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Free Church, James Street, Blairgowrie

A Category B Listed Building in Blairgowrie And Rattray, Perth and Kinross

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Latitude: 56.5935 / 56°35'36"N

Longitude: -3.3421 / 3°20'31"W

OS Eastings: 317683

OS Northings: 745423

OS Grid: NO176454

Mapcode National: GBR V8.TMJN

Mapcode Global: WH6PF.MJRQ

Plus Code: 9C8RHMV5+95

Entry Name: Free Church, James Street, Blairgowrie

Listing Name: James Street, Blairgowrie Church of Scotland Parish Church and Church Hall with Boundary Walls, Railings and Gates

Listing Date: 4 September 2003

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 396950

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB49430

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Blairgowrie and Rattray

County: Perth and Kinross

Town: Blairgowrie And Rattray

Electoral Ward: Blairgowrie and Glens

Traditional County: Perthshire

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D and J R MacMillan, Aberdeen, 1902-04; stonemason McLeish; 1843 hall. Early English gothic church with 4-stage entrance tower and single stage polygonal stair tower; 3-bay aisled nave with dividing buttresses, transepts and apse. Red sandstone bull-faced rubble with polished ashlar dressings; snecked rubble to NE and NW. Raised base and eaves courses; dividing string courses to entrance tower. Single and 2-stage sawtooth-coped buttresses; single stage polygonal clasping buttresses and full-height set-back buttresses to tower. Traceried and trefoil-headed windows. Hoodmoulds; corbels; raked cills, chamfered reveals and stone mullions.

SE (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: tall gabled elevation with traceried 7-light horizontal window at 1st stage, large hoodmoulded traceried window above and relief-carved cross in panel at gablehead (see Notes); gablet-coped buttress breaking eaves at outer right and giving way to low crenellated polygonal tower with set-back polygonal roof, hoodmoulded trefoil-headed doorpiece and part-glazed timber door with disabled access; small horizontal trefoil-headed bipartite window in square-headed panel close to eaves above and to 3 adjacent faces to right, 2 outer faces to right also with single window at 1st stage.

ENTRANCE TOWER: engaged 1st stage with steps up to pinnacled buttresses flanking gabled porch at SW incorporating deeply-moulded decorative doorcase with paired attached colonnettes, and vaulted deep-set 2-leaf panelled timber door with timber-traceried, coloured glass toplights, hoodmould and decorative niche in finialled gablehead, and 2 narrow lights to SE giving way to tall 2nd stage with full-height centre buttress and 2 glazed gunloops to SE, SW and NW. Each elevation of reduced belfry stage above with small blind trefoil-headed panels surmounted by paired hoodmoulded louvered openings, and corbel table giving way to 4th stage with clock face set into segmental panel and surmounted by triangular pediment with flanking polygonal buttresses (also to each face), and set-back crocketted octagonal spire with diminutive fleche close to top at alternate faces.

SW (JAMES STREET) ELEVATION: broad advanced gabled bay to left of centre with tall hoodmoulded 5-light raised-centre window and flanking polygonal buttresses; 3 set-back bays to nave at right, each with 2 closely-aligned trefoil-headed windows to aisled 1st stage and traceried 3-light window to set-back 2nd stage, latter under hoodmoulds appearing as continuous string course. Entrance tower (see above) to outer right and hall (see below) at outer left.

NE ELEVATION: mirrors SW elevation but without hoodmoulds, and with polygonal tower to outer left.

NW ELEVATION: gabled bay to left of centre with large 5-light window to smaller projecting gabled apse, and lower blank bay to right with single storey hall (see below) adjoining.

Multi-pane leaded glazing patterns with Art Nouveau style coloured toplights; coloured glass see below. Grey slates. Ashlar stack with cans; ashlar-coped skews with moulded skewputts; stepped terracotta ridge tiles.

INTERIOR: fine original galleried interior (gallery to SE) with fixed timber pews, circular ashlar columns supporting segmentally-arched arcade to side aisles with clerestorey windows, full-height transeptal arcade and barrel-vaulted ceiling. Carved timber screen to raised chancel area with polygonal memorial pulpit to 'Rev William Muir BD BL Fell asleep Jan 26 1920'; octagonal stone font with clustered marble shaft, memorial to 'Rev John Baxter DD, Minister September 1858 until his death August 1893'. Tall chancel arch with full-width Norman & Beard organ of 1907, rebuilt 1989 by A F Edmondstone. Narthex with segmental- and trefoil-headed doors and boarded timber dadoes, various mural monuments including WWI and WWII memorials, and polygonal tower with turned balusters and finialled newel posts to cantilevered staircase. Decorative cast-iron radiators and bracketted light fittings.

COLOURED GLASS: 5-light apse window depicting scenes from life of Moses: Moses' birth and discovery in the bulrushes; Moses on Mount Sinai with stone tablets with 10 Commandments; Israelites plagued by poisonous snakes and Moses with bronze healing pole represented as cross; Moses striking rock on Mount Sinai; Moses looking across River Jordan to Promised Land.

CHURCH HALL: gabled, rectangular-plan, rubble hall with slated roof and horizontally-astragalled glazing in timber windows.

SE ELEVATION: hoodmoulded 3-light pointed-arch window to gabled left bay and lower link bay to right with segmental-headed 2-leaf part-glazed timber door and flanking basket-arched tripartite windows.

BOUNDARY WALLS, RAILINGS AND GATES: low saddleback-coped rubble boundary walls with inset ironwork railings and decorative gates.

Statement of Interest

Ecclesiastical building in use as such. The church hall and back vestibule was the first Free Church of Blairgowrie. The gablehead cross to the SE elevation forms the base of a Celtic cross finial now at the foot of the gable where a commemorative bulb garden for the 'Children of Dunblane, March 1996' is situated. Formerly St Andrews Free Church, which was started by members of the congregation who 'went out' from the Hill Church at the Disruption, and subsequently joined with the United Presbyterian Church at the 1900 Union. The resultant St Andrews United Free Church (the building detailed above) was built on the site of the old Free Church School at a cost of #7921.7.6, with all funds raised by the Church Building Committee. Mr McLeish, the main contractor and stonemason quoted a price of only 3s 6d per linear foot for buttresses for the spire (the price should have been 20 shillings), this miscalculation meant that by March 1902 he had overspent by #500. A separate contract was drawn up to allow Mr McLeish to complete the job. On the opening day there was general strike of mill workers in Blairgowrie from which the town never recovered as the jute industry subsequently moved to Dundee. The 1929 union of the United Free and the Church of Scotland meant St Andrews could carry on as The Church of Scotland, finally uniting with St Mary's South Church (listed separately) in January 2002 to become Blairgowrie Parish Church. The apse windows were presented to the church by David Mitchell; the clock by J Smith & Sons, Midland Steam Clock Works of Derby, was presented by Ex Provost Stewart of Dunblair, and the bells by John Taylor & Co (Founders, Loughborough) were presented by Mr Johnstone Stewart of Hillside House.

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