St Lesmo's Episcopal Chapel

National Grid Reference (NGR): NO 47920 96050, map


Glen Tanar Estate
AB34 5EU


St. Lesmo's Chapel is located in a flat valley bottom to the south of the Water of Tanar. A narrow trackway leads to the chapel from the Bridge of Tanar to the north-east. The large Glen Tanar House, surrounded by a designed landscape and the home farm, lies a short distance to the west. There are large fields around the chapel and the steep hill to the south is wooded.  

The chapel was built in 1871 on the site of a small mansion or house, which belonged to the lairds of Braeloine. It is built on land belonging to Glen Tanar estate and appears to have been built by the estate too. There is a small graveyard to the south, which was (or is) a private burial ground for the lairds of Glen Tanar. The chapel is privately-owned and is not in regular use. 

Description (exterior)

The chapel today consists of the small nave, an attached vestry and a small tower on the north-west elevation. It is aligned north-east to south-west. The walls are of coursed granite with cherry-cocking (small pebbles set into the mortar between the stones). The roof was originally heather or turf, with a waterproof sheet or layer underneath. The nave has been re-roofed in more recent times with slates from an old building, while the small vestry at the south-west end retains its original heather and turf covering. 


The main nave of the chapel is particularly vernacular in appearance, with small rectangular windows, deeply inset. The south-east elevation has three equally-spaced windows, each with stained glass. The north-east gable has two very small rectangular windows in the gablehead, again with stained glass. There is a small cross finial on the apex. The north-west elevation was originally similar to the opposite south-east elevation, although there was a central door instead of a window (since converted into a window). However, a small square tower was built onto the north-west elevation in the 1930s, to house a new pipe organ inside. It has a piended (or hipped) slate roof and an advanced doorway in the south-west face. The tower has no window openings. The attached vestry, retaining its shallow-pitch, healther and turf-covered roof is an unusual feature. It has low walls built in a different manner to those of the nave, with  no cherry-cocking. It has small pointed-arch windows, all with stained glass. The north-west face of the vestry has a curved end and a stone chimney. At the junction of the vestry and nave, on the south-east elevation, is the main entrance doorway, which retains the old round-arched door from the previous house on the site. The granite ruins of this doorway have been encorporated into the chapel, forming an open-roofed porch area, which has a granite tile floor. A further rectangular door gives access to the vestry and church. A small metal bellcote on the gable used to hold a small bell with an external pull, but the bell is no longer present. 

Description (interior)

The interior was built to give a traditional, historical appearance. Whole tree trunks and branches were used for the main timber-beam roof and supports and the oak pews were hand-carved. There is a stone flag floor and exposed stone walls. 

People / Organisations:

George TruefittBuilt the vestry extension1937
Second Baron of GlentanarAcquired the organ housed in the chapel1937


  • Chapel built (1870 to 1871)
  • Small tower built (1937)
  • Pipe organ inserted into chapel (1937)
  • Vestry added (Late 19th century)

Archive References:

Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 3874
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: RCAHMS NJ49NE 25
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 80261
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 44B-listed

Bibliographic References:

The Third Statistical Account of Scotland: The County of Aberdeen1960p427
Royal Valley: The Story of the Aberdeenshire DeeF Wyness1968p25
Royal DeesideA I McConnochie1898p120