight gable.
  • Church: Restoration (1950c)
    The interior was restored by Ian Lindsay in the mid twentieth century.
  • Burial vault: Build/construction (c1650)

Archive References:

NameReferenceNotes
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 3700
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 31514
CSA: Inventory of Scottish Church Heritage - HardcopyReference: 3700Research by Paula Martin in 1998 and by J. Dowling in 2004.

CSA: Inventory of Scottish Church Heritage - HardcopyReference: 3700Research by Paula Martin in 1998 and by J. Dowling in 2004.

Image Copyright: John R Hume.
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 3700Research by J Dowling
Scran - Online databaseReference: 000-000-025-639-cImage Copyright: John R. Hume
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 2365
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 2363
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 97948
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 223521

Bibliographic References:

NameAuthorDateNotes
Buildings of Scotland: FifeGifford, J1988pp. 122-123