Bolton Parish Church

Bolton Church, exterior, from north

Summary description

Rebuilt in 1809, possibly on the site of the nave of the medieval church.

Historical outline

Dedication: unknown

The church of Bolton was granted to the canons of Holyrood by either William de Vieuxpont or his wife, Emma of St Hilary, probably in the 1160s.  It was confirmed to Holyrood by Bishop Richard of St Andrews (1163-1178), reserving the rights in during his lifetime of Ralph of St Martin, the parson.(1

Around the same time, it was confirmed to the canons by King William.(2)  Probably around 1200, William de Vieuxpont, son of the original donors, confirmed the church to Holyrood for the souls weal of the king, his son Alexander (born August 1198), his parents, self, wife, son William, etc, along with half a carucate of land and the teind of the mill of Bolton.(3)  The church was dedicated by Bishop David de Bernham of St Andrews on 18 September 1244.(4)

Bishop de Bernham instituted a vicarage settlement in 1251, by which a perpetual vicarage valued at 10 merks was established.(5)  In the papal tax rolls of the mid-1270s, the church is recorded as a vicarage with a tax valuation of 1 merk in the first year of assessment.(6)  The cure remained a perpetual vicarage throughout the remainder of the pre-Reformation period, incumbents being named on occasion through the fifteenth century.(7)  At the Reformation, the parsonage remained in the hands of Holyrood and was set for £26 13s 4d, while the vicarage, in the hands of Andrew Simson, was set for the higher figure of £35.(8)

There are few other notices of the church in historical records.  One interesting record, however, is the testament of of Alexander Hepburn of Craggis, which was registered through the Edinburgh commissary court in 1515.  It records how Alexander had been killed at Flodden but his body had evidently been recovered from the battlefield and returned for burial to Bolton, where his testament stated that his tomb lay.(9)

Notes

1. Liber Cartarum Sance Crucis (Bannatyne Club, 1840), no.32 [hereafter Holyrood Liber].

2. Regesta Regum Scottorum, ii, The Acts of William I, ed G W S Barrow (Edinburgh, 1971), no.238.

3. Holyrood Liber, no.33.

4. A O Anderson (ed), Early Sources of Scottish History, ii (London, 1922), 525 [Pontifical Offices of St Andrews].

5. Holyrood Liber, no.75.

6. A I Dunlop (ed), ‘Bagimond’s Roll: Statement of the Tenths of the Kingdom of Scotland’, Miscellany of the Scottish History Society, vi (1939), 33.

7. See, for example, Calendar of Papal Letters to Scotland of Pope Benedict XIII of Avignon 1394-1419, ed F McGurk (Scottish History Society, 1976), 392.

8. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 91, 173-174.

9. NRS Edinburgh Commissary Court. Register of Testaments, 1515-1532, CC8/8/1A, fol 3.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: Granted to Holyrood probably by William de Vipont or his wife, 1163x78. Settlement in 1252; the vicarage thereafter retained its identity.(1)

1172x78 Church confirmed to the abbey by Pope Alexander III who noted that it was a gift by William de Vieuxpoint [gift probably dates from 1163x70].(2)

1172x93 Church confirmed to the abbey by William I with lands, teinds, and other rights, with a life rent for Ralph St Martin.(3)

1172x78 Church confirmed by Richard, bishop of St Andrews, with same rights and stipulation.(4)

1199x1212 William de Vieuxpoint confirms the gift by his father of the church, with half a ploughgate of land, teinds, obventions, easements and the teinds of the mill of Bolton.(5)

1248 Church included in confirmation of possessions of the abbey by David de Bernham, bishop of St Andrews.(6)

1251 Vicarage settlement by David de Bernham, bishop of St Andrews; the parsonage was with the abbey as a perpetual vicarage valued at 10 marks.(7)

1268 Church included in confirmation of the possessions of the abbey in the diocese of St Andrews by Gameline, bishop of St Andrews.(8)

1401 Provision of Gilbert de Ferl (perpetual vicar of Bolton) to the church of Monimail.(9)

1456 Andrew Muschet, perpetual vicar, dispensed to hold church (£6) and deanery of Dunblane for 5 years.

1460 On death of John Halliwell, there were supplications by William Hogg (student of canon law at the curia), William Forrester and William Hudson [unclear who is successful].(10)

1475 Henry Barry is collated to the vicarage (now £8) on death of a Robert Muschet.(11)

1515 Testament of Alexander Hepburn of Craggis, who died at Flodden, pays for masses to be said for himself in the church of Bolton [probably; the word is difficult to read] where his tomb lies.(12)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church parsonage with Holyrood, set for £26 13s 4d. Vicarage of church held by Andrew Simson, set for £35.(13)

Account of Collectors of Thirds of Benefices (G. Donaldson): Third of vicarage £11 13s 4d.(14)

1593 (2 Oct) Synod of L and T orders the presbytery of Haddington to see that Kirk sessions be kepyt in all their kirks, ‘especiallie in Bolltoun’, so that discipline does not decay.(15)

