Thanks to a joint grant of £191,200 awarded to St Mary’s Episcopal Church, Kirriemuir by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Environment Scotland, work has begun to conserve Kirriemuir’s only A-listed building on West Hillbank.
The overall project will cost around £250,000 and is made possible by a legacy from from a member of the congregation as well as generous grants from the Dalrymple Donaldson Fund, Scottish Churches Trust, All Churches Trust,Alan Evans Memorial Trust, and local fundraising.
The project will involve urgent roof and masonry repairs as well as internal work to restore the building to its former glory as intended by architect Sir Ninian Comper. St Mary’s is an early example of the work of this renowned church architect. In Britain, Comper’s work can be seen as far apart as Westminster Abbey in the south and Shetland in the north where he produced windows for St. Magnus Episcopal Church. Despite Comper’s prolific ecclesiastical involvement, the church is one of only four he built in Scotland. As many local folk may know, the church also has associations with playwright and novelist, Sir James M Barrie, providing the venue for his funeral in 1937.
As well as important building repairs which include essential structural strengthening of the impressive West Tower, during the project St Mary’s will take the opportunity to introduce local young people to traditional masonry skills. A brochure is also being designed to document the history of the church building.
Commenting on the work, Revd Canon Dr Robert Harley, Rector of St Mary’s said: “I am delighted that we have been able to start this project after several years of preparatory work by the Vestry and church members. These are vital repairs and we are pleased that with the expertise of a dedicated team of specialists our beautiful church can be preserved for the future generations of Kirriemuir and surrounding areas.”
Responding to the news the Most Reverend David Chillingworth,Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, commented:
“I am delighted to hear the news of this grant which will help us to restore and sustain St Mary’s. This is one of the most beautifully and architecturally significant churches in our diocese. The congregation and the wider church are determined to ensure that it continues to be at the heart of the community as a place of prayer restore and sustain St Mary’s. This is one of the most beautifully and architecturally significant churches in our diocese. The congregation and the wider church are determined to ensure that it continues to be at the heart of the community as a place of prayer – and of welcome and mission. We welcome this support which will help us to sustain it for the future.”
It is hoped that the work will be completed by September 2017, in time for a Re-dedication and Thanksgiving service at the Harvest Festival on 15 October 2017.