Today’s church is close to home …. in fact it was my home! This is St. Brycedale Church in Kirkcaldy, Scotland as viewed from the cemetery of the Old Kirk which is situated just over the road. The church is now called St. Bryce Kirk when the two churches joined together in November, 2000.
The Old Kirk is the oldest church in Kirkcaldy and is the Category B listed parish church, on Kirk Wynd. The earliest mention of the Old Kirk is the record of its consecration in 1244 to St Brisse and St Patrick by David de Bernham, Bishop of St Andrews. The building’s deterioration in the late eighteenth century resulted in major renovations in 1807. Only the square western tower, which dates from around 1500, was retained. In 2011 the Old Kirk was purchased by the Old Kirk Trust using a £75,000 loan from businessman John Sim, son of the late Reverend John Sim, minister of the church from 1960 to 1987.
The story of St. Brycedale Church begins in 1843 when the Disruption of the Church of Scotland took place. In conflict with the idea of patronage, where the landowner / local gentry choses the minister, large numbers of clergy and laity left the national church. The result in Kirkcaldy was the establishing of a Free Church in Tolbooth Street.
When the premises became too small for the energetic and expanding congregation it was decided to build a new Church. The site at the top of Kirk Wynd – “in open parkland on the outskirts of the town” – was donated by Provost Don Swan in 1876 and the new church was designed to seat 1150 people. Also included in the plans were a vestry, a ladies’ room, a young men’s hall to hold 150 and a Sunday School room to hold 300. The spire was to be 200 feet high. And the cost? An estimated £11,500.
The architecture was Gothic of the 13th century, the structure being built of Fordell stone with the inside walls of the Tower being built of a hard stone from Gallatown Quarry. In March 1881 the church was officially opened.
Since 1881 there have been only eight Ministers serving in St. Brycedale. The development of the “new” St Brycedale Church was the brainchild of the present Minister, the Rev. J. Kenneth Froude, centring on the recognition that the building was extravagantly large for the needs of the relatively small gathered downtown congregation who used it only once a week for just over an hour.
The old church has been divided in two, horizontally at the level of the gallery, creating a two-storey structure. The upper part is now the Sanctuary, still a very large church as can be seen in the inside view of the building. The lower part, at ground level, consists of two large and several smaller rooms, an open reception area and a coffee bar. These new facilities allow more flexible use of the premises. The Church Centre which is open all day, every day, for people of all ages – from toddlers to senior citizens – is used by many organisations and charities and the general public.