Blackfriars Chapel, St Andrews

National Grid Reference (NGR): NO 50750 16540, map


South Street
St Andrews
KY16 9EW


Blackfriars Chapel was built in 1525 as an addition to the original 13th century friary in the town.   The Blackfriars were Dominican Friars or preachers who were introduced to St Andrews by Bishop Wishart at some point after 1274. The chapel was built in sandstone on the north side of an older church building, and consisted of a nave and transepts. Part of the structure encroached onto South Street, and permission for this was granted in 1525. Their friary was damaged by fire in 1547 and destroyed in 1559 by a Protestant raid, which left only the chapel upstanding. (An excavation of 1910 uncovered evidence of a hall.) Re-building took place after a grant was given by Bishop Elphinstone of Aberdeen in 1514. Only the north transept of the chapel now survives and, unusually, it has a semi-octagonal-apsed north end.

Description (exterior)

The surviving structure of Blackfriars today consists of the north transept and apsed end, which protrudes into South Street from a large grassed area in front of Madras College. It is built in sandstone rubble with ashlar surrounds and tracery. The barrel-vaulted stone roof of the transept mostly survives. The semi-octagonal apsed end of the transept features three large pointed-arch windows, each with intersecting arched tracery with a round opening to the top. The central, north window is larger than the others, and may have been extended downwards at a later date. The west elevation of the transept features a similar pointed-arch window but which has lost its stone tracery. At the south end of the transept is the large arch that would have led into the crossing and nave of the chapel.

J Dowling 2017

Description (interior)

The roof consists of a pointed tunnel-vault, with ribs that meet at a boss carved with Crucifixion emblems. There are corbels at the side walls to support the ribs, and one has the arms of the Hepburn family  (it was probably for John Hepburn, Prior of the Augustinian Convent of St Andrews Cathedral). The east wall features an arched aumbry. There is also a blocked doorway which was probably inserted in the 18th century when a house was built against the transept, incorporating it into the house.

People / Organisations:

Dominican FriarsDenomination12-1560


  • Friary: Build/construction (1514)
    Rebuilding of friary.
  • Friary: Addition (1525)
    Chapel built.
  • Transept: Build/construction (1525)
  • Aisle: Build/construction (1525)
  • Friary: Damage (1547)
  • Transept: Damage (1547)
  • Aisle: Damage (1547)
  • Friary: Damage (1559/06)
    Destroyed by reformers.
  • Transept: Damage (1559/6)
    Destroyed by Reformers.
  • Aisle: Damage (1559/6)
    Destroyed by Reformers.
  • Friary: Damage (1567)
  • Transept: Damage (1567)
  • Aisle: Damage (1567)
  • Friary: Alteration/conversion (1700)
    Addition of door into chapel.
  • Transept: Addition (1700)
    Addition of door.
  • Friary: Alteration/conversion (1800)
    Windows of chapel altered.
  • Transept: Alteration/conversion (1800)
    Alteration of windows.
  • Aisle: Alteration/conversion (1800)
    Alteration of chapel windows.
  • Friary: Founded (c1275)
    Bishop Wishart founded Dominican Friary.

Archive References:

Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 34336Blackfriar's Chapel.
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 94440Dominican Monastery.
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 40706
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 34336
Scran - Online databaseReference: 000-000-108-882-cImage rights: Edwina Proudfoot
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 4665
Scran - Online databaseReference: 000-000-108-882-CImage rights: Edwina Proudfoot.

Bibliographic References:

Historic St Andrews and its UniversityRead, J.1939Page: 9, 10.
St Andrews Cathedral: official guide.Historic Scotland1999Text: Richard Fawcett. Page: 27.