Kippen Parish Church

Kippen Old Church, exterior, west wall, from south east

Summary description

The west gable and short sections of the north and south walls of what may have been the medieval church were retained as part of the burial enclosure of the Galbraith of Blackhouse family, and there are slight traces of the eastward continuation of the side walls.

Historical outline

Dedication: unknown

The earliest surviving reference to this church dates from 1238. As part of the resolution of a dispute between Bishop Clement of Dunblane and Walter Comyn, earl of Menteith, over the bishop’s rights in the churches which lay in the earl’s patronage, Earl Walter agreed to grant the church of Kippen to support a perpetual canonry or prebend in Dunblane cathedral. The earl was to retain the right of presentation.(1) The church, however, appears in Bagimond’s Roll still to have been a free parsonage in 1274-5.(2) In c.1286, Earl Walter Stewart of Menteith, with the assent of his son and heir, Alexander, granted the church and the right of presentation to the canons of Cambuskenneth.(3) It is unlikely that they would have made this award had the 1238 settlement been instituted and it seems that for some reason the annexation of the church to a prebend of Dunblane had been unsuccessful. The grant to Cambuskenneth, however, may have revived the interest of the bishop of Dunblane in the church, for the award to the abbey seems to have been ineffective.

That the bishop had been at least partly successful in securing the revenues of Kippen for a prebend in his cathedral emerges in 1423.(4) It is seems, however, that only the parsonage had been annexed for the cure was served in the 1440s by a vicar perpetual.(5) Cambuskenneth, however, retained a claim founded on the grant by Earl Walter Stewart. In 1496, King James IV, as patron of Kippen, re-granted the church with parsonage and vicarage teinds to Cambuskenneth, the grant to become effective on the death, resignation or demission of the incumbent, Master John Malyson, who was styled simply as rector.(6) This award triggered a protracted dispute which was settled only in 1510/11.

In July 1510, Andrew, abbot of Cambuskenneth, and John Rannaldson, canon of Cambuskenneth, as representatives of the convent, took symbolic possession of the rectory of Kippen by receiving the altar book, chalice and other ornaments at the high altar of the church from Master Patrick Coventry, who apparently held the rectory before that date.(7) The following March, the bishop finally agreed to a settlement which narrated the claims of both parties to the church.(8) Cambuskenneth asserted their right by virtue of the king’s charter of 1496 while the bishop stated that the church was a canonry and prebend of Dunblane in his gift and that the king’s grant was without force as he could not diminish the number of prebends in the cathedral. The bishop also pointed out that as the abbots of Cambuskenneth were already canons of Dunblane by virtue of the church of Kincardine in Menteith, they could not lawfully hold simultaneously two canonries and prebends in the same cathedral. The compromise reached was that the abbey would have the parsonage, while the vicarage plus an additional £20 from the parsonage teinds was annexed as a prebend in the cathedral. At some date subsequent to this, the vicarage of Dunning appears to have been annexed to the prebend for a period, the union however, being purely personal and apparently dissolved on the death of John Hummill.(9) The settlement was successful, the division remaining in force at the Reformation with the parochial cure being served by a curate.(10) In 1561/2, £4 from the vicarage of Kippen was recorded as being paid for the support of the nine chaplainries in the choir of Dunblane cathedral.(11)


1. Fraser, Menteith, ii, 326.

2. SHS Misc, vi, 54. But see Cowan, Parishes, 116.

3. Cambuskenneth Registrum, no 129.

4. CPL, vii, 252-3; CPL, viii, 438.

5. CSSR, iv, no 1172.

6. Cambuskenneth Registrum, no 129.

7. Cambuskenneth Registrum, nos 128, 130; RSS, i, no 2233.

8. Cambuskenneth Registrum, no 130.

9. RSS, v, pt.ii, nos .2743, 3155.

10. Cowan, Parishes, 117; Donaldson (ed.), Thirds of Benefices, 17.

11. Kirk (ed.), Book of Assumptions, 343.

Architectural analysis

It has been suggested by some local historians that the site of the medieval parish church of Kippen was at Keir Hill of Dasher, at NS 6529 9511, close to St Mauvais’ Well and the seat of the Grahams of Bucklyvie at Dasher. That is a possibility that cannot be ruled out, though there are no discernible traces of either a church or churchyard in that area, and on balance it appears likely that by the later middle ages, if not before, the church was at NS 6517 9484, at the east end of the village. In the section of the Statistical Account, published in 1796, it was said that the church there was thought to have been ‘built or rebuilt’ in 1691, and that its east end was again rebuilt in 1737. The structure was once more repaired in 1777-8, at which time it was augmented by a lateral aisle, this work being done under the supervision of the wright William Thomas.

The building is now a fragmentary ruin, having been replaced by a new church built to the designs of William Stirling a short distance away in 1823-7, and it is difficult to be certain of the date of what remains visible. The most complete part is the crowstepped west gable surmounted by a bellcote that houses a bell dated 1618 but recast in 1726, together with short stretches of the adjoining north and south walls. These were retained as the setting for the Galbraith of Blackhouse burial enclosure, with a new four-centred-arched doorway giving access to the enclosure through the south wall, all of this presumably being done around the 1820s when the church was abandoned for worship.

It is true that there is nothing in what is to be seen that might be thought certain to be of an earlier date than 1691. However, taking account of the relatively precise orientation of the remains, together with a width from north to south of 7.63 metres and a probable length of about 23.5 metres, it must be seen as a possibility that the plan of the church of around 1691 had taken a lead from a medieval predecessor, and might incorporate some of its fabric.


Calendar of entries in the Papal registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland; Papal letters, 1893-, ed. W.H. Bliss, London, vii, 252-3; viii, 438

Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1433-47, 1983, ed. A.I. Dunlop and D MacLauchlan, Glasgow, no 1172.

Chrystal, W, 1903, The kingdom of Kippen, its history and traditions, Stirling, 107-15.

Cowan, I.B., 1967, The parishes of medieval Scotland, (Scottish Record Society), Edinburgh, 117.

Donaldson, G. 1949, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, (Scottish History Society), Edinburgh, 17.

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.

Fraser, W., 1880, The Red Book of Menteith, Edinburgh, ii, 326.

Gifford, J. and Walker, F.A., 2002, The Buildings of Scotland, Stirling and Central Scotland, New Haven and London, 559.

Kirk, J., 1995, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, (British Academy) Oxford, 343.

New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1845, Edinburgh and London, viii, 270.

Registrum Secreti Sigilli Regum Scotorum, 1908-82, ed. J.M. Thomson et al., Edinburgh, i, no 2233.

Registrum Secreti Sigilli Regum Scotorum, 1908-82, ed. J.M. Thomson et al., Edinburgh, v pt ii no 2743, 3155.

Registrum monasterii S. Marie de Cambuskenneth, 1872, ed. W. Fraser, (Grampian Club), Edinburgh, nos 128, 129, 130, 131.

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

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, 1963, Inventory of Stirlingshire, Edinburgh, 170.

Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-9, ed. J. Sinclair, Edinburgh, xviii (1796), 115, 337.



Click on any thumbnail to open the image gallery and slideshow.

  • 1. Kippen Old Church, exterior, west wall, from south east

  • 2. Kippen, Keir Hill of Dasher

  • 3. Kippen Old Church, interior, west wall

  • 4. Kippen Old Church, exterior, west wall, from south west