Kirriemuir labour of love guidebook produced for St Mary’s project completion

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A “labour of love” guidebook about Kirriemuir’s only Grade A-listed building has been produced as part of a six-figure conservation programme.

Sandra Affleck, Hugh Farquharson, David Orr and Michael Visocchi put the St Mary’s Church book together and were given help from Katherine Cran, Joyce Hunter, Margaret Jack and Marjorie McKendrick, who spent many hours searching for interesting stories in old minute books.

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The church’s east war memorial window

Mr Orr said the guidebook gives an excellent insight into the importance of St Mary’s Church.

He said: “Visitors should take time to enjoy the grand design of Architect, Sir J Ninian Comper, both inside and out, and marvel at his attention to detail.

“He has created a beautiful space for prayer, praise and fellowship and has provided appropriate structures for the preaching of God’s word and for the celebration of the sacraments.

“Comper was born in Aberdeen on 10th June 1864. He began his schooling at Kingston College there, and then, aged ten, enrolled as a boarder at Trinity College, Glenalmond. Six years later he attended drawing classes at the Aberdeen School of Art.

“Comper’s earliest work in Scotland was for alterations and additions to St Margaret’s Church and Convent for his father, begun in 1889. St Mary’s, Kirriemuir, begun in 1903, is one of his earliest church buildings.

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The 1741 Sanctus bell

“Comper was knighted by George Vl in 1950, and died after a long, distinguished career, aged 96, in 1960. His work can be seen the length of Britain, from Shetland to Westminster Abbey, where his ashes are interred beneath windows he had designed

“Compers other churches in Scotland are at Rothiemurcus and St Margaret’s in Braemar, also a Grade A listed building.”

The church has been preserved for future generations after vital repairs were conducted by a dedicated team of specialists.

The project involved urgent roof and masonry repairs as well as internal work to restore the building to its former glory as intended by Comper.

The project cost around £250,000.

The largest proportion of funding came from a joint grant of £191,200 awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Environment Scotland.

Other grants were gratefully received from the Dalrymple Donaldson Fund, Scottish Churches Trust, All Churches Trust and Alan Evans Memorial Trust.

A legacy from Miss Alison Prain – a local teacher who was a lifelong supporter of the Church and the community – and local fundraising combined to make the whole project possible.

The Most Reverend David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, described St Mary’s as “one of the most beautifully and architecturally significant churches in our diocese”.