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Castle Semple Collegiate Church

A Scheduled Monument in Johnstone North, Kilbarchan, Howwood and Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire

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Latitude: 55.8069 / 55°48'24"N

Longitude: -4.5935 / 4°35'36"W

OS Eastings: 237559

OS Northings: 660108

OS Grid: NS375601

Mapcode National: GBR 3C.70V7

Mapcode Global: WH3P9.D9WQ

Entry Name: Castle Semple Collegiate Church

Scheduled Date: 14 June 1935

Last Amended: 20 June 2002

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM90067

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: church

Location: Lochwinnoch

County: Renfrewshire

Electoral Ward: Johnstone North, Kilbarchan, Howwood and Lochwinnoch

Traditional County: Renfrewshire


The monument comprises the roofless remains of the collegiate church, with rubble walls standing to the height of the gables and wallhead, together with the land around the church. The monument is being rescheduled to extend protection to the area around the church (the original scheduling included only the church itself).

John, Lord Sempill, founded the church in 1504, in the grounds of his castle. It was served by a college of priests whose function was to pray for the souls of the founder and his family. The original building was a plain rectangle with a tower at the W end and a revestry projecting from the N side. Internally the choir was divided from the nave by a screen and rood loft supported on corbels.

A second loft rested on corbels at the W end of the nave. A number of original openings survive, including a pair of large traceried windows in the south elevation. Lord John was killed at Flodden in 1513 and following this event, the church was extended to the E to contain a burial monument for him and his wife. The polygonal apse was added at this time.

The plainness of much of the building is in sharp contrast to the flamboyant decoration seen in the tomb and in the late Gothic tracery in the windows of the apse. A carved stone, now lost, was noted within the church in the 19th century, apparently a cross-socket, which may have been used as a font.

While some accommodation may have been provided in the church and tower, it is probable that priests and officials of the college were housed in quarters provided for them close to the church. The buried remains of these buildings, along with the remains of a possible cemetery, are likely to exist in the area around the church.

Further doors and windows were added in the post-medieval period, probably related to the use of the church as farm buildings. Following this the interior was divided into three private burial places by two modern walls. The Ministry of Works removed most of these burial monuments during a campaign of restoration and consolidation around the time that the church was brought into Crown ownership in 1949. The Sempill vault was infilled at this time.

The area proposed for scheduling comprises the remains described, together with an area around the church within which related remains may be expected to survive. The area is irregular in plan with maximum dimensions of c.42m N-S by 62m E-W, as marked in red on the accompanying map extract. The modern fence is excluded from the scheduling.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as the well preserved remains of a collegiate church, under the patronage of one lordly family. The church contains one if the finest examples of a medieval burial monument in Scotland. The immediate surrounding area has the potential to provide important archaeological information regarding the infrastructure of such collegiate establishments, and an associated cemetery. The importance of the site is further reinforced by its status as a Property in Care of the Scottish Ministers.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



The monument is recorded in the RCAHMS as NS 36 SE 10.


Cowan, I. B. and Easson, D. E. (1976) 'Medieval religious houses, Scotland: with an appendix on the houses in the Isle of Man', London, 226, 2nd ed.

MacGibbon, D. and Ross, T. (1896-7) 'The ecclesiastical architecture of Scotland from the earliest Christian times to the seventeenth century'. 3v, Edinburgh, Vol. 3, 351-6.
Historic Environment Scotland Properties
Castle Semple Collegiate Church
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Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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