Church History


Bishop David de Bernham, Bishop of St. Andrews, consecrated the church at Collessie on 30th July 1243. Charters dated 1252 and 1262 confirm the existence of a church here in the 13th century, though it is likely that the site had been used for worship long before then, perhaps as early as the Bronze Age.

Before the Reformation, the church belonged to the Abbey of Lindores and is thought, to have been dedicated to St.Andrew. No plan of the original church exists.

 In the 1830s the building was in a form common before the Reformation. It was long and narrow (75feet by 25feet) with the pulpit in the middle, reached by an outside stair, with galleries to right and left. The floor was elow the level of the churchyard and the building was cold and damp, specially in winter. According to the minister at the time the church “by no epair could be rendered commodious or comfortable”, and so the decision was taken to build a new one.

The current church building was designed by a firm of Edinburgh architects. Parishoners wanted the new church to be built on new ground so that the graves of former parish members would not be disturbed. However, the heritors responsible for the church considered it best to build on the original site. The headstones over which the church was to be built would be incorporated into the walls. When
part of the south wall had been erected, members of the community demolished it overnight.  After this occurred on a number of occasions the Riot Act was read to the villagers. The building was then completed. It was opened for worship with a service of dedication on Sunday 15th December, 1839.


The Building

Collessie Church today has changed little since it was opened in 1839. As with most churches of the time, it is built on the T plan system and has a crenellated and pinnacled tower on the west gable.

The north entrance gives access to the gallery by stairs with corbelled turrets. It has three galleries, one in each of the east,
north and west gables of the building.

The pulpit has double stairs with a sounding board above.  
This appears to have been a revival of Gothic features. The
story is told that evacuees at Kinloch during the Second
World War found the sermons so boring that “they lived in
hope…. the sounding board would clatter down on the
minister’s head”.

The stained glass windows on either side of the pulpit are both dedicated to local people. The window on the left depicts St Andrew as a fisherman holding a net of fish. The dedication reads “To the Glory of God and in memory of John Duncan late Farmer of Cornhill,
Catherine Nicol Barclay, his wife and their family.  Erected by the surviving member Mary A.M.
Duncan, East View, Letham.” 

The right hand window shows Christ the Good Shepherd carrying a lamb and has a verse from the
23rd Psalm. The dedication on this window is “To the Glory of God and in loving memory of Francis Malcolm Watt of Caldwells born November 1859 died May 1930 and his wife Alice Kinnear born 1865 died 1917.Their lives an example of Christian faith and love.  Erected by their family, April 1956.”  

The original pews of the church had straight backs. This made them very uncomfortable and, in 1911, they were altered to give them a gentle slope. Plans of the alterations are displayed on the wall of the north transept. The front seat of the north gallery was the Kinloch pew. Mr. Boyd Kinnear, the owner of the Kinloch estate and one of the heritors, insisted that this seat should not be altered.



                        The oil lamp are copies of those originally in the church. Except for the two at the pulpit, which have been adapted for electricity, they are in working order and are lit each year during services at Christmas time and on other occassions on request.                           


The War :- Memorial for Collessie is in the east transept and names those who fell in both World Wars. 
The Baptismal font and Communion table were originally installed in Cowlairs-Summerville Parish Church,
Glasgow and were gifted to Collessie when that church ceased to function. They were transported and reassembled by willing members of the community.
The font weighs one ton. It was given to Cowlairs in memory of  the minister’s wife’s sister and is inscribed
“To the Glory of God  and in Loving memory of Margaret Rattray – Died 25th February 1928. Fife Sand and Gravel Company made it possible to move it into the church.

The oak communion table was the Cowlairs Church Memorial for both World Wars.

The Baptismal font and the Communion table were rededicated on 29th October 1978 during the ministry of Rev Iain Wotherspoon, at the instigation of Mrs. Margaret Reid. A plaque to commemorate the installation was engraved and hangs near the font. The original Communion table and font remain in the church.


A large
banner depicting scenes from the life and stories of Jesus hangs on the
east wall of the north transept. It was designed and painted by the young
people of the congregation during the first half of 2004. The six small panels
at the sides were painted by individuals and show the Shepherds and the Angels,
the First Miracle, the Lost Sheep, the Good Samaritan, the Two House Builders
and the Crucifixion. All members of the group contributed to the centre panels.
On the lower left is the Sermon on the Mount and members of the congregation
can be seen among the crowd. Next to it is the Stilling of the Storm. Above is
a panel showing the church and other buildings in the village. The final panel
represents the environment. Round the edge, on three sides is a border of vine
leaves and on the fourth ichthus fish symbols. Between the central panels is
the empty cross representing the Risen Christ. The outstretched arms of the
cross enfold everyone and everything.


A second smaller
banner hands above the door to the vestibule. This was designed and painted
by one of the Young People’s Group, James Bowie(12). It shows the world on
which stands a large cross bearing the name ‘Jesus’. The legend below reads,
‘The same yesterday, today and forever’.



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