A Brief History of Perth’s Churches

St John’s Church – Monasteries – Chapel 1559 – John Knox – Church of Scotland – Presbyterianism

17th Century – Conventicles – Secret meetings held. The Covenanters adhered to the National Covenant. The Stuarts ruled by “Divine Right”. They believed that they were the Head of the Church. James VI and I said “No bishop, no king”. Within the Church of Scotland differences soon arose. Splits resulted.

1690 – Split in Church of Scotland. A group, following one Richard Cameron and known as Cameronians separated from the Presbyterian Church. The adopted the name of Reformed Presbyterians in 1733. They were against certain innovations.

1728 – Mr. Glas of Tealing was leader of the Glassites or Sandemanians (Robert Sandeman was leader of the group in Perth). Glassites were close to Congregationalists. They were against the political or national church. They were often called the Kail Kirkers. This group had common meals “love feasts”. Group in Perth 1736. They met in the Meeting House, Old High Street.

1733 – Seceeders broke away from the Church of Scotland. They were following Thomas Erskine and William Wilson of the West Church. Reverend William Wilson, St John’s Kirk and others were removed from their charges. In 1740 a church (Wilson Church) was built on south side of High Street (at Scott Street). A new church was built in Scott Street in 1890. Known as Burgher Church – South Secession Church – later United Presbyterian Church. The Wilson Church, Middle, Tay Street, West, Tay Street and Bridgend united in 1964 to form St Matthews.

1747 – Seceeders split into Burghers and Anti-Burghers. Burghers were the majority. Anti-Burghers held it unlawful to take the oath administered to burgesses in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth because of the reference to the ‘true religion presently professed in this realm’.

1770 – As early as 1770 the Methodists had a chapel in Perth. About 1809 the Congregationalists (Baptist Group) sold their Tabernacle in South Street (south side/west side) to the Methodists who built a new church on the site. Later the church in Scott Street was built.

1784 – Gaelic Church, Canal Street. In 1843 it became Free St Stephens. The congregation soon left Canal Street, worshipped in Kinnoull Street Chapel, built a church in New Row (Red Cross) which was replaced by St Stephens, Paradise Place and then Muirton Church (soon to become a community centre) and Craigie Church. There was also a Gaelic congregation worshipping in a chapel in Kinnoull Street (west side) which was known as St Stephens. They built a new church in Atholl Street calling it St Andrews Church (1885).

1786 – Gaelic Church built on “Spey Ridge, south of Town’s Lade”. Became known as St Stephen’s Gaelic Church. At Disruption it became known as Free St Stephen’s Gaelic Church and worshipped in Chapel of Ease, Kinnoull Street (Pullars). In 1849 a new church was built in New Row. In 1866 name became Free St Stephen’s. In 1878 a larger church was built in Paradise Place. After WWII the church at Muirton was built. A Mission used the New Row Church and in 1881 was named St Paul’s Free. They built a new church on the site in 1901 which became St Paul’s United Free Church but at union of Free and Established Churches in 1929 it was called St Columba’s. The congregation later amalgamated with St Leonard’s parish and the church was used as an Army Canteen now Red Cross Centre. In 1895 Craigie Church was built and at first called St Stephen’s.

1786 – Chapel of Ease in Kinnoull Street (Pullars) was used for a time by Free St Stephens (1843) and other sects.

1791 – First North Church built in High Street. Group had formed in 1747 with minister and minority group of 1st Secession. It was known as North Secession Church. Present built in 1880. In 1847 Church became United Presbyterian.

1794 – Congregational Union formed. Group built a chapel in Paul Street. Sometimes called Cap-out Kirk. Moved to a “tabernacle” in South Street. There was a split over infant baptism and Congregationalists left the South Street Chapel. Built a Chapel in Canal Crescent but soon returned to Paul Street Chapel in 1817. c1824 they built a church in Mill Street (Marks and Spencers). A new church was built in 1890 at Kinnoull Street/Mill Street corner.

1796 – The Episcopalian Congregations built a Chapel in Princes Street. Prior to this the Conformist Group worshipped in Parliament Close (part of Parliament Hall) and the non-Conformist Group met in the Wrights Hall (Watergate). The present church was built in 1851 on the site of the chapel. The congregation is Scottish Episcopalian.

1798 – St Paul’s Church was built. Four parishes – St Paul’s, East Church, West Church and Middle Church.

1798 – The Congregational Union formed. In 1824 a new church was built in Mill Street (Marks and Spencers) and in 1899 the present church in Mill Street/Kinnoull Street.

1799 – Burghers split and ‘Old Lights’ formed. They called themselves Original Seceeders. The Original Secession Church was in South Street (south side/west end).

1806 – ‘New Lights’ broke away from the Anti-Burghers.

1820 – The Anti-Burghers and the United Secession Church joined. Later it became known as the United Presbyterian Church. The North Church originated with the separation of the minister and minority of the First Secession in 1747.

1827 – New Kinnoull Church opened. Architect was William Burn of Edinburgh. Bridgend Church was United Presbyterian – amalgamated with Wilson Church and Middle and West to become St Matthew’s in 1964.

1832 – Baptist Church in South Street (opposite King Edward Street) and also in Tay Street. The Baptist Church at Western Edge was built after Tay Street Church destroyed by fire in 1984.

1832 – The Catholic Chapel in Melville Street was opened and a solemn High Mass celebrated. Prior to that there had been a Catholic Mission in Perth. Many worshipped at Stobhall Chapel by kind permission of Lady Perth. For a time a priest was given a three Sunday rota visiting Stobhall, Dundee and Perth.

1843 – The Disruption. Dr. Chalmers with about 500 men (300 of them parish ministers) left the Assembly of the Church of Scotland and formed the Free Church (St Andrew’s Church, George Street). In Perth the following Free churches were formed: Free West – Mill Street then Tay Street (St Matthew’s) Free Middle – Carpenter Street then Blackfriars Street/Tay Street (flats) Free St Leonard’s – Victoria Street then Marshall Place (St Leonard’s in the Fields for a while St Leonard’s and Trinity) Free St Stephens Free St Paul’s (St Columba’s)

1847 – United Presbyterian Church formed – North Church became United Presbyterian. The present church was built in 1880 to replace the 1791/2 building.

1850 – St Ninian’s Cathedral (choir transepts). 1890 – Nave built. Architect was William Butterfield.

1852 – The Original Seceeders joined the Free Church.

1857 – Knox Free Church formed. Met in a schoolroom in Meal Vennel. Soon built church in South Street (north side/west end). Now in Tulloch.1876 Reformed Presbyterians joined the Free Church.

1858 – Trinity Church, York Place built. It was a Free Secession Church which broke off from the Free Church (later joined the United Presbyterian in 1861).

1893 – Free Presbyterian Church broke from Free Church of Scotland. This church had very strict code – no organ, no hymn singing. Found in West Scotland and the Outer Isles.

1895 – Craigie Church built.

1900 – Free Churches and United Presbyterian Churches formed a union known as the United Free Church of Scotland.

1906 – St Mark’s, Feus Road built. It was a Mission Church of St John’s Kirk to serve the needs of a rapidly increasing population in that part of the town. William Whitelaw’s father laid the foundation stone in September 1906.

1950s – In the 1950s churches (new charges) were built at Moncrieffe, Letham and Muirton.