Castle Semple Collegiate Church (c) Philip Halling
Castle Semple Collegiate Church

Castle Semple Collegiate Church is a late medieval building in Gothic style, founded in 1504 by John, Lord Semple. Lord John was killed at the Battle of Flodden in 1513, and his son added a triangular apse to the church to make space for his father's elaborate memorial. The memorial is now gone and the chapel is an empty, evocative shell.

The chapel was probably created by rebuilding an existing structure, perhaps an earlier castle chapel.

Sir John provided lands with enough income to support a college of six chaplains under a provost, with a sacristan and two choir boys. The residential buildings for the college members are likely lost underground in the area immediately surrounding the chapel.

The sole purpose of the college was to say mass for the souls of the founder and his family. The prayers were thought to help the speedy passage of the family's souls through purgatory and into heaven.

The roofless church measures just over 71 feet x 24'3" wide, with a striking square tower at the west end. The interior of the church is divided into three sections to create separate burial places. It seems likely that the building was used as a farm building after it ceased to be used for worship.

A short distance away is the RSPB reserve at the south end of Castle Semple Loch.