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Bute, Rothesay, Craigmore, Mount Stuart Road, St Brendan's Church

Church (19th Century)

Site Name Bute, Rothesay, Craigmore, Mount Stuart Road, St Brendan's Church

Classification Church (19th Century)

Canmore ID 183625

Site Number NS06NE 71

NGR NS 09833 65315

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Rothesay
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Buteshire

Archaeology Notes

NS06NE 71 09833 65315

St Brendan's Church

(C of S) [NAT]

OS (GIS) MasterMap, May 2010.

Architecture Notes


Rothesay, Mount Stuart Road, St Brendan's Church.

Craigmore St Brendan's was built in 1889 as a chapel of ease for the High Kirk in Rothesay and was disjoined from the High Kirk to become a parish church in its own right in 1902. In 1957 it was linked with Ascog Church. The main church was damaged by fire in 1973 and, as it would have been too costly to reinstate the building, a new modern building was erected beside the tower of the old one. The building closed as a place of regular Sunday worship at the end of 1999 but it still used as a church centre.

The idea of a church at Craigmore was first mooted in 1881 by Rev Robert Thomson in response to the complaints of the inhabitants of Craigmore who had so far to walk to the Parish Church in Rothesay, but nothing was done until after the arrival of Rev J King Hewison. In 1887 a site at Bogany House was purchased and a competition for architect’s designs was run a year later. This was won by David Crombie of Edinburgh. The foundation stone was laid on 27th April 1889 and the church was built by William Hunter. Seating 650 worshipers, it was opened on 22nd December of that same year.

Rev John C Walker, assistant to Rev J King Hewison, conducted services there until he resigned for health reasons. His successor was Rev Alex Hutcheson who was appointed in 1897 but, sadly, died suddenly in December 1898. He was succeeded by Rev James E MacKay who became the first minister of Craigmore Parish Church when it was given a Chapel of Ease constitution in 1901 and achieved disjunction from Rothesay Parish and erection to a parish church in its own right in 1902.

The manse (at Albany Terrace) was gifted to the church in 1941 by Miss Annie Taylor.

The bell was gifted to the church in 1949 by a member of the congregation, Mrs Lamont, in memory of her husband, William Dougald Lamont J.P. who was an elder of the church for many years. It formerly hung in the tower of Craigmore High which closed in 1942.

In 1957 the congregation linked with the congregation of Ascog and Rev. Robert M Fulton became minister of both.

The stained glass window “St Brendan and the Birds” was gifted by Lyn Bulloch in 1961 It was made at Glasgow School of Art as part of his degree course.

The Cross, now mounted on the Craigmore side of the tower, originally hung above the chancel of the old church where it had been erected in 1964. It is made of oak, 1½ inches thick with a brass nimbus.

In the early hours of 21st September 1973, fire broke out in the church roof. Miss Margaret Brodie, architect and vice-convener of the Artistic Matters Committee of the Church of Scotland, was engaged to oversee the restoration. The damage was largely confined to the south west corner of the building above the chancel but the cost of restoration of the damaged hammer beam roof was prohibitive. At the suggestion of Rev Robert Fulton, Margaret Brodie drew up new plans to demolish the main building, leaving the tower in place, and build a much simpler structure.

The new church was built by Flemings of Kirkintilloch and dedicated on 1st October 1975. The result is a modern light, airy and versatile building. Miss Brodie also commissioned the new pulpit, communion table, font stand and seating.

The hanging at the back of the chancel bearing an abstract representation of the Parable of the Sower was designed and made by Miss Anna McCann of Bute Fabrics and was donated by Mr Gavin North in memory of his wife. The stand for the Baptismal Bowl was the gift of the Sunday School

St Brendan’s Church closed for regular Sunday Worship in December 1999, the congregation having united with Ascog, High Kirk, Kingarth and Kilchattan Bay and North Bute on 7th November 1999 but the building is still used as a Church Centre

Information from web (LK (RCAHMS), 9.2.2010).


Characterisation (13 May 2010)

This site falls within the Craigmore Area of Townscape Character which was defined as part of the Rothesay Urban Survey Project, 2010. The text below relates to the whole area.

