Insch Parish Church

National Grid Reference (NGR): NJ 63106 28197, map


Western Road and Church Terrace
AB52 6AF


Insch Parish Church is located close to the town centre of Insch, a small rural settlement in central Aberdeenshire. It stands back from Western Road in garden grounds and is surrounded by private housing. The church was built in 1881/83 to replace the original parish church in the town, now ruinous. The architects were Matthews & Mackenzie who used Gothic style. The tower was slightly modified in 1914. A church hall was built directly across the road from the church, which is used regularly by the congregation and wider community. It is dated 1901 or 1907 and designed by James Duncan & Son of Turriff. It was altered in 1925 and the architect this time was Liddle Duncan. 

Description (exterior)

The church aligned north/south and is rectangular on plan with a tower at the south-west corner and a small vestry to the rear. It was built in pink granite with fine ashlar masonry on the principle south elevation and coursed rubble to the sides and rear. The steeply-pitched roof is slated and has a number of vents on the ridge and lower down in the roof. 

The south gable has a large central window, composed of three separate pointed-arch (lancet) windows. The central opening is much larger than those flanking it and it has simple tracery, depicting a rose or circle. The glazing in this window is latticed. An interlocking hoodmould rises above the window arches. Above, in the gablehead is a small round opening with a quatrefoil window within. There is a simple cornice course at the gable top and a small stone finial on the apex. A sturdy buttress is placed at the south-east corner and is stepped and topped with a tall pinnacle. 

The prominent tower of the church is attached to the south gable at the south-west corner. It has a square base from which rises a narrower octagonal stage. The belfry stage above is slightly narrower again and is topped by a steep stone spire. The main doorway into the church is contained in the south face of the tower. It is pointed-arched, has chamfered margins and is quite deeply recessed. There are small lancet windows in the sides, resting on a thick sill course. The octagonal tower above has very tall, narrow lancets in half of the 8 faces and the belfry stage has smaller (but wide) louvered openings on every face. These have a simple, rather delicate hoodmould above. In the ashlar stone spire are four large gables (lucarnes), on which are large black and white clock faces. On top of these gables, and the spire itself, are small, metal finials. 

The west and east sides of the church are fairly plain and are of five bays (the first stage of the west elevation is that of the tower) and have equally-spaced lancet windows with latticed glazing, most of which is stained glass. The rear (north) gable has a single, central round rose window with simple tracery and stained glass. Attached to the rear is a small, single-storey vestry and session house, which have shouldered-arched doors and rectangular case and sash windows. 

The narrow tower of the church has an original clock with full working mechanism. It was built by Gillett & Co. of London and was built and installed in 1884.

Description (interior)

The interior of Insch Parish Church is orientated north-south, with the sanctuary at the north end and the pews in the nave facing it. The walls are painted pale yellow and blue and blue carpet covers the floor. 

The sanctuary has been extended into the nave in recent times to bring the minister closer to the congregation. A low stage has been built in front of a central pipe organ. The organ has painted and stencilled pipes and simple wooden panelling. The organ console is contained within a small recess. It is by Wadsworth & Brother and dated 1906. A small communion table is placed forward of the pulpit and close to the wooden font. The table has carving depicting vines and grapes as well as simple tracery. A large, ornate wooden Minister's chair is placed behind the communion table. A small pulpit, in darker wood, is placed off-centre to the east of the sanctuary stage. It is a simple and small hexagonal structure and has a narrow base and a lectern built in. 

The nave has simple wooden pews, stained a dark brown colour and divided by two narrow passages. At the south end is a small gallery, supported on slender cast iron columns and with simple trefoil panelling and a small church clock by D & J Riddel of Aberdeen. The nave has numerous fine stained glass windows, all private memorials to family members and depicting typical biblical figures and events. Two stained glass windows from St Ninian's Church, Oyne have been mounted in panels in the north gable and back-lit with lights. They depict Christ and St Andrew. There are four windows by William Meikle & Sons dated between 1923 and 1928. 

People / Organisations:

Matthews & MackenzieArchitects of the church1883
Gillet & Co, LondonClockmakers1884


  • Church built (1883)

Archive References:

Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 03850
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 112805
Dictionary of Scottish Architects - Online databaseReference:
Dictionary of Scottish Architects - Online databaseReference:

Bibliographic References:

Aberdeenshire: Donside and Strathbogie, an illustrated architectural guideIan Shepherd2006p56
Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae: the succession of ministers in the Church of Scotland from the ReformationH Scott et al (eds.)1915-61Vol. 6, p158-60