St John's Methodist Church, Arbroath

St John's Methodist Church, on Ponderlaw Street, Arbroath, Scotland, was founded by John Wesley on 6 May 1772.[1] The nave is octagonal and the church has been nicknamed Totum Kirkie from 'totum', an eight-sided spinning top, and 'kirk', the Scottish word for church. It is a listed building and the second-oldest[2] Methodist church in Scotland.

St John's Methodist Church
Arbroath St. John's Methodist Church 2.jpg
St John's Methodist Church is located in Angus
St John's Methodist Church
St John's Methodist Church
Location of St John's Methodist Church in Angus
56°33′36.8″N 2°34′43″W / 56.560222°N 2.57861°W / 56.560222; -2.57861Coordinates: 56°33′36.8″N 2°34′43″W / 56.560222°N 2.57861°W / 56.560222; -2.57861
OS grid referenceNO645410
LocationArbroath, Scotland
CountryUnited Kingdom
Founded6 May 1772
Founder(s)John Wesley
Heritage designationCategory B
Designated11 October 1971


St John's is an octagonal church — a style that was preferred by John Wesley.[3][4] The interior of the church has not been altered; however, the church was extended in 1882 when a porch and gallery were added. A church hall was built in 1896.[5] The Lifeboat Window is a memorial to the loss of the RNLI lifeboat Robert Lindsay (ON 874) and six crew members in 1953.

The building became a Category B listed building on 11 October 1971.[2]


The Church's former manse, now Wesley House, located next door, is also a listed building.[6] It was built as a single-storey building in 1772; an upper storey was added in 1869.[3]

George Scott Railton (1849 – 1913), the first Commissioner of The Salvation Army and second in command to its founder William Booth,[7][8] was born in the manse. He was the son of Methodist missionaries, Lancelot Railton and his wife, Margaret Scott.[9] A blue plaque marks his birthplace.


Archives relating to the church are held by Archive Services University of Dundee as part of the Arbroath and Montrose Methodist Circuit Collection.[10][11]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "St John's Methodist Church, Arbroath". Scotland's Churches Trust. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  2. ^ a b Historic Environment Scotland. "St. John's Methodist Church, 15 Ponderlaw Street (Category B Listed Building) (LB21147)". Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Arbroath Octagonal Chapel". Methodist Heritage. Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  4. ^ Serjeant, Ian. "Historic Methodist Architecture and its Protection". Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  5. ^ "St John's Methodist Church, Arbroath". Scottish Church Heritage Research. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  6. ^ Historic Environment Scotland. "Wesley House, Ponderlaw Street (Category C Listed Building) (LB21148)". Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  7. ^ Railton on the Salvation Army International Heritage Centre website
  8. ^ 'The General: William Booth' By David Malcolm Bennett, Contributor: David Malcolm Bennett Published by Xulon Press (2003) pg 96 ISBN 1-59467-206-7
  9. ^ Elizabeth Baigent, ‘Railton, David (1884–1955)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2005
  10. ^ "Arbroath and Montrose Methodist Circuit". University of Dundee. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
  11. ^ "MS 26 Methodist Church, Arbroath and Montrose". Archive Services Online Catalogue. University of Dundee. Retrieved 8 April 2013.

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