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


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Group Category Details
100000020 - See Notes
Date Added
Local Authority
Perth And Kinross
Planning Authority
Perth And Kinross
Little Dunkeld
NO 03234 41820
303234, 741820


William Slater to design of Richard Cromwell Carpenter, 1856-58; tower belfry stage by James Ramsay, 1882; low N aisle and baptistery by Norman & Beddoe, 1883; choir stalls by Rev Edward Sugden 1889; organ by Forster and Andrews 1874, rebuilt by John R Miller 1908. Well-detailed gothic church with 3-bay nave, aisle chancel, square 3-stage crenellated tower and unusually fine interior with Burne-Jones windows by William Morris & Co, stencilling remnants and furnishings of note. Squared, coursed and snecked rubble with ashlar dressings. Raked base course, band course and machicolation to tower, angle buttresses, voussoirs, traceried windows and chamfered reveals.

FURTHER DESCRIPTION: entrance tower to SW with 2-leaf timber door and traceried oculus dwarfed by flanking projecting buttresses; aisle with Burne Jones windows and squat buttresses to NW under swept roof with diminutive ventilators; SE elevation of nave and chancel, latter with hoodmoulded recess below 2-light window; large 3-light window to cross-finialled NE gable.

Fine coloured glass or coloured margins to diamond-pattern leaded lights throughout. Grey slates. Shouldered stack raised in brick at vestry; ashlar-coped skews to stepped roof.

INTERIOR: unusually fine interior with good decorative scheme in place, including open timber roof with simple cross bracing, limewashed walls to nave and aisle, evidence of stencilling at chancel, columned N arcade, fixed timber pews and some tiled floors. Moulded chancel arch with carved head corbels and decorative stone septum with inset railings; sanctuary with stone and marble reredos, single seat sedile and piscine. Carved oak pulpit. Carved circular stone font at baptistery.

STAINED GLASS: much fine figurative glass including Alexander and Evelyn Mary Low Memorial Windows in N aisle designed by Edward Burne-Jones and executed by Morris & Co depicting 'King David and St John' of 1890 (designed 1866 and 1869) and 'Ruth and Mary' of 1904, designed 1886. E window Crucifixion by C E Kempe 1895 and chancel's S wall 'Moses and St John the Baptist' by James Ballantine & Son 1864.

Statement of Special Interest

Place of worship in use as such.

Items 68-100 form B group with items 18-20.

St Mary's Church makes a significant contribution to the streetscape of Birnam which is an outstanding example of an early-mid Victorian Highland resort in a setting of great natural beauty. Sited on slightly raised ground within a small walled graveyard, the multi-build date of the church has resulted in a surprisingly unified composition with some unusually fine interior detail. The architect William Slater was articled to Richard Cromwell Carpenter and took over the practice after Carpenter's death. Slater completed St Mary's at Birnam and St Stephen's at Burntisland to Carpenter's designs, but went on to design a number of churches in his own right, including St Peter's Episcopal Church in Edinburgh and St John the Evangelist in Dumfries.

The village developed largely following the opening of the Perth and Dunkeld Railway in 1856. In 1865 it was noted that the trade of Dunkeld and Birnam had suffered with the extension of the railway. The main development was thus between 1856 and 1863, when Birnam was the terminus.

In 2008 some stencilling fragments were uncovered in the chancel area of St Mary's Church. The Gothic Revival in church building led to many churches being built with complex interior decorative schemes. From the 1830s the spiritual role of the church was promoted by the Oxford Movement and the Cambridge Camden Society and this too gave impetus to the adoption of decorative elements to enhance religious experience. William Butterfield focused colour and decoration on the chancel area of his churches, and this appears to be the course followed at St Mary's. Episcopal churches throughout Scotland adopted this intense decorative style, and some fine examples include St Salvador's in Dundee, St John's in Edinburgh and St Ninian's in Perth (all separately listed). St Mary's architect, Richard Cromwell Carpenter, also designed Lancing College in Sussex, with its magnificent French Gothic chapel.

List description revised 2009 to include new interior information.



Episcopal Year Book. John Gifford Buildings of Scotland Perth and Kinross (2007), pp197-8. Dictionary of Scottish Architects [accessed 20.05.09]. David Watkin English Architecture (1990), pp158, 159, 167. [accessed 19.06.09].

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.

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Printed: 13/07/2024 20:00