Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 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. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site


Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NJ 93875 6307
393875, 806307


Archibald Simpson, 1844. Partially ruinous remainder of former 3 adjoining Gothic post-Disruption churches (see Notes), comprising 6-bay gable-ended former East Free Church (commercial premises, 2006), adjoining gable and part wall of former South Free Church to W and tall, free standing prominent landmark steeple to S. Pointed rubble with brick and sandstone dressings to church, brick to steeple.

Steeple: landmark, 5-stage square-plan tower with tall octagonal spire. Angled buttresses. String courses. Tall lancet windows, some openings louvred. Pedimented pinnacles to top stage.

Former East Free Church: E elevation with full height crenellated polygonal LATER entrance porch with Tudor-arch openings with moulded architraves to ground. Pointed-arch lancet windows.

South Free Church gable with tripartite pointed-arch opening to N and partial return elevation.

INTERIOR: (seen 2006). Former East Free Church comprehensively modernised. Timber ceiling to upper storey with decorative carved panels and fan-vaulted moulding springing from corbels.

Predominantly replacement plate glass windows. Grey slates, moulded skews.

Statement of Special Interest

Ecclesiastically important, these remaining sections of the former Triple Kirks provide significant and prominent landmarks in Aberdeen city centre. The Triple Kirks were unique in Scotland in being 3 separate, yet adjoining churches with a common steeple. Erected in only 6 weeks, they were built in 1844 to meet the needs of 3 Free Church congregations. One church faced West, one East and the other North. They are especially distinguished by the fine tall brick steeple, constructed, unusually, in brick. Brick is a rare building material in Aberdeen where granite is much more common. The churches were designed by local architect Archibald Simpson who was responsible for many of the Aberdeen's finest Classical buildings. Situated on a narrow, steeply sloping site, the steeple dominates the skyline from various view points around the city, most noticeably from the Union Bridge (see separate listing), and Union Terrace. It is similar in design to that of the Elizabeth Kirche in Marberg.

The three congregations for the churches were drawn from the East and West Kirks of St Nicholas (see separate listing) and the South church. When completed, it was widely admired. Lord Cockburn stated in 1844, 'I was much struck with the view from the bridge down towards the Infirmary of a rude Cathedral-looking mass which contains three Free Churches.' This particular aspect of the Triple Kirks features in the background of Simpson's portrait, confirming that he was very proud of this building.

The Disruption in 1843 occurred when around 400 Church of Scotland Ministers disagreed with the connection of the church to the state and the ability of landowners to appoint ministers. They then formed their own, Free Church of Scotland. This resulted in a requirement for many more church buildings.

Archibald Simpson (1790-1847), along with John Smith, was one of the major architects involved in designing the expanding nineteenth century city of Aberdeen. A native of Aberdeen, he practised predominately with the North East of Scotland. He designed many of the important works in the city including St Andrews Cathedral, The Music Hall and 29 King Street (see separate listings).

The West Free Church was demolished in the 1980s. The East Free Church closed in 1976 and was subsequently converted into commercial premises.

References from Previous List Description: A P S D. G M Fraser, Archibald Simpson and His Times (Notes and Queries 1918). Chapman & Riley p148.



1st Ordnance Survey Map, (1866-8). Cuthbert Graham, Archibald Simpson, Architect of Aberdeen 1790-1847, 1990 W A Brogden, Aberdeen, An Illustrated Architectural Guide, 1998 p86. Ranald MacInnes, The Aberdeen Guide, 2000 p63. Canmore database, available at Dictionary of Scottish Architects,

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. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. 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.

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Printed: 21/05/2024 15:05