Kinfauns Old Parish Church


Completion Date:


Building owner/client:

@rchitects Scotland Ltd.

Architect or lead designer:

@rchitects Scotland Ltd.

Local Authority Area:

Perth & Kinross

Nominating Body:

@rchitects Scotland Ltd.

Project Description

Kinfauns Old Parish Church is a predominantly roofless ruin standing in its burial-ground located in the village of Kinfauns in the Tay valley to the north of the A90, approximately three miles east of Perth. The building is a Scheduled Monument, B Listed and is also included in the National Monuments Record for Scotland and the Perth and Kinross Historic Environment Record.

The client, Tay Landscape Partnership, was formed to work with local communities to improve walking and cycling access, conserve historic sites and wildlife, and share the history, stories, countryside and traditional skills of this local area. This is a joint Heritage Lottery funded scheme led by Perth & Kinross Heritage Trust and partner Perth & Kinross Countryside Trust, with additional funding from The Gannochy Trust, PKC, Historic Environment Scotland and others. Working closely with statutory and community stakeholders with an active interest in the local landscape the Partnership’s vision is: “To celebrate and enhance for future generations the landscapes where the rivers Tay and Earn meet and to reconnect residents and visitors with the natural, built and cultural heritage of the area”.

The bulk of the church building was constructed in the early 15th century although the building has been extensively altered. The walls are very much reduced from what they would have been originally and were covered with thick ivy. The Charteris Gray burial-aisle bearing the date 1598 adjoins the church on the South side. It was built by the Charteris family, said to be descended from Sir Thomas de Longueville, also known as the pirate ‘Red Rover’. It is roofed and appears to have been extensively repaired in the past. Internally, it has a ribbed and groin-vaulted ceiling and cartouche panels, one of which records that the aisle was built by John Charteris and Janet Chisholm. It remained the parish church until about 1857 and went out of use in 1886 when it was replaced by a new building.

The history and appropriate analysis and studies of the existing building were used to inform the recently completed project. This involved the carefully and appropriately consolidation and restoration of the remaining existing church and the exterior of the Charteris Aisle. Including the following conservation works:

  • The removal of all ivy from the structure.
  • The consolidation of the remaining walls, rough racking, soft capping and pointing.
  • New stone and lime mortar specification were informed by analysis.
  • Re slating and sarking of the Charteris aisle roof with timber repairs as required.
  • Levelling of the floor area to provide suitable access.
  • The reinstatement of the North wall monument.
  • Stabilising of openings.
  • Provision of rainwater drainage system.

Supporting Statement

This project is an exemplar of an appropriate conservation approach, its execution, build and design quality. It has engaged and been backed by the local community from the outset; delivered by a true partnership of professionals and organisations. The conservation of this B listed Scheduled monument was for the local community, increasing accessibility to all and securing its long-term future.

Key achievements include:

  • Quality conservation of a much-loved monument and place for the local community. Despite over a decade of local efforts to remove and manage destructive vegetation this monument needed substantial funding, co-working organisations and professionals to deliver its repair; safeguarding it for the future.

  • The reinstallation of the 19th century memorial that had been slotted into the north wall and had been removed a few years earlier as it was dangerously hanging loose. Though a later addition to the church, the memorial contributes to the significance of the monument as a whole.

  • In order to appropriately consolidate the walls, these required high level recording and photography. Stonemasons then carefully dismantle relevant sections, so the ivy roots could be fully removed. The stones were safely stored, marked, and laid out in order so the wall could be re-built and historic character maintained.

  • Reinstatement of the unicorn. Historical photos of the church showed at least two different unicorn finials had stood atop the building. One was a thin, elongated beast with a sharp chiselled face, the other a more solid muscular animal with rounder features. Both were no longer present involving a recreation needing to be carved and installed by a specialist stone mason.

  • Several difficulties during the project had to be overcome; including the drainage to the Charteris Aisle. This was likely to have been originally built with a stone slate roof without gutters, which had been replaced in slates with gutters and downpipes sometime during the 19th century. This drained onto the graveyard soil and was detriment to the structure of the building; an issue that needed to be rectified as part of the restoration. Due to the topography of the ground, the likelihood of coming across burial plots, and the proximity to the aisle building, the placement of the soakaway and its design was an interesting and challenging problem to solve. Especially after the discovery and necessary retention of archaeology (in this case a burial) which led to plans having to change while on site.