Plans revealed to create stunning house in historic Fife church on ancient pilgrimage route

A bold bid to transform a Fife church which sits on an ancient pilgrimage route into a house fit for the 21st Century has been submitted to Fife Council for consideration.

Collessie Parish Church, which is within the Howe of Fife Parish and dates back to 1839, was deemed surplus by the Church of Scotland and put up for sale almost two years ago with an asking price of just £85,000.

Local resident Peter Wilson has since agreed to buy the church subject to certain conditions, one of which includes gaining change of use consent from the council to turn it into a family home.

Ambitious plans have now been lodged with the local authority which could see a modern living space created within the church itself along with the addition of an upper mezzanine floor.

Collessie Parish Church was put up for sale almost two years ago with an asking price of just £85,000.

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Many original features will either be kept in the church and used in the design, while flagstones, floorboards, pews, panelling and other items earmarked for removal are to be stored at Mr Wilson’s steading elsewhere in the village.

A marble Baptismal font, which was gifted to Collessie Church by Cowlairs-Summerville Parish Church in Springburn in 1978, will effectively become part of an open plan kitchen on the ground floor, relocated from its current position to a prominent site below a central south-facing leaded glass window.

Architects, Crichton Wood, speaking on behalf of Mr Wilson, hope Fife Council and local residents in the village will be enthusiastic about the blueprints tabled.

How the church could look like after conversion

“The proposals demonstrate a willingness by the applicants to convert and retain the character and scale of the existing Category B-listed building in accordance with all relevant and current planning policies, and in accordance with current Historical Environment Scotland guidance,” the architects added.

“The proposals demonstrate best change of use possible with minimal intervention to the external appearance of the building.

“The proposed internal remodelling of the church building will be undertaken in a sympathetic manner, maintaining existing features where possible, respecting the fabric and existing layout of the building and seeking to avoid any harmful effect to the building’s existing fabric and structure.”

Architect plans for the former church

The Howe of Fife Parish congregation currently shares the use of four churches, including Collessie Church, but, as the other churches enjoy access to more modern facilities, the Kirk deemed it surplus to requirements.

The existing Gothic-style structure was created in 1839, but it replaced an earlier, medieval church on the same site which was first dedicated in 1243.

Such is the site’s significance, the church and the village of Collessie are on an ancient pilgrimage trail from Lindores to St Andrews, while the tomb of Sir James Melville (1535-1617), a noted courtier to Mary Queen of Scots and James VI, is located within the churchyard and is the oldest building in the village.

However, the churchyard and the graves within it are owned and maintained by Fife Council, which means that the plans for the church are unlikely to affect the hallowed grounds around it.

The plans themselves envisage the kitchen in the centre of the living space, with pews and wood panelling to be recycled as kitchen units, new room dividers and turned into bespoke bunk beds.

The pulpit, and any pews and wood panelling that can’t be used in the design, will be sensitively dismantled and dry stored at the applicants’ existing property in Collessie.

Existing stone staircases will be retained, while the form of the existing gallery in the present church will provide three en suite bedrooms.

The plans also make provision for a lounge area in the open plan balcony with views down into the open space below, and a small sitting room in the existing Sunday School room in the Tower at the west end of the building.

In addition, the existing timber louvres in the Tower will be retained to keep the external appearance of the Tower “as close as possible” to its existing appearance, while solar panels could be installed into the roof line.

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