Lude Parish Church

Lude Church, exterior, from south west

Summary description

The remains of this small rectangular church stand in remote moorland, on the west bank of the Fender Burn.

Historical outline

Dedication: unknown

No record survives of the church of Lude before its listing in 1274 as a free parsonage in Bagimond’s Roll.(1) It remained a free parsonage, possibly in the patronage of the Robertsons of Lude, throughout the medieval period and was still unappropriated at the Reformation.(2) At that date it was noted that the parson had just died and that the church was served by a curate. It is likely that in the Middle Ages the parsonage of the church was held in a personal union by one of the lesser members of the cathedral establishment at Dunkeld. In the early sixteenth century, for example, Alexander Myln recorded that sir John Martyne, rector of Lude, a priest born in Dunkeld, was a chaplain in the choir there.(3)

Notes

1. SHS Misc, vi, 47, 73.

2. Kirk (ed.), Book of Assumptions, 319.

3. Myln, Vitae.

Architectural description

The church was absorbed into the parish of Blair at a date before 1632, and it presumably passed out of use after then. Its remains occupy a remote moorland site that is now only accessible with some difficulty; however, a survey of 1808, which describes it as being ‘in ruins’ shows a larger number of surrounding dwellings than is currently evident, together with a network of trackways, reminding us that there had once been more of a sttlement here. By 1830 it was said that the roof of the church had gone but that the walls were largely intact. The current situation is that the south wall survives largely complete, as does the west wall to the base of the gable; the east gable of the main body of the church was partly dismantled by the landowner in 1990, and it seems that the north wall may have been increased in height with the demolished material at that time.

The upstanding part of the church is a rectangle of 9.2 metres from east to west and of 6.32 metres from north to south, with walls of about 83 centimetres in thickness; it is built throughout of grey rubble with very little use of dressings. There is a roughly formed doorway opening towards the west end of the south wall, with two similarly roughly formed lintelled and internally splayed windows further east in that wall. Before its partial demolition the east wall had evidently had an opening of some form that rose into the lower part of the gable, and within the gable itself was a small square window. The interior is now heavily overgrown, and the only feature that is visible is a small square aumbry towards the east end of the north wall.

The main question that must be asked about the church is whether it was a one- or two-compartment structure. East of the main body are the tumbled lower walls of a structure that appears to be axially aligned with the main body of the church and that has dimensions of approximately 5.1 metres from east to west and 5.66 metres from north to south. The most obvious interpretation of this eastern part is that it was a chancel and that the church was therefore a two-compartment structure. However, against that, there is no evidence of the north and south walls of the eastern compartment having been bonded into the east wall of the main body of the church, while the opening in that wall appears more likely to have been a window than a chancel arch, since, although parts of what is seen are likely to be a rebuilding of 1990, there seems always to have been masonry in the lower part of the opening. Beyond that, the presence of an aumbry in the north wall is perhaps more consistent with the interpretation that the chancel was within the existing building. 

It would thus appear more likely that the medieval church was a small single-compartment structure, and that the fragmentary remains to the east represent a secondary addition that was spatially distinct from the church itself. That use might perhaps have been as a post-Reformation family aisle or as a vestry, or it may simply have been built as an ancillary agricultural structure after the church had passed out of use for worship. There could be no certainty on this without fuller investigation.

Bibliography

Cowan, I.B., 1967, The parishes of medieval Scotland, (Scottish Record Society), Edinburgh, 140.

Dunlop, A.I., 1939, ‘Bagimond’s Roll, statement of the tenths of the kingdom of Scotland’, Miscellany of the Scottish History Society, vi, 1-77, at 47-73.

Kirk, J., 1995, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, (British Academy) Oxford, 319.

Kerr, J., 1998, Church and social history of Atholl, Perth, 27-29.

New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1845, Edinburgh and London, x, 573.

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Canmore database.

Vitae Dunkeldensis Ecclesiae Episcoporum…Ad Annum Mdxv, 1823, ed. T. Thomson, (Bannatyne Club), Edinburgh.

Map

Images

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  • 1. Lude Church, exterior, from south west

  • 2. Lude Church, plan

  • 3. Lude Church, inetrior, north wall, aumbry

  • 4. Lude Church, interior, looking east

  • 5. Lude Church, exterior, footings to east

  • 6. Lude Church, exterior, south wall, windows

  • 7. Lude Church, exterior, from south east

  • 8. Lude Church, exterior, from north west

  • 9. Lude Church, exterior, from north