Tullynessle Parish Church

National Grid Reference (NGR): NJ 55820 19640, map


AB33 8QR

Also known as:

  • St Neachtan's Church
  • Tullynessle Old Church


Tullynessle Church occupies an historical spot, with a church located here since the medieval period. An early church here was dedicated to St Neachtan. The site is on a flat terrace to the west of Suie Burn along a small country road running through the farming community of Tullynessle. The present church was built in the 1870s but earlier churches of 1604 and 1790 were located here. A large graveyard surrounds the present church. 

Description (exterior)

The church is aligned east-west and is rectangular in plan, with a projecting stair tower to the south-west. It was built in coursed blocks of granite and the large roof of the church is slated and has small dormer vents.


The principle elevation is the west gable, which faces the road. The central bay is slightly advanced and has narrow corner buttresses. There are twin pointed-arch doorways, each with double-leaf doors with decorative metal hinge plates. Above, and placed on a thick sill course, is a 3-lancet (pointed-arch) window with an interlocking hoodmould. In the gablehead is a small quatrefoil opening which vents the attic space. To the left (north) of the central bay is a tall, narrow former bellcote, which extends beyond the side elevation of the church. It used to be topped by the 1604 bellcote from a previous church, but this was removed in the 1960s and replaced with a simple gabled section. The bellcote is now placed in the graveyard, close to the church. The gabled square stair tower stands to the south and has narrow lancet windows and chamfered corners. 


The side elevations of the church have six bays. The south elevation has five tall lancet windows and the stairtower occupies the western bay. All of the windows of the church have plain latticed glazing. The north elevation has six lancets, although the western one is blocked. 


The east gable is tall and narrow, taller in fact than the west gable due to the gentle slope of the ground. There are two shoulder-arched doors towards each end of the gable. In the centre of the gable is a round window with plate tracery and round openings. There is a small quatrefoil vent high in the gablehead. 

Description (interior)

The interior is arranged with the sanctuary at the east end and a gallery to the west. A small vestibule or vestry area has been created at the east end, which is walled off from the nave and has wooden panelling. 


The sanctuary area at the east end is raised up from the nave by steps. A small wooden pulit is located at the northern end, while the communion table is centrally placed, towards the rear. There are numerous Elders' chairs. There is a small electric organ at the southern end of the sanctuary.


The nave has simple wooden pews, divided by two aisles or passages. Several original gas lamps remain in situ, with their metal gas pipes still fitted.  The barrel-vaulted ceiling is supported by wall-mounted stone corbels. At the west end is a small gallery, accessed by the stone staircase in the tower. The gallery is supported by slender columns and has a panelled front. At the west end is the original vestibule/welcome area, which is separate from the nave. It leads to the stairtower and nave through two doors. 


  • Earlier church built (1604)
  • Later church built (1790)
  • Church built (1876)
  • Bellcote removed (1968)

Archive References:

Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 851
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 16203B-listed (the 1604 bellcote only: the current church is not listed).
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: RCAHMS NJ51NE 8
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 17560

Bibliographic References:

Aberdeenshire: Donside and Strathbogie, an illustrated architectural guideIan Shepherd2006p79
Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae: the succession of ministers in the Church of Scotland from the ReformationH Scott et al (eds.)1915-61Vol. 6, p143-5
The Object Name Book of the Ordnance SurveyOrdnance Survey1860sBook 88, p56