Knox's Church, Arbroath

National Grid Reference (NGR): NO 63760 41390, map


Howard Street
DD11 3BH


Knox's Church was built in 1866-7 by James Maclaren.  It occupies a corner site near the town centre of Arbroath. The church is T-planned and consists of a nave and transepts, vestry and square tower. There is a hall to the north. It became a United-Free church from 1900 to 1929 but has since returned to Church of Scotland. Knox's Church was linked with St. Vigeans Church in 1982. 

The church was built with a snecked-ashlar frontage and polished dressings, although poorer-quality coursed sandstone is used to the rear elevations. The roofs of the church are slated.

Description (exterior)

The nave of the church is large and wide. The west gable forms the frontage of the church and faces Howard Street. A large double-doorway entrance has a pointed-arch and a stingcourse rises above in steps to form a hoodmould. A round panel within the arch has the inscription 'KNOX'S CHURCH'. The doorways are flanked by attached round columns with carved capitals. Above the doorway is a large pointed-arch window with geometric stone tracery and a cinq-foil opening. Small, gabled buttresses flank the doorway and window. The north and south faces of the nave have tall pointed-arch lancet windows with small coloured panes of glass. The south face has small, stepped buttresses between the windows, which break through the corbelled wallhead. 

The tower of the church is attached to the nave in the south-west corner. It has three stages, including a belfry stage at the top. The south face has a pointed-arch doorway, giving access to the stairs within the tower. There are flanking buttresses on the corners. The west face has a pointed-arch window with a thick mullion at ground level. The second stage of the tower has a clock face on the west, south and east elevations. The tall belfry stage has pairs of tall, louvered lancet belfry openings. Above is a corbelled parapet. It is possible the church was intended to have a spire, which was never built. 

The transepts of the church are gabled and buttressed. There are two pointed-arch lancet windows and a round window above with quatre-foil tracery. The east gable of the church is attached to a small, single-storey vestry. It has a single pointed-arch, traceried window. 

Next to the church, to the north, is a single-storey hall. It has rectangular case and sash windows  and an entrance porch on the west gable. The west gable has been cement-rendered and has finials on the skew ends and apex. The hall was built in coursed sandstone and has a slate roof.

Description (interior)

The spacious and light interior was refurbished recently, with new lighting installed and walls repainted. The raised chancel at the east end is framed by the impressive organ, which was made in 1895 by Peter Conacher & Co and was removed from Brechin West Free Church in 1948. There is a gallery at the west end of the nave, which is entered via a staircase in the tower. Preserved in the gallery pews is Victorian period graffitti, scratched into the wood by children attending services. The photographs show a selection of these drawings and names, some of which are dated. One of the tower's bells is dated 1806 and was removed from another Arbroath church. To the rear (east) of the nave are attached rooms, inclulding vestry, session house and kitchen area.

People / Organisations:

James MaclarenArchitect1866-7


  • Church built (1866)

Archive References:

Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 21181B-listed
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: NO64SW 293
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 7868

Bibliographic References:

The Ecclesiastical Buildings of Arbroath and DistrictWilliam F Clark2010Draft booklet