Thornton Parish Church

National Grid Reference (NGR): NT 28910 97590, map


Main Street
Main Street, Thornton


Thornton Parish Church was built in 1834-5 as a chapel of ease for Markinch Parish Church (site number: 7786), and became a Free Church.  It is  small, T-plan, in a precinct with grass and modern paving.  There is a stone boundary wall with modern railings and gate to the street side.   Single storey extensions have been added to the north of the church which appear to be of a later date, and a modern hall attached at the rear, with separate access from Strathore Road. The church has been repointed with modern cement.    It was formally united with Markinch in 2014.

Description (exterior)

The church was originally rectangular, the transepts having been added in 1897.  It is constructed of squared and snecked sandstone rubble, with ashlar quoins and coping, and the roof is of slate.

The east gable faces the street.   In it there are two symmetrically placed windows with modern opaque glass.   At the apex there is a small square headed opening;   the southern return of the gable is blank.    A single window in the east face of the southern wing matches those in the gable end.

The main entrance is in a single storey porch on the south side. The timber doors are modern. The remainder of the gable is blank apart from a small date panel near the apex which reads �ERECTED A.D. 1835�.    The gable is topped by a birdcage bellcote with pyramidal roof above a moulded cornice.   There are four evenly spaced circular openings on the  sides of the bellcote and there is a bell which may be original.

The west elevation roughly mirrors the eastern, except that the window in the wing is not centrally placed, being at the left extremity.  There is also a small window to the right. Projecting from the gable is a modern harled rectangular hall.

The northern elevation consists of a central gable, slightly projecting, with two large windows, and flanking wings with a single window each.   Towards the apex of the gable is a glazed oculus and there is a stone ball finial at the gablehead.    There are extensions at the centre of the elevation which appear to be later than the original church.

Description (interior)

Entry is by the south porch which leads to a vestibule in which there are in turn two doors into the nave of the church.   There is a south gallery and west and east transepts delineated by internal arches.     The eastern transept is closed at the lower level with a pew-lined gallery above, while the western transept has congregational pews beneath large round headed clear glass windows.   

The sanctuary, against the north wall, has a central carved wooden pulpit with a back screen and cross embellishment;   the pulpit is accessed by stairs on its east side.   A carved wooden communion table, lectern and font are also present, all raised on a two-step dais.   On the wall behind and to the sides of the pulpit, at the upper level, are two round headed stained glass windows.     Two small organs are available for music.   

There are memorials to the fallen of both world wars, some individual memorials and in the vestibule commemoration of association with the Boys Brigade and Women's Guild.

People / Organisations:

Church of ScotlandDenomination1834-NOW
Mr James RobertsonBuilder1834Dictionary of Scottish Architects: M004716. James Robertson is listed as a builder.
Gillespie and ScottArchitect1897architects.


  • Hall: Build/construction
  • Church: Build/construction (1834 to 1835)
  • Church: Addition (1897)
    Transepts added and windows replaced.

Archive References:

Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 122043
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 42995
Dictionary of Scottish Architects - Online databaseReference: M029463
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 7787R. Scrimegour, J. Dowling.

Bibliographic References:

Buildings of Scotland: FifeGifford, J1988p. 418
Year Book 1990Church of Scotland1990Restenneth
Discovering FifeLamont-Brown, Raymond1988p. 81
Thornton: Village History and Walks Around1984p. 15