Midmar Parish Church

National Grid Reference (NGR): NJ 69897 06496, map


AB51 7NA

Also known as:

  • Christchurch


This rural parish church lies in open arable countryside on the north slope of a wide valley. The previous church (see St Nidian's Church) was located at the foot of the hill to the south. The church was built in 1787 deliberatelly alongside an impressive possible Bronze Age recumbent stone circle, previously worshipped by Druids. The architect for the church was John Midleton of Shiels. The west gable was reconstructed in about 1885 and an entrance porch added.

The church is surrouned by a large graveyard, which also contains the stone circle. Mature trees line the boundary, alongside stone walls. 

Description (exterior)

The church is rectangular on plan with a west porch, north aisle and east vestry/session house. It was built with roughly-tooled, coursed granite rubble in a style known as 'cherry-cocking'. The roofs are slated and the nave has small roof lights at the west end to light the gallery inside. There are two round, metal roof ventilators along the ridge line. 

The west gable faces the entrance driveway. The large gabled porch is a later addition and has a round-arched door and rectangular windows to the sides. The gable has three pointed-arch (lancet) windows with latticed glazing. The central window has been shortened to accomodate the later porch. In the gablehead is a small quatrefoil window mounted in a circular recess. On the apex is a rectangular bird-cage bellcote with stumpy pinnacles and a ball finial. The bell itself dates to 1642 and has the name Peter Jansen. It probably came from the earlier church. 

The south elevation has five fairly large round-arched windows with simple but elegant Y-tracery and latticed glazing. The east gable has a single round-arched window with tre-foil tracery. Attached to the gable is a rear entrance porch with rectangular door and window and a small vestry and session house. It has a tall chimney on the gable and a small rectangular window. There is an attached lean-to store at the east end. The north elevation is mostly featureless apart from a round-arched window at the west end. There is also a narrow aisle at the east end with a round-arched window. This was built onto the church to accomodate a new pipe organ. 

Description (interior)

The interior of Midmar Church is orientated east-west with the sanctuary at the east end and a west gallery. The sanctuary is stepped up from the nave and has wood-pannelled back board against the gable, which frames the small pulpit in the middle. In front of the pulpit is a small communion table, which is finely-carved. The fairly small pipe organ(1914) sits in the narrow aisle to the north. 

The nave has plain wooden pews which can accomodate a large number of people. They are divided by two narrow aisles. Some of the original gas-fuelled lamps are still attached to the pews ends, although they have been converted to electric. 

The herringbone gallery front and supporting cast iron columns are still in place but the gallery has been closed off from the nave by the building of an internal wall. This has created a separate meeting room which is accessed by the original stone staircase located centrally at the west end of the church. 

The ceiling is coved and is dated to about 1885. 

People / Organisations:

Peter JansenMade bell re-housed in the church1642


  • Church built (1787)
  • West porch built and gable altered. Interior (1885)
  • Minor alterations (1942)

Archive References:

Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 04114
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: LB16296Listed - B
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 112864
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: NJ60NE 3Site for the recumbent stone circle in graveyard.
Dictionary of Scottish Architects - Online databaseReference: http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/building_full.php?id=423657

Bibliographic References:

Aberdeenshire: Donside and Strathbogie, an illustrated architectural guideIan Shepherd2006p153
The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation ChurchesG Hay1957P51 and 243
Fasti ecclesiae Scoticanae: the succession of ministers in the Church of Scotland from the ReformationH Scott et al (eds.)1915-61Vol. 6, p107-10
The Statistical Account of Scotland1791-9Vol. II, p524
The New Statistical Account of Scotland1845Vol. XII, p633
Buildings of Scotland - Aberdeenshire: South and AberdeenJoseph Sharples, David W Walker & Matthew Woodworth2015Yale University Press