Church History

The early history of the parish of Kinghorn and its church is obscure being devoid of prehistoric finds or monuments apart from the stone circle at Glassmount.

It is with the coming of the Reformation that Kinghorn Church is fully documented, thanks to a full set of Kirk Session records.  They give a rich picture of all aspects of Kinghorn civic and social life indicating the important role played by the kirk in the administration of a town.

c.1100 – A church existed in Kinghorn

1163 to 1178 – The parish of Kinghorn is first mentioned in a document.

1243 – The consecration of a church at Kinghorn by the Bishop of
St Andrews.

By 1290 Kinghorn Church was an important religious centre.  At the east of the present church are the ruins of an earlier building, probably that consecrated by the Bishop of St Andrews in 1243.

1567 – possible construction of the most interesting internal feature –  the fine model of the ship, Unicorn, hanging in the Sailors Aisle.

The ministers of 17th century Kinghorn represent the shifting currents of Scottish religious life.  In the post-reformation period there were various attempts at repairing and altering the old church structure.

1608 – a repair was made to the upper part of the South Aisle by building a loft

1609 – the Sailors Aisle was built.

1659 – the pulpit was built.

1774 – Major rebuilding took place where the walls were taken down to window sill level and rebuilt.  The result  was a plain preaching box with two wings at the east end, to the south the Sailors Aisle and to the north, the Balmuto Aisle, with the laird’s loft above and the crypt below.

1778 – Major rebuilding of the church – greatly reduced in size, the
Medieval chancel left as a total ruin. The interior was plainer, the seating a mixture of old and new pews. Balmuto Aisle rebuilt, still bears the inscription Claude Boswell 1774 on the exterior wall.

1778 – Split in the church led to formation of the Relief Church. Kinghorn Parish Church Hall broke away from the Parish Church when a Relief Church was formed which later became the United Presbyterian Church.

1779 – New church built on the same site as the later Rosslands Church, first minister appointed, Rev Joseph Johnston.

1788 – He rejoined the established church and the congregation left the Relief Church and moved to the Associate Burgher Church of Dunfermline.

1843 – Mr Jardine (minister) complains about the situation of the church which is well removed from where people live. The road to the church is narrow and steep, not fit for a carriage or gig nor for the elderly or infirm. The church was also showing signs of age and decay. One feature of this ministry was the dividing up of the parish into elders districts. Church services were well attended.

1844 – During the major reconstruction work they offered the use of their church for services and for a year or two congregations worshipped under the same roof. The Free Church of Scotland worshipped in the Old Meal Mill (what is now Barton Buildings).

1846 – Mr Ballingall ordained minister of that church
1847 – Ladyburn Church was completed.
1847 – Church became part of the United Presbyterian Church after a union of the Relief Church and the United Secession Church. The new church was very evangelical, had a democratic spirit and was very concerned with social reform and temperance.

1865 – New church was opened with seating for 320.

1894 – A further reconstruction took place – the steeple was added and the vestibule and chancel extended and the Unicorn refurbished.

Where Barton Buildings now stands was the Old Meal Mill where the Free Church commenced services in.

1894 – Further reconstruction of the church when the Bell Tower and Chancel were added. Free Church in Kinghorn offered the use of their church for services. For a year or two congregations worshipped under the same roof.

1900 – Congregation became part of the United Free Church of Scotland after the union of the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church.

1902 – organ purchased through money raised by Ladies Association.

1912 – The church became very modern when the latest incandescent gas lights were fitted in the chancel beside the choir and pulpit.

1914 – Churches used to teach the children during war years as schools were commandeered by the Army.

1921 – Ladyburn Church bought by the Roman Catholics. Rosslands Church chosen for the united charge.

1929 – with the Union of the United Free Church and the Church of Scotland it became Rosslands Parish Church of Scotland.  At this time the Old Parish Church  was renamed St Leonards Parish Church.

1931 – Church Hall built on piece of ground in Nethergate.

1935 – 1st Kinghorn Boys Brigade and Girls Guildry were formed.

1937 – Church was redecorated and organ and choir stands moved from the chancel to a place in front of the Balmuto Loft. Screen erected in front of the Sailors Aisle making it into a separate chapel. Stained glass windows fitted, new communion table and lecturn supplied. All paid for by fund raising efforts of church members.

1939 to 1945 – Remembrance services alternated each year between St Leonards and Rosslands.

1960- Presbytery decreed that the two churches should unite and the congregation be known as Kinghorn Parish Church.  Rosslands Church was converted into a hall.   A congregational board was set up to leave the Session free to attend to other matters. The Union took place smoothly with office bearers, members and organisations mingling well. Rosslands Church was converted into a hall and St Leonards Hall was eventually demolished to make way for housing. A Congregational Board was set up to leave the Session free to attend to other matters.

1978 – Organ was removed to the gallery and completely rebuilt.  Balmuto Loft rooms were combined and made into the Balmuto Room to provide a crèche and a congregational meeting place.  Morning service was introduced at 9.30am.

1978 – Organ was removed to the gallery and completely rebuilt. Small rooms of Balmuto Loft were combined and made into the Balmuto Room for providing a crèche and a congregational meeting place. A morning service was introduced at 9.30 am in addition to the main service at 11.00am. Discussion groups were held on Sunday evenings.

1980 – The Faith, Hope and Charity shop opened.

Throughout its long history Kinghorn Church has been altered, reconstructed in parts, had its name changed from All Saints to St Leonards.   Still, the church stands firm at the edge of the sea – a bastion against the changing tides of fashion and the movements of society which ebb and flow like the sea upon the sand beside her.  But the church building is just stone and mortar and only becomes a living church when people come in and make it more than an empty shell.

1980 – A Church Centre opened in the High Street in 1980 where information can be obtained and exchanged over a cup of tea. Open every week day and served by lady volunteers within and outwith the Church. The Glory Hole just cant help raising money. The manse in Kilcruik Road was sold and the minister moved into a newly built house in Myre Crescent.