Pilrig Church first opened for public worship on 13 August 1843 in an unpretentious building, only the second to be opened in connection with the newly formed Free Church of Scotland.
The present building was constructed in 1861-1863 and opened by Rev. Dr. Thomas Guthrie on 12 February 1863. The building was designed by Peddie and Kinnear architects and is a lofty category A design in French gothic style, with a dramatic landmark spire (with chiming clock) on the junction of Leith Walk and Pilrig Street. The elaborately carved cream sandstone is particularly striking.
All but one of the windows in the church are early work by the later to be very famous Daniel Cottier. They are non-figurative painted and coloured glass which make a fabulous effect in the building and are considered by art experts to be extremely important in showing Cottier's early development as an artist.
The building was damaged by fire in 1892 which broke out under the vestry and unfortunately the blue ceiling with gilt stars (possibly also by Cottier) was ruined and the pine woodwork had to be darkened.
A pipe organ was installed by Forster and Andrews in 1903 partly funded by the Scottish philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The organ was recently awarded a Historic Organ Certificate by the British Institute of Organ Studies, recognising the qualities of the organ and its unaltered tonal condition.
With the union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church of Scotland in 1929, Pilrig joined the new Church of Scotland. In 1950 the congregations of Pilrig and Dalmeny Street churches were united in the Pilrig Buildings and the charge of Edinburgh: Pilrig & Dalmeny Street was born. In February 1999 there was a further union between Pilrig & Dalmeny St. and Leith: St. Paul's to form the congregation of Edinburgh: Pilrig St. Paul's.
Fuller information about the church can be found in
The Kirk at Pilrig written by Dr. Stuart W. Sime (ISBN 09522867)