West Parish Church, Inverurie

National Grid Reference (NGR): NJ 77410 21570, map


Address

West High Street
Inverurie
Aberdeenshire
AB51 3SA
Scotland

Introduction

Inverurie's West Church was originally built as a Free Church to replace a smaller building and house a growing congregation. It was built in the 1870s in an Early English Gothic style on a prominent corner site, towards the north-west of the town centre. It is now a parish church after the congregation reunited with Church of Scotland, and in the 21st century has been altered significantly to create the Acorn Centre, creating a busy meeting place, very popular with the community. Despite the alterations, which has included the creation of a shop, cafe and meeting centre, the building still continues its original function as a place of worship.


Description (exterior)

The church is a large building, consisting of a robust tower, nave, chapel, vestry and session house. The north-facing front elevation and tower are constructed in good quality ashlar granite (likely Kemnay stone), while the other elevations are built with coursed and roughly-tooled pink and grey granite and have ashlar dressings. The large nave roof and smaller outbuildings to the south are all slated. 

 

The north elevation comprises the wide nave gable and the north face of the tower. The gable has a very large, central pointed arch window with trefoil plate tracery and latticed glazing. Below are twin pointed-arch doorways with rectangular timber doors and plate traceried fanlights. There is a small pointed-arch door in the west end of the gable, leading to a lower floor, perhaps a boiler room. Above is a single pointed-arch (lancet) window. A modern glass and steel-framed entrance porch was built in around 2010.

 

The tower is positioned at the north-east corner. It is square on plan and has sturdy diagonal corner buttresses. The north face has a pointed-arch window made up of twin lancets and a round opening. The east face has a similar window but slightly smaller. Above at belfry level are tall louvered lancet openings with gabled heads. The broached stone spire has small lucarnes (gabled openings) midway up and is topped with a simple finial with a metal weather vane. 

 

The side elevations of the church each have five equally-spaced, tall and slim lancet windows with latticed glazing. There is a continuous ashlar band at arch springing height, which is not continued along the south gable. This gable is quite plain, with a single round window with plate tracery and a cast iron finial on the apex. 

 

Attached to the rear are the later chapel and vestry complex, built in the 1930s. The chapel is a single-storey, fairly wide building with large rectangular windows in the east face, along with an east door. A small memorial apse (1950s), with a lean-to slate roof, is attached to the rear (south) of the chapel. The former vestry building is smaller than the chapel and attached to the west. It has small rectangular windows and a door to the west. 


Description (interior)

The interior of the church has witnessed much change in the 21st century. The creation of the Acorn Centre, with its meeting rooms, shop, gallery space and cafe, on the ground floor has meant that the worship space in the church has been moved upstairs to the gallery level, facilitated by the creation of a new floor, supported on a steel frame. 

 

The worship area comprises the original U-plan gallery and the new floor built across the space between the original nave below and the gallery level. The new floor has a wooden surface and has moveable chairs instead of pews. The raked galleries now form aisles and retain their original pews. The original cast iron gallery and roof columns are still in place, upon which rest the sturdy wooden beams that make up the roof structure. 

 

The sanctuary area is at the south end of the church, as it was originally. The 1935 pipe organ is still in its original location, although only the top section is visible today, curved around the stained glass round window in the gable. There was originally a large pulpit attached to the front of the organ, with symmetrical stairs on either side, but this had to be removed when the new floor was created (the pulpit is now in storage). The original wooden communion table and font are placed in front of the organ and a small, simple lectern alongside is used by the minister. 

 

The conversion and refurbishment works allowed modern facilities to be installed in the church, including sound and visual aids and better lighting. A lift shaft and lift were inserted in the tower and an additional fireproof stairwell was built at the opposite south-west corner. 

 

The ground floor of the church, formerly the large nave, has been converted into a modern, open-plan complex. There is a reception desk and open area, used as the community cafe, which is run by volunteers. This space also includes a separate gallery area and a shop. A series of small meeting rooms have been built towards the rear of the church, and they are regularly used by the community. The former vestry area has been converted into modern toilets and the chapel is still used on occasion for worship but can also be used as a larger meeting room. 


People / Organisations:

NameRoleDatesNotes
Donald McMillanArchitect of the church1874-7

Events:

  • Church built (1874 to 1877)
  • Chapel built (1936)
  • Memorial apse built onto chapel (1950)
  • Church internally altered with new floor, caf (c2005)

Archive References:

NameReferenceNotes
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 7915
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 45604B-listed
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: RCAHMS NJ72SE 143
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 112616

Bibliographic References:

NameAuthorDateNotes
Aberdeenshire: Donside and Strathbogie, an illustrated architectural guideIan Shepherd2006p124