15th century, Late Gothic church; partly remodelled in restoration by David Bryce, 1851-4; steeple rebuilt 1888. Cruciform plan: side aisles, N and S transepts, chancel to E and steeple to W; roofless choir to E and sacristy to NE, abandoned 1592.
CHOIR: late 15th century; comprised of 3 canted bays to E and bay to N and S sides. Squared and coursed rubble. Battered base course stepped over doorway to S bay. Foliated corbel course at parapet level. 5 set-off diagonal buttresses dividing bays, each with canopied niche; remains of pinnacles to N, NE and E, and of gablets and gargoyles to N and NE buttresses. Semicircular-arched moulded doorway with foliated ogeed hoodmould. Hoodmoulded pointed-arched windows, 3-light with uncusped loop tracery, to apse and above doorway (lower parts of apse windows blocked, that to centre window originally for reredos).
INTERIOR: Y-traceried 2-light window to gabled W wall, lighting nave. Several vault corbels. Free-standing monument to James Douglas, 1st Earl of Morton (d. circa 1498), and his wife Princess Joanna, daughter of King James I; 2 recumbent effigies on rectangular tomb-chest, ornamented with heraldic lozenges (repaired 1964).
SACRISTY (BUCCLEUCH VAULT): 2-storey gabled sacristy adjoins chancel to N. Squared and coursed rubble; stone slab roof. Coped plinth and base course. Eaves cornice. Coped skews and ogival finials to skewblocks to N. Boarded door to right at 1st floor to W. Panel with small opening at ground to N. Worn image niche on NW angle. Several wall monuments attached.
Interior: (not seen, 1990). Pointed tunnel-vault to 1st floor. Later segmental vault, replacing original timber ceiling, to ground floor. Ground floor used as burial vault for Scotts of Buccleuch.
CHURCH: stugged squared and snecked ashlar. Coped base course. Pointed-arched windows with variety of curvilinear tracery, largely 3-light. Deeply and double chamfered margins and cills. Dogtooth cavetto course above windows on S elevation. Coped set-off buttresses. Gablet-coped skews. Stone ridging to roof. Grey slates. Some original rainwater goods; rainwater heads dated "1851".
STEEPLE: 1888. 3-stage. Advanced slightly from side aisles. Diagonal angle buttresses to 3rd stage. Coped base course and courses between stages. Hoodmoulded 2-light windows. Pointed-arched moulded doorway to W face; 2-leaf door. Window above at 2nd stage. Window with clock below to each face at 3rd stage. Canted stair tower projection with slit and stone slab half-piend roof above aisle roof to right of S face. Cusped and corbelled eaves course. Broached ashlar spire; 2-light geometric-traceried gabled lucarnes on alternate faces, slit lucarnes above. Weathervane.
S aisle: 3-bay. Porch advanced in bay to left. Windows in remaining bays, divided by buttresses. Window to right and 2 lancets to left to W return.
Porch: gabled; chamfered pointed-arched doorway to S with carved corbel above; diagonal buttresses with block pinnacles flanking. Stone slab roof and dogtooth eaves course. Pointed-vault with surface ribs, probably mediaeval; hanging lantern. Moulded semicircular-arched doorway; boarded 2-leaf doors.
N AISLE: 4-bay. Vestry to W. Windows in 3 bays to left, divided by buttresses, 2-light to right. Hoodmoulded 2-light window to W return. Coped wallhead stack between bays to right.
TRANSEPTS: aisles adjoined to W return elevations of gabled transepts. Hoodmoulded window to N and S. Window to E return of S transept. Sawtooth skews and gableted skewputts.
CHANCEL: window to N and S, in advanced bays. Gableted buttress with canopied niche and carved pinnacle to right on S elevation.
INTERIOR: painted rubble and plaster walls and timber dadoes. Timber roofs, vaulted to nave, coombed aisle roofs. 3-bay nave; moulded pointed arches on octagonal ashlar piers with moulded plaster capitals, with hoodmoulds and carved head label stops to arches. Transepts opening off E bays; pointed arch separating aisles from transepts.
