Meldrum Parish Church, Old Meldrum

National Grid Reference (NGR): NJ 81308 27283, map


Old Meldrum


Meldrum Parish Church is located at the east end of the small Burgh town of Old Meldrum in Aberdeenshire. It is surrounded by a fairly large rectangular graveyard, with a larger cemetery extension to the east. The church is reached by a a tree-lined avenue, which leads up to a large gateway, and it sits on the top of a fairly steep knoll. 

Description (exterior)

The church was built in the late 17th century to replace an older structure after the neighbouring parishes of Bethelnie and Meldrum were joined. It is a T-plan structure and has been extended and partially rebuilt a number of times since it was built. It has harled walls with plain granite surrounds, and the roofs are slated. Before major renovation work was carried out in the 1950s there were 6 exterior doors into the church and no internal access to the galleries. Other doors may have been inserted when the church was used as a store during World War 2. 


The north elevation of the church has three pointed-arch windows with simple intersecting tracery and dark granite arch stones. The east gable has a wide pointed-arch window with tracery and stained glass with contrasting light and dark granite surrounds to the arch. Above is a slim, oval, louvered vent opening and there is a small round stone finial on the apex. The west gable of the church essentially matches the east. At the north end of the east gable is attached a tall, narrow gabled stair tower with thin rectangular windows. Alongside is a small, flat-roofed porch with a rectangular doorway in the north face and a rectangular case and sash window to the east.


The south elevation of Meldrum Church has a tall, rectangular window with clear multi-glazing on either side of the large central aisle. This aisle dominates the south aspect of the church and is of a later date to the nave and has slightly different architectural detailing. The south gable of the aisle has a large, recessed pointed-arch window to the centre with lancet and round openings. Below the window are two recessed shoulder-arched recesses, which may have been designed to hold memorial panels. There is a an oval vent in the gablehead, similar to that in the east gable, and the base of a finial survives, but the rest has been lost. At the west corner of the gable is a tall, gabled bellcote with a lancet opening, in which hangs a large bell. It is supported by buttressing on the gable end. The sides of the south aisle have small rectangular windows, with a shoulder-arched door situated on the east side. 

Description (interior)

The interior of the church has been altered quite significantly over the years. Today it is an open, modern space with bright red carpets and brightly painted walls and recent light fittings in the ceiling. 


The sanctuary is at the west end of the church and is raised up from the nave by two steps. A traditional communion table, delicately carved in places, is surrounded by Elders' chairs and there are pews placed against the sanctuary walls. In the west gable is a tall recess in which is placed the west window with its fine stained glass. At the junction of the sanctuary and nave is a modern-looking pulpit in similar light-coloured wood, accessed by a small spiral stair to the rear. In front is a modern electric organ, which replaced an earlier pipe organ. 


The nave and aisle has replacement pews (likely 1950s), which are plain and in light-coloured wood. A number of pews towards the front of the nave have been removed to make a multi-functional open space. Most of the time there are moveable chairs placed in rows here, along with some smaller chairs for children. 


There is a small original gallery at the west end of the church, accessed by the stair tower. It has matching pews to those of the nave. There was originally a similarly-sized gallery in the south aisle, but this has been walled off from the nave and made into a separate room, which is now used as office space and the vestry. A disabled toilet has been installed in the aisle at ground level, resulting in some of the pews being shortened in length. 

People / Organisations:

William SmithBuilt the south aisle1861
Matthews & MackenzieAlterations including new windows1886
George Bennet Mitchell & SonReconstructed interior1954


  • Church built (1684)
  • Church enlarged (1767)
  • Partially reconstructed and south aisle built (1861)
  • New windows inserted and other alterations (1886)
  • New pipe organ inserted (1897)
  • Church closed during World War 2 and used as (1938)
  • Interior reconstructed (1954)

Archive References:

Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 10835
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 38873C(S)-listed
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: RCAHMS NJ82NW 60
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 112857

Bibliographic References:

Aberdeenshire: Donside and Strathbogie, an illustrated architectural guideIan Shepherd2006p171
The Statistical Account of ScotlandSir J Sinclair (ed)1791-9Vol. XIII, p155
The New Statistical Account of Scotland1845Vol. XII, p478
Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae: the succession of ministers in the Church of Scotland from the ReformationH Scott et al (eds.)1915-61Vol. 6, p173-5