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- Category: A
- Date Added: 15/09/1987
- Supplementary Information Updated: 28/09/2009
- Local Authority: Fife
- Planning Authority: Fife
- Parish: Markinch
National Grid Reference
- NGR: NO 28093 454
- Coordinates: 328093, 700454
Gillespie, Kidd & Coia, 1956-8. Flat-roofed lectern-shaped church with tall glazed W wall, monopitch-roofed tower to E and flat-roofed extension to S; presbytery adjoining to SW. Simplified, expressionist in style. White painted brick.
W elevation: advanced, part-coloured, glass and timber wall of irregular vertically and horizontally disposed panes; flat-roof behind (recently altered to sloping) leading to glazed wall of chancel with irregular panes disposed vertically; part-glazed door in projecting porch to right forming link with presbytery (see below), and extension adjoining to outer right.
E elevation: originally symmetrical. Broad tower-like chancel to centre under rising pitch of slate roof surmounted by cross to left; lower flanking walls; adjoining extension to left with deep-set door to outer left and row of small windows on return to left.
N elevation: blank wall of church with wrought-iron sign to right.
Cast-iron downpipes and decorative rainwater hoppers.
Interior: top-lit chancel (see Notes) with tabernacle; metal altar cross, 12 feet high, with symbols of the passion, St Joseph, Virgin Mary and pieta (1957), and Madonna for the Lady Altar to SW (1960) both by Benno Schotz. Carved figure of St Paul and Stations of the Cross by Harry Bain. Foundation stone laid by Rev Gordon Joseph Grey on 23rd June 1957. Font now situated to SE; confessional to W. Hall to S with sliding partition walls.
Presbytery: single storey, originally irregular U-plan with flat roof, later wing addition to form courtyard plan. N elevation with modern door to left of centre, asymmetrical bipartite window to outer left and further window to outer right; continuous narrow glazed strip below wallhead except to outer right bay. W elevation with similar fenestration but door to outer left. Plate glass glazing and plain bargeboarding.
Boundary walls: coped brick boundary walls.
Statement of Special Interest
Place of worship in use as such.
A seminal example of modern church architecture, and one of Scotland's most significant post-war churches, the first to break with the traditional rectangular layout. St Paul's was the also the first church designed by the dynamic partnership of Isi Metzstein and Andy MacMillan for the internationally renowned practice of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia. The interior contains a notable altar cross and Madonna by Scotland's leading sculptor of the period, Benno Schotz.
In 1948 Glenrothes was designated a New Town under the New Towns (Scotland) Act. Provision for churches was planned into the scheme and a Catholic place of worship was required for the projected influx of miners from the west of Scotland who were expected to populate the town. Reginald Fairlie was the first choice of architect for the new church, however his plans were not accepted by the Diocese and Gillespie Kidd & Coia were appointed instead.
St Paul's opened on 30 June 1958 and uses a particularly innovative design which was achieved on the limited budget of around £20,000 for the church and presbytery. A projected circular plan church hall never built. The focus is on light. The booklet St Paul's Church 50 Years quotes Isi Metzein of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia as follows, "The church at Glenrothes was the first church of the new generation and was a significant change in direction. The concept, or basic principle, is about light. We decided to place more emphasis on the grouping of people, near and around the altar. There is also much more emphasis on simple construction methods and manipulated light, not from side windows but mostly from top lighting of some sort. Generally the whole concept is very much simplified".
Rogerson notes that there was a further interest in communal worship and "liturgical renewal of the Catholic Church" with the altar, bathed in light, placed against the east wall and the walls splayed to represent going out of the Gospel to the world. However, the altar was moved away from the wall in accordance with directive of New Vatican Council of mid 1970s.
Gillespie Kidd & Coia are regarded as Scotland's most innovative and prolific designers of churches of the post-war period, many of which are listed buildings. The work of the practice from the mid-1950s was the product of the combined talents of Isi Metzstein (b 1928) and Andy MacMillan (b 1928) and many of their internationally recognised commissions were for the Catholic church and the Archdiocese of Glasgow specifically; however they also excelled in the design of schools and college buildings, including Our Lady and St Francis Secondary School (extension, 1964), St Peter's Seminary, Cardross (1966), Notre Dame College, Bearsden (1969), and Robinson College, Cambridge (1980).
List description updated and category revised from B to A 2009.
Gifford Fife (1992), p233. R Rogerson Jack Coia (1986), p14, 63-6, 116. Information courtesy of Rev McMeal. Mac Journal One Gillespie Kidd & Coia (1994). St Paul's Church 50 Years 1958-2008. Johnny Rodger (Ed) Gillespie, Kidd & Coia Architecture 1956-1987 (2007).
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