Ballingry Parish Church

Ballingry Church, exterior, from west

Summary description

Largely rebuilt in 1830-31, probably partly on the site of the medieval church. An aisle of 1661 was incorporated, and it was further enlarged in 1964-6.

Historical outline

Dedication: unknown

No evidence has been found to support the statement that Ballingry was a chapel of Auchterderran in the thirteenth century,(1) but the absence of any references to a church of Ballingry before the fifteenth century does suggest that it had earlier been a pendicle of a mother-church and secured full parochial status at a relatively (but unknown) late date. 

It first appears as an independent parish church in a surviving source in a papal supplication dated 28 July 1424, when the incumbent rector, William Masterton, proposed to resign his benefice – valued at 20 merks - in favour of his son, John, described as the son of a priest and an unmarried woman.(2)  That Auchterderran was likewise a free parsonage at this date provides further circumstantial evidence for its possible separation from a larger parish, as it was rare for possessors of appropriated parishes to permit any division which would result in a diminution of their resources from the appropriated parish.

The church was still a free parsonage in March 1461, when it was described as being in the patronage of the parents of the demitting incumbent, Henry Cockburn, with one Robert Forrester seeking provision to it.(3)  By December that year, however, it appears to have been united as a prebend to the Chapel Royal of St Mary on the Rock at St Andrews, valued at £13 and held by one John Tyrie.(4)  No record of its annexation to St Mary on the Rock survives. 

At the time of the Reformation, it emerges that both parsonage and vicarage, then valued at £100, had been annexed to support the prebend, and that the cure had been served by a vicar pensioner, Mr Alexander Wardlaw, whose income comprised of the produce of 1 acre of land in glebe extending to 13s 4d and £8 money.(5)

Notes

1. I B Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society, 1967), 12.  Cowan’s source, H Scott, Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, viii (Edinburgh, 1950), 416, simply makes that assertion without reference to any medieval record.

2. Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, ii, 1423-1428, ed A I Dunlop (Scottish History Society, 1956), 69.

3. Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, v, 1447-1471, eds J Kirk, R J Tanner and A I Dunlop (Glasgow, 1997), no.833 [hereafter CSSR, v].

4.CSSR, v, no.881.

5. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption on the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 76, 86.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: Chapel of Auchterderran in 13th century, parochial by 1461 when prebend of Collegiate church of St Mary’s, St Andrews. Cure served by a vicar pensioner.(1)

Place Names of Fife and Mackinlay have no reference to dedication.(2)

1424 William de Masterton, resigns parish church in favour of John de Masterton (seeks dispensation as John is his son), value 20 marks.(3)

1461 Competition between Robert Forrester and John Tyre over the prebend of Ballingry following the promotion of previous holder, Henry Cockburn, value £13. Tyre described as holding prebend by 1462.(4)

1513 (27 Jan) Vicar of Ballingry, John Tyrie is one of the recipients of prayers in a charter by Alexander Tyrie, dead 24 Nov 1525.(5), burgess of Perth, founding two chaplainries in honour of St Clement and Christopher the Martyr at the altar of St Clement in the parish church of Perth and granting thereto certain tenements in the Northgate, Watergate.(6)

1525 (20 Oct) Still vicar when mentioned in, and witness to, a further charter by Alexander Tyrie in Perth.(7)

1549 James Stannis collated to vicar pensionary of Ballingry, presented by Archbishop of St Andrews.(8)

1556 (22 July) James Wardlaw, son of Henry Wardlaw of Torry, instituted to farm the garbal teinds of the church, vicar of church.(9)

1557 (10 Mar) Alexander Wardlaw, rector of Ballingry witnesses a charter in the town of Leslie.(10)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church parsonage and vicarage with St Mary’s, St Andrews, valued at £100. Vicarage pensionary held by Alexander Wardlaw, paid £8 13s 4d.(11) Third of vicarage pensionary £2 17s 4d. Third of parsonage and vicarage £ 33 6s 8d.(12)

1561(2-16 July) During a return visitation of the church by John Winram, (superintendent of Fife Presbytery) the incumbent Alexander Wardlaw was accused of failing to properly minister to the parish and was temporarily replaced by Peter Watson. However, Alexander intervened and  refused to allow Watson to carry out his duties (Peter later accused Alexander of using weapons to keep him out of the church). Winram held a meeting on 2 July to check if the church had been repaired, conforming with the orders made during his previous visitation, with the expenses of the work split between the parish and the teinds. The following day (3 July) John held a further consultation over the repair work with the Laird of Torrie, relatives of Alex Wardlaw and other heritors (Barte Muirson, Thomas Lodean and David Ramsay). 30 July the court in SA passed judgement on Alexander, he was ordered to publicly confess his faults in SA and at the church of Ballingry on certain specified days and was then allowed to resume his ministry.(13)

