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.


Group Category Details
100000019 - see notes
Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 25640 73259
325640, 673259


Building begun 1601, opened 1620; possibly incorporating earlier fabric (see Notes). 8-bay rectangular church, fusion of Baroque and gothic survival styles. (Originally 6 bays with aisled nave, doors to N, S and E, and 4-stage square-plan tower to W. Tower and 2 W bays destroyed 1718 (see Notes). Wall built to divide off 4 E (undamaged) bays, which became Old Greyfriars; 2 W bays repaired and 2 new bays built to W (Alexander McGill), to form mirror-image church (New Greyfriars), opened 1722. Old Greyfriars gutted and New Greyfriars damaged by fire 1845. New Greyfriars re-opened 1846 (furnishings by David Bryce). Arcades of Old Greyfriars replaced with single-span open timber roof, and windows filled with ashlar pierced by lancets, David Cousin, 1856-7. Dividing wall and galleries removed, arcades rebuilt, timber ceiling built over 6 original bays and E gable restored, Henry Kerr, 1931-8.) Harled rubble with ashlar dressings. Pitched roof to nave, lean-to roofs to aisles (no clerestorey). Obelisk-topped buttresses between bays and at corners. 2-storey pedimented channelled ashlar porch, arcaded at ground floor to N (McGill, 1722). Base course; moulded eaves course. Pointed-arched chamfered surrounds to windows. Wall monuments.

E ELEVATION: large round-arched window to centre with 5 plate tracery lancets; carved panel with date (1614) above; oculus in pediment above (obelisks to sides and apex); remains of round-arched door opening off-set to right below, now blocked and containing wall monuments. Straight skews and pointed-arched 3-light windows with plate tracery lancets to flanking bays.

N ELEVATION: 2-storey 3-bay porch to centre; blind arch in centre bay with blind window above; 2-leaf timber panelled doors with sunburst fanlights in flanking bays; single windows above (12 pane glazing in timber sash and case windows); 2-leaf timber panelled doors with sunburst fanlights in returns; bell hung in bracketed timber shelter above (1991); decorative cast-iron bracket lamp on E return. Windows in pointed-arched surrounds in 3 bays to right and left: leaded windows to right, plate tracery lancets to left.

W ELEVATION: pedimented centre bay with low piend-roofed semi-octagonal porch (originally principal entrance): 2-leaf timber boarded door in roll-moulded surround to N, blocked entrance to S, window to W); pointed-arched 3-light window with Y-tracery; oculus in pediment above (obelisks to sides and apex). Scrolled curvilinear skews and 2-light windows with Y-tracery above, 12-pane glazing below to flanking bays.

S ELEVATION: 8 bays: wall monuments in outer left bay; outer right bay blank. Pointed-arched windows to 6 inner bays: plate tracery lancets to 3 right windows, small-pane glazing to outer left (lattice above, 12-pane below) Y-tracery to left.

INTERIOR: rebuilt Henry Kerr, 1931-38. 6-bay nave to E: arcaded aisles with octagonal piers; compartmented timber (Californian redwood) ceiling with decorative gilded medallions. Mid 17th century memorial tablet in S aisle to Lady Yester: emblems of mortality and inscription in Artisan Mannerist aedicule, painted and gilded (see Notes). 2 bays to E: timber gallery built under arch to accommodate organ (Peter Collins, 1988) in fine decorative case; rooms in aisles. Communion table and panelling behind, Honeyman, 1912; octagonal 17th century-style pulpit with sounding-board (Honeyman, 1912) now against 3rd S pier. wall monument in S aisle

Statement of Special Interest

A group comprises Greyfriars Church and Greyfriars Churchyard. The church was built in the grounds of the former Franciscan Friary (dissolved 1559), which had been used as a burial ground from 1562; it is said to incorporate material from the former nunnery of St Catherine of Siena (Sciennes). The Masters of Works were Clement Russell (1602), then Patrick Cochrane (1603-4). Greyfriars was the 1st church to be built in Edinburgh after the Reformation, serving the SW district of the city; its congregation moved from St Giles. The National Covenant was signed in Greyfriars on 26th February 1638. The building was used as a barracks by Cromwell's troops, 1650-53 (interior and furnishings were destroyed). Gunpowder stored in the tower exploded in May 1718, destroying the tower and damaging the 2 W bays. A fire in January 1845 gutted Old Greyfriars, causing arcades to collapse, and damaging New Greyfriars. Wilson illustrates the E end before the fire. New Greyfriars was re-opened in 1846 with furnishings by David Bryce; Old Greyfriars restored by David Cousin, 1856-7. The Congregations united in 1929, and the 2 churches were joined by Henry Kerr in 1931-8. Stained glass (the first in an Edinburgh Presbyterian church since the Reformation), mainly by Ballantine and Allan (1857), remained largely unaltered. The memorial in the S aisle was brought from Lady Yester's Church in 1938.



Appears on Gordon of Rothiemay's map of 1647. Wilson MEMOTIALS OF EDINBURGH IN THE OLDEN TIME (1891) ill 19 p240. RCAHMS INVENTORY EDINBURGH (1951) No 7 pp 44-71. Hay THE ARCHITECTURE OF SCOTTISH POST-REFORMATION CHURCHES (1957) p264. Gifford, McWilliam and Walker EDINBURGH (1984) pp 152-63. Steele GREYFRIARS 1993 (Church Guide).

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.

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.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


There are no images available for this record, you may want to check Canmore for images relating to GREYFRIARS PLACE, GREYFRIARS CHURCH (CHURCH OF SCOTLAND)

There are no images available for this record.

Search Canmore

Printed: 28/01/2022 20:24