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South and West Church (former Free Church) including the adjoining single storey church halls (former Free Church School) to the rear, the western boundary walls, railings, gates and gatepiers and exc

A Category C Listed Building in Buckie, Moray

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.6752 / 57°40'30"N

Longitude: -2.9631 / 2°57'47"W

OS Eastings: 342656

OS Northings: 865449

OS Grid: NJ426654

Mapcode National: GBR M81F.PBD

Mapcode Global: WH7KJ.GB7Y

Entry Name: South and West Church (former Free Church) including the adjoining single storey church halls (former Free Church School) to the rear, the western boundary walls, railings, gates and gatepiers and exc

Listing Date: 1 July 2019

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 407167

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52498

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Buckie

County: Moray

Town: Buckie

Electoral Ward: Buckie

Traditional County: Banffshire

Description

Description:

Church

A broad-plan church in the Early English Gothic style by Alexander and William Reid, built in 1849-50 as a Free Church. Located on a prominent corner site on Buckie High Street, the northwest corner has a tall three-stage tower with a broached spire. There are gabled single-storey, rectangular-plan halls dating to 1849 (formerly the Free Church School) adjoining the rear (east) elevation. The buildings are constructed of rubble sandstone with ashlar rybats and dressings. It is currently (2019) in use as a place of worship (Church of Scotland).

There is a pitched and slated roof with ashlar stone skews, pedimented skew putts and a small bellcote finial to the east gable. The window openings are largely tall, narrow lancets with angled ashlar cills, continuous moulded cill courses, simple hoodmouldings and latticed glazing. The door openings are recessed pointed-arched openings with moulded surrounds, plain transoms and timber-boarded doors with decorative hinges.

The interior of the church was renovated in 1885 and the majority of the surviving fittings date from this period, including the timber pews, flooring, the moulded ceiling and the decorative cast iron stair rail. The church has a sanctuary and pulpit to the east, with a U-plan 1850 gallery to the other three sides which is carried on slender cast iron columns, with a corbelled cornice and decorative timber panelling. The 1900-01 organ on the north wall is by Wadsworth & Brother of Manchester. A large stained glass roundel under the gallery dates to around 1930 and was relocated from the former West church in 1997 when the congregations merged.

Church Hall

This former Free Church school comprises two single-storey, rectangular-plan halls and ancillary rooms adjoining the rear (east) of the church, with twin-gabled elevations to the north (on East Cathcart Street) and to the east (on Garden Lane). The roofs are pitched and slated with some rooflights. The north elevation is harled with three lancet windows and a round-arched doorway to the right. The east elevation has a rubblestone gable to the centre, largely lancet windows and pedimented skew putts. The adjoining flat-roof additions and gable-fronted additions to the left date from the mid-late 20th century and are excluded from the listing.

The plan form and fabric of the interior of the church halls have been altered in the late-19th and late-20th centuries.

There is a low rubble boundary wall with ashlar copes and plain iron railings fronting the main elevation of the church on High Street. There are decorative iron piers and gates with cross-motif finials at the northwest corner. A similar wall lines the south boundary.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: the single-storey flat-roofed addition at the northeast corner and the gabled and flat-roofed addition to the southeast corner.

Boundary Wall

There is a low rubble boundary wall with ashlar copes and plain iron railings fronting the main elevation of the church on High Street. There are decorative iron piers and gates with cross-motif finials at the northwest corner. A similar wall lines the south boundary.

Statement of Interest

Statement of Special Interest:

In 1843, 450 ministers broke away from the Church of Scotland to form the Free Church of Scotland. This event is known as the Disruption. Hundreds of Free Churches were built across Scotland in the decade following the Disruption. The 1850 Early English Gothic style South and West Church in Buckie, designed by the prolific architects A and W Reid, is of special interest because it is a more architecturally decorative and prominent building than the majority of Free Churches built at this time and also because it retains its contemporary school, although this has been altered.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: the single-storey flat-roofed addition at the northeast corner and the gabled and flat-roofed addition to the southeast corner.

Historical development

Following the Disruption in 1843, when roughly a third of ministers and their congregations moved away from the established Church of Scotland to form the Free Church of Scotland, hundreds of new churches were built across the country for the new protestant denomination.

In Buckie work began first on the school buildings with existing cottages being unroofed and heightened (at a cost of £350) to provide the necessary accommodation (J. Smith, p. 45). For the church itself it is reported that the dressed stones for the church were brought from Morayshire in fishing boats and the women from the town carried them up from the harbour (J. Smith, p. 47). The church was opened in 1850 at a cost of £1,250. The Elgin Courier and Morayshire Advertiser in described the church in 1850 as a "…handsome edifice…" with seating for 1060 people.

