Paisley Abbey and the Place of Paisley are the oldest remaining buildings in Paisley, dating back to the twelfth century. Their long and fascinating history is an important part of the town’s heritage.

In addition to having an active congregation, the Abbey also serves as an ecumenical and inter-faith focus for the town. It is a home for many members of the local community, from youth groups to concert-goers and adult support groups. It is a major attraction for tourists from Scotland, the UK and abroad with an estimated 50,000 visitors per annum. It is also an important landmark at the centre of the town, dear to the hearts of the local community.

The need for investment

The Abbey now proposes to invest in new and upgraded visitor facilities. This is not just about generating financial income: it is also about strengthening the role of the Abbey and the Place in the life of Paisley.

In February 2010, the Abbey announced that it was commissioning award-winning conservation architects Simpson and Brown to draw up plans for the re-building of the fourth cloister. This will create a new entrance, visitor facilities, café, shop and public hall, together with refurbishment of the Place of Paisley to provide historical interpretation, better facilities and a luxury apartment for letting. These changes will allow the Abbey to accommodate greater numbers of visitors from near and far.

Conservative estimates show that these additional facilities will also secure the financial future of the Abbey.

An inspirational new space for the whole community

The aim is not only to fulfil the requirements of the Abbey, but also to create an inspirational new public space which the local community as a whole can use, share and of which it can feel proud.

The Abbey wishes to respect and conserve the Abbey and Place as special places – in terms of their religious, architectural and historical significance – and to build an extension of the best architectural quality.

Aspirations are high. This is a huge opportunity for Paisley. The Abbey wishes to create something which is open and welcoming to all the people of Paisley – something of which Paisley will be proud, and which will be of international quality.

The aim is to complete the capital works by St Mirin’s Day, September 15th 2013: the 850th anniversary of the founding of the Abbey.


The Minister of Paisley Abbey, the Reverend Alan Birss, says:

“As minister, I am very excited about the proposed development. We have a long tradition in the Abbey of welcoming pilgrims and visitors and of serving the parish and community around the Abbey. This development, when completed, will greatly enhance our work in these areas and reaffirm for a new generation the Abbey’s central place in the life of the whole community. Our hope is that the new and upgraded facilities will enable visitor and local resident alike to feel ‘at home’ in the Abbey and confirm that, in a real sense, the Abbey ‘belongs’ to all.”

The project will enable the heritage asset of the Place and Abbey to make a greater contribution to the cultural life of Paisley and Renfrewshire’s economy. Creating better facilities for visitors and local people alike, with improved facilities and interpretation, will benefit the town by adding to its draw as a destination (part of a wider strategy with Renfrewshire Council and the Paisley Vision Board). The new facilities will also enable more events and activities to take place in the wonderful setting of the Abbey and the Place, from concerts to conferences and community group meetings. Visitors, residents and local businesses will all benefit.

Architecturally, the proposal will introduce a valuable 21st century addition to the built heritage of the Abbey and Place. Each previous century has contributed to the buildings we now see. This new addition will be a confident symbol of the strength of Paisley’s pride in itself, and in its history.

Fundraising target

The Abbey is now launching its fundraising campaign. £2 million is the target.

Every donation, small or large, is a valuable contribution.

To donate or simply find out more, please visit or contact the Minister, Reverend Alan Birss (t 0141 889 7654, e

For further information

Please see attached leaflet with outline design and/or contact:

Rev. Alan D. Birss (Minister of Paisley Abbey)
Paisley Abbey
Abbey Close
tel: 0141 889 7654

Abbey flyer 30 march 2011b