Bathgate Parish Church

Bathgate Church, interior, looking west

Summary description

A rectangular medieval shell of a church superseded by a new building on a different site in 1739. It contains the effigy of a priest.

Historical outline

Dedication: unknown

Charter evidence suggests that the church of Bathgate with various kirklands associated with it were granted to the canons of Holyrood by King Malcolm IV shortly before 1159.  By that year, Bishop Robert of St Andrews, who died in 1159, had confirmed Holyrood’s possession of the church and its one carucate of kirkland,(1) while between 1159 and 1163 the king issued a charter granting the church and the land which Geoffrey de Melville and Uhtred, sheriff of Linlithgow, had perambulated on the day that the king had sent them to view it.(2)  Further confirmations followed from bishops Richard and David de Bernham of St Andrews and from King William, the latter specifically identifying Malcolm IV as the donor.(3)

Confirmed in proprios usus to Holyrood, in 1251 Bishop David de Bernham established a vicarage settlement which confirmed a vicarage perpetual valued at 20 merks annually.(4)  Possession on these terms was again confirmed to Holyrood in 1268 by Bishop Gamelin.(5)  Fifty years later, however, Holyrood yielded possession of the church to the monks of Newbattle, in lieu of an annual pension payable to that abbey with which the canons of Holyrood were burdened.(6)  This proved to be a permanent transfer, the parsonage remaining with Newbattle at the Reformation, set for £80 annually, and the vicarage perpetual pertaining to Mr John Laing being valued at £26 13s 4d.(7)

Notes

1. Liber Cartarum Sancte Crucis (Bannatyne Club, 1840), cartae ex variis apographis, no.1 [hereafter Holyrood Liber].

2. Regesta Regum Scottorum, i, The Acts of Malcolm IV, ed G W S Barrow (Edinburgh, 1960), no.199.

3. Holyrood Liber, nos 13, 76; Regesta Regum Scottorum, ii, The Acts of William I, ed G W S Barrow (Edinburgh, 1971), no.39.

4. Holyrood Liber, no.75.

5. Holyrood Liber, no.77.

6. Registrum S Marie de Neubotle (Bannatyne Club, 1849), no.161.

7. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 101-102, 152.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: Confirmed to Holyrood by Robert, bishop of St Andrews, c.1130; vicarage settlement in 1251; parsonage remains with the abbey. Church transferred to Newbattle in 1316 in lieu of a pension due to the monastery from Holyrood. The parsonage remains annexed to Newbattle.(1)

1141x59 Church given to Holyrood with one ploughgate of land, teinds, mills and easements by Roger, bishop of St Andrews.(2)

1165 Malcolm IV gives the church to the abbey with lands and teinds.(3)

1164 Grant confirmed by Pope Alexander III.(4)

1165x66 Church included in confirmation by Richard, bishop of St Andrews, of all the churches given to the abbey by David I, Malcolm IV and bishops Aernald and Robert of St Andrews.(5)

1165x70 Church confirmed to the abbey by William I as a gift by Malcolm IV.(6)

1248 Church included in confirmation of possessions of the abbey by David de Bernham, bishop of St Andrews.(7)

1251 Vicarage settlement by David de Bernham, bishop of St Andrews, parsonage remains with abbey, perpetual vicarage valued at 20 marks.(8)

1268 Church included in confirmation of the possessions of the abbey in the diocese of St Andrews by Gameline, bishop of St Andrews.(9)

1361 Provision of John Styth to church on death of Robert de Foules.(10)

1415 Thomas de Penicuik (illegitimate son of a priest) collated on deprivation of John Kaa accused of a simonical transaction when he exchanged Calder Clere for Bathgate with Walter de Bathgate. 1419 further supplication by William Turnbull citing same case of simony/ However, Thomas is described as perpetual vicar church later the same year, dies in 1421 and is replaced by Philip Restoun.(11)

1423 John Bell collated, reference to vicarage belonging to Newbattle.(12)

1466 Complaint by Newbattle that despite patronage and presentation rights pertaining to them ‘by ancient custom’ on resignation of John Ralston their candidates first David Ramsay and then John Irons was refused institution by St Andrews who presented their own candidate James Inglis (MA).(13)

By 1467 Alexander Cossar is described as rector. On his and John Irons deaths before 1469, Newbattle's new candidate, Andrew Pettigrew, was once again refused by St Andrews.(14)

1473 On death of James Inglis (who appears to have been vicar 1466-73) John Oss, alias John Bayn, is collated (member of household of Oliver, cardinal of St Eusebius). John and William Marischal dead in quick succession.

