Cromar Parish Church, Tarland

National Grid Reference (NGR): NJ 48450 04670, map


Cromar Drive
AB34 4UF

Also known as:

  • St Moluag's Church


Cromar Parish Church is located on the eastern edge of the rural village of Tarland. The church is aligned north-south and overlooks a wide valley to the south. A small graveyard surrounds the church and the grounds are enclosed by trees of Muirton Wood to the north and east. There is a small parking area to the south of the church. The church was built in the late 19th century to replace the much smaller 18th century Old Parish Church to the south. 

Description (exterior)

The church is very large and striking for a small village, and the south principal elevation is particularly noteworthy. The south face was built with fine ashlar granite, while the side elevations and rear gable are built with lower quality tooled granite blocks. The large nave roof is slated and has three gableted vents on each side. 


The south elevation of the church has a number of architectural features, including a large square tower, rose window and a tall bellcote. The tower is at the south-east corner of the church and has stepped buttresses at the corners. There are pointed-arch (lancet) windows in the lower stage with recessed stone quatrefoil panels above. The belfry stage is slightly narrower and has pairs of louvered openings on each face. On top is a tall, octagonal, stone spire with decorative bands and a large metal cross finial. The tower is attached to a south-facing central gable, which has a very large, striking rose window and a celtic cross finial. The rose window has simple plate tracery and stained glass. There is a decorative granite course above the window with contrasting, alternating black and pink granite blocks. Below this window is 3-bay arcading which contains the main entrance doors into the church. The outer pointed-arch bays of the arcading have double-leaf timber doors with decorative hinge plates. In the central bay is a small lancet window. The arcading has a granite course above that matches that of the rose window. At the south-west corner of the elevation is an unusual bellcote. It is tall and has large corner buttresses and a trefoil opening. The top stage of the bellcote is gabled and has a pointed-arch opening where a bell could be hung (although a bell was never hung in the bellcote). 


The side elevations of the church are much more restrained than the south frontage. The west elevation has six narrow lancet windows, although the southernmost window is blank. The east elevation has five lancet windows and the east face of the tower at the south end. The windows have latticed, frosted glass panes. 


The rear (north) elevation of the church has a group of three lancet windows centrally placed in the gable with a trefoil vent in the gablehead. On top is a small metal finial and the gable has simple corner buttresses. Attached to the gable is cluster of single storey, gabled outbuildings, which include a boiler room, vestry and kitchen area. 

Description (interior)

The interior of the church is arranged with the sanctuary at the northern end and there is a large gallery at the southern end of the nave. The tall, plastered walls are painted a warm cream colour and most of the floor is covered in red carpet. The ceiling has herring-bone style wooden panelling. 


The sanctuary is stepped up from the nave and includes a large pulpit, communion table and font. The pulpit is centrally placed along the north wall and is framed by an arched recess in the wall, which contains a wooden cross. The wooden pulpit is simply decorated and has symmetrical stairs on each side. The communion table is more ornate and has traceried panels and the inscription 'This do in Remembrance of Me'. The font is marble and decorated with a gold freize and a carved capital and short column. 


The nave has wide wooden pews with a passageway at the east and west ends. The gallery is reached via a stairway in the tower and has hand made hangings covering the wooden front. A separate room has been made under the gallery, which has a small kitchen and seating. It is used for coffee mornings and meetings. 

The stained glass window in the north gable is a memorial window donated by the local Farquharson family. The central panel depicts a kneeling Christ. The stained glass in the south rose window is by Douglas Strachan and shows Christ with numerous saints surrounding him.

People / Organisations:

William SmithArchitect of the church1869
Douglas StrachanStained glass window


  • Church built (1869-70)
  • Spire added (1889)

Archive References:

Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 3931
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 19790B-listed
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: RCAHMS NJ40SE 83
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 136643

Bibliographic References:

Deeside and The Mearns: An Illustrated Architectural GuideJ Geddesp136