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St Andrews, North Street, St Salvator's College Church

Church (15th Century), War Memorial(S) (20th Century)

Site Name St Andrews, North Street, St Salvator's College Church

Classification Church (15th Century), War Memorial(S) (20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) St Salvator's Chapel; University Chapel; War Memorials

Canmore ID 34288

Site Number NO51NW 10

NGR NO 50997 16844

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2021.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Fife
  • Parish St Andrews And St Leonards
  • Former Region Fife
  • Former District North East Fife
  • Former County Fife

Archaeology Notes

NO51NW 10 50997 16844

(NO 5099 1684) College Church formerly St Salvator's Chapel (NR)

OS 25" map (1914)

"St Salvator's Church. In 1450, James Kennedy, Bishop of St Andrews, founded the college of St Salvator and also its church. The church, fronting North Street, is all that now remains. The church consists of an oblong choir, with the apsidal eastern end characteristic of the period, and a lofty south-western tower, which served the dual purpose of bell tower and gate house, the principle entrance to the college quadrangle being through its lowest storey". This college, with those of St Leonard (NO51NW 9) and St Mary (NO51NW 8), constituted the University of St Andrews).


In 1747 the colleges of St Salvator and St Leonard were joined under the name of the United College of St Salvator and St Leonard.

A H Millar 1895

The church of St Salvator's College is in a good state of preservation, and is as described and illustrated.

Visited by OS (JLD) 17 October 1956

Above confirmed. Church is in use as place of worship.

Visited by OS (WDJ) 29 May 1964

Architecture Notes

NO51NW 10 50997 16844


James Craig, 1773, proposed remodelling

Robert Reid, 1820-31

Robert Matheson, 1851, 1861-3, 1869-70, alts & adds

P MacGregor Chalmers, 1914, proposed alts

Lorimer & Matthew, 1928, re-arrangement of chapel

Reginald Fairlie, 1928, alts & new vestry

Mills & Shepherd, additions

Reginald Fairlie, 1931, restoration and fittings

Reginald Fairlie, 2nd War memorial


W Schomberg Scott Manuscripts MS/908 Acc No 1997/39

Pencil drawings, interior.



Plans: UY/1381

For further details see copy of Inventory to St Andrews Vniversity Plans in NMRS


Uncatalogued MSS of General Hutton. Fifeshire. Vol 1 - plans & elevation


Photographic Record (1881)

Photographic copy of a painting by Sir George Whitton Johnstone. Sgd & dated (18)81. Oil on canvas.

Sketch Drawing (1900 - 1910)

Dick Peddie and Mackay student drawings.

Field Visit (15 July 1926)

St. Salvator's Church.

In 1450 James Kennedy, Bishop of St. Andrews, founded the college of St. Salvator and also its church, where he was buried sixteen years later in a stately tomb which he had ordered for himself. The church (Fig. 399), fronting North Street, is all that now remains. Re-set in the modern boundary wall is a late Gothic archway (Fig.402), the head of which is flattened and is contained within an ogival hood, the interspace bearing Kennedy's arms.* The orb and cross above the crocket finial are modern.

The church consists of an oblong choir, with the apsidal eastern end characteristic of the period, and a lofty south-western tower, which served the dual purpose of bell-tower and gatehouse, the principal entrance to the college quadrangle being through its lowest storey. Tower and church have been built at the same time, and it will be noticed from the plan that the lowest part of the south-east angle of the former is canted to match the diagonal buttress at the north-west angle of the church. The mason work is ashlar throughout.

The entrance through the tower is a vaulted transe, with an arched gateway at either end. On one side is a consecration cross, 1 foot 4 ½ inches in diameter, and in the opposite wall is a locker. Above the outer arch (Fig. 405) is a richly carved armorial panel, flanked on each side by a canopied niche with a traceried head and a moulded and enriched margin. The shield, which is supported by angels and ensigned with a bishop's mitre, bears: Within a double tressure flory-counter-flory a chevron between three cross-crosslets fitchy, for Kennedy. On a scroll beneath the shield is a motto, so weatherworn as to be illegible. In the course above the niche finials is a grotesque face, but the stone seems to be merely a 'waster.' Above the vault there are six storeys, the uppermost being the bell-chamber. The walls rise unbroken to the continuous sill-course of the belfry lights, which are tall doublets, set in each wall, with trefoiled heads and traceried transoms. Above these the parapet projects on simple spaced corbels. Within the parapet rises a 16th-century stone spire adorned with strings and lucarnes, the total height from the ground being about 125 feet. Within the bell-chamber the angles of the spire rest on squinch arches which have apparently been lowered at sometime for stability.

The south wall and the eastern end of the church have heavy buttresses in three stages with projecting canopied niches, which in two examples face one another.** On the niche corbels the Royal Arms and the Bishop's arms each occur once. The walls rise from a heavy moulded ground-course to a parapet which projects but slightly. With one exception the bays contain provision for rain-water conductors, the earliest Scottish examples which can be dated. In each bay of the south wall and of the apse is a window, but the tracery in every case is modern. The windows have had external shutters. In the second bay from the west the window is set high, to leave room beneath for the porch covering the principal entrance to the church (Fig. 401). The doorway of the porch has a pointed obtuse arch without impost, and at the apex is a weatherworn shield ensigned with a mitre. Its roof is ceiled with a pointed barrel-vault having surface-ribs rising from corbel stops and meeting at a central circular boss which bears Kennedy's arms and a mitre. Its side walls are furnished with benches, and there is a fragmentary benatura at the north-eastern angle.

The doorway of the church is heavily moulded and has the semi-octagonal head found only in the 15th century. The form is not common, but there are two other examples in the north wall, these being the door to the sacristy and that to St. Catherine's Aisle, both of which buildings have now disappeared. The type is found also at the Kirkhill (No. 453), at Borthwick Castle in Midlothian, at Huntly Castle in Aberdeenshire, and at Torphichen Priory in West Lothian. The oaken doors are certainly of considerable age, but they are not necessarily original, as the panels bearing Kennedy's arms are inset. The entrance opens into a vestibule behind the screen, which though modern is apparently in its original position, for there was always a loft above it and the newel-stair to this loft still exists at the north-west angle of the church. The loft admits to the tower, where a stair in the southeast corner rises to the bell-chamber. The present timber roof of the church is modern, but, up to the last quarter of the 18th century, the ceiling was a pointed barrel-vault having surface ribs springing from wall-shafts and corbel-stops; one stop remains and exhibits Kennedy's arms.

[see RCAHMS 1933, 243-245, for a description of the Kennedy tomb, the bells, consecration crosses etc]

RCAHMS 1933, visited 15 July 1926.

*Patrick Hamilton at the age of twenty-four was burned for heresy on 1st March 1527-8 "at the gate of St. Salvator's Colledge." - ]ohn Spotswood, History of the Church of Scotland, (ed. 1655), p. 63.

**The finials are modern

Photographic Record (1940)

Photographic Record (1940)

Photographic view taken by Cowie.

Photographic Record (1950)

Aerial Photography (15 October 1998)

Photographic Survey (1 March 2003)

Photographic Survey (10 August 2004)

Aerial Photography (8 June 2006)

Photographic Survey (31 July 2007)

Project (February 2014 - July 2014)

A data upgrade project to record war memorials.

Note (23 June 2014)

A number of War Memorials lie within the church.

A wall, window are war memorials, and two individuals, Lt W D Playfair and Maj J Cook VC. The St Andrews University Book of Rememberance from WW2 is held in the chapel, as are bells restored and dedicated to the Second World War as described on a plaque.

Information from RCAHMS (AKK) 23 June 2014.


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