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St John the Evangelist's Church - Pittenweem St Michael & All Angels' Church - Elie

Pittenweem means "the place of the cave", a reference to St Fillan, an 8th century hermit whose cave remains in the care of St John's. The lower village has a working harbour and modern fish market, alongside many picturesque pantiled cottages clustered around the shore. Most of the shops, the post office, primary school and churches are in the upper village. The high school is one mile away in Anstruther. Pittenweem has a population of about 1600.

St John's church is in the centre of Pittenweem, on the site of the 14th century Augustinian priory, of which the grade 1 listed Gatehouse remains.  A small group of people are in the process of trying to raise funds to restore this 15th century building  as a community resource.  Close by is the 16th century 'Great House', which is currently rented out to long-term tenants. These buildings belong to the Bishop Low's Trust but are managed by St John's.

In 1805 St John’s Episcopal Chapel was built by Revd David Low, the then incumbent of Pittenweem and Crail, who largely led the revival of the Scottish Episcopalian Church.  He was later elected Bishop of Ross and Argyll, but remained the incumbent at Pittenweem, and thus technically St John’s Chapel was his cathedral. 

The building has been altered and extended over the years, but basically it is the same 19th century beautiful small stone building, which comfortably seats 75-80 in traditional wooden pews. Significant repairs have just been carried out to the outside of the building, and it is generally in a good state of repair.  There is disabled access and toilet. The sanctuary is decorated with fine oak carving from the 1920s by the famous architect Robert Lorimer. There are several 19th and 20th century fine memorial stained glass windows, and two new windows, designed by our then organist Ursula Ditchburn, were added in 2005 to commemorate the church's bi-centenary and the life of the local community. St John’s has a good sound system, and gas central heating..

The congregation of St John's is drawn from the East Neuk's coastal villages and agricultural hinterland and comes from a wide variety of backgounds..   

At our Sunday Eucharist we use the 1982 Scottish Liturgy. The usual time of service is 11.30am

We enjoy good relationship with other East Neuk Christian denominations and share services on special occasions.  The church is also visible in the community through our annual Summer Fayre, the coffee mornings we host twice a year, and our participation in the Pittenweem Arts Festival, which takes place every August, when the church is open 11.00-16.00 with a short service of meditation at 12.00.  The Gatehouse as well as the 'Undercroft' of the Great House are let as galleries to visiting artists.

St John's has organised a series of debates and talks on topical subject of general interest, open to all.  These have been very well attended, and it is hoped to organise 2-3 debates events every year.

The church is also the venue for concerts and lectures, .




When Elie and Earlsferry developed as a major holiday resort in the later years of the 19th century.. Summer Mission services were held from time to time, and in 1904 a series began in Earlsferry Town Hall.

It was built and services began early in the year; the formal dedication by the Bishop of St Andrews took place on 4 July 1905. The original donors, Mrs. Mary Outhwaite and Canon Christoper Bowstead are commemorated on a tablet in the church.

The church is representative of the early 20th century work of Spiers and Company iron foundry who were Glasgow’s foremost exponents of prefabricated building in Scotland during the period. Iron churches were available in various sizes and patterns and could be ordered from the company catalogues. Once relatively common, it is now unusual to find such a building being used for its intended purpose. The distinctive octagonal window is a feature repeated in similar churches by this company including “The Mill Shop”, Fort Augustus and the Church Hall at St. John’s Selkirk. The pointed-arch hood-moulded timber windows also add to the exterior interest.

Although damaged by fire in 1953, the extant interior scheme is noteworthy. It is a combination of saved and restored elements including the altar, desk and chair, lectern and various monuments, alongside bespoke later 20th century fabrics and furnishings to create a unified whole.

Manufactured in 1905, the building was moved a short distance from its original location near to the 6th hole of the Craigforth Golf Course to its current site, adjacent to the golf course, in 1923. Its relocation cost just under £400.




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