St Thomas' Episcopal Church, Aboyne

National Grid Reference (NGR): NO 51877 98550, map


Ballater Road
AB34 5JN


St Thomas' Church was built in 1907-9 and is a reproduction of St. Mary-The-Virgin, Burrough On The Hill, Leicestershire. It was the first purpose-built Episcopal church in Aboyne and is located in a triangular-shaped area of wooded land, surrounded by roads on all sides. When it was originally built it was at the edge of Aboyne but, after 20th century town expansion, it is now in an urban context, with the Deeside Community Centre opposite. The church was funded by the First Baron of Glentanar and his wife laid the foundation stone in 1907. The large wooded grounds surrounding the church have several graves, gathered at the east end, and there is an unusual timber boiler house, now out of use. 

Description (exterior)

The church is Gothic in style and built with grey granite blocks, coursed and finely-tooled. Fine ashlar granite is used in the carved window tracery and details, such as the gargoyles. The roofs of the church are shallow-pitched and slated. St Thomas's church consists of a nave, side aisles, tower, entrance porch and chancel. 


The south elevation has a long side aisle running the length of the church, which encorporates a small vestry at the vest end and a gabled organ chamber at the east end. The central three bays have pointed-arch windows with fine stone tracery and leaded glass, some of which is much older than the church and was acquired from other buildings. Each window has a simple hoodmould and small, stepped buttresses are placed between the windows. The original rain water downpipes, with carved stone gargoyles and spouts, are in place. A small pointed-arch door at the west end gives access to the vestry. The organ chamber or bay at the east end has narrow pointed-arch (lancet) windows and a pointed-arch doorway.


The main feature of the west elevation is the squat, square tower and spire. It has three stages, marked by stringcourses. There are powerful, stepped corner buttresses and there is a corbelled parapet at the top of the tower, featuring fine carved stone. The belfry stage of the tower has pointed-arch windows with hoodmoulds and louvered openings. The spire is built in ashlar granite and has tall dormered openings (lucarnes) with finials, and the spire is topped by a large metal weather vane. 


The north elevation has a shorter side aisle than is found on the south side, and a large, square entrance porch is attached to the aisle at the north-west corner. The porch has a flat roof and a large pointed-arch open doorway, which leads to the pointed-arch door, which is the main entrance into the church. The aisle has two pointed-arch windows, as described on the south elevation. The east end of the aisle has a group of three trefoi-headed windows. The chancel is built onto the nave where the north aisle ends, and is only slightly narrower than the nave. The north elevation has stepped buttresses and a single lancet window with stained glass. main feature of the chancel is the east gable, which has a single very large pointed-arch window. The window is mounted on a thick sill course and has a deep hoodmould. The window has fine stone tracery, consisting of intersecting segments, pointed heads and a large round section at the top. It has fine stained glass (described in the interior section). 

Description (interior)

The interior of the church is warm and welcoming and is arranged like a typical Episcopal church, with the chancel the main focus. The narrow nave and side aisles have plastered walls with exposed ashlar details. The wooden floor has large metal vents or grates running through the main passageways. The nave and aisles are separated by large stone arcades and have original interlocking wooden chairs (instead of pews) with foldable kneeling mats. The north aisle has a small side altar at the eastern end and a small children's area has been created in the west bay. The main feature of the south aisle is the large, ornate memorial in a pointed-arch recess. It features a marble sailing boat with an angel. At the west end of the nave is a pointed-arch doorway which leads to the small side vestry and the tower. A wooden ladder provides access into the bell chamber of the tower. 


The chancel is at the east end of the nave and has a large pointed-arch chancel arch. It has a stone and tile floor, raised up from the nave. There are wooden side choir pews and the pointed arch organ chamber to the south holds the ornate pipe organ. The chancel features some of the most detailed woodwork and carving in the church, including the tops and panels of the choir stalls and the wooden panelling of the organ. The altar is again ornately-decorated with carved wooden panelling with tracery. One of the most striking features of the chancel is the fine stained glass window. It, along with the other small windows in the chancel, was made by William Morris & Co. It shows, in five main panels, the Passion of Christ, from the Last Supper to the Ascension. 

People / Organisations:

Fryers and Penman, LargsArchitects of the church1907-1909
William Morris & CoMade most of the stained glass windows1909


  • Church built (1907 to 1909)

Archive References:

Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 5838
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 47053A-listed
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: RCAHMS NJ59NW 72:00
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 181585

Bibliographic References:

The Third Statistical Account of Scotland: The County of Aberdeen1960p427
Royal Valley: The Story of the Aberdeenshire DeeF Wyness1968p280
St Thomas's Church, AboyneJane Kruuk2009Centenary publication