The church is shown on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey Map (surveyed 1866, published 1868) as a rectangular plan church with two rectangular buildings adjoining the rear, labelled Schools . The church was renovated in 1885 with works including the addition of a porch to the right of the principal (west) elevation and the renewing of the flooring and pews of the interior (The Banffshire Journal and General Advertiser, 1885). By the 2nd edition map (surveyed 1902, published 1905) the church is labelled the United Free Church. A long rectangular building has been added to the south of the former School halls. On the Ordnance Survey map of 1968 the church is labelled as the South Church (Church of Scotland).

In 1970 the church joined with the congregation of West Church, Buckie, forming the current South and West Church. The former West Church is located on the corner of Cluny Square and Cluny Place and is now in residential use.

Architectural interest

Design

The design of Buckie South and West Church is in the Early English Gothic style. This Gothic Revival style became popular in Scotland around 1840 following a new interest in medieval architecture, which particularly influenced church building.

Plainer early Gothic styles suited Protestant taste as they were generally less decorative than the styles used for Episcopal and Catholic churches. Although the Free Church wanted to differentiate itself from the Church of Scotland in how it governed itself, its programme of church building conformed stylistically to prevailing architectural styles for Protestant denominations from the middle of the 19th century. The tall narrow lancet windows on this church in Buckie are typical of this plainer, Early English Gothic style.

From the mid-19th century, larger, more elaborate and richly decorated churches were built for the denomination (mostly in more affluent urban areas). However, their buildings were ultimately required to conform to the solemnity of Free Church evangelical Presbyterian worship.

The Buildings of Scotland notes that most of the Free Churches in Moray around the mid-19th century were "…broad, gabled boxes…short on architectural finesse…" (Walker and Woodworth, p. 434). By comparison South and West Church Buckie is recognised to have been built on a mammoth scale. (Walker and Woodworth, p. 434). With its tall tower, large octagonal spire and fine stone detailing to the exterior, the church is notable as the largest and most architecturally ambitious Free Church of this period in the region.

The broad plan (rectangular) plan form with a U-plan gallery and no side aisles is typical for a church of this scale and type and allowed for preaching to be heard easily by all of the congregation. Many features from both the mid and later 19th century decorative schemes remain, including the 1850 gallery and the timber pews and ceiling moulding which date from 1885. Such features add interest to the building in listing terms.

The footprint and exterior fabric and design of the church has been largely unaltered since its construction in the mid-19th century.

The triple lancet windows and carved skewputts of the halls reflect the design of the church. The interior of the church halls have been substantially altered over the 19th and 20th centuries and few interior features of interest remain in this section of the building.

The architects, A and W Reid (Alexander Reid and William Reid) of Elgin practiced extensively across the Morayshire, Aberdeenshire and Highland regions in the mid to late 19th century and are known for their church work. The former Free Church at Buckie is the largest and most elaborate of all the Free Churches that the practice designed.

Setting

South and West Church Buckie is prominently located at a junction on the High Street, one of the principal streets through the town, a short distance south of the central Cluny Square. The spire is dominant in the streetscape and is visible from approaches to the town centre, particularly the southern approach along the High Street

The principal streets around the church such as, Newtown, the High Street and the Square, retain their mid-19th century layout and the immediate surroundings of the church are predominantly one and two-storey mid-19th century domestic buildings with typical later alterations.

Historic interest

Age and rarity

Thousands of places of worship from early medieval times onwards exist in varying levels of survival across Scotland. Places of worship from the mid-19th century are not old in terms of the building types and they are not rare because this period was a prolific time for church building.

After the Disruption of 1843 the Free Church began fundraising to build hundreds of new churches across the country, many were accompanied by manses and schools. The Established Church also began a programme of church building to rival that of the Free Church, increasing its number of parishes between 1843 and 1909 by over half. As a result, the mid to late 19th century marked a significant period of church building in Scotland.

Surviving churches of the 19th century (particularly those built after the middle of the century) are not old or rare.

While surviving Free Churches of the 19th century are a prolific building type in Scotland, there are fewer remaining examples of Free Church Schools which were built in association with the church. The survival the former school is rare and adds further interest to the church in listing terms.

Social historical interest

Due to their key function within a community, many places of worship and schools have socio-historical interest for the local area. This South and West Church is the oldest surviving church in Buckie.

Association with people or events of national importance

There is no association with a person or event of national importance.

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