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Renfrew, High Street, Old Parish Church And Monuments

Church (19th Century), Commemorative Monument(S) (14th Century), War Memorial(S) (20th Century)

Site Name Renfrew, High Street, Old Parish Church And Monuments

Classification Church (19th Century), Commemorative Monument(S) (14th Century), War Memorial(S) (20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) War Memorial Plaques

Canmore ID 44181

Site Number NS56NW 22

NGR NS 50799 67547

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2018.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Renfrewshire
  • Parish Renfrew (Renfrew)
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Renfrew
  • Former County Renfrewshire

Archaeology Notes

NS56NW 22 50799 67547.

The first record of an existing church at Renfrew occurs in 1136, when it was given to Glasgow Cathedral. The original church was erected by Walter Fitz-Alan (who was created High Steward of Scotland by David I) on the Inch of Renfrew; it was dedicated to St. James, the patron saint of the Fitz-Alan family. The monks (see NS56NW 16) were lodged not on the Inch, but on the mainland where they built a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The present church (at NS 5079 6754) stands on the site of this chapel. After the monks left, the Renfrew church would assume the title of the Church of St. Mary and St. James, which it has at present. Several churches may have occupied the site; the size and layout of the church prior to the Reformation may be deduced from old charters. At a certain period the church seems to have changed in name from that of St. Mary and St. James to that of St. Kentigern and St. Nicholas. Probably this was the local name since this was the name given to the High Altar. The present church was built in 1861-2. A small bell, now in Renfrew Burgh Museum, was found when digging its foundations. With- in it are the 14th-15th century tomb of John Ross and his wife, and the tomb of John Motherwell, attributed to the 15th century (SDD Listed: B). (Comparison with Dunn's statements on NS56NW 16, and the proximity of this church to Renfrew Inch, would suggest that it stands on the site of the original parish church, as stated in OPS (1851) rather than that of St. Mary's Chapel.)

J A Dunn 1971; D MacGibbon and T Ross 1896-7; Orig Paroch Scot 1851;

HBD Nos. 1-2

Architecture Notes


Architect: JT Rochead

Dr Peter McGregor Chalmers (Chancel altered 1908)


Publication Account (1981)

The parish church of Renfrew lay on the south side of the High Street. It was granted to John, Bishop of Glasgow, by David I in 1124 X 1147 and thereupon the bishop raised the church into a prebend of his cathedral (Cowan, 1967, 170). Shortly after the foundation of Paisley Abbey in the 1160s, that institution claimed Renfrew parish church, but ultimately renounced all rights to it (Cowan, 1967, 170). The old parish church of Renfrew, which was reputedly a Gothic edifice, underwent extensive repair in 1726 and was demolished in 1860.

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

Project (February 2014 - July 2014)

A data upgrade project to record war memorials.


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