2013-2017 Copyright © Kirkurd and Newlands Parish Church of Scotland | Scottish Charity Number SC011353

Kirkurd and Newlands Parish Church of Scotland

Romanno Bridge, West Linton, EH46 7BZ

The Story of Kirkurd Church

Kirkurd Church – Castlecraig

The Church of Orde was originally founded during the reign of Malcolm IV from the benevolence of the pious and the generous, as was the custom at that time. The settlement of this Church of Orde was established by charter in 1231 and the patron at that time was one Richard Gerryre. The Brethern were to possess for their own uses, and that of the poor, the Church, its lands, teinds, offerings and all other things pertaining to the Church on condition that they presented one of themselves a fit person to be a Priest.


Several patrons followed until 1640 when Queen Mary of Guilders founded the College and the Hospital of the Holy Trinity at Edinburgh. Kirkurd was annexed in this year. The revenues to be taken from Kirkurd were £49.9/- in this year, for the repair and upholding of the Collegiate Church, but the Secton was to be responsible for the upkeep of Kirkurd itself. This continues throughout the 15th and 16th centuries when can be read in the history of the Collegiate Churches of Midlothian, revenues recovered from Orde were: 1503 - £40; 1504 - £42; 1505 - £50.


During the 16th century Edinburgh Town Council acquired all the rights of the Trinity College, including Kirkurd, and this connection continued until 1720 when the administration of the College sold the patronage of the district for £400. The purchaser was James Geddes of Rachan, the then owner of the present Castlecraig estates. Thus the connection between this rural church and King Malcolm’s Foundation, renewed with that of Mary Guilders and latterly continued under Edinburgh Civic Corparation, was at an end.


The lands of Kirkurd belonging to James Geddes were sold in the 1750s to John Carmichael of Skirling who became the 4th Earl of Hyndford. On embarking on estate improvements, he decided the site of the church was not convenient and a site for a new church was found some half a mile to the West. The new (and present) church was built in 1766.


The only surviving structure of the old church is a roughly built cell, now for the most part covered with earth and tree roots. This measures internally 13ft 11ins from North to South and 13ft 9ins from East to West. It is covered by a pointed barrel-vault. The remains, which may be those of a burial aisle, are unlikely to belong to a period earlier than the 16th century.


A few tombstones are still to be seen in the old graveyard, one of which reads as follows:


Here lyes the Corpse of William Sibbald, Ladyurd, who died the 4th day of October, 1729, in his age 82 years and Marion Hodge his spouse who died the 28th February 1713. Her age 56 years with William Sibbald their son who died the 20th February 1719 and Marion Sibbald spouse to John Dickson their daughter who dies the 5th day of January 1722 both about the 23rd years of their lives.


Old William Sibbald’s conversation

Was a bright pattern in his station

Immortal virtues, pietie

He did excel in this degree

He never any did distress

Nor any him by law process

All his affairs he managed so

That few could say they did then know

For Temperance there were few such

Ne’er one could say he drank too much

He helped many in their need

He ready was the poor to feed

And now he reaps the fruit in store

And heavens joys for evermore.


Another tombstone reads:


In memory of John Dickson (late) in Corhead who died June 1747 aged 55 years. The grave is a store house that doth keep bodies of saint where they do sleep. Their souls are still employed in grateful praise and boundless love.


Kirkurd Church (new)

After the reformation and owing to the dearth of Ministers and to the poverty of the parishioners the three parishes of Kirkurd, Newlands and West Linton shared the same Minister. The first was Archibald Douglas who had all three parishes for 11 years (1574 – 1585); Kirkurd and Linton for 4 years (1585 – 1589) and Kirkurd alone for 27 years (1589 – 1616).


Ministers:

John Bennet – 1628

Alex Dickson – 1657

Tomas Gibson – 1779 (died 1787)

Rev James Moffat – 1787

Rev David Anderson – 1791

(In 1792 the Elders were: John Carrick, Bryland; James Aitken, Lochurd; Richard White Wright, Kirkurd; John Renwick, Schoolmaster)

(1843 Disruption and a Free Church formed at Blyth Bridge, uniting again in 1934 under Rev Federick Smithy)

Rev James Charteris – 1844

(Elders: Alexander Brown, Millside; James Palmer, Schoolmaster)

Thomas Gray – 1850

Rev John Milne – 1877

Rev T D Miller – 1880

(First minister to be freely elected – there is a brass tablet in the Church in memory of his son killed at the Dardanelles 1915).

In 1962 Kirkurd Church was linked to Newlands under the Rev Dr J A Williamson C.S.E.  D.D.

In 1966 there was a bicentenary service conducted by Rt Rev Selby Wright.

Rev R A Baigrie – 1971

Mr Baigrie served the Curch for 12 years in Aden and Madras, followed by 14 years in Harthill before coming to Newlands and Kirkurd. He took early retirement in 1985.

Rev T W Burt – 1985

Mr Burt served the Church in Zimbabwe before coming to the joint charges of Newlands and Kirkurd linked with West Linton and Carlops. This was a period of great change in the area and in 1985 Kirkurd Church was closed for public worship. In 1991, owing to the heavy maintenance costs involved and the start of vandalism, the decision was taken that the Church building be sold. This brings to an end, after about 750 years, a place for public worship in the Parish of Kirkurd.


Church Watch-House

Before leaving the church and its precincts we should look at a small one-apartment building dated 1828 which stands at the gates. It was used as a watch-house in the days of Burke and Hare after the notorious pair had exhumed the body of a coachman for illicit sale to the medical practitioners of Edinburgh. The small gate-house was also put to good charitable use for, when no longer needed as a watch-house, it was used for many years as an alms-house for the poor and destitute of the district. These were the days before the National Health Service and the poor of the districts were cared for by the Church, the necessary money coming from fees for proclamation of Banns, the dues for mort cloths and part of the weekly offerings. It was recalled by older inhabitants that the destitute were looked after in this small house and that it was also used as a mortuary for similar people. Latterly it has been used as a store and its tranquil surroundings completely belie the original conception of this haunt of villains and watchmen.


Ministers Buried at Kirkurd

Rev David Anderson – 1856

Rev Tomas Gibson – 1787

Rev Walter Paterson – Ordained 1837, died 1849

Rev Fred Smith – 1979


Kirkurd Manse

The Manse was built in 1788 and had a glebe of 19 acres. In October 1835 it was agreed that the Manse was too small and additions were to be made in the form of a drawing room and a bedroom with dripping closet. The garden was to be enclosed with a close paling of larch trees 5ft high and also to be provided were: a wooden water spout; a pump, a drain round the Manse and stables and a pighouse.


In 1856 extensive alterations to the Manse were planned and the Minister Rev T Gray was offered alternative accommodation at Dreva House. This was not suitable and instead Borland Cottage was secured, as long as the rent did not exceed £60. Cost of the work was as follows:

Mason Work - £236

Slater Work - £34.15/-

Plumber Work - £38.5/-

Plaster Work - £50

Painter Work - £8


In 1960 the Manse and 2 acres of ground were sold privately and it is now known as Kirkurd House.