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Peebles, Neidpath Road, St Andrew's Church

Church (Medieval)

Site Name Peebles, Neidpath Road, St Andrew's Church

Classification Church (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Old Parish Church Of St Andrew; Old Town

Canmore ID 51542

Site Number NT24SW 25

NGR NT 24602 40583

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 Scottish Borders, The
  • Parish Peebles
  • Former Region Borders
  • Former District Tweeddale
  • Former County Peebles-shire

Archaeology Notes

NT24SW 25.00 24602 40583

NT24SW 25.01 24592 40646 Cemetery

NT24SW 25.02 24669 40603 Lodge

(NT 2459 4058) St Andrew's Church (NR) (remains of)

OS 6" map (1965)

Old Parish Church of St Andrew, Peebles: There was a church at Peebles as early as the first quarter of the 12th century, and it is on record that the church of St Andrew of Peebles was dedicated by Jocelin, Bishop of Glasgow, in 1195. Later references to the medieval parish church are frequent, but give few clues as to the nature or condition of the fabric, although it is known that a chapel of St Mary was "biggit within the Paroch Kirk" by John Geddes of Rachan in or before 1427. In 1543, the church was erected into a collegiate foundation, but six years later Peebles was burnt by an English army and the church was so severely damaged as to be incapable of repair except at very great expense. In 1560, therefore, the parishioners were granted the use of the Cross Kirk (NT24SE 4). Some attempts were made to preserve what remained of the fabric, and the burial ground remained in use, but the church was being quarried for building materials in the late 16th and 17th centuries. In 1790 little more was left of the fabric than remains today; the tower was drastically restored by Dr Chambers towards the end of the 19thc. The existing remains are so fragmentary, and have been so thoroughly restored, that it is difficult to ascribe them to any particular period. A plan of the churh, drawn up in 1897, but incorporating material derived from the OS 25" map of 1858, indicates that the building comprised a W tower, a nave c. 72' x 32' internally. Both choir and nave evidently had N aisles, the nave also having a small chapel projecting from the centre of its N wall. There is nothing in this plan to contradict the commonly-held opinion that some portions at least of this building may have formed part of the church dedicated in 1195 Archer's drawings (in the NMRS) of 1836 and 1838 clearly indicate that the contrast between the upper and lower parts of the tower, clearly visible today, is not entirely a result of Dr Chambers' restoration, but indicates a partial rebuilding of the tower in medieval times.

The tower measures c. 21' x 19' 9" over 3' 9" thick walls, and appears originally to have incorporated 3 mains storeys. All its red sandstone dressings date from the late 19th century restoration.

Part of the N wall of the N nave-aisle also survives; it is 48' long, 37 4" wide and 12' high. The wall is ivy clad and no features of interest can be distinguished apart from a doorway which the dressed stone margins have been mostly removed.

This doorway probably gave access to the chapel, quite possibly that of 1427, later known as Geddes' Aisle.

RCAHMS 1967, visited 1961

Only the tower and part of the north wall are all that remain of St Andrew's Church.

Resurveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (EGC) 5 March 1962

Architecture Notes


ARCHITECT: George Henderson (restored tower).


The National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh contains among the 'uncatalogued MSS of General Hutton', and numbered 89, 90 and 95, Vol, No. 1, two drawings of St. Andrew's Parish Church (called by Hutton the Collegiate Church) which was situated at the Western extremity of the Old Town, and of which little more than the Steeple can 'now' be seen above ground; and, a Pencil Sketch of the Cross Church or Monastery of the Holy Cross, which stood a few hundred yards North from the Old Town. This Sketch, dated about 1800, is accompanied by a drawing of the South Door. Out of all the square surrounded by Conventual Buildings of the Cross Church, nothing is now to be seen but a fragment of the Church.

Scottish Record Office

"There was building a new church upon the site of the old castle which had sometime past been occupied as a bowling green".

Sir John Clerk's description of a journey to Peebles.

1780 GD 18/2119


Photographic Record (1896)

Photograph album with views from the Scottish Borders in 1896 including Peebles

Publication Account (1977)

Prior to the Reformation the church in the 'Old Town' dedicated to St. Andrews served as the parish church for Peebles. It existed at least as early as the first quarter of the twelfth century (Lawrie, 1905, 46). Little is known of its original fabric or condition. Foundations have occasionally been discovered through gravedigging and it has been suggested that the church had two aisles, one on the north side of the choir and another on the north side of the nave and that it was larger in size than the later dedication, the Cross Kirk (Gunn, 1908, 201). It suffered extensive damage in 1549 when it was burned by the English and the tot al repair bill was too great for the parishioners to meet. In 1560 the townsmen were granted use of the Cross Kirk and the church of St. Andrews slowly fell into ruin. Some attempt was made to preserve what fabric and burial ground remained in use, but there was much quarrying and in 1609 a 'dowcot' was built in the church steeple (Williamson, 1895, 10). Tradition maintains that Cromwell stabled his horses in the church during his siege of Neidpath Castle, but this incident is not recorded in the burgh records (Renwick, 1910, xxi). In 1856 the structure consisted of a few broken walls and a massive tower (Chambers, 1856, 51) and the tower was 'drastically' restored in the second half of the nineteenth century (RCAHM,1967, 210).

A path connected St. Andrews Church with the later dedication, the Cross Kirk, also in the 'Old Town'. The Cross Kirk was established by Alexander ill after the 1261 discovery of holy relics on the site, including a cross and the ashes of bones allegedly belonging to 'St. Nicholas the Bishop' (Cowan and Easson, 1976, 109). At first, Cross Kirk was non-conventual and the only building on the site was the church, an aisleless rectangle. A community of Trinitarian friars appears to have been established there with the approval of the bailies by 1448 (Cowan, 1976, 110) and in 1474 the domestic buildings and cloisters were erected to the north of the church (RCAHM, 1967, 204). In January 1560-1, the Trinitarians quit their convent and the Cross Kirk was fitted up as a Protestant place of worship. Despite the change in religious order, the Cross Kirk remained a haunt for pilgrims at least until 1601, when a notice appears that in the year following 'there was no resorting of people into the Croce Kirk to commit any sign of superstition there' (Gunn, 1912, 67). The Cross Kirk served as the parish church until 1784. In the middle of the sixteenth century a western tower was added and alterations to the building in the seventeenth century included the construction of a new parish church on the Castlehill the roof of the Cross Kirk was removed but the walls were kept entire and in 1809 an application was made to turn the church into a coal fold, although this plan was ultimately abandoned (Chambers, 1856, 53) . Chambers relates that as late as 18ll the foundations of the cloisters were still visible but they were eventually cleared away when the ground was enclosed and planted (1856, 53). In that same year part of the south wall of the church collapsed (RCAHM, 1967, 204).

The Town Council of Peebles in 1773 agreed to contribute towards the building of a new parish church on the Castlehill and gave the necessary ground between the High Street and the bowling green (Buchan, 1925, ii, llO). Chambers caustically observed that the church stood 'awkwardly awry to the direction of the public street, the fabric generally and the steeple in particular bear the unmistakable marks of the dearth of taste which pervaded during the reign of George ill' (1856, 55). The present parish church on this site dates from the late nineteenth century.

Information from ‘Historic Peebles: The Archaeological Implications of Development’ (1977).

Sbc Note

Visibility: Upstanding building, which may not be intact.

Information from Scottish Borders Council


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