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
Supplementary Information Updated
Local Authority
East Lothian
Planning Authority
East Lothian
NT 38858 74049
338858, 674049


George Kennedy and Michael Landon of Alison and Hutchison and Partners, 1965. Single-storey, radially planned Catholic church with vertically banded rendered walls in Modernist style rising in height to the east and sited in open ground to the centre of a large square corner site with a tall timber cross marking the entrance of the site. Expanding finned walls forming vertical window details to the east end and framing the altar. There is a large secondary section wrapping around the principal concentric circular plan to the south ending in the large glazed Lady Chapel window facing east. The entrance is to the east side and flanked by double sided glazed baptistry with taller concave curved wall at the end. Shallow concrete ponds (empty 2013) under the decorative windows were designed to reflect sunlight through the stained glass and there is a low base course glazed window wrapping around the main space to light the interior. There is a sloping flat roof with 3 bands of rooflights.

Large cross made from timber I-beam sections set just inside the main entrance gate of low brick walls and gatepiers with concrete capping (replacement railings).

The interior was seen in 2013. The main congregation space has solid curved walls and no windows with the only natural light provided at floor level by a horizontal glazed band at skirting height. The boarded timber ceiling rises in height in 3 stages to the altar where the space is lit by 3 bands of rooflights and vertical side lights created by the external fin sections. There is black terrazzo flooring throughout with raised curved altar plinth in patterned light grey polished marble. There are large Scandinavian style Stations of the Cross built into curvature of wall by artist Fred Carson in brown ceramic with coloured glazed details. There is a 5-bay stained 'dalles de verre' style glass window to Lady Chapel depicting the Resurrection which was designed in 1965 by the stained glass artist Crear McCartney. There is a stone altar table with indented cross and sculptural laminated timber tabernacle enclosing metal sphere. Bespoke timber pews and vertical timber boarded doors. Open timber screen doors with paired red ceramic crosses leading to timber lined and glazed former baptistery with central rock plinth on radially carved stone base for former font bowl (now lost, 2013).

Statement of Special Interest

Place of worship in use as such. St Gabriel's Roman Catholic Church is an important example of Post-war ecclesiastical architecture retaining its original character and form as an unusual modernist concentric circular design which forms a striking contrast to its surroundings in the centre of a residential area. The rendered, angled rising walls are punctuated by vertical glazed strip window sections to form a highly sculptural building which is still in its original plan. The interior of the church has a light and delicate sculptural quality with the interior design cleverly using the expanding concentric circle plan to create windows and rooflights to direct shafts of light on the altar and crucifix throughout the day. The church retains its original form and detailing throughout with only minor alterations to some windows.

The church was built in 1966, the first church in Prestonpans for the parish that had been founded in 1932 to include Prestonpans, Wallyford and Port Seton. At the time when it was built the diocese was forward thinking in commissioning unusual modern designs and modern congregational spaces, a result of the implementation of liturgical reform and the renewed theology of Vatican II from this period.

As Glendinning notes in Rebuilding Scotland (p131) 'the movement to single interior spaces for modern church architecture allowed the architect to focus on and use the finishes of floors, ceilings and walls as important part of the overall design.' This ethos is well demonstrated at St Gabriel's with the use of vertical side windows and bands of horizontal rooflights to light the altar and crucifix in different ways through the day. The way the ceiling height rises towards the altar also acts as a focus for the congregation to the heart of the church.There is a brightly coloured contemporary 'dalles de verre' style window depicting the resurrection. This style of glass was established in France in the 20th century by Gabriel Loire (1904-1996) of Chartres and became popular in post war churches in Scotland. The window at St Gabriel's was designed by renowned scottish stained glass artist, Crear McCartney (1931-2016) who carried out work to around 100 churches in Scotland. He studed at the Glasgow School of Art from 1950 -1955 under Walter Pritchard. Examples of his work include Pluscarden Abbey, following his graduation in 1955, and St Magnus Cathedral in Orkney in 1987.

Other important examples of a circular planned Post-war churches in Scotland are Brucefield Parish Church, Whitburn 1966 and St Andrew's Roman Catholic Church, Livingston 1969, which is also by the firm Alison and Hutchison and Partners (see separate listings).

Minor changes made to listed building record (non-statutory information) in 2016.



McWilliam, C (1978) Buildings of Scotland, Lothian. p390. London, Butler and Tanner Ltd.

Glendinning, M (1997) Rebuilding Scotland: the Post War Vision 1945-1975. East Lothian: Tuckwell Press.

Hume, J (2005) Scotland's Best Churches. Edinburgh University Press (p139).

Hume, J R (2012) West Lothian Churches, An Introduction Scotland's Churches Trust.

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, St Andrews RC Livingston [accessed 20/11/13]. [accessed 22/06/2016]

Further information from member of the public (June 2016)

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.

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Printed: 02/10/2022 07:31