1475 William Oliphant (MA and member of household of Julian, cardinal of St Peter) collated as perpetual vicar (ineffective, see below).(15)

1476 Litigation between David Hamilton and John Lochart over vicarage, settlement with David; vicar and John receiving a pension.(16)

1504 John Whyte (scribe in the chancery of James IV) is vicar, followed in 1510 by James Cottis (papal acolyte).(17)

#1504 (25 Apr) John White swaps vicarage in favour of James Levingstone (parson of Pettcokkis), (seers).(18)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church parsonage with Newbattle, set for £80. Vicarage held by John Laing, value £33 6s 8d; complains that much of this value came from corpse presents etc.(19)

Account of Collectors of Thirds of Benefices (G. Donaldson): Third of vicarage £8 19s 9 1/3d.(20)

1567 Collation of John Hamilton, monk of Paisley, to the vicarage of Bathgate, presented by archbishop of St Andrews.(21)

1577 David Heryne described as ‘living at the kirk of Bathgate’.(22)

1593 (3 Oct) Presbytery of Linlithgow criticised for their negligence which has allowed the church of Bathgate to be without a minister [reason given that James Hamilton had been due to move from Kirknewton but that the abbey of Newbattle had refused to institute him without  special conditions regarding feud lands].(23) Long running problems replacing minister; eventually George Inglis instituted in 1595.(24)

1596 (28 Apr) Request made by the parishioners of Bathgate to the presbytery of Linlithgow, (forwarded to Synod of Lothian and Tweedale) that they crave the transportation of their parish church from out of the place where it stands to the town of Bathgate. Synod remits the decision to the presbytery.(25)

1620 (9 Aug) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Linlithgow finds the minister (James Simpson) to be competent, also reports that the choir of the kirk was ruinous and down, the minister also complains that the manse and gleib are insufficient. The kirk session ordained to re-edify the church and look into the state of gleib and manse.(26)

1630 (30 Mar) Supplication by the parishioners to the Presbytery of Linlithgow for the transportation of their kirk to the town of Bathgate, alleging it to be a place more commodious. The brethren ordain a visitation to be held to discuss the issue.(27) The subsequent visitation (10 Aug 1630) orders the fabric of the church to be repaired, that the kirk to be enlarged by (re)building the choir, for which repair the gentlemen of the parish reported that they would take order. The kirk yard dykes are also to be built.(28)

1634 (23 Mar) The session having considered the ruins of the kirk dykes, has decided to demolish them and build new ones (heritors to pay).(29)

1643 (21 May) That day Thomas Bell was charged for his negligence in not repairing of the kirk according to his promise - he answered that he was not able to repair it yearly for so small a sum. (Bell promised to do this year but would have nothing to do with them today).(30)

1644 (17 Oct) Andrew Fleming contracted by the session for repairs to the kirk and its windows. On the same day they did a deal with Thomas Bell to continue his earlier contract for annual repairs.(31)

1661 (10 Apr) Visitation of Bathgate by the Presbytery of Linlithgow orders the heritors and elders to see to the ministers stipend and to the fabric of the church and repair thereof with all speed.(32)

1684 (9 July) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Linlithgow notes that the fabric of the church stands in need of reparation, which the heritors promised to do.(33)

1736 (4 Feb) Report of the committee sent to the church by the Presbytery. They declare that the roof would be of no use and it would be as chargeable to repair the walls and shaping the necessary would be as to build it anew.(34)

1738 (18 Oct) Mr Blackwell presented to the presbytery that the church of Bathgate was in a ruinous condition. A further committee ordered to be appointed to visit the church. On 2 Nov the presbytery notes that a decision had been taken to purchase a new piece of land from the Laird of Marjoriebanks and thereon to erect a new church.(35)

1738 (29 Nov) A further meeting of the heritors notes that inconvenience of the current situation of the church-that the walls to the foundation are ruinous, that it would be more practical to build a new church than repair the old  one (and the new one to be cited in a more commodious location). Decision taken to build it on ‘the ground at the head of the town, lately in the possession of William Peden and Alex Cairns.(36)

#1739 [no further references to the new church in the presbytery or kirk session records]

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Walter Jardine, 1792); ‘The church was built in 1739’.(37)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Samuel Marton): [Nothing to add to above account, neither mentions church buildings older than 1739]

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 15.

