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 i.e. 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 (i.e. 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)
Renovations to the Church and Hall took place in St Leonard’s between April and December 2002. In addition to new toilets and improved access for the disabled, structural alterations have made a more spacious Main Entrance area to the Church. In the picture, the area guarded by a handrail to the left of the three low steps is a ramp giving access to the hall for wheelchairs. In the Church Hall (pictured below right) a new floor has been laid, glass-paneled doors fitted, and an upper floor over part of the hall has been constructed which gives more meeting room and office space. A new door between the Sanctuary and the Hall now provides an alternative fire escape route and allows easier access to the Church from the rear entrance. The lighting and heating systems have been greatly improved in all areas and the kitchen area has been modernised.
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