Sites and Monument Record: Dundas Church (SMR 100)

The church building lies on the south side of the Bo'ness Road in Grangemouth, near to the Grange Burn. It is built in the Romanesque style with Arts and Crafts details – though the contemporary records describe it as “Transitional Gothic”. The architect was John J. Burnet, 1894. It is dominated by a squat square tower with slated roof and parapet wall, which stands at the north end of the rectangular nave, aligned perpendicularly to the main road (ie N/S). A gallery and bell chamber are contained in the tower, at the base of which on the west side is situated the main entrance in the form of a picturesque wooden porch-way approached by a short flight of steps. The hall forms an offshoot from the south-west side of the church and is separated from it by large folding doors. At the west end of the hall is the vestry and session house, which project northwards to provide a semi-octagonal bay. Fronting the hall along its northern side and connecting the session house to the church is an enclosed cloistral passage. Cloister, hall and porch-way thus formed a pleasing courtyard garden.
The walls of the church are of common rubble with ashlar margins, plastered inside with a wooden dado 5ft high and dressed stone piers, arcade arches and window heads. The tower has a chamfered corners and a chamfered offset course at the first floor level, and slightly corbelled plain parapet. An elongated framed window straddles the ground and first floors on the north side, with two plain lancet lights at the bottom and a large arched light at the top, separated by a projecting stone block. The margins at the bottom are plain, but at the top have roll mouldings. The window is similar to one used in the tower at Stenhouse and Carron Church. There are two large Romanesque openings framing engaged columns in each side of the tower in the upper stage below the corbelling. These are for the bell chamber and have large wooden louvres. The pyramidal slated roof is finished with a small weather vane. Stepped buttresses project from the two southern corners of the tower to clasp the double pitched nave. One roof butts up against the tower, the other has a separate gable beside the porch. For this reason the porch is lengthy, with the inner (east) end of stone with a small high-set rectangular window. The west end of the porch is of timber set on waist-high side walls creating flanking cusped leaded windows. The gable of the porch has timber braces and posts supporting a dentilled tie beam, above which is applied vertical wooden panelling framed by deeply projecting wide tapering bargeboards on the eaves. The latter studded with rosettes. The long east wall of the nave contains three sets of double arched windows and appears to be slightly bowed. There are one and a half sets of these windows on the shorter west wall. The cloister passage is contained within the north pitch of the hall roof, with only a slight change in angle marking the junction. It has the same form of waist-high wall as the porch along its front, surmounted by a continuous screen of leaded rectangular windows. At its west end is a door, flanked on the right by the projecting session room. This room has a lower roof line than the hall and thus also mirrors the porch. The multi-angled apse of the room has double rectangular leaded windows in each face – forming an interesting continuation of the cloistral windows in a different material and again mirroring the stone of the tower.
The nave is enclosed in an open timber M-shaped roof with a central arcade. The chancel at the south-east end of the church with its three-light window, provided accommodation for the choir, a pulpit on the east, baptismal font on the west, and communion table in centre. To its west is the organ chamber. The church is 90ft long and 50ft wide, the nave being 24ft and the aisle 20ft. Room was left for another aisle, which was never required. It was designed to seat 500, of which 76 were to be in a gallery at the base of the tower, which was never built. A further 150 could be accommodated in the hall. A bell was cast by John C. Wilson of Glasgow. The total cost of £2750 rose to c£4000.
Originally there was a low stone boundary wall between the church grounds and Bo'ness Road with two substantial square gate piers supporting wooden gates. The grounds were planted and had a number of trees. Most of this has now been removed and samples of gravestones are displayed in front of the cloister.
In 2006 Dundas Church united with Kerse Church to become Abbotsgrange Parish Church. The church is now used as a funeral home and many of the internal fixtures, such as the war memorial, were transferred to the new church.

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Site history notes
In 1893 there was discontent in the Grange U.P. Church over the ordination of Rev. Robert Hamilton and a new congregation formed and took a lease of a hall from the West Church. A minister was soon ordained and the congregation became the Dundas United Presbyterian Church until 1900; then the Dundas United Free Church until 1929; the Dundas Church of Scotland Grangemouth Dundas until 2006 when it closed. In 2008 the building was converted into a funeral parlour.
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NS 9290 8199
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