St Margaret's West Kirk, Arbroath

National Grid Reference (NGR): NO 63600 41030, map


Keptie Street
DD11 3AZ


Arbroath West Kirk was built in 1897 as St Margaret's. After a number of unions with other churches it finally became known as St Margaret's West Kirk.  (See  SCHR sites 7869 and 5342)

The church and halls complex lies along Keptie Street. The church is rectangular in plan, with a nave and side aisles, tall square tower and small transepts. To the rear are a number of halls, meeting rooms and kitchen, and to the east is a single storey hall and vestry, built at the same time as the church. The church has an unusual mixture of Romanesque and Gothic features and was built in striking red sandstone.

Description (exterior)

The south elevation faces Keptie Street, with the impressive square tower attached to the south-east corner of the nave. There is a porch and entrance doorway centrally placed in the nave gable and a recent side entrance to the west gives entry to a vestibule area and modern hall complex to the rear. The square tower was built in coursed sandstone blocks with moulded details around the windows and openings. The tower is divided by four stringcourses. There is a small round-arched doorway in the east side of the tower. There is a large pointed-arch lancet window with moulded surrounds and hoodmould in the south elevation, with much smaller lancet windows above, half way up the tower. The top of the tower has the most architectural detail. On all four elevations of the tower are three recessed lancet windows with round-arched hoodmoulds that join onto a stringcourse. Above is a large, traceried pointed-arch belfry opening, behind which are the original bells of the church. The openings have nets behind them in an attempt to keep out birds. The tower is topped by a corbelled, battlemented parapet with tall stone pinnacles on each corner. Within the upper section of tower is a telecommunications mast, which has been quite well hidden from street level and is maintained by the company who own it and rent the tower space. 

The south gable of the nave is quite narrow, with the side aisles attached to the east and west. The central porch is gabled and has a large round-arched doorway with a simple but large hoodmould. Attached round columns with moulded capitals support the arch. Within the porch are two pointed-arch doors, which lead into the original vestibule area of the church. Above the porch is a large pointed-arch window with simple but elegant tracery. Its hoodmould joins a narrow stringcourse, and at the bottom of the window another stringcourse steps up to meet the sill. Below the apex of the gable is an oval window, which is again joined onto a small stringcourse. A small finial sits atop the apex. The west and east ends of the nave gable have buttresses and the attached west aisle has a corner buttress. A lancet window is present in the south-facing aisle end. 

The east and west side elevations are broadly very similar, with the same architectural details. There are pairs of lancet windows at ground floor level, spaced between narrow buttresses. A stringcourse divides them from the much shorter first storey pointed-arch windows, which are again arranged in pairs. Most of the windows have stained glass, with quarry panes in the others. There are no clerestorey windows. The walls were built with finely-tooled and shaped blocks of sandstone. The transepts have corner buttresses, single lancet windows and a large rose window in the gabled east and west-facing ends. At ground floor level in the transept gables are three lancet windows, the central one placed higher in the wall. The west elevation has a shallow, gabled doorway with pointed-arch door. The wooden door has recessed trefoil and quatrefoil tracery-style panels. At the far north end of the west elevation is a recent flat-roofed side entrance with glass doors. The east elevation has a shorter aisle, squeezed between the tower and transept. To the north is a small walkway, which joins the church to a single-storey L-shaped hall and vestry complex to the east.  This building has rectangular windows and three round-arched windows in the south-facing gable. It was built in the same red sandstone and has slate roofs with terracotta ridge tiles. 

The north elevation is now obscured by neighbouring buildings. A 20th century hall complex is attached to the rear (north) of the church.

Description (interior)

The interior of the church is arranged around the raised chancel, with tall arcade arches dividing the nave from the aisles and supporting the east and west galleries. A gallery is also present at the south end of the nave.


The nave is narrow and tall. A very large chancel arch separates the rear of the chancel from the nave. The chancel has three stained glass lancet windows. One of the window's glass was made in the 1970s by local artists.The organ pipes are contained within the chancel. The wooden pews of the nave and aisles are stained a dark colour and face the chancel at the north end.


The galleries in the side aisles have their original pews. The arcade arches are built with fine ashlar sandstone, with decorated capitals supporting the bases of the arches. The galleries are lit by the small pairs of pointed-arch windows described above. The galleries extend further back into the transept spaces,which are lit by rose windows. The south gallery is supported by carved wooden brackets held by stone corbels. The window above the south gallery is one of the few windows without stained glass.


The wooden hammer-beam roof is supported on stone corbels mounted in the walls. Groups of lights hang from the roof to gallery height. The plastered walls are painted a cream colour and the floors are covered with a dark blue carpet.

People / Organisations:

Gordon WebsterDesigned and made stained glass in the chancel1974
Neil HutchisonHelped make the stained glass windows in the chancel1974
Thomas S Robertson, DundeeArchitect, built the church1877-9
Chas EdwardArchitect, built the church1877-9


  • Church: Build/construction (1877 to 1879)
    People: Thomas S Robertson

Archive References:

Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 4499
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 21237B-listed by Historic Scotland
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 1931525 online photographs

Bibliographic References:

The Ecclesiastical Buildings of Arbroath and DistrictWilliam F Clark2010Draft booklet
Arbroath West Kirk: A Short HistoryWilliam F Clark2010