New Pitsligo Parish Church

National Grid Reference (NGR): NJ 87980 56120, map


Church Street
New Pitsligo


The small village of New Pitsligo was planned and built as a new settlement by Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo in the 18th century. Its rows of cottages, straight streets and long strips of cultivated plots are evidence of the village's planned origins. The parish church of New Pitsligo was built later, at the very end of the 18th century, as a chapel of ease. Before the church was built the nearest parish church was in Tyrie, a fairly long walk for the villagers. Permission was granted to build a new church in New Pitsligo in 1799 and a small church opened in the same year. A larger church, the current building on the site, replaced the original in the mid 19th century. It stands at the eastern end of a rectangular graveyard at the north-west edge of the village, and is reached by a short lane. 

Description (exterior)

The church is a large T-plan building with an additional vestry and organ chamber. It was built with large tooled blocks of granite with ashlar granite around the windows and other openings. The roofs of the church are slated and have been repaired in the past. 


The south gable of the church forms the principle elevation and faces the approach lane. There is a central doorway which is slightly advanced from the gable. There is a tall gable above the pointed-arch doorway and short flanking buttresses. The door is recessed with chamfered edges to the stonework and there are decorative metal hinge plates. Directly above the doorway is a group of three pointed-arch (lancet) windows, linked by a slender hoodmould at the top. Most of the windows in the church are moder, double-glazed replacements but retain the lattice-style glass panes the original windows had. On the apex is a tall, ellaborate bellcote. Mounted on a base, it has four quatrefoil columns with simply-carved capitals. The top of the bellcote is corbelled out with small dogtooth (pyramidal) corbels. Rising from the flat top is an octagonal, stone spire, capped with a large metal cross finial. 


The west aisle of the church has the same proportions as the main body or nave of the church. The aisle's west gable has a group of three lancet windows, matching those in the south gable. Below are three rectangular windows with shoulder-arch tops. There is a small rectangular side door in the south face of this aisle. 


The north (rear) gable has a matching group of lancet windows with a small pointed-arch doorway below. The doorway has a simple hoodmould and the door is a later replacement. In the north-west corner of the church is a small, contemporary vestry and session house attachment. It is single-storey in height and has plain pairs of rectangular windows on the west and north faces. 


The long east elevation has a large, central organ chamber which was built onto the elevation at the start of the 20th century. The chamber has three sides, with triple lancets in the sides and a large, stepped buttress is placed along the central face. The top of the chamber has a battlemented parapet and a hipped slate roof. The nave wall on either side of the chamber has a group of three lancet windows the same size as those in the organ chamber. There are also stepped buttresses on either side of the chamber to add strength to the wall.

Description (interior)

The interior of the church is based around the chancel area in the centre of the east side of the church. The tall walls are plastered and painted, the wooden roof beams are stained a dark brown and the floors are carpeted. 


There are fixed wooden pews in the nave and aisle, which were taken from a closed church several years ago. A number of pews have been removed at the south end of the nave to create a welcome and display area. A corridor leads to the vestry and session room in the north-west corner. The church has impressive galleries on the south, west and north sides. They are reached by stairs leading off from the nave. The galleries retain their original pews, which are slightly darker than those below in the nave and aisle. A large multi-purpose room has been created in the west gallery, which is closed off from the rest of the church and has two pointed-arch inner windows. The galleries have panelled wooden fronts and are supported by slender cast-iron columns. 


The chancel area is in front of the organ chamber or apse on the east wall. The pulpit is symmetrical and reached by wooden stairs on either side. The pulpit itself is rectangular and has simple trefoil-headed recesses in the front panel. In front is an enclosed communion table, again with trefoil-shaped panels. At the side is a small wooden font and a lectern, which is normally used by the minister rather than the pulpit. The large Lawton pipe organ behind is placed in the centre of the purpose-built chamber. It has tall polished pipes with a painted stencil design. Electric bellows were fitted to the organ in later years.

People / Organisations:

John HendersonArchitect of the church1853


  • First church built on the site (1799)
  • Church rebuilt (1853)
  • Organ apse built (1902)

Archive References:

Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 3861
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: RCAHMS NJ85NE 26
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 179091

Bibliographic References: