Kilconquhar Loch and Church
Publisher: M. Wane & Co, Edinburgh
Google Street View (location)
Today’s Kilconquhar is dominated by the imposing Kilconquhar Parish Church which stands in its raised churchyard at the west end of the village’s main street. This is fitting, because it seems that the name and the origin of Kilconquhar both relate to the church. Placenames beginning “Kil” are usually associated with very early churches, and the name of Kilconquhar probably comes from the Gaelic Cill Conchubair meaning the church of Conquhar or Connacher. The theory is that an early Christian missionary of Irish origin established a chapel here, perhaps in the 600s, which over the centuries developed into the church known to have been bestowed on the convent in North Berwick in 1200.
Although Kilconquhar has effectively been built along the north shore of Kilconquhar Loch, it comes as a surprise to find that the loch is virtually inaccessible, even almost invisible, from the village. The sign outside the Kinneuchar Inn suggests the loch was once used for curling in winter, and these days it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is also an oddly difficult stretch of water to discover much about.
This cruciform church was built between 1819 and 1821, adjacent to an earlier church (site 1232). It was designed by Richard Crichton and built by R and R Dickson. The church is situated on high ground in the centre of the village, overlooking Kilconquhar loch to the south. The graveyard, which is still in use, surrounds the church. The oldest stones are found around the old parish church to the east of the present church which it predates, and there are some interesting eighteenth century memorials towards the south east corner.
POWiS (Places of Worship in Scotland)
By 1818 the old Church was in need of repair and enlargement so it was decided to build a new church big enough to accommodate 900. The plan of the church being built at the time at Cockpen in the parish of Dalkeith was adopted and was not to cost more than £2500. The perspective view of the new Church from 1819 prepared by Messrs R & R Dickson, Edinburgh Architects can be seen in the Church’s North Hall. Before the building was completed the plans were enlarged to seat 1035 and the heritors were canny enough to save money by using as much of the old building as possible. They also needed to take down the old church as the space was needed to accommodate the new building. The building is a cruciform design with a clock and bell tower at the west end and was opened on 12th August 1821. It more or less came in on budget at £2761, the additional cost due to the changes to the design. In 1900 the chancel at the east end was added along with the organ, the communion tables and chairs.
East Neuk Trinity