Historical Development and Topography

As with much of Rothesay, Craigmore Area of Townscape Character is constrained by the surrounding topography, and is largely linear along the coastal strip with Bogany Wood extending up the slopes of Common Hill behind.

The development of this area is the result of the tourism boom of the Victorian era, with a series of planned ‘terraces’ on Mount Stuart Road and Crichton Road consisting of large semi-detached properties built along the coast to take advantage of the sea air and views. These ‘terraces’ were designed by John Orkney (Wimbleton, 1868; Elysium, 1875) and John Duncan (Brighton, 1875-85; Royal, 1877-82; Albany, 1882). The line of development further uphill from the seafront on Crichton Road and Ardencraig Road is a result of Victorian and later development, with late 20th century properties occupying the upper slopes to the south of the area.

One key building in the area is the Glenburn Hotel, built as a hydropathic spa hotel in 1843 to designs by David and James Hamilton, with extensive additions by John Orkney in 1887-8 and rebuilt in 1892-3 by John McLean Crawford. This was Rothesay’s most prominent hotel, offering visitors a range of therapeutic facilities in sumptuous surroundings. Although no longer operating as a spa hotel, the Glenburn is still in use as a major hotel for bus tours, and its elevated position overlooking the bay, with an impressive steep staircase leading through terraced gardens, has not been interrupted by later developments.

Plot sizes in Craigmore are regular and medium-sized, giving a medium density to the area, though this starts to broaden to the south of the area. There has been little infill in the area, though a pocket of late 20th/early 21st century housing exists on the shore as it turns south. These houses incorporate some features which mimic those of the surrounding villas –ironwork, deep eaves and plot size.

Present Character

Craigmore’s raison d’être stems from the huge boom in tourism to Rothesay in the 19th century. The results of this expansion is still clearly visible in the series of terraces (Wimbleton, Elysium, Brighton, Royal and Albany) built on Mount Stuart Road and Crichton Road between 1868 and 1885 extending right down to the boundary with the Montford Area of Townscape Character.

There is good survival of the earliest buildings in the area dating from the early to mid-19th century: Ardencraig House (1825-48), Glenburn Hotel (1843 and later), Tor House (c.1855), However, the majority of the area owes its form to the large scale investment which resulted from the tourism trade from the 1860s onwards. In particular, the unified terraces of semi-detached villas on Mount Stuart Road and Crichton Road, designed by John Orkney and John Duncan between 1868 and 1885.

One of the most distinctive features of Craigmore Area of Townscape Character is the prevalence of architectural details on these villas which are usually found on buildings designed by the architect Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson: low-pitched roofs and deep eaves, decorative bargeboards with acanthus and sunburst designs, similarly decorated ornate ironwork balconettes and finials. Thomson did design Tor House (c.1855) on Ardencraig Road for a local bookseller and stationer, John Wilson, and the elements of this design were obviously adopted when later developments took place in the vicinity. Rockhill Castle, just south-east of Tor House, was built 1883-91 for the wealthy Clydeside industrialist Ebenezer Kemp, and bears some elements of Thomson’s design features: acanthus sculptures on pediments and gables, large bow-fronted bays overlooking the firth, topped with decorative cast-iron verandah.

An outstanding example of two of the key features of Rothesay’s coastal development, large bay windows and the use of decorative ironwork, can be seen at Nos 9, 10 and 10A Mount Stuart Road. This four-storeyed tenement, called Glenfaulds, was built c.1880 and has an extremely high ratio of glazing to stone on its front elevation. The full-height five- and six-light bay windows have fluted cast-iron Corinthian mullions separating the glazing. The tenement is accessed by a central round-arched doorway, another distinctive feature found on many of Rothesay’s tenements.

Overall, Craigmore has retained its original layout, with little infilling until the late 20th/early 21st century. As such it retains the feel of an affluent suburb to the main town. The mixed development of detached villas and flats at Nos 1-22 Craignethan just off Craigmore Road and Albany Road incorporate some features which mimic their much earlier neighbours, with deep eaves below shallow-pitched roofs, large bow-fronted bay windows, the use of ironwork to create balconies and verandahs (albeit plain rather than decorative) and all set within fairly large plots.

Information from RCAHMS (LK), 13th May 2010


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