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


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Date Added
Local Authority
Scottish Borders
Planning Authority
Scottish Borders
NT 45893 44372
345893, 644372


Wardrop and Reid, 1873-6. Near T-plan, First Pointed Gothic church with tall 3-stage spire tower to N, polygonal apse and single transept-aisle to W occupying elevated terraced location above Galawater. Coursed, bull-face red sandstone with pale sandstone ashlar dressings. Plinth; moulded cill courses; eaves course. Diagonal offset buttresses to angles; pointed-arched openings; chamfered cills; decorative sandstone cinquefoil-headed tracery; architraved hoodmoulds with moulded stops; red sandstone voussoirs.

TOWER: 3-stage, square-plan with 2-leaf, boarded timber door to ground, N elevation and single storey conical-capped stair tower to W elevation; clockfaces to N and W elevations; louvred openings to belfry with stone gargoyles to angles; quatrefoil mouldings to parapet above; pinnacled angle turrets; broached, octagonal spire with gabletted lucarnes; weathervane finial.

W (ROAD) ELEVATION: large traceried 3-light window to central gabled bay (W aisle); single-storey gabled porch with pointed-arched and trefoil-headed surround to doorway to left; canted porch at apse and W aisle re-entrant angle. E ELEVATION: large rose window to E central gable; porch following pattern of W elevation to E side of apse. All doors, boarded timber with decorative iron hinges.

INTERIOR: painted walls; cream sandstone ashlar dressings. Boarded timber dado panelling; panelled timber doors. Fine open timberwork ceiling with massive arched timber braces resting on carved sandstone corbels. Pair of moulded arches to W nave aisle (now blocked) with cylindrical pier and decorative capitals. Timber gallery to N. Octagonal timber pulpit with linenfold panels; large timber framed pipe organ above. Decorative timber communion table. Rich variety of 19th and 20th century stained glass throughout (see The Buildings of Scotland: Borders for details).

Stained glass windows (some by James Ballantine and Son - see Notes). Plain and coloured glass leaded glazing elsewhere. Grey slate. Sawtooth stone skews; gabletted skewputts. Cast-iron rainwater goods with hoppers and decorative brackets.

BOUNDARY WALLS, GATES AND GATEPIERS: coped sandstone ashlar walls. Pierced timber gates at main and pedestrian entrances.

Statement of Special Interest

Ecclesiastical building in use as such. Stow St Mary's is an impressive example of a late 19th century Gothic Revival church by eminent practice, Wardrop and Reid, renowned for their contribution to Scottish ecclesiastical architecture. Its 140ft high spire tower is an iconic local landmark. Costing a substantial £8000, the church was partly funded by Captain Alexander Mitchell-Innes who also donated the land and paid for the nearby Town Hall of 1855 (see separate listing). The Ordnance Gazetteer of 1885 calls St Mary's 'one of the finest parish churches in the South of Scotland'.

The planform and detailing at Stow Church, begun by Wardrop and Brown and completed by Wardrop and Reid, follows that of Wardrop's earlier church at Ayton, utilising 13th Century stylistic elements and the single projecting aisle forming a T-plan. This is unusual in that it breaks from the standard ecclesiological arrangement by having the chancel ending in an apse and the pulpit located towards the middle of the nave opposite the single transept-aisle to W. The fine interior is particularly notable for its ceiling with massive arched timber braces. The timber pulpit and Communion table and chairs (1912 by John Taylor & Sons, Edinburgh) have been relocated to the centre of the nave toward the E gable. The impressive timber pipe organ by Ingram and Co incorporates a central doorway leading to the gabled entrance porch at the east (rear) elevation. Originally seating 700, a number of pews to the south and west axises were removed in 1996 to provide a more flexible meeting space.

James Maitland Wardrop (formerly of Wardrop and Brown) formed a practice with Charles Reid between 1874 and 1882. They both favoured a style closely based on that of David Bryce, and in the short period before Reid's death in 1882 were prolific. It was principally Wardrop who took the lead in rebuilding a large number of country parish churches using this distinctive 'First Pointed' Gothic treatment (also refered to as 'Early Decorated'), notably Cumnock in Ayrshire (1864), Methlick in Aberdeenshire (1865) and Ayton (1866) and Langton (1871) in Berwickshire (see separate listings).

The history of Stow is closely linked to the traditions of its church. In old English, 'Stow' means a 'holy or consecrated place'. When the Scots conquered Lothian in 1018, the church of St Mary of Wedale passed into the diocese of St Andrews. The remains of the now roofless former Stow Kirk, incorporating 16th, 17th and 18th century fabric, is stituated a short distance to the North.

List description updated at resurvey (2009).



Francis H Groome, Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland Vol II (1883) p404. J Robson The Churches and Churchyards of Berwickshire (1896) p26. Rev. T Wilson, Stow of Wedale, 1924 (ill). Ian Gordon Lindsay, The Scottish Parish Kirk (1960) p75. Kitty Cruft, John Dunbar and Richard Fawcett, The Buildings of Scotland: Borders (2006) p708. Charles Alexander Strang, Borders and Berwick: An Illustrated Architectural Guide (1994) p193-194.

About Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). 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 only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing and if a number or name is missing from a listing address it may still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing can also cover structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. 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 Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. 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 current legislation.

If you want to alter, extend or demolish a listed building you need to contact your planning authority to see if you need listed building consent. The planning authority advises on the need for listed building consent and they also decide what a listing covers. The planning authority is the main point of contact for all applications for listed building consent.

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Printed: 25/03/2019 01:29