2. Holyrood Liber, App ii, no. 1.

3. RRS, i, no. 199.

4. Scotia Pontifica, no. 53.

5. Holyrood Liber, no. 13.

6. RRS, ii, no 39, Holyrood Liber, no. 27.

7. Holyrood Liber, no. 76.

8. Holyrood Liber, no. 75.

9. Holyrood Liber, no. 77.

10. CPP, 325.

11. CPL, Ben, 333, CSSR, i, 22, 24, 217 & 242-43.

12. CSSR, ii, 13.

13. CSSR, v, nos. 1078, CPL, xii, 456 & 469.

14. CSSR, v, 1241, 1255, 1377, CPL, xii, 314.

15. CPL, xiii, 353 and 459.

16. CPL, xiii, 545.

17. CPL, xviii, nos. 48 & 129.

18. NRS Papers of James Beveridge, M.A., Linlithgow, `Religious houses in Burgh [of Linlithgow] and parish', GD215/1856.

19. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 101-2 & 152.

20. Donaldson, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, 26.

21. Prot Bk of Thomas Johnsoun, no. 506.

22. Prot Bk of Thomas Johnsoun, no. 953.

23. Synod Records of Lothian and Tweeddale, pp.66-67.

24. Synod Records of Lothian and Tweeddale, pp. 71, 81, 84, 91 & 99.

25. Synod Records of Lothian and Tweeddale, pp. 102-103.

26. NRS Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1618-1632, CH2/242/2, fols. 36-37.

27. NRS Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1618-1632, CH2/242/2, fol. 278.

28. NRS Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1618-1632, CH2/242/2, fols. 292-294.

29. NRS Bathgate Kirk Session, 1633-1650, CH2/30/1, fol. 9.

30. NRS Bathgate Kirk Session, 1633-1650, CH2/30/1, fol. 40.

31. NRS Bathgate Kirk Session, 1633-1650, CH2/30/1, fol. 63.

32. NRS Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1653-1676, CH2/242/5, fols. 238-239.

33. NRS Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1676-1688, CH2/242/6, fols. 112-113.

34. NRS Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1731-1742, CH2/242/13, fol. 143.

35. NRS Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1731-1742, CH2/242/13, fols. 237 & 241-242.

36. NRS Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1731-1742, CH2/242/13, fols. 242-243.

37. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1792), i, 353.

Bibliography

National Records of Scotland, Bathgate Kirk Session, 1633-1650, CH2/30/1.

National Records of Scotland, Papers of James Beveridge, M.A., Linlithgow, `Religious houses in Burgh [of Linlithgow] and parish', GD215/1856.

National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1618-1632, CH2/242/2.

National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1653-1676, CH2/242/5.

National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1676-1688, CH2/242/6.

National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1731-1742, CH2/242/13.

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

Calendar of entries in the Papal registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland; Papal Petitions, 1893-, ed. W.H. Bliss, London.

Calendar of Papal letters to Scotland of Benedict XIII of Avignon, 1976, ed. F. McGurk, (Scottish History Society) Edinburgh.

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

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.

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

Liber Cartarum Sancte Crucis, 1840, ed. C. Innes, (Bannatyne Club), Edinburgh.

Protocol Book of Dominus Thomas Johnsoun, 1528-1578,  1920, eds. J. Beveridge and  J. Russell (Scottish Record Society) Edinburgh.

Regesta Regum Scottorum, Acts of Malcolm IV (1153-65), 1960, Edinburgh.

Scotia pontificia papal letters to Scotland before the Pontificate of Innocent III, 1982, ed. R. Somerville, Oxford.

Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-9, ed. J. Sinclair, Edinburgh.

Synod Records of Lothian and Tweeddale, 1589-1596, 1640-1649, 1977, ed. J. Kirk (Stair Society), Edinburgh.

Architectural description

A grant of the church at Bathgate to Holyrood Abbey was confirmed by Bishop Robert (1126-59), and in 1251 there was a vicarage settlement. In 1316, however, it was transferred to Newbattle Abbey.(1)

Following the Reformation the location of the church was deemed to be inconvenient, and as early as 28 April 1596 the parishioners asked for it to be moved to the centre of the town.(2) No immediate action was taken in response to that request, and on 9 August 1620 Synod ordered that the ruined choir was to be rebuilt.(3) On 30 March 1630 the parishioners again asked for the church to be relocated, but on 10 August Presbytery instead ordered that the existing church should be enlarged by rebuilding the choir.(4)

