Basic Site Details

Name: Free Church
Town, district or village: Penicuik
City or county: Midlothian
Country: Scotland
Grid ref:
Notes: PENICUIK FREE CHURCH - The foundation stone of the new Free Church at Penicuik, near Edinburgh, was laid on Tuesday, by Duncan Cowan, Esq,of Beeslock. Mr. Cowan stated that the cost of the new edifice would be 2,050, of which there had already been subscribed 1,844, and 1,004 8s. paid up. The new edifice, which will occupy a site of much beauty, in the vicinity of fine natural scenery, will, when completed, be a great ornament to the neighbourhood in which it is to be placed. Its proportions will be handsome, its style of architecture in keeping with the locality; and a steeple of one hundred feet in height will give to the building an elegant and distinctive character. The church will be seated for 600 persons. The design of the edifice is taken from plans furnished by Mr. Frederick Thos. Pilkington, architect. [Building News 30 May 1862 p385]

Building operations have just, been commenced in the erection of the above church ; it is to be erected at the south end of the town, on the road from the railway station, and is designed by Mr. Frederick Pilkington, architect, of Edinburgh. The new church will add another conspicuous feature to the architecture of the town. The tower and spire are to rise to the height of 100 feet. The spire will be slated, and will have coronals of ornamental iron-work at the foot, and also at the four spire-lights. The tower is plain till it rises to the top story, which is octagonal, with pinnacles and decorative windows alternately on the faces. The object of confining the ornament to the highest part of the tower, is becoming more and more appreciated by architects, as it obviously gives a greater appearance, and indeed reality, of solidity to the structure, and places the ornament where it is best seen. The principal entrance to the church is through the tower, by a massive archway, the staircase to the gallery being also in the tower. The lower part of tho end of the church is an open arcade of four arches, with columns and carved capitals instead of mullions, the upper part of the gables being occupied by a large five-light window, with plate tracery. The middle part of the tracery is a six-foil light, richly carved, and surrounded with smaller lights, composed of cinquefoils, quatrefoils, and trefoils. The two sides are occupied by three coupled two-light windows, and the end is penetrated by a large window of a spherical triangular form, with three larger and three smaller circles, converging to a centre, consisting of a double triangle, pierced and foliated. The session-house is placed at the rear of the church, and the chimney, so often put out of sight as a blemish, is taken advantage of so as to enhance the architectural effect of the building. The height of the church, to the ridge of the roof, is fifty-two feet. The roof is constructed in two slopes, the break being occupied by an ornamental ventilator, running all round the church. The entrances to the church are so arranged that the congregation enters by one door, and exit can be obtained by four doors. The interior is fan-shaped; this secures the obvious advantages both of better hearing and better seeing of the preacher, objects not always studied to the extent they deserve in Presbyterian places of worship. The gallery, which is seated for 150, is confined to the end of the church, opposite the pulpit; the seats are all to be open with carved ends, and sloped at a comfortable angle. The roof will be of open timber-work, simple, but effective. Tho estimated cost of the whole structure is 2.050, and the church is expected to be ready in the course of next year. The contractors for the works are Mr. Thomson, mason, and Mr. Tait, wright, these being the chief contractors, all of Penicuik. [Building News 13 June 1862 p423]

The Cowans of Valleyfield Mill were members of the congregation.

Alternative Names

The following alternative names are associated with this building/design:
 NameCurrent name?Notes
Item 1 of 2South ChurchYes 
Item 2 of 2UF ChurchYes 

Building Type Classification

The building is classified under the following categories:
 ClassificationOriginal classification?Notes
Item 1 of 1Church  

Street Addresses

The following street addresses are associated with this building:
 AddressMain entrance?Notes
Item 1 of 2Bridge StreetYes 
Item 2 of 2Peebles RoadYes 


The following date-based events are associated with this building:
 FromToEvent typeNotes
Item 1 of 21862 Design exhibited 
Item 2 of 218621863Build/constructionFoundation stone laid May 1862. Completion scheduled for 1863


Design and Construction

The following individuals or organisations have carried out design/construction work. Where architects or practices worked together, matching letters appear beside their names in the Partnership Group column.
 NameRolePartnership GroupFromToNotes
Item 1 of 3Frederick Thomas Pilkington A1862  
Item 2 of 3T Pilkington & Son A1862  
Item 3 of 3Thomas Pilkington A1862  

Related Buildings, Structures and Designs

Child Structures

This structure or site has the following component or child structures (click on an item to view details):
 Building NameNotes
Item 1 of 1South Free Church Manse 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this building:
Item 1 of 4McWilliam, Colin1978Lothian (The Buildings of Scotland)  p381
Item 2 of 4Pilkington's Architectural MasterpieceN.D.Pilkington's Architectural Masterpiece: Penicuik South Church - an historical note c.1990 
Item 3 of 4RSA1862    
Item 4 of 4Wilson, J J Annals of Penicuik   

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this building:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 2Building News30 May 1862  p385 - Foundation stone
Item 2 of 2Building News13 June 1862  p423

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this building:
 SourceArchive nameSource catalogue no.Notes
Item 1 of 2Historic Environment ScotlandListed Buildings Register39295 
Item 2 of 2National Monuments Record of Scotland/NMRS, RCAHMSDrawings Collection Copies of original drawings - originals owned by Mrs Jonathan Cape, dated 1862. Acc No 1997/230