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Falkirk, High Street, Falkirk Old Parish Church

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

Site Name Falkirk, High Street, Falkirk Old Parish Church

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

Alternative Name(s) Upper Newmarket Street; Falkirk Old Parish Church And St Modan's; War Memorial

Canmore ID 46913

Site Number NS88SE 18

NGR NS 88729 80025

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2020.

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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Falkirk
  • Parish Falkirk
  • Former Region Central
  • Former District Falkirk
  • Former County Stirlingshire

Archaeology Notes

NS88SE 18.00 88729 80025

NS88SE 18.01 8873 8001 Cross

NS87NE 147.00 88739 79985 Churchyard

NS87NE 147.01 88700 79989 Gate

(NS 8873 8001) Falkirk parish church, dedicated to St Modan, was in existence in the later 11th century, though the record of its foundation in 1057 cannot be accepted, as the stone now seen in the church, which bears an inscription to this effect, is bogus.

The medieval building, of 15th century date, was cruciform on plan, with a tower over the crossing and access to the transepts through "lofty arches". The S crossing-piers are still partly visible. The upper part of the tower, as was seen, dates from 1734. Apart from the portions mentioned, the whole structure was demolished and a new church built in 1810. Since the reconstruction a large S porch has been added, abutting the tower in the position of the medieval S transept (see also NS88SE 18.1).

RCAHMS 1963, visited 1955

The church is as described. Several medieval grave-slabs from the graveyard are on display inside the church.

Visited by OS (DWR) 8 February 1974

Architecture Notes

NS88SE 18.00 88729 80025

NS88SE 18.01 8873 8001 Cross

NS87NE 147.00 88739 79985 Churchyard

NS87NE 147.01 88700 79989 Gate


Architect: James Gillespie Graham 1810 - addition to earlier steeple.

Hugh Cairn cross - plan for reconstruction - not executed.

Sibbald & Thin - plan for reconstruction - not executed.

Sir R. Rowand Anderson - additions 1892.

G. Peas Page - renovation 1878-83.



Proposal to build 'a large new Church'.

A meeting of the Heritors is advertised to discuss plans to build a new Church for a sum not exceeding £800.

1796 GD 171/Box 122/Bundle 1

Proposal to build a new Church.

William Forbes disapproves of the proposal. He considers that the present church is adequate because it is large, the walls stout, and the roof and spire in good condition. However, he agrees that any alteration which would make it lighter and more commodious would be acceptable.


1796 GD 171/Box 122/Bundle 1

Rebuilding of the present Church or building a new.

The Heritors are asked to meet and give directions to tradesmen to estimate the expense of repairing and enlarging the present Church and also to estimate the expense of building a new Church agreeable to a plan made by Mr Moir or any other plan which the Committee of Heritors may adopt.

Letter from George Main, Clerk.

1796 GD 171/Box 12/Bundle 1

Repair of the loft in the steeple of the Church.

Acceptance of Messrs John and Adam Moir's estimate of £16.11.6 for repairing the loft where the bell and clock stand and making a frame for the bell.

Extract from Minutes of a Meeting of Heritors.

1796 GD 171/Box 122/Bundle 1

Proposed repairs and alterations to the existing Church.

The lofts require to be renewed and that above the body of the Church raised a storey higher, the South Aisle to be lofted.

Walls should be lathed and plastered, passages flagstoned and Ground Floor pewed. Five new windows required. The pulpit should be moved to where the Minister's seat is. At the West end of the Church a new Session House could be fitted up.

Tradesmen are asked to estimate for this and for a New Church. Extracts from Minutes of a Meeting of Heritors.

1796 GD 171/Box 122/Bundle 1

Agreement to build a New Church according to Mr Cairncross's* plan. Plan to be contracted to hold 1400 people not 1600. Extract from Minutes of a Meeting of Heritors.

*[Hugh Cairncross, Architect, d. 1808 or George Cairncross, Architect, d. 1819]

1801 GD 171/Box 122/Bundle 1

Dispute concerning repair of the Old Church or building of a new Bill of Suspension raised by William Forbes.