A century later, on 2 November 1738, Presbytery noted that it had been decided to build a church on a newly acquired piece of land, and on 29 November 1738 it was said that ground was ‘at the head of the town.(5) The new church was completed in 1739(6) but it was again rebuilt by Wardrop and Reid in 1882.(7)

The shell of the medieval church survives at Kirkton. It is a rubble-built rectangular structure with ashlar dressings, and with dimensions of 29.9 by 7.65 metres. Buttresses at the centre and the north end of the east wall appear to be later additions; that at the centre only now survives up to the level of a chamfered base course. The west wall has a chamfered intake at the level of the gable base, and there is an asymmetrically-set rectangular window near the apex of the gable. The only other surviving window is a small lancet in the north wall of the chancel area, which has broadly chamfered reveals and the head cut into a single stone. Internally it is set within a rectangular rear arch.   

The only door that remains open is in the north nave wall; its unusual width is presumably the result of reconstruction at some stage. Framing a broadly chamfered inner order there have been nook shafts, of which the carefully detailed caps remain: one of those is of crocket form, while the other may have been of waterleaf form, but is too weathered for certainty. A corresponding door in the south nave wall is now almost completely blocked by a monument of the Wallace family. There has been a door in the south chancel wall with a slender quirked angle roll that could be as late as the rebuilding of this part of the church that was ordered in 1630.

Externally, a fragment of a window has been set above the central buttress of the east wall. It appears to be the inverted lintel of a rectangular window with arched light heads that have been cusped, but there is nowhere in the church in its present form that such a window could have been located. Above it there is a fragment of a stone that may originally have had a circular recess at the centre of a further series of recesses defined by cross pattern of ribs; its function is no longer clear.  

Two medieval monuments survive. One has a high-relief representation of a priest in mass vestments, with the drapery of the chasuble and alb carved with a somewhat formulaic pattern of folds; it is said to have been excavated within the church in 1852.(8) The other is an incised ledger slab for Andrew Crichton of Drumcorse, who is thought to have died in 1514; it has a cross with foliate terminals rising from a stepped base, from which a shield hangs, and there has been a sword at the side of the cross shaft.(9) In the course of a recent and greatly to be welcomed campaign of repairs to the church, these monuments have been set flat on the ground within the church, where they are unfortunately susceptible to the impact of weathering.

Notes

1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 15.

2. Synod Records of Lothian and Tweeddale, 1589-96, 1640-49, ed. James Kirk (Stair Society), 1977, pp. 102-03.

3. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1618-32, CH2/242/2, fols 36-37.

4. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1618-32, CH2/242/2, fols 278 and 292-94.

5. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1731-42, CH2/242/13, fols 237, 241-3.

6. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-9, vol. 1, p. 353.

7. Colin McWilliam, The Buildings of Scotland, Lothian, Harmondsworth, 1978, p. 95.

8. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Canmore online resource.

9. David MacGibbon and Thomas Ross, The Ecclesiastical Architecture of Scotland, Edinburgh, vol. 1, 1896, pp. 475-76.

Map

Images

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

  • 1. Bathgate Church, interior, looking west

  • 2. Bathgate Church, exterior, east gable wall

  • 3. Bathgate Church, exterior, east wall, central buttress

  • 4. Bathgate Church, exterior, east wall, window tracery fragment set above central buttress

  • 5. Bathgate Church, exterior, from north west

  • 6. Bathgate Church, exterior, from south west

  • 7. Bathgate Church, exterior, north door, east cap

  • 8. Bathgate Church, exterior, north door, west cap

  • 9. Bathgate Church, exterior, north door

  • 10. Bathgate Church, exterior, north wall, lancet in east part

  • 11. Bathgate Church, exterior, south wall, blocked door towards east end

  • 12. Bathgate Church, exterior, south wall, blocked door towards east end

  • 13. Bathgate Church, exterior, west gable wall

  • 14. Bathgate Church, grave slab for Andreas Crichton (MacGibbon and Ross)

  • 15. Bathgate Church, interior, incised cross slab, 1

  • 16. Bathgate Church, interior, incised cross slab, 2

  • 17. Bathgate Church, interior, looking east

  • 18. Bathgate Church, interior, north wall, window towards east end

  • 19. Bathgate Church, interior, priest's effigy, 1

  • 20. Bathgate Church, interior, priest's effigy, 2

  • 21. Bathgate churchyard, gravestone

  • 22. Bathgate Church, plan (MacGibbon and Ross)