Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see ‘About Listed Buildings’ below for more information.


Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Local Authority
Scottish Borders
Planning Authority
Scottish Borders
NT 74995 49492
374995, 649492


Rebuilt 1703, incorporating earlier structure; interior recast 1928. Prominently sited, originally rectangular-plan church, made T-plan with gabled aisle projecting to N; 4-stage, square-plan tower to W; former Marchmont aisle to E with burial vault below. Whitewashed harl; red sandstone ashlar dressings. Narrow quoin strips; bead-and-hollow, roll-moulded door surrounds; chamfered margins to round-arched, pointed-arched and square-headed windows (architraved in part); flush cills.

W (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: projecting 4-stage tower centred in nave with 2-leaf boarded timber door in wide, round-arched doorway; small-pane fanlight. Single windows centred at 1st and 2nd floors (carved armorial panel set between); small, pointed-arched openings at both floors to left; engaged sundial to right (gnomons missing); round-arched, louvred opening centred at upper floor; broached spire (finial missing). Single windows recessed at ground in flanking bays. Rubble-walled burial enclosure adjoined to left of tower; blind elevation to N aisle recessed to outer left.

S (SIDE) ELEVATION: 4-stage tower to outer left with rectangular panel at ground; single windows at 1st and 2nd floors (carved armorial panel set between); engaged sundial to left; round-arched, louvred opening at upper floor. 5-bay nave advanced to right with boarded timber doors in bay at centre and bays off-set to left and right; roll-moulded surrounds with basket-arched lintels; inscribed rectangular panels aligned above; pointed-arched windows flanking centre; inscribed sandstone panels to outer left and right.

E (REAR) ELEVATION: bipartite vault opening centred at basement; pointed-arched window aligned above (inscribed rectangular war memorial set between); crowned orange finial surmounting gablehead. Tower set behind with 2 louvred openings at upper floor; central wallhead stack. Blind elevation to N aisle recessed to outer right.

N (SIDE) ELEVATION: projecting N aisle with single window centred in gablehead; blind elevation to nave recessed to left; later lean-to addition recessed to right. Rubble-walled burial enclosure obscuring 4-stage tower recessed to outer right with sandstone panel at ground; round-arched, louvred opening at upper floor.

Predominantly small-pane glazing in timber casement and sash and case windows. Iron bars to burial vault opening. Graded grey slate roof; slated broach spire surmounting tower. Stone skews; scrolled skewputts; some beak skewputts with carved coats-of-arms set below. Corniced sandstone wallhead stack to rear tower; can missing.

INTERIOR: boarded timber vestibule with chequered stone-slab floor; circular sandstone Norman font set in corner. T-plan nave (raked N aisle) comprising boarded timber floor; boarded timber dado panelling; timber pews; whitewashed, open timber roof with axe hewn rafters. Chancel at E end (former Marchmont aisle/pew) with Laudian railing to front; simple communion table and chairs. Timber panelled pulpit; polygonal sandstone font on square-plan plinth (1928); mort bell dated 1715 on balustered base (1928). Organ (1928). Maxwell bell dated '1697 & 1717' (originally set in bell tower) in N aisle. Embroidered pulpit vallance by Lady Grisell Baillie (1703). Narrow timber panelled door in W end accessing tower: stone stair to 1st floor vestry (originally laird's loft with spyhole into church) with sandstone surround to cast-iron fireplace; beadle's chamber at 2nd floor (rope in place); spiral stair to bell tower with open timber roof, rubble walls, louvred openings, 19th century bell in place. Burial vault approximately 75m? with 4 ornate coffins set within.

GRAVEYARD, BOUNDARY WALLS AND GATES: irregular-plan surrounding graveyard with irregularly spaced 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th century gravestones including symbolic stones, classically-detailed stones, single table top monument. Rubble-coped, squared rubble walls enclosing site; stone mounting steps. 2-leaf iron gates with capped, polygonal piers.

Statement of Special Interest

Ecclesiastical building in use as such. Although the Latin inscription above the S door commemorating the church's 1703 rebuilding claims the original edifice dated from some time before 900 AD, there is little evidence to support this. Records do however prove it was re-dedicated to St Mungo in 1242 by David de Bernham. Having "...fallen into ruin" (see inscription) Lord John Sinclair of Herdmanston, East Lothian restored the church around 1378. Originally rectangular-plan and therefore, typical of its period, Polwarth was unusual in its incorporation of a burial vault (used as a hiding place by Sir Patrick Hume in 1684, following his implication in the Rye House Plot). By 1703, "...verging on decay through age", Sir Patrick Hume, by then 1st Earl of Marchmont, and his wife, Lady Grissell Kar, saw to its rebuilding "...augmented by the addition of a bell tower". Note the coat-of-arms in the tower and the crowned orange finial at the E end, signifying the restoration of Hume's fortunes by King William of Orange in 1688. Prior to the addition of the tower, the 3 (now sealed) doors in the S elevation were the main entrances - the central door being for the minister, that to the right for the Laird and his family and that to the left for the congregation. All 3 surmounting panels have Latin inscriptions - that at centre recording the church's development and those flanking with Biblical verses. Although the N aisle is generally thought to be contemporary with the tower, Binnie suggests it may be later - possibly added between 1842, when the Norman font (now in the vestibule) was in the church and 1875, when it was discovered in the grounds outside. The 1928 interior renovations saw the replacement of the pulpit and organ, as well as the possible removal of the Marchmont aisle/pew, originally at the E end. Prominently sited, well-detailed and surprisingly intact, Polwarth Church remains one of the most significant buildings in the parish and indeed, within Scotland as a whole.



Roy's map, 1750s (evident). STATISTICAL ACCOUNT (1796) p96. THE NEW STATISTICAL ACCOUNT (1845) p235. Ordnance Survey Name Book (1856-1858) Reel 64, Book 38, NMRS. F H Groome ORDNANCE GAZETTEER (1885) p214. RUTHERFURD'S SOUTHERN COUNTIES' REGISTER AND DIRECTORY (1866, reprinted 1990) pp622-623. FERGUSON'S SKETCH BOOK (1900), NMRS. RCAHMS INVENTORY OF MONUMENTS AND CONSTRUCTIONS IN THE COUNTY OF BERWICK (1915) 275. G Hay THE ARCHITECTURE OF SCOTTISH POST-REFORMATION CHURCHES 1560-1843 (1957) p39, pp61-62, p174, p252. Dr G A C Binnie THE CHURCHES AND GRAVEYARDS OF BERWICKSHIRE (1995) pp390-398. M Hall, M Totty, T Fleming THE HISTORIC KIRK, PARISH & VILLAGE OF POLWARTH (1997) pp4-13. NMRS photographic archives.

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

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Printed: 18/07/2019 06:19