St Andrew’s Kirk, Kirkports, North Berwick – preserving a picturesque ruin

Often unnoticed, the second St Andrew’s Kirk lies behind North Berwick High Street and adjacent to the Lodge grounds. Now a roofless ruin this Church was built between 1658 and 1664 as a replacement to the original church (located in front of the Scottish Seabird Centre).  The tower was added onto St Andrew’s Kirkports in 1771 and the long disused Kirk bell was rung again.

By 1873 the size of the congregation had outgrown the space available in the Kirk and so in 1883 the congregation moved to the new St Andrew’s Blackadder church, which remains in use today.

For many years the Kirk remained as a picturesque ruin as was envisaged by the last congregation but by 2009 the distinctive bell shaped roof of the tower became unsafe and had to be removed. This prompted, after much discussion, a local group to be formed to look at preserving the Kirk and re-establishing the tower roof.

St Andrew's Kirkports now

St Andrew’s Kirkports with St Andrew’s Blackadder in the background

St Andrews Kirk Group

The aim of this group is not to restore the church but to interpret and consolidate the Kirk before it deteriorates further. This is very much in keeping with the wishes of the final congregation to:

…allow the walls of the Church to stand in order to form a picturesque ruin’

The St Andrew’s Kirkports group is under the banner of North Berwick Community Council and is supported by East Lothian Council, North Berwick Environment Trust, North Berwick Trust and St Andrew’s Blackadder Church as well as a number of locals who are all working towards preserving this beautiful and important building for the wider benefits of North Berwick.

The Kirk is designated as a Scheduled Monument and lies within North Berwick conservation area. East Lothian’s Historic Environment Record (HER) entry for the Kirk can be found by clicking here.

There has been a significant amount of work undertaken by the group including:

St Andrew's Kirk Kirkports previously

St Andrew’s Kirkports in its Heyday

Historic Building recording (Part 1 and Part 2)

Conservation architect’s report

Feasibility study

Museum exhibits in the Coastal Communities Museum

St Andrew’s Kirkports leaflet

All of which can be viewed by clicking on the links above.

Currently the group is working on designing and erecting information boards showing the links between the 3 St Andrews Kirks in North Berwick (and the tale of the Bell which has rung in all three Kirks). Once this has been completed the group will be working towards preparing funding applications to consolidate and stabilise the nave walls and wallheads as a first step.

We hope you will visit the Kirk and Kirkyard and watch out for updates on the progress of the project both here and in the local press.