St. Adrian's Parish Church, united with Buckhaven

National Grid Reference (NGR): NT 32790 94880, map


Address

Main Street, West Wemyss
West Wemyss
Fife
Scotland

Also known as:

  • Buckhaven and Wemyss Parish Church (2008)
  • Wemyss Parish Church(St Adrian's, St Mary's by the Sea ,St George's (1973)
  • St Adrian's Parish Church (1890,1930s)

Introduction

 

This building, which dates from 1890, replaced an earlier church (in Church Street, site 10493), which had become a local gymnasium, but was demolished in the 1930s to make way for housing.     The architect of the present St Adrian’s was Alexander Tod.   The money for the building was donated by the Wemyss family to provide a place of worship for the villagers of West Wemyss.   The Church of Scotland acquired the property, but decided to close it in the 1960s because of the cost of much needed repairs.    However, it was bought by Captain Michael Wemyss in 1972, who funded the repairs and established the Wemyss Trust;   the Trustees undertook to maintain the fabric ‘for as long as there is a worshipping community’.    In  1973 the congregations of St Adrian’s and St George’s (East Wemyss) [site 8059], amalgamated as Wemyss Parish Church, and were joined in the early 1980s by St Mary's by the sea (site 4627).   But in 2008 the decision was taken to close St George’s, and St Adrian’s once again became the parish church.    Then in 2008 it was united with Buckhaven Parish Church [site 4620], and at the present time is part of Buckhaven and Wemyss Parish Church.   Both churches are in active use for worship.This building, which dates from 1890, replaced an earlier church (in Church Street, site 10493), which had become a local gymnasium, but was demolished in the 1930s to make way for housing.     The architect of the present St Adrian’s was Alexander Tod.   The money for the building was donated by the Wemyss family to provide a place of worship for the villagers of West Wemyss.   The Church of Scotland acquired the property, but decided to close it in the 1960s because of the cost of much needed repairs.    However, it was bought by Captain Michael Wemyss in 1972, who funded the repairs and established the Wemyss Trust;   the Trustees undertook to maintain the fabric ‘for as long as there is a worshipping community’.    In 1973 the congregations of St Adrian’s, St Mary’s by the Sea [site 4627], and St George’s (East Wemyss) [site 8059], amalgamated as Wemyss Parish Church.  

 St Adrian’s is at the northern end of West Wemyss Churchyard which opened in 1703 and is reached by red gravel paths leading from the gates in the north and east sides of the boundary wall.   The original gates to the churchyard now incorporate a village war memorial designed by A.Stewart Tod, son of the original architect; they mark a former entrance to Wemyss Castle.     The graveyard is itself surrounded by a high coped rubble boundary wall which has iron railings on the western side.    A large monument is incorporated into the western wall at the northern end.   Many of the gravestones date from the eighteenth century, but most are in poor condition.


Description (exterior)

The church is constructed of pinkish-red sandstone.     There is a low advanced porch at either side of the face with crowstepped gable, with a single window with lattice panes in each porch.   There is also a door on the inner side of each porch.   The porches are joined by a flat roofed red ashlar porch with three openings.    At the back of this, in the main elevation of the building, is a painted door.    There is a blocked rectangular opening on either side of the door, the easternmost one of which is covered by the church notice board.    Above the porch is a large circular window with three spiralling mouchettes with a segmental  surround. The crowstepped gable is topped by a small stone cross.

The nave of the west elevation is divided into three bays by three buttresses.   Each bay has a tripartite window.   There is a crowstepped gabled transept at the northern end of the face.   The boundary wall of the graveyard joins with the transept and so obscures the rest of the western face but the top of a single lancet window is visible on the western face of the transept above the wall and above this there is a blind circular opening.    On the southern face of the transept there is a bipartite window.   A number of broken headstones are piled against the base of the western wall.

The northern elevation is mostly obscured by neighbouring trees  but the top of a crowstepped gable with a stone cross finial is visible above them.    The transept on the eastern side has a boarded  window.   A boundary wall runs eastwards from the eastern bay which joins with the main graveyard boundary wall.    This small section of wall has a blocked doorway with crowstepped gablet detail above.

The eastern elevation in general mirrors the western elevation. However, at the northern end of the face (to the north of the transept) there is an additional crowstepped gabled bay which is slightly lower than the transept.   This has a door which is reached by a small flight of steps, and a small sash window to the north of the door.


Description (interior)

The interior is on a north-south axis, with west and east transepts, and the sanctuary at the northern end.    The communion table and font came from St Geoge’s when that church was closed.   An earlier communion table is now in the vestry, and the original red standstone font made for St Adrian’s now stands in the porch outside the front door.   The antique oak pulpit was made from panelling lining the walls of a bedroom in Wemyss Castle.   Elders’ chairs were given  as a memorial to a former elder, John Dryburgh.    Communion plate commemorates a minister, the Revd. Saville Middlemass (1906-1921), and an elder, William Ritchie.   The lectern was given in memory of elder John Ritchie and his wife Catherine.    Other furnishings commemorate the parents of the Coventry family (velvet communion table cloth), elder William Hampson (hymn boards), past members of the Womens’ Guild (flower plinth), Isobel Roger of St George’s (bookcase), the mother of Christine and Jean Biggins (vases).    There are substantial memorials to Admiral Wester Wemyss, men who died in a mining accident in Dysart, the architect Alexander Tod and his son A.Stewart Tod who was an elder for many years, and Lady Victoria Wemyss and her husband Captain Michael Wemyss.    There is also a World War II memorial.  

A mural by William McLaren adorns the inner wall of the sanctuary, and a wall hanging from 2001 was sewn by members of the congregation on the theme ‘Jesus, Light of the World’.

 

 

 


People / Organisations:

NameRoleDatesNotes
Church of ScotlandDenomination1889-NOW
Mr Alexander TodArchitect1889-1890

Events:

  • Gate: Build/construction (1703)
    Gatepiers dated 1703.
  • Church: Build/construction (1889 to 1890)
    The building was opened on the 9th November 1890.
  • War memorial: Build/construction (1920 to 1921)
    War memorial incorporated into gatepiers in 1920.
  • Church: Alteration/conversion (1969)
    The building was altered and repaired after being purchased from the Church of Scotland by Captain Wemyss.

Archive References:

NameReferenceNotes
Dictionary of Scottish Architects - Online databaseReference: M024251
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 46066
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 46059
CSA: Inventory of Scottish Church Heritage - HardcopyReference: 8060Frank Rankin
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 92367
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 8060