History of Kirriemuir Old Parish Church

Archaeologists believe that the ground on which the Old Parish stands has been the site of Christian Worship for over 1000 years. The excavation of Pictish gravestones is the basis of this belief. Indeed the Cross that we use as the symbol of our church today (top left hand corner of the page) was found on a recently excavated gravestone which is believed to date to the 9th or 10th Century AD.

The current building was erected in 1787/88 after it had been decided that the existing one was in a very bad state of repair and it was much too small to accommodate the membership of the rapidly growing town. The new church was designed by James Playfair, father of the architect of the New Town of Edinburgh. The building is of major architectural importance and was the subject of a unique court case shortly after completion when the gallery collapsed!

The church is noted for its stained glass windows. The triple window in the East wall, behind the pulpit, depicts the Last Supper. It was made in Germany and installed in 1884. The two windows flanking it probably came from the same studio and were presented in memory of the long-serving elders James Harris and Alexander Lawson. In 1914, two memorials to the members of the family of Joseph Alexander were placed in the South wall. Most of the modern windows were the work of William Wilson. The most recent, on the South side of the gallery, was presented by the 1st Kirriemuir Co. of the Boys’ Brigade to mark the union, in 1973, of the Barony Church (as this church was known from 1929) with St Ninian’s. Since then the Church has been known as Kirriemuir Old Parish Church.

The names of estates at the end of the pews e.g. Kinnordy, Ballinshoe etc. remind us that the pews were under the jurisdiction of the Heritors (landowners). They controlled the allocation of seats and charged rent to members of the congregation.

The kirkyard contains some very ancient gravestones, the earliest legible one being the memorial to Magrata Tamsone who died in 1613 at the age of 72. The kirkyard closed for burials when the cemetery on the hill opened in 1858.

The steeple, built in 1790, was a personal gift of Charles Lyell, Laird of Kinnordy. The original bell came from the old church but unfortunately cracked some years later and in 1839 was replaced by the present bell which was cast in Dundee.