St John's Parish Church

National Grid Reference (NGR): NT 08970 87550, map


Bruce Street
KY12 7AG

Also known as:

  • St. John's Parish Church (1929 uncertified)
    Church of Scotland
  • North United Free Church (1900 uncertified)
  • Free North Church (1850)


This Free Church was built in 1849-50 close to the centre of Dunfermline.   It is in a commercial street, closely flanked by buildings on either side with an open cobbled area to the front (east).    The ground slopes gently downwards to the back (west) and a narrow path and a flight of steps on the southern side of the building give access to a public car park.    The church changed denomination several times before becoming a furniture store in 1958 when the congregation united with St. Columba's Church in Canmore Street (which then became St. Paul's Parish Church, site no. 10597) and today the church is used as a nightclub. The original fabric of the building has been retained, although the spire has been removed from the bellcote on the principal (east) elevation.   There is a modern fire escape at the rear (west) of the property.

Description (exterior)

The building is constructed of sandstone, coursed on the principal elevation;   the roof is of slate.

In the centre of the east elevation there is a pointed arched ashlar doorway, the upper section of this which has been in filled and the doorway is now lower with a broader pointed arch.   The doorway is flanked by two stage stepped buttresses with gablet detail and there is a stepped angular hoodmould above the doorway set between the two buttresses. A string course extends outwards to the edge of the face from either side of the buttresses.
Above the doorway is a large three light tri-cusp window with tracery, flanked by tall lancet windows on either side. A continuous hoodmould extends over and around the windows and continues out to the edge of the face. All the windows have lattice panes with coloured glass borders.    The door itself is a modern square headed two leaf timber door with wood panelling above, infilling the top of the arch.

Extending upwards from the centre of the gable is a corbelled bellcote with a pointed arched opening with hoodmould and gablet detailing above on each of the four faces.   The spire has been removed from the bellcote.   Extending upwards from the corners of the gable, above the cornicing, are pyramidal pinnacles.

At the east end of the south wall there is a tall lancet window with lattice panes set between two string courses. To the west of this is a projecting aisle with four pointed arched windows at both ground and first floor level, those on the upper floor being slightly shorter than those on the ground floor. There are also windows on both floors on the return to the east which  have clear glazed panes in the centre divided by wooden astragals and coloured glass margins.

The west wall is mostly obscured by a fire escape and additional buildings, but it can be seen that there is a modern insertion square headed doorway on the south side of the wall approximately half way up giving access to the fire escape. A later addition harled and slate covered bay extends outwards from the centre of the face.    There are four broad pointed arched windows at clerestory level which appear to be original but with modern glazing.
The north face  mirrors the south.

Description (interior)

People / Organisations:

Free ChurchDenomination1850-1900
Mr Robert HayArchitect1849-1850
United Free ChurchDenomination1900-1929
Church of ScotlandDenomination1929-1958


  • Church: Build/construction (1849 to 1850)
  • Church: Alteration/conversion (1958)
    Congregation united with St. Columba\'s Church (site no. 10597) and this building was converted into a furniture store.
  • Church: Alteration/conversion (2003)
    Converted into a nightclub.

Archive References:

Dictionary of Scottish Architects - Online databaseReference: M007252
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 8413

Bibliographic References:

The Scottish Burgh Survey: Historic Dunfermline, Archaeology and DevelopmentDennison, E.P;Stronach, S.2007p. 60
Buildings of Scotland: FifeGifford, J1988p. 185
Dunfermline: The Post-War YearsMcEwan, B.2004p. 47