St Leonards College Chapel

National Grid Reference (NGR): NO 51263 16600, map


Address

South Street
St Andrews
Fife
KY16 9QJ
Scotland

Also known as:

  • St Leonard's College Church
  • Church of St Leonard

Introduction

St Leonards College is now occupied by a girls' school on the site of the medieval college. The chapel lies on the south side of the college quadrangle. The chapel survives, belongs to and is used by St Andrews University. The college's predecessor was a Culdee hospital for six pilgrims visiting the shrine of St Andrew. It was enlarged and its chapel eventually became the parish church, dedicated to St Leonard. It eventually became a university college intended primarily (although not exclusively) for the education of Augustinian novices in arts and theology.The chapel is now used by the university but has been a parish church since 1413. It seems likely that it was first built circa 1400 and comprised four bays with another two bays installed in 1512 to accommodate a choir. At the same time the west tower (later demolished) was built and new windows put in place. This extension went eastwards. The church and college continued in use until 1747, after which the college buildings were abandoned when it united with St Salvator's College in North Street. In 1761 the church was abandoned too and it was immediately unroofed and the west tower demolished. In the nineteenth century the chapel had its west bay removed to improve access from South Street. However, the chapel was re-roofed in 1910 and the interior restored by Ian G. Lindsay.    The college buildings were sold on and became housing, before they were bought for a new girls' school in 1881.


Description (exterior)

The roughly coursed squared sandstone building with a slate roof is what remains of a larger construction and is oriented east to west. The west wall was rebuilt following demolition of the tower and the west end of the chapel. Decorative fragments from the medieval period were incorporated c. 837. The north and south walls of the chapel are mainly Romanesquein style. The north wall is built on the medieval foundation. The south wall is of re-used stone and features two stepped-and-gabled buttresses. A moulded door was added in the centre to give access to the parish church and screened off choir. A small porch surrounding the door survived until the 18th century. The south-facing windows are two-light square-headed, in the Tudor style. The west gable was altered at a later date with medieval masonry and additions of carved stone, including the door-heads and the carved Hepburn arms. The window in the west gable was made smaller in the late 16th century when a gallery was added inside. It is lit by a small window added under the wall-head. The gable's upper part was rebuilt in 1910 using medieval stone.  The north wall is built on a medieval foundation. The south wall features two buttresses (stepped and gabled), and the windows are round-arched 3-light affairs. The window in the west gable was made smaller in the late 16th century when a gallery was added inside. It is lit by a small window added under the wallhead (top of the wall, near the roof). A door with moulding around it was added in the centre of the south wall to give access to the parish church and screened off choir. A small porch surrounding the door survived until the 18th century. The west gable was altered later on, with medieval masonry and carved stone being added, including doorheads and the carved Hepburn arms. The gable's upper part was rebuilt in 1910 and more medieval stone added.


Description (interior)

The chapel was re-roofed in 1910 and the interior restored by Ian G. Lindsay between 1948 and 1952   when was given its present late medieval-style layout.  All of the furnishing dates from this time and includes a screen, organ loft, pulpit and reredos. Original fitments include two aumbries, image niches, wall passageways that led to the college and a sacristy that has a vaulted roof. There are numerous monuments, the earliest remembers Robert Stewart who died in 1586. Also present are a number of floorslabs, the earliest to Canon William Ruglyn who died in 1502.

The nave is at the western end of the chapel, with the main entrance on the west. It has a flag-stone paved floor in which are set two gravestones. At the north end is a pulpit with reading desk imitating the early post-Reformation style. The nave is separated from the choir by a wooden screen and the organ loft above. Since restoration in 1948 the walls have been plastered and lime-washed and the ceiling painted to recreate a medieval appearance.

The choir, to the east of the nave, was probably part of an extension to the chapel in 1512. It has two rows of stalls set against the north and south walls. These, and all interior furnishings in the chapel, were a gift of Sir David and Lady Russel to commemorate their son Patrick, a student of the university who died in WW2. To either side of the entrance are the chief stalls, meant for the Principalor presiding minister.

On the north wall are three monuments.. The first is to Robert Wilkie, college principal, who died in 1611. The second to Peter Bruce, principal, who died in 1630 and the third to Robert Stewart, Earl of March who died in 1586. On it is an inscription which translates as: 'Safe in harbour, I put behind me the ocean and my fleet: beholding me, put behind you the whole world and your burdens'.

The sacristy projects out from the North-East of the choir and is lime washed with a barrelled roof and square windows on its northern and western elevations. The depth of the windows indicate the stone walls to be about one and aa half feet thick. It was probably added in the mid 17th century at the same time as the choir. It leads to a modern bathroom and corridor which runs behind the altar. A small window on the eastern elevation of the choir illuminates this corridor.


People / Organisations:

NameRoleDatesNotes
Pre-reformation Church of ScotlandDenomination1560
Mr David HenryArchitect1899Alterations to church.
Ian G. LindsayArchitect1948-1952Restoration.
University of St. AndrewsOwner1512-NOWSt Leonard's Chapel was part of St Leonard's College (one of the colleges of the University) from 1512. Even after the buildings of the college were sold and the chapel went out of use it remained a possession of the University. Today it is occasionally used for services by the University.

Events:

  • Chapel: Founded (1144)
    Hospital belonging to Culdees was given to Augustinian Canons by the Bishop Robert of St Andrews.
  • Chapel: Build/construction (1400)
    Chapel built.
  • Chapel: Build/construction (1512)
    Rebuilt and extended to included choir. Tower built.
    Also south porch (which survived until the eighteenth century).
  • Chapel: Founded (1512)
    Re-founded as part of college.
  • Chapel: Addition (1545)
    Extended eastwards. Addition of sacristy and south porch.
  • Chapel: Alteration/conversion (1578)
    Removal of screen between nave and choir. Addition of western gallery. West wall of church built. Sacristy remodelled with barrel vaulted roof.
  • Chapel: Repair (1724)
    Bell re-cast.
  • Chapel: Repair (1724)
    Bell re-cast.
  • Chapel: Alteration/conversion (1727)
    Height of tower increased. New spire and parapet.
  • Chapel: Abandonment (1761)
    The roof of the church was removed and the church was abandoned.
  • Chapel: Destruction/demolition (1761)
    Demolition of west tower.
  • Chapel: Alteration/conversion (1837)
    Alteration to west elevation of chapel to allow improved access to St Leonard\'s School from South Street.
  • Chapel: Repair (1853)
    Re-roofed. Windows which had been blocked up were opened.
  • Chapel: Alteration/conversion (1899)
  • Chapel: Repair (1910)
    Re-roofed and windows re-glazed.
  • Chapel: Restoration (1948 to 1952)
    The interior of the chapel was restored by Ian G. Lindsay
  • Chapel: Addition (1956)
    Reredos (featuring a painting of St Leonard)
  • Chapel: Removal (1994)
    Removal of organ.
  • Chapel: Installed (1994/4)
    Installation of a new organ.
  • Chapel: (b1413)
    Chapel had also become parish church.

Archive References:

NameReferenceNotes
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 40666
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 34373
Record of St Andrews: St Leonard's ChurchReference: GB 227 CH2/1561
Dictionary of Scottish Architects - Online databaseReference: M001379
Dictionary of Scottish Architects - Online databaseReference: M002407Ian G Lindsay
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 4715
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 4715

Bibliographic References:

NameAuthorDateNotes
St Leonard\'s Chapel, St AndrewsCant, Ronald Gordon1982
http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/about/UniversityChapels/