Liff Parish Church

National Grid Reference (NGR): NO 33270 32830, map


Church Road


Liff Church was built in 1839 by William MacKenzie and is a rectangular plan Gothic structure with a tower and spire at the east end. The church is located in the small hamlet of Liff, a rural area close to Dundee. It lies in an impressive graveyard which contains a hearse house and large family monuments. The church has stugged sandstone walls with droved ashlar dressings and corner stones (quoins). The nave roof is slated.

Description (exterior)

The east frontage gable has a striking, slightly advanced two-stage tower with the main entrance doorway. The two-leaf wooden door has simple panelling and there is a pointed-arch fanlight and hoodmould above. The hoodmould stops have detailed carved human heads. Above the door is a large pointed-arch window with simple Y-tracery and diamond panes of glass. All the windows and doors in this elevation have pronounced hoodmoulds (with carved human head stops), similar to that of the main door. Above a stringcourse, two-thirds of the way up the tower, are louvred arched openings on all the faces. The tower has a slightly corbelled battlemented parapet with small crowstepped pediments. There are small finials at the corners. Rising from the tower is a slender pyramidal stone spire with flying buttresses at the base, which are largely hidden from view by the parapet. There are small lucarnes (dormered openings) in the spire. To either side of the tower, in the east crowstepped gable, is an arched door with pointed-arch window above.

The north and south side elevations have three large pointed-arch windows symmetrically placed, while the west gable has two smaller pointed-arch windows and a small round window towards the gablehead. The windows of these elevations have simple surrounds.  

At one of the boundary walls of the church yard is the hearse house, with its entrance doorway on the road side. It has red sandstone walls and a slate roof, with a finial on the gablehead and triangular skewputs on each gable end. Nearby is the striking Watt Webster Monument. Built in 1809 by David Neave, it records the Watts of Logie and the Websters of Balruddery and has classical columns and fine incised detail.

Description (interior)

The interior is large for a rural parish church, with an impressive chancel and spacious galleries.  Entry into the nave is through the main tower doorway. Stone stairs are present on either side of the entry passage, leading to the galleries. The wide galleries, supported on simple columns, stretch around three sides of the church, with the focus at the chancel area at the west end. The wooden pews have gated ends to the rows, with passages on either side of a central section of pew seating.


The chancel forms the centre piece to the church interior. It is raised from the nave, with steps giving access. There are high wooden communion rails, which enclose the chancel space. Within is a communion table with carved panels, with the minister's chair behind. There is a small font and other chairs for elders. The pulpit is integrated into the impressive organ. The keyboard for the organ is below and slightly under the pulpit, which is accessed via seven steps. The organ pipes, encased in wooden panelling, rise up from the chancel. Two large stained glass windows, depicting Biblical figures, frame the organ and chancel.


Near the entrance, inside, is a display of stone carvings, including a carved memorial stone from 1742 and a 1914 plaster cast of a ninth century Pictish stone.

People / Organisations:

William MackenzieArchitect of the church1839


  • Church built (1839)

Archive References:

Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 7829
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 13214B-listed
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: RCAHMS NO33SW 10:00
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 223904

Bibliographic References:

The Church and Parish of LiffA B Dalgetty1940