Coupar Kirk

National Grid Reference (NGR): NT 23400 85600, map


East Leven Street

Also known as:

  • Free Church (1843)
    This was the original name of the church.
  • Coupar Kirk
    Named after the Rev. David Coupar who led his congregation away from the Parish Church.


In 1843 four hundred and seventy four ministers broke away from the Church of Scotland and took roughly one third of the Church's congregation with them, in an event known as the Disruption. Two prominent figures in this event in Burntisland were David Coupar, the minister of the town, and Thomas Chalmers, who lived in the town and later became the first Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland. Initially the Free Church in Burntisland met in a building in Lothian Street, but the congregation soon constructed a purpose built church, in a prominent position directly opposite the Parish Church.   The building only functioned as a church until 1861 as the congregation decided to construct a larger church on High Street (site number: 2184).   However, the building remained, and its function changed several times over its life until it was destroyed by fire in 1977.   The original doorway to the church and bell tower have been preserved, although the bell tower has been moved from its original location.


The large square headed ashlar doorway which remains on the site has mid height coped rubble walls on either side.   This doorway is at the top of two flights of stone steps with a flat landing in the centre which give access to a modern housing estate at the bottom of the slope. The three-stage bell tower, which was originally on the top of the square headed doorway, is now on the landing in the centre of the steps. The lower stage is wider than the upper two stages and the projecting edges slope slightly downward.    There is a tripartite blind panel in the centre of this stage, composed of a round arched central panel flanked by lower square headed panels and there is a dentil course at the top of this stage. The central panel used to have a sign for the church in it.   The second stage of the tower projects from the centre of the lower stage and there is a blind circular panel in each face of the tower.   The upper stage where the bells were originally hung,  has a round arched opening in each face covered by decorative metal grates.   The whole tower is topped by a small piended stone roof with metal finial.

People / Organisations:

Dr Thomas Chalmers1843He was a prominent figure in the establishment of the Free Church in Burntisland. He later became the first Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland.
Reverend David Coupar1843He was the Minister in Burntisland and was a prominent figure in the establishment of the Free Church in the town.


  • Church: Alteration/conversion ( to 1920)
    The building became Burntislands first picture house, The Palace. This closed in the mid 1920s.
  • Church: Build/construction (1830)
    The building was originally a warehouse was constructed around 1830.
  • Church: Alteration/conversion (1844)
    The warehouse was converted to a church with a schoolroom below and the belfry was also added at this time.
  • Church: Alteration/conversion (1861)
    The congregation moved to their new church building (site number: 2184) and this building became a grain store.
  • Church: Alteration/conversion (1900)
    The building was used as a store after it closed as a sports club.
  • Church: Alteration/conversion (1920)
    The building was used as a sports club.
  • Church: Destruction/demolition (1986)
    The building was destroyed by fire.

Archive References:

Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 22779
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 9476