Notes continued from the History page
The choice of site, on the corner of Hepburn Gardens and Donaldson Gardens met with criticisms - it was too small (this did not affect the eventual plan), too far from the original parish (in fact, time proved it to be an inspired choice) and it would detract from the amenity of the West End (this was easily over-ruled).
The brief issued to the Architect, Dr Macgregor Chalmers, in March 1902 read "a church capable of affording comfortable accommodation for two thirds of the number of examinable persons in the parish ie for 480 persons, or thereby, to cost £3,750: to include, if practicable, the base of a tower to be afterwards completed if additional funds are procured and to contain provision for Organ Chamber, Vestry, Session Room, Choir Vestry - Ladies Room; the seats to be not less than 33" from back to front, and also that it is desirable that the arrangements be such that the Pulpit would be at the opposite end from the Vestry."
The limitations of the site decreed that, contrary to tradition, the major axis of the church (ie the direction of the nave) had to be north-south and that there was only space for one (west) aisle. The north ends of both the nave and the aisle terminate in apses. The focal point of the larger apse is the communion table and in the smaller apse is the font.
Macgregor Chalmers chose the Romanesque style because he not only considered it the most suitable for Presbyterian worship but also the most economic. Its keynote was simplicity. Its construction was uncomplicated - sturdy columns and plain arches, unadorned roof trusses supported on stone corbels.
Decoration was concentrated on a few selected areas. The stone came from the Nydie Quarry at Strathkinness about four miles west of St Andrews.
Originally the pews were to have been constructed of yellow pine but due to a private donation the extra cost of £109:6/- for Austrian oak was accepted and thus the pews match the Communion Table and the Pulpit. Only the font - white marble in Gothic style - brought from St Salvators, contrasts with the overall design.
When completed the church possessed only three small stained-glass windows (two in the larger apse, one in the smaller one). Today, a major feature of the church is that, due to private donations, all the windows are of stained-glass featuring many outstanding artists - Chilton, Holiday, Henrie, Kemp, Walker. (see foot of page)
Looking to the Nave from the side aisle
Regarding his original instructions, in 1903 the architect wrote to the Kirk Session that "there would be a considerable saving in cost if the work (the completion of the tower) is done now - the scaffolding is in place and the masons are on the ground with the material convenient." The additional cost of £538:8:10½ was pluckily accepted and the work proceeded. A month later the architect again wrote stating he was of the opinion that its appearance would be greatly improved if it were raised another 3 feet. The Kirk Session agreed the extra cost of £20 and so the tower stands today 64 feet high.
(The openings on the walls of the tower suggest that there may have been an intention to instal a bell at some point but it was not until 2004, the centenary of the building, that the Congregational Board decided to make the provision of a bell one of the targets of an appeal during the Centenary year)
The new church which was dedicated on 28th July 1904, cost £5,189:5:8d including fees.
Throughout the 20th century, alterations and additions have taken place - a hall and kitchen were added, a new Session House provided on an upper floor, also a new entrance, kitchen enlarged, new toilets and cloakroom; a new meeting room on upper floor.
All have been carefully introduced so as to preserve Macgregor Chalmers' original design which, in a letter of condolence to his widow in 1922, the Kirk Session described as "severity tempered by grace"
Notes compiled by Glen Pride
The St Leonard's Centenary History by Glen Pride gives a complete account of the history and architecture of St Leonard's and is on sale from the Church Office.
For a description and picture gallery of the Church's stained glass windows click on 'Stained glass' below or at the top of the page to lead to follow-up pages. Click on 'Renovations 2002' below for a page giving a brief description of the most recent alterations to the Church buildings.