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St Andrews, South Street, St Leonard's Chapel

Chapel (15th Century), Church (Period Unassigned), College (Period Unassigned), Hospital (Period Unassigned)

Site Name St Andrews, South Street, St Leonard's Chapel

Classification Chapel (15th Century), Church (Period Unassigned), College (Period Unassigned), Hospital (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) St Leonard's College Church

Canmore ID 34373

Site Number NO51NW 9

NGR NO 51272 16602

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2019.

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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 9 51272 16602

(Centred at NO 5125 1657) St Leonard's College (NR) (Remains of)

OS 25" map (1914)

'A hospital belonging to the Culdees existed at St Andrews in the 12th century. It was transferred to the bishopric and in 1144 conveyed by Bishop Robert to the Priory. At first known as the hospital of St Andrew, it was later associated with St Leonard." Owing to the decline in pilgrimages the hospital was little patronised and was used as a residence for elderly women.

"Ultimately in February 1512 'the hospital and church of St Leonard joined there to, newly built in proper form at the expense of the Church of St Andrews' were turned by Archbishop Stewart and Prior John Hepburn into a college 'to be called the College of Poor Clerks of the Church of St Andrews.'

A parish church of St Leonard is mentioned in 1413 (Liber Priory St Andree) but the present building is mainly if not wholly subsequent to that date...but there are slight indications that the part of the building which extends for 56 feet from the present west gable is earlier than the portion beyond which dates from the 16th century." In 1910 the roof was replaced and the windows were reglazed.

RCAHMS 1933 .

A bull of Innocent IV dated 1246, mentions the Hospital of St Andrews while another bull of the same Pope, dated 1248, named it St Leonards. It is possible that the change of name is due to Bishop David de Bernham (1233-53) who consecrated many religious buildings during his occupation of the See.

The hospital however " was founded long before it was known as St Andrews or St Leonards. In a charter dated 1144, dealing with the institution of the priory Bishop Robert assigned to the canons the hospital of the city, as he named it. "He also enlarged it so as to make it 'open to all comers.' Very little is known regarding the structural changes in the buildings which were assigned to the College at its foundation, but Cardinal Beaton in his charter of 1545 states thatPrior Hepburn and the Chapter repaired and made additions to these buildings. Martine says that the Guest Hall of the Priory 'stood within the precincts of St Leonard's College'.

R K Hannay and R Herkless 1905

The church was used for public worship until St Leonard's College was united to St Salvator's in 1749. A long range of buildings on the south side of the church were occupied as students lodgings but these were also abandoned and converted into private houses.

D MacGibbon and T Ross 1897

St Leonard's College with those of St Mary (NO51NW 8) and St Salvator (NO51NW 10) formed the University of St Andrews (NO51NW 8).

A H Millar 1895

This church has been completely restored, and is in good condition. It is in use as a University Chapel. No remains of the old College Buildings are to be found. Modern blocks have been erected on the site.

Visited by OS (JLD) 17 October 1956

As described above.

Visited by OS (WDJ) 29 May 1964.

Architecture Notes

NO51NW 9 51272 16602

ARCHITECT: James Craig, 1773, proposed remodelling.

David Henry, 1899, alterations.

Ian Lindsay, 1910, restoration.

NMRS Print Room

St Andrews, South Stret, St Leonard's Chapel

2 views of the interior

W Schomberg Scott Photograph Collection

Acc No 1997/39



Plans: UY/1381 James Craig, 1773, elevation showing remodelling

David Henry, 1899, plans

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


Publication Account (1981)

St. Andrews boasts the oldest university in Scotland: it received its bull of foundation in 1413. The bull allowed for five faculties - canon law, civil law, theology, medicine and the liberal arts. These faculties had varying fortunes. For example, medicine was taught only spasmodically until the sixteenth century (Nicholson, 1975, 273) and in the poverty-stricken eighteenth century, the university sold medical degrees. St. John's College was the cornerstone of the university, formally established in 1419. Its main teaching sphere was to be arts and theology, but after 1461 the building fell out of use (Cowan, 1976, 232). Possibly St. John's had been superseded by the establishment of St.Salvator's College in mid-century. The stately tower and chapel beneath are part of Bishop Kennedy's original foundation, but the class rooms round about it are modern. The early sixteenth century witnessed the foundation of two more colleges, St. Leonards and St. Marys. St. Leonard's Chapel boasts some early work, but what remains of St. Mary's College has been considerably worked over and modernised (RCAM, 1933, 248-9). The University library was built in 1612 over the foundations of St. John's College. In 1747, the college of St. Leonard united with St. Salvator to help meet the financial needs of the institution.

Information from ‘Historic St Andrews: The Archaeological Implications of Development’ (1981).

Publication Account (1981)

St. Andrews was for centuries a favourite place for pilgrims. St. Leonard's hospital, which had been founded for the reception of pilgrims, later served as a hospital for old and infirm women until 1522, when it became the corner-stone for Prior Hepburn's St. Leonard's College ( Cowan, 1976, 190).

Information from ‘Historic St Andrews: The Archaeological Implications of Development’ (1981).


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