Strageath / Strogeith Parish Church

Strageath Churchyard, 1

Summary description

Heavily overgrown fragments of this church survive in a small churchyard on the west bank of the River Earn at Strageath Mill.

Historical outline

Dedication: St Patrick

Nothing is known of the history of the parish and church of St Patrick of Strageath before its grant by Gillebrigte, earl of Strathearn, to the monastery of Inchaffray on the occasion of its refoundation in 1200 as an Augustinian priory.(1) At around the same date, Jonathan, bishop of Dunblane, confirmed the canons’ rights to the teind of the earl’s cain and rents from Strageath.(2) The church was amongst the properties confirmed to Inchaffray by Pope Innocent III in 1203 but the abbey had still not obtained full corporal possession by 1234.(3) That possession was gained by February 1239 as part of a vicarage settlement for the churches in the hands of Inchaffray confirmed by the dean and chapter of Dunblane.(4)   The settlement awarded the parsonage and most of the vicarage fruits to the canons, the cure apparently being served by a vicarage pensionary, with a further portion of the teinds being reserved for assigning to to the archdeaconry of Dunblane, which the bishop was in the process of erecting. Despite this settlement, the bishop and the canons were soon in dispute over the revenues of the church.

A settlement was to be enforced in 1248-50 but litigation appears to have dragged on down to the 1280s.(5) In 1287, a writ of Malise III, earl of Strathearn, narrated that when the vicarage of the church had fallen vacant on the death of Mr Richard of Stirling, Bishop William of Dunblane had, at the earl’s request, granted it to the earl’s chaplain, John of Legerwood.(6) Inchaffray had at once contested this grant on the grounds that the vicarage was in their hands, as had been conceded by previous bishops of Dunblane and confirmed by the diocesam chapter. Bishop William conceded the canons’ case, but they recognised the earl’s interest and themselves presented John of Legerwood to the vicarage. This vicarage, from the level of taxation recorded in Bagimond’s Roll, was apparently a vicarage perpetual rather than portionary.(7)

Bishop William’s concession of 1287 was clearly not the end of the matter, for in 1381 the canons sought papal confirmation of their possession of the parsonage and narrated in their letter how the right had been granted and confirmed to them by Bishop Walter of Dunblane (1361-71).(8) It has been proposed that what this confused situation represents is a sequence of events which had started with the settlement of 1248-50, by which the canons may have surrendered their right to the parsonage to the bishop but had perhaps retained the vicarage. This, too, they had lost at some date before the episcopate of Bishop Walter, who restored Inchaffray to part of the revenues. He, however, may have retained the parsonage and granted the vicarage to the canons,(9) the parsonage being annexed to the episcopal mensa at the time of the Reformation.(10) In 1419 the vicarage perpetual was in the hands of Michael Ochiltree, holder of the prebend of Monzie in Dunblane cathedral and petitions for the benefice in 1422 following his promotion to the see of Sodor make no mention of Inchaffray’s rights in the church.(11) It would seem that by that date Inchaffray had yielded its interest. The cure appears to have been served by a vicar pensioner at the Reformation.(12) In 1569-72, William Drummond was serving as minister for the parishes of Crieff, Strageath, Comrie, Monzievaird and Tullicheddill.(13)

As early as 1419 the location of the church within the parish had been a cause of difficulty for many of the parishioners, since it lay at the northern extremity of the territory which it served.(14) As consequence, it was claimed, many parishioners attended the church at Easter only and ‘many of them come like beasts and are utterly ignorant of the divince offices and mandates of the Church’, and that the distance they had to travel made them incapable of fasting on their way to and from services. The bishop, rector and vicar of the church petitioned that the pope would grant relaxation of forty days of penance for all parishioners who came to the church on Sundays and other feast days. They also requested a further indulgence for those who came to the church on thirteen specified feast days and made offerings. It was to be a further two centuries, however, before the problem of inconvenient location was resolved.

In 1617, an act of parliament was passed for the removal of the church from its medieval site to a new location at Blackford.(15) The reason given for the relocation of the church was that it was ‘built upon the neuk and utmost part of the parish’, far removed from the main centres of population within its bounds. It was reported that the parishioners themselves had built a new church for their own convenience in c.1593 and that they had attended that new building in Blackford rather than the old church at Strageath. In 1617 they had formally petitioned parliament for the removal of the status of parish church from Strageath and its award to the church of Blackford. The act confirmed that transfer and ordained that the whole parishioners should thereafter attend Blackford kirk. The old kirk of Strageath was abandoned thereafter, although its kirkyard was retained for burials by the inhabitants of the northern extremity of the parish.

Notes

1. Inchaffray Charters, no IX.

2. Inchaffray Charters, no X.

3. Inchaffray Charters, nos XXI, LXI.

4. Inchaffray Charters, no LXVII.

5. Inchaffray Charters, no LXXIX.

6. Inchaffray Charters, no CXVIII.

7. SHS Misc, vi, 54, 71.

8. Inchaffray Charters, no CXL.

9. Cowan, Parishes, 192.

10. Kirk (ed.), Book of Assumptions, 295, 348.

11. CSSR, i, 38-9, 298.

12. Cowan, Parishes, 192.

13. Donaldson (ed.), Thirds of Benefices, 250.

14. CSSR, i, 122.

15. RPS, 1617/5/49. Accessed: 7 January 2009.

Architectural description

The slight remains of this church, which was abandoned in 1617, are now barely visible within the heavily overgrown churchyard at Strageath Mill on the west bank of the River Earn. However, it is recorded as being a rubble-built oriented rectangular structure with dimensions of about 26 metres from east to west and 7.9 metres from north to south.

Bibliography

Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1418-22, 1934, ed. E.R. Lindsay and A.I. Cameron, (Scottish History Society) Edinburgh, 38-8, 298.

Charters, Bulls and other Documents relating to the Abbey of Inchaffray, 1908, (Scottish History Society), Edinburgh, nos IX, X, XXI, LXI, LXVII, LXXIX, CXVIII, CXL.

Cowan, I.B., 1967, The parishes of medieval Scotland, (Scottish Record Society), Edinburgh, 192.

Donaldson, G. 1949, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, (Scottish History Society), Edinburgh, 250.

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 54, 71.

Kirk, J., 1995, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, (British Academy) Oxford, 295, 348.

Records of the Parliaments of Scotland, ed. K. Brown et al.( digital editions of the acts of the pre-1707 Scottish Parliament, based at the University of St Andrews).

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

Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-9, ed. J. Sinclair, Edinburgh, viii (1793), 491.

Map

Images

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  • 1. Strageath Churchyard, 1

  • 2. Strageath Churchyard, monument

  • 3. Strageath Churchyard, 2