Barthol Chapel Church, Tarves

National Grid Reference (NGR): NJ 81480 33940, map


Barthol Chapel
AB51 8TD


This large parish church is located in the small, rural hamlet of Barthol Chapel, alongside the small road that approaches from the south. It is aligned east-west and is built on terraced ground with a small graveyard alongside. The church was built in 1875 and was funded by a local estate. Today, it is linked with Tarves Parish Church and services are shared between the two buildings. 

Description (exterior)

Barthol Chapel Church is rectangular on plan and has an entrance porch, small tower and a vestry. It is built of roughly-finished granite blocks with contrasting light grey door and window surrounds. The large double-pitch roof is slated and has small dormer vents on each side. 


The west gable and tower form the principle elevation of the church. The gable is narrow with a steeply-pitched roof. There is a large central window comprised of three pointed-arch (lancet) openings, linked by a simple hoodmould. Standing in front of the window is a simple granite World War memorial. In the gablehead is a small clockface, inserted in the 1930s. There is a small, stepped buttress at the south end of the gable and the attached tower is at the north end. The tower has a square base and quickly narrows as it gains height. The tower is gabled at the top, corbelled to the sides and with trefoil recesses. Rising from this is a tall bellcote with gableted faces and lancet openings. There is an ashlar stone spire on top of the bellcote, topped with a small ball finial. 


The south elevation has a gabled porch at the west end. It has small corner buttresses and a large, recessed pointed-arch doorway in the south face. Within is a shoulder-arched door with a recessed fanlight panel above, in which is inscribed a passage from one of the Psalms. The porch has decorative gableted skewputs and a tall stone cross finial. The side walls of the porch have small trefoil-headed windows with leaded glass. The south elevation of the church has five pointed-arch windows with latticed glazing or stained glass. 


The east gable is fairly simple, with a central round or rose window with stone plate tracery and stained glass. In the gablehead is a quatrefoil recess and there is a very small finial on the apex. 


The north elevation of the church is close to a steep terrace drop. The tower, as described above, is at the west end. There are four lancet windows in the nave, which match those in the south elevation. At the eastend extends a small, single-storey vestry and session house. It has a small shoulder-arched door in the west face and small shoulder-arched windows in the west and north faces. The vestry building also has corner buttresses and a stone finial, similar to those found in the south porch. 

Description (interior)

The interior of the church is fairly simple and little-altered since it opened in the 19th century. It has a fine barrel-vaulted wooden roof structure, which is supported on stone corbels set in the side walls. The walls are plastered and painted white and violet. 


The sanctuary area is at the east end of the church and is raised up on a platform and accessed by wooden steps. There is a simple communion table to the centre with simple traceried panels. The small pulpit is in the north-east corner and has the same panels as the table. In the south wall is a very fine stained glass memorial window, depicting Christ as The Good Shepherd. Alongside is a small wooden harmonium, which is still used during services. 


The open nave has fixed wooden pews with carved ends, divided by a central passage. At the west end of the church, near the entrance doorway, is a space used for displays, a children's activity area and a general welcome area. This was created by the removal of some of the rear pews from the nave. Against the west gable of the church is a clock mechanism (by W F Evans & Sons), which was donated by the local Arthur family and installed in 1932. The clock and pendulum is contained within a wooden cabinet with double doors and a chain rises into the roof space to the clock face in the outer gable. 

People / Organisations:

W F Evans & SonsClockmakers1932


  • Church built (1875)
  • Clock installed in the church (1932)

Archive References:

Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 7909
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: RCAHMS NJ83SW 31
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 186607