Benholm Parish Church (Former), Kirktown of Benholm

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

General Details and Location

Name of Building
Benholm Parish Church (Former)
Other Name(s)
Kirktown of Benholm
Planning Authority
Divisional Area
Reference No
Listing Category
OS Grid Ref
NO 80438 69251
Location Type
HS Reference No


Simple 4-bay, rectangular-plan, classic church with pedimented gables and belfry; little altered fine interior with important wall memorial to infant daughter of George Keith, 5th Earl Marischal. Harled with ashlar margins and quoin strips. Continuous eaves and band course, latter forming pediment. Round- and segmental-arched openings. Multi-pane glazing pattern in timber sash and case windows throughout, those to S decoratively-astragalled. Grey slates. Ashlar-coped skews.

The church is upgraded to category 'A' (6 September 2005) in recognition of its rare early sacrament house and the fine 17th century mural monuments, particularly the significant Keith Monument which declares the Earl Marischal's connection with royalty (possibly the first recording of this) and his position asroyal representative in Scotland when James VI and I took up residence in England. The first church at Benholm, a 13th century gothic style building, was dedicated to the Celtic Saint Marnoch, with the parish subsequently coming into being in 1242. The old church was finally demolished in March 1832, when gunpowder was needed to remove some of thewalls.

The new church, built on sprung arches to avoid disturbing graves lying beneath the floor of the old church, was dedicated on 16th September, 1832 by Rev James Glen MA. The building w was intended to seat 768 persons, allowing just 16 inches of pew per person. The final service at Benholm Parish Kirk, by then part of the Mearns Coastal Parish, was held on 6th June 2004 and conducted by the Reverend George Hastie. Bruce dates the salvaged sacrament house to the 15th century as it was 'a gift from the Laird of Benholm, David Lundie' (p3). The carving is, however, stylistically similar to 16th century examples illustrated in Macgibbon & Ross at Auchindoir Church in Aberdeenshire (where the flanking buttresses and surmounting carved detail is very similar), Pluscarden Priory, and Airlie Church in Forfarshire. The two 17th century monuments, formerly housed in the choir of the old church, were removed to the new building at the expense of descendants of the Scotts of Benholm. The Keith monument was divided at this time, with a further stone placed in the railed enclosure immediately east of the church. The Latin inscription on this fragment reads 'Here lies Mary Keith, dearestdaughter of the most Noble Count and most illustrious Lord George Court Marischal, who died happy in the Lord, on the 14th October 1624 in the 5th year of her age'. George Keith was founder of Marischal College in Aberdeen, and his coat of arms on the monument is an early example bearing the portcullis (a badge of King James after 1603) which probably signifies his appointment as Lord High Commissioner to the Scottish Parliament in 1609. (Historic Scotland)
Building Dates
1832 incorp 15th or 16th century sacrament house

Category of Risk and Development History

Category of Risk
Exemptions to State of Risk
Field Visits
20/08/2010, 19/8/2013
Development History
August 2010: External inspection finds a generally sound building with a number of minor maintenance issues. It ceased being a parish church in 2004 and was secured by the Scottish Redundant Churches Trust in 2006.
14 December 2012: Local planners report the building and grounds appear to be under maintenance by the local community. Otherwise the building is not thought to have altered since the last inspection.
19 August 2013: External inspection finds the building appears to be being maintained. It is open to visitors.
1 October 2014: Aberdeenshire Council has designated a Conservation Area in Benholm during September 2014. The former church is one of the buildings now sited within the new Conservation Area.

Guides to Development

Conservation Area
Planning Authority Contact
PAC Telephone Number


Current Availability
Not Available
Appointed Agents
Occupancy Type
Present/Former Uses
Name of Owners
Scottish Redundant Churches Trust
Type of Ownership

Information Services

Additional Contacts/Information Source
Online Resources
Churches and Chapels
Original Entry Date
Date of Last Edit