Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.

ABERDOUR KIRK, ST FILAN'S (CHURCH OF SCOTLAND) INCLUDING GRAVEYARD AND BOUNDARY WALLSLB3608

Status: Designated

Documents

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Summary

Category
A
Date Added
02/05/1973
Local Authority
Fife
Planning Authority
Fife
Parish
Aberdour (Fife)
NGR
NT 19320 85468
Coordinates
319320, 685468

Description

12th century small church with later additions, un-roofed 1790, restored 1925-1926. 12th century rectangular-plan nave with square-plan chancel, small squat N transept dated 1608 and 16th century S aisle with porch. Cubical ashlar to original church, ashlar to N transept, squared rubble elsewhere. Bellcote to W gable.

W ELEVATION: inserted late 16th century pointed arch window with 2-light tracery. Pilastered, corniced panel beneath window inscribed 'PANS O PILGRIM THAT PASSITH BY THIS WAY UPON THYN END AND THOU SAL FEAR TO SIN AND THINK ALSO UPON THE LATTER DAY WHEN THOU TO GOD MAN COUNT THEN BEST THOU NOW BEGIN?. Former 16th century W window to S aisle at right, converted to door in 17th century giving access to former internal gallery (gallery removed at time of restoration) to W, later blocked. Gable to right extends over S aisle to near ground level.

N ELEVATION: chancel; narrow, single light round-headed window, chamfered to arris. Advanced transept to nave; door set to left partly sunken beneath ground level, moulded string course above door, architraved window to centre surmounted by triangular pediment with inscription 'DPCM 1608', corniced memorial panel centred above door. Nave; narrow, single light window as chancel to left of transept, round-headed 16th century door later converted to window flush to right return of transept partly sunken beneath ground level. Small inserted square 17th century window set above door to right, aedicule to far right.

E ELEVATION: chancel; centred narrow single light round-headed window. Flanking aedicules; Tuscan columns with centred winged face surmounted by shaped pediment dated 1688 to left, angel face to pedestal surmounted by curved pediment with skulls to terminating ends dated 1723 to right. Blocked window to recessed S aisle to left of chancel.

S ELEVATION: sunken advanced gabled porch to far left; obtuse pointed arch to entrance, descending flanking stone steps. 3 evenly spaced chamfered rectangular windows to aisle, bipartite to right. Carved memorial panel to Robert Blair (minister at St Andrews and former chaplain to Charles ) dated 1666 set between 2nd and 3rd window. Recessed chancel to far right; doorway to left, 2 evenly spaced narrow single light round-headed windows with detailing as above.

Timber plank doors with nail studs (2-leaf to main entrance). Predominantly 1930s stained glass windows, 2 late 20th century 'millennium' stained glass windows to S aisle at centre and close to porch. Roof to nave extends over S aisle continuously to low S aisle wallhead. Angus stone slabs to roof. Crowstepped gables to nave and S aisle, raised ashlar skews to E gable of chancel and S gable of porch. Slightly projecting ashlar birdcage bellcote to W gable, dated 1588 with former bell of Dalgety Bay Church set within, chamfered rectangular openings to each face, eaves cornice below stone pyramid roof with ball finial.

INTERIOR: porch; stone benches to each side, centred rectangular doorway to church, roughly carved out benatura to right. W nave; exposed masonry of original 12th century church near to ground. 5 Morton family brass coffin plates fixed to wall. Projecting later 20th century timber balcony supporting J.W.Walker & Sons Ltd organ pipes flanking 2-light 16th century window. N nave; round arched opening from nave to barrel-vaulted N transept, floor to transept set above nave at same level as former nave door to left (now window). 20th century square timber pulpit to transept set behind timber screen. Single light to far right of nave with deeply splayed ingo. E nave; central arch opening to chancel with hoodmould. Timber carved pulpit to left by Scott Morton & Co, 1926. Stone font; 20th century polygonal shaft with earlier octagonal basin to right. S nave elevation leading to S aisle; 3- bay stone arcade running from E to near W, circular piers, cushion capitals with chamfered round arches. Timber chairs to nave by Design Furniture Group, 1973. Timber roof. S aisle; 3 rectangular splayed windows with deep ingos to base, timber roof with exposed rafters and purlins. Chancel; raised floor above nave, deeply splayed ingos to base of windows, fixed timber pews to side walls, central timber communion table with carved arcade detailing by Scott Morton & Co,1926, timber barrel-vaulted ceiling.

GRAVEYARD AND BOUNDARY WALLS: small graveyard surrounding church enclosed by random rubble boundary walls incorporating high garden walls of Aberdour Castle with triangular copes to N and W (a doorway to the far right of the W wall leads from the graveyard to the castle terrace). Lane to NE lined with collection of early 18th century finely carved headstones with shaped pediments.

Statement of Special Interest

NOTES: Ecclesiastical building in use as such. St Filan?s Church is a very good example of a simple, small Romanesque church with later 15th, 16th and 17th century alterations. St Fillan's fell into ruin after being de-roofed in 1790 however the church was carefully restored between 1925-1926. In the 15th century the church was enlarged by the addition of an S aisle, it was at this time the floor level in the nave dropped to accommodate the 3 circular piers inserted into the existing S wall. In 1474 the vicar of St Filan's, John Scot, besieged the Earl of Morton to grant an acre of land to the N of the church for the building of a hospice to deal with the large number of pilgrims who came to visit a holy well renowned for its eye healing qualities (the well was situated to the SE of the church, it is now drained and covered, 2002). In 1486 the right of rectorship to the hospice was taken away from the vicars of St Filan's and given over to the Sisters of the 3rd Order of St Francis, the hospice was swept away during the Reformation in 1560 and no traces of it remain. The slab set below the Gothic window to the W Gable with its inscription is a reminder of the pilgrims' visits to Aberdour, the stone originally stood nearby possibly on the pilgrim way from the hospice to the well. In the 16th century various alterations were made to the church including the gable walls being raised and crowstepped, the roof set at a steeper pitch, the gothic window in the W gable being inserted and the S porch added. In the late 18th century it is documented that the Countess of Morton was annoyed that the populace of Aberdour came to worship in such near proximity to Aberdour Castle (see separate listing), thus in 1790 St Filan's was abandoned and a new parish church set away from the castle was built on the High Street, this is now the church hall, 2002, (see separate listing). St Filan's lay abandoned and ruined throughout the 19th century. In 1914 Rev Robert Johnstone instigated the restoration of St Filan's and set about raising awareness within the local community, work began in 1925 after a large donation was made by a local family. William Williamson of Kirkcaldy and Kinghorn was appointed architect and local masons and joiners were employed to repair the walls and roof. The restoration was completed in just over a year and St Fillan's was re-dedicated and re-opened for worship on the 7th of July, 1926.

References

Bibliography

H Ralph, THE NEW STATISTICAL ACCOUNT OF SCOTLAND (1843) Vol 9 p717. 1st edition (Fife) Ordnance Survey map (1856). F Groome, STATISTICAL, BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL GAZETTEER OF SCOTLAND (1882) p23. MacGibbon and Ross, THE CASTELLATED AND DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE OF SCOTLAND, Vol II (1887) pp476-478. RCAHMS, INVENTORY OF MONUMENTS OF FIFE, KINROSS AND CLACKMANNAN (1933) pp15-17. J Gifford, THE BUILDINGS OF SCOTLAND Fife (1992) pp59-60. D W Rutherford ST FILLAN'S CHURCH ABERDOUR (1997).

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