1595 (8 Oct) In a trial of the Presbytery of Haddington the Synod finds that doctrine and catechising is done every Sunday in all there kirks except for Baro and Bolton. The minister of Bolton, James Lamb, is ordered to amend this and the presbytery is ordered to visit the David Ogilvy, resident in Baro.(16)

1598 (7 Aug) In a visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Haddington, the pastor complains that the church is not watertight and alleges that there was a contract between the kirk session and Barry Thompson, for £20 he was to make the church watertight. Thompson to compear in front of the Presbytery to explain why he has not fulfilled his conflict. The kirk yard dykes also require building.(17) 1600 (24 Oct) reference to ongoing work at the church of Bolton; James Lamb is supervising.(18)

1686 £3 pa paid to Thomas Martin, slater, for his annual pension for mending the church.(19)

1688 (15 Apr) £37 Received by the minister for the heritors for [unspecified] repairs to the church.(20)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev John Hamilton, 1791): ‘The church is an old building, very thick in the wall’.(21)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev John Abernethy, 1836, revised 1838): ‘The present church was built in 1809’.(22) [Appears to be on same site as old building, no reference to any survival]

Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches: (George Hay): 1809; refurnished, 1618 Burgerhuys bell. (Hall church, rectangular hall with a horseshoe gallery).(23)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 19.

2. Scotia Pontifica, no. 84, Holyrood Liber App i, no. 2

3. RRS, ii, no. 238, Holyrood Liber, 31.

4. Holyrood Liber, no. 32.

5. Holyrood Liber, no. 33.

6. Holyrood Liber, no. 76.

7. Holyrood Liber, no. 75.

8. Holyrood Liber, no. 77.

9. CPL, Ben, 392.

10. CSSR, v, nos. 623, 811, 813 & 814.

11. CPL, xiii, 461.

12. NRS Edinburgh Commissary Court. Register of Testaments, 1515-1532, CC8/8/1A, fol 3.

13. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 91 & 173-74.

14. Donaldson, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, 28.

15. Synod Records of Lothian and Tweeddale, p. 64.

16. Synod Records of Lothian and Tweeddale, p.96.

17. NRS Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1596-1608, CH2/185/2, fol. 83-84.

18. NRS Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1596-1608, CH2/185/2, fol. 132.

19. NRS Bolton Kirk Session, 1683-1745, CH2/37/3, fol. 24.

20. NRS Bolton Kirk Session, 1683-1745, CH2/37/3, fol. 30.

21. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1791), iv, 287.

22. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1836 rev 1838), ii, 278.

23. Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, pp. 140, 238 & 255.

Bibliography

National Records of Scotland, Bolton Kirk Session, 1683-1745, CH2/37/3.

National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh Commissary Court. Register of Testaments, 1515-1532, CC8/8/1A.

National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1596-1608, CH2/185/2.

Calendar of entries in the Papal registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland; Papal letters, 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 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.

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

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.

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

Regesta Regum Scottorum, Acts of William I (1165-1214), 1971, 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

Confirmation by Bishop Richard of a grant of the parish to Holyrood Abbey, at a date between 1163 and 1178, probably followed an initial grant to that abbey by William de Vipont. In 1251 there was a vicarage settlement.(1) Bishop David de Bernham carried out a dedication of the church on 18 September 1244.(2)

On 7 August 1598 the minister complained that the church was not watertight, and that Barry Thompson who had contracted to carry out works costed at £20 had not done so.(3) The medieval building nevertheless probably survived until the late eighteenth century, since it was said in the Statistical Account to be ‘an old building, very thick in the wall’.(4)

It was rebuilt in 1809,(5) and it is believed that the architect was Archibald Elliot and the builder James Burns.(6) The main body of the new church is built of buff-coloured rubble with ashlar dressings. The main body is rectangular with a pair of Y-traceried windows along both the north and south sides, and a single such window at the centre of the east face. A tall axial west tower, which rises through three storeys, also served as a porch.

At the east end of the church is the mausoleum of the Stuart of Eaglescairnie family, which is likely to be of a similar age as the church, with which its austerely neoclassical design is in stark contrast. It is built of ashlar, and its walls are articulated by an arch on each face, with the upper part of a dome rising above the cornice and blocking courses. As the last resting place of the parish’s principal resident heritors, it may be wondered if it was built on the site of the medieval chancel.

Notes

1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 19.

2. Alan Orr Anderson, Early Sources of Scottish History, Edinburgh, 1922, vol. 2, p. 525.

3. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1596-1608, CH2/185/2, fol. 132.

4. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-99, vol. 4, p. 287.

5. New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. 2, p. 278.

6. Colin McWilliam, The Buildings of Scotland, Lothian, Harmondsworth, 1978, p. 107.

Map

Images

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  • 1. Bolton Church, exterior, from north

  • 2. Bolton Church, exterior, from south

  • 3. Bolton Church, interior, looking east

  • 4. Bolton Church, interior, looking west

  • 5. Bolton Church, interior, mort safe in porch

  • 6. Bolton churchyard, Stuart mausoleum