St. Mary's By The Sea

National Grid Reference (NGR): NT 34020 96760, map


Address

14 High Street
East Wemyss
Fife
KY1 4RU
Scotland

Also known as:

  • Wemyss Old Parish Church
  • Wemyss Parish Chruch

Introduction

This church, which is in a poor condition, is in St. Mary�s Churchyard. There is a later hall, which is now a private house, at the northeast corner of the church. The whole site is surrounded by a high mortared rubble wall with a gateway in the northern side. Although there has been a church on this site since the twelfth century the present church was largely constructed in the sixteenth century, with several later phases of additions and alterations. The church closed for worship in 1976 and the congregation amalgamated with St. George's Church (site no. 8059). The church  building has been used for several different functions since it closed but is not in use and has been up for sale.   The former church hall is now a residential property.

A semi-circular war memorial was, in 1920, incorporated into the north west corner of the boundary wall of the churchyard;    an additional memorial was added in 1945.


Description (exterior)

The church is of harled sandstone with a slate roof.   rectangular with east and west transepts. A hall was built to the north east in 1928.


The north gable is crow-stepped, and forms the later transeptal north aisle. It has a central square headed door with a square headed two-light window on either side. In the centre of the upper storey there is an eight-light square headed transomed Tudor style window with squared hoodmould and clear glass with occasional decorated quarries. Above is a blocked quatrefoil. The west gable of the later aisle has a four light transomed square headed opening with hoodmould, and is boarded up.
At the south gable, the details are similar, although the large window is severly damaged and lacks its glass. The south transept is similar to the north, but is in very poor condition. The large eight light window has no glazing, is covered by wire mesh and partially boarded up. Much of the harling is missing from this face and the large red sandstone blocks used to construct the building are visible.

The east aisle has crow-stepped gables. The aisle, known as the Wemyss Aisle since the Reformation, is part of an earlier church. A large round arched door is centrally placed; only the segmental arch is visible, where the harling has fallen away. Above this there is a later six light square headed transomed window. This has plain glazing and a squared hoodmould above. There is a small blank circular opening directly above this.

The west elevation originally was part of the nave of the earlier church. In the centre of the upper storey is a pointed arch traceried window which has a segmental pointed arch of blond sandstone above it, and above this is a hoodmould which was probably added in 1810-11 when Robert Burn inserted the Tudor style windows. A small square bellcote was added to  the gable in 1693, and used to have a swan weathervane, (the swan being the crest of the Wemyss family).

 The original nave and chancel are mostly obscured by the later hall.  However, a square headed door is visible in the upper storey of the chancel, with a flight of stone steps leading up to it. The southern elevation of the original nave has two blocked square headed bipartite windows, whilst the one in the upper story is boarded up. There is a moulded panel on the chancel and a blocked two light traceried window. Iron bars have been placed over the window.


Description (interior)


People / Organisations:

NameRoleDatesNotes
Church of ScotlandDenomination1560-1976
Mr Robert BurnArchitect1810-1811The church was reworked by Robert Burn. This included the addition of rectangular Tudor windows and probably the hoodmould over the western window.
Pre-reformation Church of ScotlandDenomination11-1560
Mr WemyssBenefactor1893Repairs were paid for by Mr Wemyss of Wemyss Castle.

Events:

  • Church: Founded (1100)
    The church dates back to the twelfth century.
  • Church: Build/construction (1528)
    The church was virtually rebuilt at this time.
  • Church: Addition (1659)
    The transeptal north and south aisles were added.
  • Church: Addition (1693)
    The bellcote was added.
  • Church: Alteration/conversion (1810 to 1811)
    The church was reworked by Robert Burn. This included the addition of rectangular Tudor windows and probably the hoodmould over the western window.
  • Church: Repair (1893)
    Repairs were paid for by Mr Wemyss of Wemyss Castle.
  • War memorial: Build/construction (1920)
  • Hall: Build/construction (1928)
  • War memorial: Addition (1945)
    Additional memorial.
  • Church: Union (1976)
    The congregation joined with that of St. George\'s Church (site no. 8059) and the church closed for worship.
  • Church: Closure (1976)
  • Church: Alteration/conversion (1985)
    Converted to a recording studio.
  • Hall: Alteration/conversion (1985)
    Converted to a house.

Archive References:

NameReferenceNotes
Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland - Online databaseReference: 3201
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 16704
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 46041
Dictionary of Scottish Architects - Online databaseReference: M023897
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 46042
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 92448
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 92448Wemyss Parish Church and War Memorial.
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 258577
CSA: Inventory of Scottish Church Heritage - HardcopyReference: 4627Frank Rankin.
Scran - Online databaseReference: 000-000-025-658-C
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 4627

Bibliographic References:

NameAuthorDateNotes
Buildings of Scotland: FifeGifford, J1988p. 203
The Kingdom of FifePride, G.1999p. 65
Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches 1560-1843Hay, G.1957p. 258