Carnbee Parish Church

National Grid Reference (NGR): NO 53170 06540, map


KY10 2RU


 This church was constructed in 1793 by Andrew Horsburgh, probably using the fabric of a previous church on the site (Site 10554). It is a rectangular, six-bay building with a session house to the west. The church is aligned east-west and sits on a promontory above a small burn.   There is a graveyard to the south which is older than the present building, which lies at the east end of the village of Carnbee on the shoulder of a hill, looking south over agricultural land to Ovenstone, Pittenweem, and the Firth of Forth.    The graveyard to the north is still being used for burials.


Description (exterior)

The church is rectangular, with a bellcote on the west gable and a cross finial on the east.   The church is built of sandstone with a slate roof.   The south wall faces over the graveyard.   It  has four round arched windows of coloured glass.   The only feature of the north elevation is a single, square window at the east corner. A large rectangular patch of masonry in the centre of the wall suggests a demolished extension which was possibly associated with the earlier church at Carnbee, perhaps with the remains of the south wall.   Memorial plaques have been mounted low down on the east wall.   The main entrance to the church is in the west wall, and doors at each end give access to the galleries..  

There is at the west end  a tall distinctive bellcote spire (much resembling that at Auchtermuchty),  its bell still in place. There is a small blocked circular opening beneath this,  and in the centre of the wall is a stained glass window with a prominent keystone.

A sandstone session house is situated on the corner to the west of the church.    It is entered through a square-headed door and has a square-headed window in its south face.



Description (interior)

From the entrance at the north-west corner the layout of the church is clear, with a sanctuary area at the east end of the building formed by a small square pulpit in front of a carved oak screen beneath a twin lancet stained glass window.  There are two blocks of pews on either side of a central aisle and the communion table stands in front of the minister's chair, flanked by two elders' chairs.  There is a wooden lectern on the north side and two flags are displayed in the north-east corner.  Commemorative plaques are mounted on the walls beside the pulpit.


The ceiling is completed by a decorative plaster frieze and the church is lit by suspended oil lamps which have been converted to use electric power.




People / Organisations:

Mr Andrew HorsburghBuilder1793-1794The Pittenweem wright who provided the design for the church.
Mr David NessBuilder1793-1794Mason who built the church.
Church of ScotlandDenomination1794-NOW
Mr John MilneArchitect1854Renovated the interior of the church, removing the end galleries.
Mr Robert Stoddart LorimerArchitect1908Renovated the interior of the church including the design of a new pulpit which re-used the old panelling.


  • Church: Build/construction (1793 to 1794)
    The church was designed by Andrew Horsburgh and built by David Ness.
  • Session house: Build/construction (1793 to 1794)
  • Church: Renovation (1854)
    The interior of the church was renovated by John Milne, who removed the end galleries.
  • Church: Alteration/conversion (1908)
    Sir Robert Lorimer redesigned the interior of the church, adding a new pulpit and reusing part of the old pulpit as panelling.

Archive References:

Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 2512
Dictionary of Scottish Architects - Online databaseReference: M009146
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 34058
Records of Carnbee Kirk Session - HardcopyReference: GB 227 CH2/1032
Scran - Online databaseReference: 000-000-108-796-CImage copyright: Abby Hunt
Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 251055
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: 990

Bibliographic References:

Buildings of Scotland: FifeGifford, J1988p. 120