1630 (15 Apr) Record of the stipends of ministers in the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, the minister gets 500 marks pa.(14)

1636 (2 June) Report on the visitation of Ballingry by the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy reports that the earls of Rothes and of Wemyss are both the main heritors. Visit finds that a schoolmaster is needed and a stent of 100 marks pa to pay for it. The earl of Wemyss requested a seat in the church.(15)

1640 (2 Apr) Visitation of Ballingry finds the minister to be competent (David Anderson) but due to his age and infirmity the earl of Rothes (the patron) is prepared to provide a helper.(16)

1642 (22 June) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy orders the elders to ‘repair their kirk with all expedience’.(17)

1646 (6 Aug) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy finds several parishioners, led by James Strangeor, complaining about the minister (Robert Bruce) accusing him of having a ‘weak memory and slow gift’. The minister in turn accuses James of being ‘often drunk’. The brethren support the minister and admonish James.(18)

1677 (8 Aug) The Presbytery of Kirkcaldy reports that (during a visitation) ‘perceiving the fabric of the kirk to be ruinous for the present, the slates being altogether off the south side of the roof, and did enact that the heritors with all expedience shall go about the repair of the kirk- also the kirk yard dykes are not finished.(19)

1705 (12 July) Visitation of the church asks whether a door could be put into the wall near the pulpit. They also note that the kirk yard dykees need repair at a cost of 50 marks.(20)

1706 (16 July) The roof of the church needed mending again and also the kirkyard dykes. In 1713 a large quantity of sand and lime was ordered for the roof of the kirk and on several subsequent occasions suggesting that the church needed regular ‘pointing’.(21)

#1707 From that year there are frequent accounts for putting in of glass (the windows, like the church, were long and narrow).(22)

#1831 Jamie notes that the present church was built in that year.(23)

David Jamie notes in 1890 that the ‘old kirk of Ballingry stood on the same site, only it was smaller than the present church. The east wall and the north wall are in the same place now as formerly, their position being fixed by the Blair and Malcolm aisles. In the present church the south wall is brought a little forward and a west wall a little further to the west; thus the church is both longer and broader than its predecessor was. ….There were then, as now, the Malcolm aisle, which communicated directly with the church by a door in its northern wall right opposite to the pulpit, was open to the sky; and it was the Malcolm’s burying-ground…. The Blair aisle is still used for burial. Like the Malcolms’ it used to be surrounded by walls; but, as they had fallen into disrepair, they were in the time of Mr Briggs replaced by the strong iron wall railing which we see there now.(24)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Thomas Scott): No reference to church buildings.

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev James Grieg, 1837): 'In 1831 a commodious church was built’.(25)

[No reference in either of these accounts to church buildings earlier than 1831.]

The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches (George Hay): incorporating 1661 aisle; renovated 1876: 1658 bell.(26)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 12.

2. Taylor & Markus, The Place-Names of Fife. Volume One., pp. 133-137.

3. CSSR, ii, 69.

4. CSSR, v, nos. 833 & 881.

5. Rental Book of the King James VI Hospital, p.23.

6. NRS Records of King James VI Hospital, Perth, Altarages, GD79/4/29.

7. NRS Records of King James VI Hospital, Perth, Altarages, GD79/4/22.

8. Prot Bk of Sir Alexander Gaw, 1540-58, no. 30.

9. NRS Prot Bk of James Dalrymple, 1551-57, NP1/19, no.63.

10. NRS Prot Bk of James Dalrymple, 1551-57, NP1/19, no. 96.

11. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 76 & 86.

12. Donaldson, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, 13.

13. Register of the St Andrews Kirk Session, pp. 82-89, Cited in Dunbar, Reforming the Scottish church, p.81 nt 61.

14. NRS Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, Minutes, 1630-1653, CH2/224/1, fol. 8.

15. NRS Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, Minutes, 1630-1653, CH2/224/1, fol. 167.

16. NRS Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, Minutes, 1630-1653, CH2/224/1, fols. 300-301.

17. NRS Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, Minutes, 1630-1653, CH2/224/1, fols.390-391.

18. NRS Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, Minutes, 1630-1653, CH2/224/1, fol. 507.

19. NRS Ballingry Kirk Session, 1669-1702, CH2/383/1, fols. 50-51, Jamie, Old Church life in Ballingry, pp. 19-20.

20. NRS Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, Minutes, 1704-1713, CH2/224/3, fols. 43-44.

21. NRS Ballingry Kirk Session, 1669-1702, CH2/383/1, fols. 26 & 29, Jamie, Old Church life in Ballingry, p. 20.

22. Jamie, Old Church life in Ballingry, p. 20.

23. Jamie, Old Church life in Ballingry, p. 21. 

24. Jamie, Old Church life in Ballingry, pp. 18-19.

25. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1837), ix, 448.

26. Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, pp. 40 & 256.

Bibliography

National Records of Scotland, Ballingry Kirk Session, 1669-1702, CH2/383/1

National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, Minutes, 1630-1653, CH2/224/1

National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, Minutes, 1704-1713, CH2/224/3

National Records of Scotland, Protocol Book of James Dalrymple, 1551-57, NP1/19

National Records of Scotland, Records of King James VI Hospital, Perth, Altarages, GD79/4/

Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1423-28, 1956, ed. A.I. Dunlop, (Scottish History Society) Edinburgh

Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1447-71, 1997, ed. J. Kirk, R.J. Tanner and A.I. Dunlop, Edinburgh

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

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

Dunbar, L, 2002, Reforming the Scottish church; John Winram (c.1492-1582) and the example of Fife, Aldershot

Hay, G., 1957, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, 1560-1843, Oxford

Jamie, D., 1890, Old Church Life in Ballingry, Kinross

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

New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, Edinburgh and London

Protocol Book of Sir Alexander Gaw, 1540-58, 1910, eds. J. Anderson and W. Angus (Scottish Record Society), Edinburgh

Register of the Minister, Elders and Deacons of the Christian Congregation of St Andrews Kirk Session… 1559-1600, 1889-90, ed. D. Fleming (Scottish History Society), Edinburgh

Rental Book of the King James VI Hospital, Perth, 1891, ed. R. Milne, Perth

Taylor, S and Markus G., 2006, The Place-Names of Fife. Volume One. West Fife between Leven and Forth, Donington

Architectural description

In the thirteenth century there was a chapel of Auchterderran at Ballingry, but by 1461 it had achieved parochial status, albeit with both its parsonage and vicarage annexed to a prebend of the collegiate church of St Mary on the Rock in St Andrews. The cure was then a pensionary vicarage.(1)

Presbytery and Kirk Session records tell the usual story of the effort to adapt the building for Protestant worship and to keep it in repair after the Reformation. In 1642 orders were given to carry out necessary works ‘with all expedience’,(2) while in 1677 it was deemed to be ruinous (a term that appears to have been used rather readily), with slates said to be off the south side of the roof.(3)

By the time of the latter report, a rectangular north aisle had been added to the church that can be dated to 1661 from the inscription date on the window in its north wall. That window has Y-tracery and is transomed; it is framed by pilasters that support a horizontal cornice.

The main body of the church was largely rebuilt to a T-plan in 1830,(4) possibly by Ebeneezer Birrell.(5)  Work was presumably completed by 1831, the date inscribed below the bellcote on the west gable.

The main body of the new building was on the same site as its medieval predecessor, with the north  and east walls said to have been retained in their previous positions because of the retention of the Blair and Malcolm Aisles, though it was contracted in other directions.(6) Exposed footings at the north-west angle may survive from the medieval church.

The church was enlarged to the designs of James Shearer and Annand in 1964-6.(7)

Notes

1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, pp. 12-13.

2. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, Minutes, 1630-53, CH2/224/1, fols 390-91.

3. National Records of Scotland, Ballingry Kirk Session, 1669-1702, CH2/383/1, fols 50-51.

4. New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. 9, p. 448.

5. John Gifford, The Buildings of Scotland, Fife, London, 1988, p. 93.

6. David Jamie, Old Church Life in Ballingry, Kinross, 1890, pp. 18-19.

7. Gifford, 1988, p. 93.

Map

Images

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

  • 1. Ballingry Church, exterior, from west

  • 2. Ballingry Church, exterior, from north west

  • 3. Ballingry Church, exterior, from south east

  • 4. Ballingry Church, exterior, north aisle, window

  • 5. Ballingry Church, exterior, north aisle, window, dated capitals

  • 6. Ballingry Church, exterior, west wall, date stone below bellcote

  • 7. Ballingry Church, exterior, footings below north-west corner

  • 8. Ballingry churchyard, gravestone, 1

  • 9. Ballingry churchyard, gravestone, 2

  • 10. Ballingry churchyard, gravestone, 3