Findo Gask / Gask / Gasknes / Negask / Nesgask Parish Church

Summary description

Nothing remains of the medieval parish church, the site of which is now occupied by an estate chapel built in 1845-6 and designed for Episcopal worship.

Historical outline

Dedication: unknown/St Findoca?

Possession of the lands of Findogask fell in the late twelfth century into the hands of the de Quincy family through the marriage of Robert de Quincy to Orabilis, daughter of Ness, son of William, lord of Leuchars.(1) Probably shortly after his inheritance of the lands and lordship of Leuchars in 1197 their son, Saer de Quincy, later first earl of Winchester, granted the church of Findogask to the Hospital of St James and St John at Brackley in Northamptonshire,(2) a community which benefited substantially from de Quincy patronage. Although the Hospital’s possession of the church was confirmed by King Alexander II between 1215 and 1220,(3) the brethren’s rights to certain teinds from the parish were challenged by the canons of Inchaffray, who held the neighbouring church of Gask Christi or Trinity Gask. In 1238, in return for an annual pension of one merk to be paid by the brethren of Brackley to the canons of Inchaffray, the canons quitclaimed any rights which they had to the disputed teinds.(4) No record survives of any vicarage settlement and it is likely that both the parsonage and the vicarage had been appropriated to the Hospital since the time of the church’s first grant to Brackley.(5) This position was confirmed in 1266 when Brackley leased its rights to Robert, bishop of Dunblane, for a term of five years at a rent of 24 merks per annum, with the right to renew the lease if he wished at the end of the five years and at five-yearly intervals thereafter.(6) It was agreed that if the bishop died or resigned during the term of the lease, the church would revert to the Hospital, and that if the incumbent vicar were to die during the bishop’s possession they could present a suitable candidate to the vicarage. For his part, the bishop was liable for payment of the pension that had been agreed with the canons of Inchaffray, which by 1266 was set at 20 shillings rather than the one merk of the 1238 settlement, and he was also to pay the vicar two merks annually. From this arrangement, it is apparent that the cure was already a vicarage pensionary in 1266, with all other parsonage and vicarage revenues falling initially to the hospital and then to the bishop as lessee. It appears that the leasing arrangement continued after Bishop Robert’s death in 1284 as a convenient means for the hospital to secure an income from what was otherwise a remote and isolated portion of its property. 

Brackley’s possession of Findogask became impractical as a consequence of the Anglo-Scottish wars after 1296 but there is no surviving evidence of a formal dissolution of the union. In April 1358, Nicholas of Kinbuck, archdeacon of Dunblane, attested that he and his successors as archdeacon were burdened with the obligation of paying 20 shillings annually to the canons of Inchaffray.(7) It appears from this agreement that by that date the vicarage of Findogask had been annexed to the archdeacon’s prebend, as it remained at the time of the Reformation.(8) At the Reformation, the parsonage was recorded as an annexe of the episcopal mensa but it is probable that the revenues had been appropriated to the bishops since the time of the original lease from Brackley in 1266.(9)

Notes

1. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Quincy, Saer de.

2. Inchaffray Charters, appendix, no IVa.

3. Inchaffray Charters, appendix, no IVb.

4. Inchaffray Charters, no LXIV.

5. This full appropriation from the time of its grant to Brackley may account for the single figure given for the ‘church of Nesgask’ in Bagimond’s Roll (SHS Misc, vi, 71), a manner of expression otherwise used where the church was still a free parsonage at the time of the taxation.

6. Inchaffray Charters, appendix, no IV.

7. Inchaffray Charters, no CXXXII.

8.Donaldson (ed.), Thirds of Benefices, 15 n.1.

9. Cowan, Parishes, 66; Kirk (ed.), Book of Assumptions, 295, 348.

NOTE: photography was not permitted at this site.

Architectural description

Gask was the original location of the Early Christian cross slab known as the Bore Stone of Gask, which was moved to Moncreiffe House in about 1900. It seems doubtful, however, that the cross slab was associated with the medieval church site, since accounts of its previous location suggest it was rather more than two kilometres to the east.

The site of Findo Gask Parish Church is on what is now private land within the policies of Gask House. The medieval church was presumably demolished when a new church was built in 1800-1 to the designs by Richard Crichton, in a location about 1.75 kilometres to its north-east. In those same years Crichton was building an elegant new house for the Oliphants of Gask, and the replacement church was presumably part of a plan to permit the creation of more extensive and more fully enclosed policies around the house. The memorials in the graveyard were allowed to remain in place, perhaps as an object for Romantic contemplation as well as out of respect for the family’s ancestors. In 1845 the decision was taken to build a new chapel for Episcopal worship within the churchyard, almost certainly on the site of the old church. Designed by James Gillespie Graham in a slightly Gothicised variant on Romanesque, this new chapel presumably destroyed any remaining evidence for the medieval parish church.

Bibliography

Charters, Bulls and other Documents relating to the Abbey of Inchaffray, 1908, (Scottish History Society), Edinburgh, nos IV, LXIV app. IV, CXXXII.

Cowan, I.B., 1967, The parishes of medieval Scotland, (Scottish Record Society), Edinburgh, 66.

Donaldson, G., 1949, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, (Scottish History Society), Edinburgh, 15 n. 1.

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 71.

Gifford, J., 2007, The Buildings of Scotland, Perth and Kinross, New Haven and London, 382.

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

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

Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-9, ed. J. Sinclair, Edinburgh, xi (1794), 239.

Map

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