Anstruther Parish Church

National Grid Reference (NGR): NO 56650 03720, map


School Green
KY10 3HF

Also known as:

  • St Adrian's Parish Church (1961)
    Present Name. The charge of Anstruther St. Adrian's was formed in 1961 through the union of Wester and Easter.
  • Anstruther Parish Church (1961)
    The church is now the parish church for all of Anstruther.
  • Anstruther Easter Parish Church


The church is situated on School Green, in the centre of Anstruther Easter, in a sloping graveyard and is surrounded by a coped wall.   The graveyard surrounds the church to the north, south and east.  The churchyard wall and rounded archway to the south date to 1631. There are several memorials with mortality symbolism

Under the direction of the minister at Kilrenny parish church, land was acquired in 1592 for a new church to be built in Anstruther so that local residents could avoid having to make the journey to Kilrenny. The building of the church was completed in 1634, six years before becoming a parish separate from Kilrenny.

The church has recently undergone extensive repairs both external and internal supported by a Heritage Lottery grant.

J Dowling

Description (exterior)

The church consists of a central cell built of squared sandstone, which is harled to the north, east and west and bare to the south with a tower and north session house.   The church is rectangular.   The tower is in the the west gable.   The east gable wall faces across the churchyard. Above the windows is a blocked round opening, and at the apex of the gable are the remains of a platform which formerly held a finial. Below the window is a series of memorials, including one to Captain David Henderson, inscribed with a ship. At the bottom of the wall a table tomb is sunk into the ground, inscribed with mortality symbols and heraldry.

The south wall has four sets of three tall, round headed windows with clear glass spaced irregularly along the wall. At the western end of the wall is a granite memorial to an Episcopal minister of Anstruther, dating to the mid-nineteenth century. East of this is the outline of a gable, suggesting that there had previously been a porch here. Under this is a semi-circular, chamfered blocked arch, a former doorway. The date '1835' is inscribed into the doorway on either side of a panel which states 'ENTER YE IN AT THE STRAIT FOR WID IS THE GAT AND BROAD IS THE WAY THAT LEADETH TO DESTRUCTION'. East of this an early nineteenth century memorial to a minister and a blind rectangular frame. There is a decorated framed memorial and a rectangular, blocked entrance further along the wall. Above the door is the date '1634'. Next to this is another decorated frame and a square-headed door with the date '1934' in the frame.

The north wall is harled with a set of three tall, round-headed windows, similar to those on the south. To the west of this is a square-headed window and to the east is the session house. .

The tower is situated in the centre of the west elevation. It is entered through a round arch, above which are six square-headed lights. There is a smaller, square-headed door to the north of the tower, which resembles the tollbooth tower at Pittenweem (site 1454). It is harled to just above the line of the roof of the church. Above this the church is built from coursed sandstone.

The tower was built to house a bell by a Danish bell foundry. According to the Kilrenny and Anstruther Burgh Collection, the bell carries an inscription "Andro Strang bougt this bell with his owne moneyes anno 1641".

The west elevation is the principal one.   This is pierced by a series of rectangular vents which follow the line of the stairwell. Above this is a pair of louvered, rounded arches and a clockface, which is a late nineteenth century addition. To the north the profile of the tower is stepped back with a north west stairtower and caphouse sloping down the gable. The stairtower is pierced by a small rectangular vent. The belfry stage is corbelled and pierced by two louvered, rounded arches. There is a clock above. This arrangement is mirrored to the east and south. The tower is capped by a balustrade and parapet and lucarned stone spire with a weathervane. The parapet has water spouts, squat pinnacles and images of anchors carved in relief.

The session house is situated in the centre of the north wall. It covers the site of the Anstruther Aisle, which was blocked up in the 1830s. The building is harled and has a Scottish slate roof. It can be divided into two sections, one east-west, with a catslide roof and the other with a north facing, gabled facade, with three blocked round arch windows.   Next to this is a small, square-headed door. The gable is capped by a small finial. The east-west section is entered through a small, square-headed door on its east elevation. The north elevation has two square-headed windows, the larger and more easterly of which is partially blocked. There is another square-headed door in the west elevation.

Description (interior)

Entry to the church is by a central round-arched doorway in the west gable, which opens into a vestibule area and a stone stairway leading up to a gallery. A new double doorway leads centrally into the nave, which has recently been re-modelled and decorated and the original pews removed. Two passageways originally led to the sanctuary at the eastern end of the nave and provided access to the wooden pews, but these have now been entirely removed and replaced with moveable wooden chairs and tables. At the west end of the nave is a fairly large gallery, which stretches partly along the north and south walls. It is supported by slender cast-iron columns and has a simple wooden panelled front. The space underneath the gallery was enclosed by a new wall to form two small new rooms out-with the nave. Large triple-pane windows in the south wall light the interior and there is a large stained-glass window in the east gable. The interior walls are plastered and painted a cream colour, but interestingly a small area of older plasterwork has been revealed by the removal of a light fitting. The surviving section of plaster has painted orange, black and grey stencil work, including stylised birds and leaves, which shows that the walls would have appeared quite different at an earlier time.


