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
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NJ 94073 6302
394073, 806302


James Gibbs, 1755, Archibald Simpson, 1835-7 and William Smith, 1875-7. Early burgh church in city centre location incorporating some 12th and 15th century fragments (see Notes), with central former crossing with 4-stage tower with steeple and with adjoining churches to E and W. Granite and sandstone ashlar, some rubble, with channelled quoins to W. Base course.

West Church: James Gibbs, 1755. 5-bay classical rectangular-plan church with pedimented entrance elevation to W with channelled rustication to doorpiece. Round-arched window openings with moulded architraves. Some Gibbs surrounds. Predominantly multi-pane timber windows. Cast-iron rainwater goods with decorative heads and clasps. Lead roof.

East Church: Archibald Simpson, 1835-7, incorporating Andrew Wrycht, master mason, 1438 crypt chapel at East end. 5-bay buttressed, crocketted and finialled Gothic former church. Hoodmoulds, deep-set pointed-arch and rectangular openings with decorative tracery. Separate entrance leads to small groin-vaulted chapel to E (commercial premises 2006).

Steeple: William Smith, 1875-7. Crocketted and finialled square-plan clock-tower with recessed stone spire. Clasping polygonal corner towers. Pointed-arch louvred openings to belfry.

INTERIOR: West Church: rare survival of a substantially unaltered 18th century interior. Barrel vaulted, with groin-vaulted aisles and oak panelled gallery. Massive decorative pulpit and communion table. Pine boxed pews, arranged in square-plan with pulpit to S. Lord Provost's loft to W with Corinthian columned baldacchino.

East Church: archaeological dig in progress (2006). Panelled oak gallery to N, S and W. Several good quality stained glass windows.

Statement of Special Interest

This is one of the most historically important buildings in Aberdeen. With some surviving elements from the late 12th century in the central crossing, it has been gradually altered through the centuries to become a large, prominent feature in the city landscape. The West section of the church is thought to be the only Gibbs building in Scotland and its interior is particularly noteworthy as a rare 18th century survival.

The original church, known as 'The Mither Kirk' dated from 1151 and was one of the largest medieval churches in Scotland. Some remnants of this church possibly remain in St John's Chapel and in the central crossing, which was refurbished in 1990. The crypt, under the East end dates from 1438. The Church was divided into two congregations following the Reformation, with the nave of the old church becoming the West Kirk and the choir, the East Kirk. The West Kirk began to deteriorate and was refashioned to a design which James Gibbs had given to the city of Aberdeen in 1741. Lack of money meant the design was not realised until 1755. The East church was almost completely demolished in 1835 and then rebuilt by Archibald Simpson in 1835-7. In 1874 a fire destroyed the old oak and lead steeple over the crossing and the 1835 Church. Both were replaced by William Smith in 1875-77.

James Gibbs (1682-1754) was one of the foremost British architects of the 18th century. Born in Aberdeen, he studied in Rome and spent most of his working life in England, where he worked with Sir Christopher Wren. He won commissions from many of the most influential people at the time. His public and private buildings are numerous and include St Martin's-in-the-Fields in London and the Radcliffe Library at Oxford.

References from previous list description: Ecc Arch v1 p426. Chapman &Riley pf147. G M Fraser, Archibald Simpson and his Times. Town Council Minutes. APSD. NSA v 12 p33. Little, James Gibbs p154. OSA v 19 p184-5. W Douglas Simpson in Country Life Aug 19th 1965.



1st Edition Ordnance Survey Map, 1866-8. G Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post Reformation Churches, 1957 pf100. W A Brogden, Aberdeen, An Architectural Guide 1998 pf13. Ranald MacInnes, The Aberdeen Guide, 2000 pf92. Guide book to The Kirk of St Nicholas. Church website,

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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