Arbroath United Free Church

National Grid Reference (NGR): NO 64460 40760, map


High Street
DD11 1BU


The original church on this site was built around 1806 as St. Mary's Episcopal Church. The congregation moved to a new building, also called St Mary's, at Ponderlaw in 1854.  The original 1806 building was sold to the Free Church congregation breakaway from Maule Street Secession Church and later demolished. The present building was constructed on the same site. It was known as High Street Free Church until union with the United Presbyterian Church in around 1900. The congregation united again in 1924 with East Church and became St. Ninians United Free Church. 

The church is set back from High Street in asphalt-covered grounds, used as a car park during services. It is a rectangular building and constructed in striking red sandstone coursed rubble blocks with ashlar surrounds.



Description (exterior)

The front gable of the church has a symmetrical layout, with a central doorway and windows to each side and above. There are gateways on each side with pointed-arch walkways, which give access to the sides of the church. The doorway is pointed-arched with a simple hoodmould. The wooden doors are rectangular and there is a glass fanlight above in the arch. The pointed-arch windows (lancet)flanking the door have clear glass, while the slightly wider pointed-arch window above the door has simple Y-tracery. 

The side elevations of the church are built in lower-quality stonework (red sandstone rubble) and have tall pointed-arch windows, covered in mesh for protection. There is a rectangular window in the south-west corner of the south elevation. The south-west elevation also has an unusual side-mounted bellcote of sorts. A bell and wheel mechanism is held in a metal frame mounted on the wall and supported by a metal leg that is attached to the ground. The bell is rung by an internal bell pull in the stairwell.

Description (interior)

The interior of the church consists of a nave, gallery and chancel, with a vestry attached to the north. The nave has simple wooden pews with two aisles that lead from the small vestibule at the front of the church. The large pointed-arch windows in the sides provide plenty of light. There is also a large model of a fishing boat, reminding people of the town's close ties with the sea.


The chancel is a slightly narrower attachment to the nave, with curved walls with a window framing the open chancel. There is a chancel arch of sorts, with three arches or arcading supported hung from the ceiling. The chancel is raised up from the nave by three steps. There is a simple, carved communion table in the centre, with the wooden pulpit and font to either side. The backof the chancel is painted a contrasting blue (compared to the pale yellow in the nave) and there is a wooden dado and bench seating. A side door leads to the vestry and office at the rear.


The gallery above the entrance vestibule has been converted into a separate room, accessed by the original stone staircase. A glass sectin in the new wall allows the nave below to be seen from the room. The room is used for various community events and clubs, as well as church meetings and events.


  • Church: Build/construction (1806)
    People: St Mary's Episcopal Church

Archive References:

Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 6204
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: NO64SW 442
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 288476

Bibliographic References:

The Ecclesiastical Buildings of Arbroath and DistrictWilliam F Clark2010Draft booklet