CHANCEL: N and S windows recessed in narrow pointed-arched panels. Timber communion table and brass table-top lectern, 1908. Stone pulpit (The King George V Memorial Pulpit) and lectern, 1936. Stone font (2nd World War Memorial), 1948. Organ by Foster and Andrews, Hull, 1884.
Full-height pointed arch to W wall of nave; gallery with rib-vaulted roof in 1st stage of tower, 1882; panelled screen with cusped glazing and 2-leaf doors at ground, 1861.
Pointed-arched piscina in original masonry panel to right on E wall of N aisle. Calderwood Memorial on W wall of S aisle (probably re-located during 1851 restoration): late 17th century Renaissance-style stone wall monument to William Calderwood, minister of the church from 1659-80; swan neck pediment, dentilled cornice, Corinthian nook-shafts and elaborate carving, including emblems of mortality.
Banner of Dalkeith Hammermen's Society, 1665, on W wall of N aisle.
Timber internal porch approached from S porch, to right of aisle wall. Vestibule in tower, with vestry to N, and entrance to stair tower to S.
STAINED GLASS: chancel window: Good Shepherd and St Nicholas, in memory of Rev W M Dunnett (d. 1957). War Memorial window in E wall of S transept by Mr Ballantyne, 1921. Geometric stained glass to gallery window to W. Coloured glass margins to remaining diamond-paned windows.
GRAVEYARD WALLS AND MONUMENTS: ashlar coped rubble walls; 4 coped set-off buttresses to N wall in garden of No 127 High Street (see separate listing). Ashlar piers with cornice and blocking course to High Street, iron gates. 18th and 19th century monuments in graveyard, including substantial triumphal pedimented wall monument, 1722.
WATCH-HOUSE: small, gabled rectangular-plan watch-house incorporated in boundary wall to W of gates on High Street. Squared and coursed rubble; stone slab roof. Door to E, window to N. Coped gablehead stack to W.
Statement of Special Interest
Ecclesiastical building in use as such. The choir is a Scheduled Monument. The church has been variously known as the Collegiate Church of St Nicholas, Dalkeith Kirk, the Parish Church, the Old Parish Church, the East Parish Church, St Nicholas and the Old Kirk. The choir is an important example of Late Gothic, and the church shares features with contemporary Collegiate churches in the Lothians, eg Seton and Dunglass.
The Chapel of St Nicholas was probably in existence by the later 14th century. In 1406 it was raised into a Collegiate Church and endowed by Sir James Douglas, 1st Lord of Dalkeith, who made contributions to the enlargement of the building between 1390 and 1420. Dalkeith was established as a parish in 1592, and St Nicholas became the Presbyterian Parish Kirk. The choir was partitioned off at this time and subsequently fell into disrepair, with the stone roof collapsing in circa 1770.
An octagonal steeple was erected in circa 1762. A number of Incorporated Trades Lofts were erected and enlarged between 1660 and 1838.
By the mid 19th century, the church was in need of expansion and extensive repair. The newly constructed West Church (1840) eased the accommodation problem, and the congregation of St Nicholas worshipped there whilst restoration work was carried out at St Nicholas for 3 years from Autumn 1851, to the specifications of David Bryce. The original walls of the 1420 church were incorporated in the new building, the exterior being refaced and the windows altered. An 85ft high steeple was constructed, and the lofts were removed. The building was re-roofed, and a sunken pavement was formed around the church. The church re-opened in Spring 1854. The cost of restoration was ?4160, and 760 sittings were provided after restoration.
In 1885 a fire destroyed the steeple and gallery; they were rebuilt in 1888, and the vestry was restored. Following the union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church in 1929, the church was renamed the Church of St Nicholas. The chancel was restored by Thomas Aikman Swan in 1936. The removal of the 1851 pulpit revealed the piscina set in the original wall.
The congregations of Old Kirk and West Church united in 1979 to form St Nicholas Buccleuch Church; both churches continued to be used alternately. When West Church closed in 1989, Old Kirk became the parish church.
Listed Building Consent has been granted for the organ, stained glass window and internal wall plaques from West Church to be relocated in Old Kirk (1991).