The history of the Church and the Kirkyard is well documented in an excellent book entitled 'The History of Elie Parish Church' by David Thomson. Copies can be obtained at the Church, or by mail from the Session Clerk (see contacts page).
The cost, including postage & packing, is £5.50. Please make cheques/postal orders payable to 'Elie Parish Church'.
The Church in Elie was built and endowed by William Scott of Ardross. It was opened for worship on 17th April 1639, and the Parish of Elie was disjoined from that of Kilconquhar on 11th September 1641. The steeple was not part of the original church: it was added by Sir John Anstruther in 1726.
Elie Church is one of many examples of T-plan buildings which were erected in Scotland in the 17th and 18th centuries. In these buildings we see the Reformed emphasis on the Preaching of the Word with the pulpit being the centrepiece in the middle of the long wall.
Two of the ministers in the first hundred years of Elie Church point us to the turmoil in the Scottish Church in earlier centuries. Robert Wemyss became Minister of Elie in 1649, but he was deprived of the living in 1662 and deposed in 1665 because he refused to accept Episcopacy, which had been re-introduced at the Restoration by Charles II. James Chalmers, who was Minister of Elie from 1701 to 1741, was the great-grandfather of Thomas Chalmers, one of the leaders of the Disruption in 1843.
After the Disruption in 1843 a congregation of the Free Church was established in Elie. The Free Church building stood in Bank Street on the site that became the car park for the former Golf Hotel and upon which a housing development was recently build. The Free Church was latterly known as Wood Memorial Church: this name was a tribute to the Revd. Walter Wood who was Minister of the Free Church from 1845 to 1882. The two churches were re-united on 5th June 1949, and Wood Memorial Church was demolished some years later when it was decided that the Old Parish Church should be the place of worship.
The Parish of Elie was once again linked with that of Kilconquhar when Elie Parish Church became linked with Kilconquhar and Colinsburgh Parish Church on 24th April 1977. From that date one minister has served the two parishes.
Many of the present features of Elie Church are not part of the original fabric.
The Pulpit, Communion Table and Chairs were presented in 1906 in memory of Mr. Archibald McDowell, a regular visitor to Elie who took a great interest in the Church. These furnishings are designed in the late Gothic style. A new Baptismal Font was introduced after the union of the churches in Elie, and in 1983 a pedestal Lectern was presented in memory of Mrs. Agnes Glasgow, whose generosity has provided for the maintenance of the fabric through the establishment of the Glasgow Trust for Elie Parish Church.
The stained glass windows on either side of the pulpit were gifted towards the end of the 19th century. The other windows in the east and west aisles and the window in the north gallery were originally in Wood Memorial Church. The window opposite the organ was added in 1983. The Walker Pipe Organ was gifted in 1965 and replaced an earlier instrument installed in 1906. In the west aisle there is a Memorial Tablet to James Horsburgh FRS, who was born in Elie in 1762 and served as Hydrographer to the East India Company. There is another plaque in his memory outside his house at 18 Bank Street.
The pair of Victorian street lamps either side of the main Church gates on the High Street were restored and gifted to the Community to mark the Golden Jubilee of HM The Queen in 2003. These lamps came originally from the railway station and were latterly used in the car park of the former Golf Hotel. They were purchased for preservation in October 2001, when the hotel closed.
Since Elie Church was built there has been a number of alterations, each of which has been designed to improve the fabric and the appearance of this place of worship. It stands today as a sanctuary for the residents of Elie and the many visitors to Elie - a place in which they come together Sunday by Sunday to worship God. Elie Parish Church is in this most important sense what it has always been - a place where the Word of God is proclaimed and the Name of God is praised.