The sanctuary is placed along the east end of the church and is raised on two steps and was extended forward into the nave during the recent re-fitting. The octagonal pulpit features fine carved wooden panels and columns, and there are winged cherubs in the upper portion of each panel. In the centre of the sanctuary is a wooden communion table with open ogee-curved panels and a wooden lectern stands nearby. A fine pipe organ by Taylor of Leicester is placed in the northern wall, close to the pulpit.

Other notable features include a six light mullioned east window with stained glass: St. Peter and St. Philip (1905), The Miraculous Catch, Christ Stilling the Storm, St. John and St. Andrew (1907). Inside the church is the tomb of Master John Dykes who died during the building of the church. He had assisted the minister, James Melville, who had initiated the building of the church.

J Dowling 2017

People / Organisations:

Mr Andrew BrydieArchitect1861Architect during repairs to church aisle.
Mr David McArthyArchitect1905Architect during internal refit of church.
Mr John WatsonArchitect1905Architect during internal refit of church.
McArthy & WatsonArchitectPractice of architects involved with internal refit of church.
Mr James ScottArchitect1936architect. Architect during reseating of church.
Gillespie and ScottArchitect1936architects. Practice of architects involved with reseating of church.
H & R. MillarCraftsman1878Clockmakers Added the clockfaces to the tower.
Taylor of LeicesterCraftsman1907Added the organ
Alexander, John and George GilbertBuilder1646Added the churchyard wall.
Church of ScotlandDenomination1634-NOW


  • Church: Build/construction (1634)
    The church was built as a chapel of ease for Kilrenny parish church. The south doorway of the church is dated 1634.
  • Tower: Build/construction (1634)
    The church was built.
  • Graveyard: Founded (1634)
  • Church: Build/construction (1636)
    Building work was undertaken on the church.
  • Church: Custodial Transfer (1640)
    The parish of Anstruther Easter was separated from Kilrenny and the church became a parish church.
  • Tower: Build/construction (1644)
    the parapet, spire and belfry stage were completed.
  • Church: Alteration/conversion (1834)
    The interior of the church was remodelled.
  • Session house: Build/construction (1834)
    The Anstruther Aisle was blocked and the session house was built, covering its location.
  • Church: Repair (1861)
    Repairs were made to the aisle.
  • Church: Renovation (1901)
    The church was redecorated and refurnished during an internal refit.
  • Church: Build/construction (1905 uncertified)
    The interior of the church was remodelled. Two memorial stained glass windows were installed depicting St. Peter and St. Philip.
  • Church: Renovation (1936)
  • Church: Installed (1938)
    Stained glass windows were installed.
  • Church: Union (1961)
    Union with Anstruther Wester Parish Church.

Archive References:

Dictionary of Scottish Architects - Online databaseReference: M001968David McArthy
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 888
Dictionary of Scottish Architects - Online databaseReference: M000451David Brydie
Dictionary of Scottish Architects - Online databaseReference: M012768
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 36066Anstruther Easter Parish Church (St. Adrian's).
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 36066
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 34065St. Adrian's Parish Church
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 94140St. Adrian's Parish Church, Burial-Ground.
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 226854St. Adrian's Church, Churchyard Walls. - Online databaseReference: Anstruther
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 36067St. Adrian's Churchyard Walls and Monuments.
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 34065
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 94140
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 226854
Dictionary of Scottish Architects - Online databaseReference: M001278Gillespie & Scott
Dictionary of Scottish Architects - Online databaseReference: M002272John Watson
Scran - Online databaseReference: M000451Andrew Brydie

Bibliographic References:

1000 Churches to Visit in Scotland, Year 2006/2007 editionScotland\'s Churches Scheme2006Illustrations Copyright: John R Hume,2005.
Maps Copyright: Jim Lewis, 2005. Number 498. p. 218.
Scotland\'s Best ChurchesScotlands Churches Scheme2005Illustrations by John R Hume Number 38: Anstruther Parish Church, Anstruther Easter. p.48
Buildings of Scotland: FifeGifford, J1988pp. 68 - 69
Historic Royal Burgh of Kilrenny & Anstruther - Churches, Manses & SchoolStevenson, S (Ed.)2001ISBN:0-9536538-1-1 pp. 13, 14, 19.