A wholly new development
Anyone arriving into Cupar along West Port will have noticed the works being undertaken on the old St Michael’s Church on the corner of North Union Street. The church was built in 1837 as a ‘chapel of ease’ – to support the then growing congregation of Cupar Old Parish Church. Today, a new lease of life for the historic site is taking shape …
Set within the existing exterior walls and roof of the Church are being created nine apartments with bespoke new double-glazed windows – all in keeping with the conservation area regulations. There will a main entrance with a communal hallway and central stairwell leading to the one 1-bed and eight 2-bed apartments. Each will have an open-plan lounge/dining/kitchen and all benefit from an allocated parking bay.
The properties are being marketed by Fife Properties – on Bonnygate. Jim Parker of Fife Properties says: “We are delighted to be marketing such an historic property in the town and we’re sure many will be very happy to see the former church being used to create new homes.”
The apartments start from offers over £115,000 for the one bedroom ground floor apartment. It has approximately 57 sq m of accommodation – all on one level. The accommodation comprises a hallway, open plan lounge/kitchen/dining room 5.83m x 4.40m), a double bedroom (4.08m x 3.94m) with a Jack & Jill bathroom ( 3.66m x 1.92m). Additionally, there’s a large cupboard providing abundant storage space – housing the electric fuse/switchgear and Electromax combi boiler.
The two bed apartments have approximately 67 sq m of accommodation and are on sale with offers over £135,000. Again, all on one level, they comprise a hallway, open plan lounge/kitchen/dining room (5.77m x 4.00m), double bedroom (3.63m x 3.60m) with en-suite shower room (2.66m x 1.20m), further double bedroom (3.75m x 2.65m) and a bathroom (2.57m x 1.71m). The same applies re storage – each having a large cupboard housing the electric fuse/switchgear and Electromax combi boiler.
But what of the history behind this iconic landmark? We caught up with the good folk at Cupar Museum and Heritage Centre to ask for more on the property’s past. They did some digging and helped to create a timeline …
St Michael’s – then and now
St Michael’s was designed by James Gillespie Graham (1776-1855). Plans were drawn up in 1836 and building work started 183 years ago this Spring. For the architects among us, the church was described as “Neo Perpendicular, plain rectangle, squared rubble with octagonal corbelled bellcote, battlement porch, slated.”
The first church service took place in St Michael’s on Christmas Eve 1837. The Fife Herald reported: “This handsome building was opened on Sunday, last, when the Rev. Mr Bennie from Edinburgh preached on the occasion, before a crowded audience, a very eloquent and appropriate sermon”.
The 1854 Ordnance Survey Plan of Cupar showed that it was designed to seat 800 people.
Just under a century later, the final service took place: the Rev Graham Brotherton of Cupar Old Parish Church closed the church’s chapter as a place of worship on the 4th April 1951.
On 14th November that same year, the Fife Herald reported that the church building had been sold to Fife County Council for the sum of £2,800. The sale allowed the education authority to draw up plans to create an assembly hall and gymnasium for Bell Baxter High School at Westport. The resulting open-plan hall had a balcony, changing facilities, toilets and showers. The school’s prize-giving took place in the assembly hall/gymnasium on 7th July 1954.
A quote from a former pupil appeared in a press report in 2013: “The gymnasium within the old church could be a pretty terrifying place for a first year pupil. There was a trampoline situated on the balcony, way above the ground floor. Your classmates were asked by the teacher to form a guard around the trampoline, just in case you got a bit out of shape. When you were at the top of your bounce, the floor of the gym looked an awful way down”.
The use of the property by Bell Baxter School continued until the complete removal of the school to the new site at Carslogie Road. The vacant property, being disused, was placed on the Buildings at Risk Register, while being marketed.
Years have passed and the building fell into disrepair. It is great to see the building being repurposed with new homes being created in the town centre.
Interested in viewing and buying?
Please contact Fife Properties (97 Bonnygate) on 01334 654221.
Please note – all room sizes quoted are approximate to widest points.
We’d like to thank Cupar Museum and Heritage Centre for their help is researching and providing the historical background to this Blog.
- Buildings at Risk Register www.buildingsatrisk.org.uk
- Dictionary of Scottish Architects www.scottisharchitects.org.uk
- Scottish Church History Research www.scottishcurches.org.uk
- British Newspaper Archive: Fife Herald Reports
- Bell Baxter Former pupils web site bbhsfpa.weebly.com Under More, there is a section The School down the years with photographs including interiors showing St Michael’s as the school gym.
Thanks for reading.
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