Church History and Family History

Established in 1650, the Kirk of Abbotshall, the second Church of Scotland parish church in Kirkcaldy, continues to be the focus of religious worship and social gatherings.

Our story

It is recorded in “The Presbyterie Booke of Kirkcaldie” that on October 17, 1649, Sir John Wemyss asked wither an other Kirk should be built in Kirkcaldy, thus began the history of Abbotshall Parish and its church. The Presbytery agreed to build the church on the landward on land given for the purpose by Sir Andrew Ramsay of Raith Estate.

At that time the church stood on a hill in the country outside Linktown of Abbotshall, not as today, surrounded by Kirkcaldy.

Over the century’s there has been much change at Abbotshall with the main part of the current building dating from it’s rebuilding in 1788.

No distinct record appears where the inhabitants of this parish first assembled for public worship, but it was probably in some places connected with the old mansion-house of Abbotshall or perhaps some other hall in the Linktown of Abbotshall.

In 1884 a second church was established in Links Street and named Raith Parish Church. In 1964 Raith re-merged with Abbotshall.

Our building

The original church on this site was built in 1674, 24 years after the institution of the church. This can seen on the date stone on the tower. In 1710 galleries were erected by the society of Weavers and the society of Hammermen ‘for the accommodation of their member in attendance of public worship’.

The societies of Tailors and Shoemakers had sittings allocated to them in the Hammermen’s loft. A third loft or gallery was added for the seating of the Heritors.

In 1787 the main part of the original rectangular church was demolished because it was too small for the increasing congregation, and a new church erected on the site and joined to the old tower during the years 1787 and 1788.

By 1898 the church had reached the shape we see today with the south wing, with its organ loft and on the north side the round Raith Gallery.

In 1975 a complete re-arrangement of both the entrance and the interior of the church was undertaken, the result we see today.

The main stained and leaded glass windows date from the 1898 extension of the church. The windows on the East and West of the choir, the Lamb above the organ and the Window in the Raith Gallery. These windows were designed by James Ballantine of Edinburgh.
The two side windows in the Choir/Organ loft were installed from Raith Church in 1965.

The current Organ is the second installed in Abbotshall. The first organ was built by Frederick Holt of Edinburgh, but needed replacing after 25 years. The current Binn’s Organ was built by James Jepson Binns of Leeds and the first public performance was on 29th March 1899.
To accommodate this organ the 1899 extension of the Church was undertaken at a total cost of £10,000 including the organ. This extension (choir loft) was built out over the graveyard and several gravestones can be seen under it in the crypt.

The church is surrounded by the parish graveyard with gravestones dating back to the early days of the church. One notable grave/statue is that of the child poet ’Pet’ Marjory (Fleming).

Our hall buildings are outside the graveyard and date from the 1880’s and have been extensively changed over the years to meet the needs of the congregation.

In Abbotshall’s Christening register a number of Scottish notable figures can be found including Robert Adam, the famous Architect.

Thought for the week

John Shelby Spong

“God is not a noun, that demands to be defined, God is a verb that invites us to live, to love, and to be”