Situation outlined by William Forbes:

Two designs procured from Mr Cairncross, Architect.

(1) Proposed raising walls of Church, repairing decayed parts, increasing number of windows and reproofing. Cost £1300.

(2) Proposed demolishing part of the existing church and substituting a new building in the form of an Octagon. Cost £4000.

A meeting of the heritors had favoured plan (2) and it was resolved to build the new Church to adjoin the steeple.

1801 GD 171/Box 122/Bundle 1

Dispute concerning question of repair of the Old Church or building of a new (Bill of Suspension).

Objections raised by William forbes against decision of the other Heritors:

(1) Mr Cairncross's 1st Design would answer purpose and be moderate in expense. Not favoured by other Heritors.

(2) Mr Cairncross's 2nd Design, if adopted, would endanger the steeple and remaining fabric.

(3) Additional ground required would be expensive.

1801 GD 171/Box 123/Bundle 1

Estimate for building a Church according to Mr Cairncross's 2nd Plan. Mr Cairncross, Architect, had estimated that his Plan, would cost £4000 but Mr Smith, builder, gave an estimate of £2300.

Extract from Minutes of Heritors.

1801 GD 171/Box 122/Bundle 1

Presbytery's decision concerning plans for Falkirk Church.

Messrs Sibbald and Thin, Architects, Edinburgh, are asked to report on the condition of the existing Church. The Presbytery concludes that it should be rebuilt and enlarged in the manner pointed out by Messrs Sibbald and Thin. The Spire is to be retained with the arched aisle to the South or ir. Extract from Presbytery Minutes.

[John Thin c. 1765-1827 (Senior d. 1809) (junior d. 1823)]

1805 GD 171/Box 122/Bundle 1

Dispute concerning plans for Falkirk Church.

Judgement by the Lord Ordinary.

He appoints the whole Heritors of the Parish to meet to choose a Collector and advertise for a contractor.

The Heritors are to reconsider the steeple.

1809 GD 171/Box 122/Bundle 1

Acceptance of the new Plan for Falkirk Church.

William Forbes approved of this plan by James Gillespie [Graham], Architect [1776-1855], but he refused to contribute to a steeple.

He wished the Heritors assessed and a Collector appointed.

1809 GD 171/Box 122/Bundle 1

Building of the New Church of Falkirk.

Contract presented to a meeting of Heritors.

Drawn up by a quorum of the Committee of Heritors and the tradesmen Henry Taylor and William Black.

Extract of a Minute of a Meeting of Committee of Heritors.

1809 GD 171/Box 122/Bundle 1

Seating plan of the new Church laid before a Meeting of Heritors.

The Meeting 'in order that the beauty, elegance and symmetry of the Church might be preserved' agreed to certain regulations e.g., 'no hats shall be hung on the pillats'.

1811 GD 171/Box 122/Bundle 1

Repair of Sir John Graham's tomb.

Payment of £120.6.0 (Scots) by the Duke of Montrose to Mr James Graham of Airth.

Cash Book.

1724 GD 220/6/29/Page 81 and

GD 220/6/47/Page 315

Falkirk. Repair of Sir John Graham's* tomb in the churchyard of Falkirk. Receipted account from William Whyte, wright.

*[Killed 1298 at the Battle of Falkirk]

1724 GD 220/6/721/2


Watching Brief (9 December 2009)

Alder Archaeology Ltd was commissioned by Ironside Farrar to carry out an archaeological watching brief on contractors’ trial holes in the church yard of Falkirk Old Parish Church, in advance of town centre regeneration. Two small trial holes were monitored as they were excavated. A previous cobble road surface was recorded, burial ground soil was reached but the excavations were not deep enough to disturb any in-situ burials or bottom the burial ground soil. Some small fragments of bone were reburied on site. Nothing else of archaeological significance was found.

Alder Archaeology Ltd

Project (February 2014 - July 2014)

A data upgrade project to record war memorials.


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