Bothkennar Parish Church

Bothkennar Church, exterior, from west

Summary description

Rebuilt in 1654 and augmented in 1789 and 1887-8.

Historical outline

Dedication: unknown

The church of Bothkennar has made little impact in the historical record.  At the Reformation the whole teinds of the parish were in the hands of the nunnery of Eccles in Berwickshire, being set by the nuns for 180 merks annually.(1)  As the church does not appear in Bagimond’s Roll in the 1270 it is likely to have been appropriated to Eccles at an early date, and it is likely that Bothkennar is to be identified with the church of ‘Bucham’ that was granted or confirmed to the nuns by Bishop David de Bernham of St Andrews in the middle of the thirteenth century.(2)  Some indication of the condition of the church in the aftermath of the Reformation is provided by the records of visitations made in August 1586 and May 1588.  On the first occasion, the church roof was found to be ruinous.(3)  When the visitors returned in less than two years, they found that that part of the building which was the responsibility of the parish to good condition, recently re-roofed and with a timber steeple erected, with a bell, and that a new pulpit and seats for the congregation had been installed.  That part of the church which was the responsibility of the parson, i.e. the nunnery of Eccles, was quite ruinous ‘for falt of reparing’  by the nuns or their factor.(4)

Notes

1. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 183-184.

2. Historic Manuscripts Commission, 12th Report, Appendix part viii, nos 132, 146; Liber Cartarum Prioratis Sancti Andree in Scotia (Bannatyne Club, 1841), xxix [Great Register of St Andrews, no.60].

3. Visitation of the Diocese of Dunblane and Other Churches, 1586-1589, ed J Kirk, Scottish Record Society, new series, vol 11 (1984), 8 [hereafter Dunblane Visitation].

4. Dunblane Visitation, 84.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: Both parsonage and vicarage fruits pertained to the nunnery of Eccles. Possibly same as church of ‘Buchan’ granted to the nuns in 1250x65.(1)

1454 John de Redhoch (rector of Bothkenner) collated to Airth, succeeded by David Wark who has been in possession for 7 years.(2)

1472 James de Werk described as ‘asserted vicar of Bothkenner’, with the convent of Eccles the patrons of the vicarage.(3)

1539 (11 Dec) Dispute between Trolyum Stewart [Troilus perhaps?] and Walter Forester over the parish clerkship, resolved in favour of Walter in the official court of St Andrews.(4)

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 nunnery at Eccles, with 180 marks a year from the teinds. Place of the same name set by Cambuskenneth for 40 marks [connections?].(5)

Account of Collectors of Thirds of Benefices (G. Donaldson): Third of vicarage £5 6s 8d.(6)

1577 John Hamilton holds the vicarage.(7)

1587 (12 Aug) William Cowper (later bishop of Galloway, 1612-19), appointed to the ruinous kirk of Bothkenner which he set about rebuilding. Such was the enthusiasm of the local congregation that ‘there needed no letters of horning, nor other compulsitories; neither content to have it built onely, they adorned it within and without, not inferior to any church of such quality round about it’.(8)

1587 (23 Oct) Marion Young and William Harvey accused of adultery; ordered to make public repentance in the church of Bothkenner.(9)

1588 (27 May) A visitation of the church was made specially made for designing of the manse and gleib of William Cowper. It finds that the ‘part of the church pertaining to the parish is well repaired within and without newly thatched, a steeple of timber erected, having a bell theirin, within a new pulpit and seats for the people. The parson’s part pertaining to the nunney of [left blank] and to their factor, the laird of Cowdonknowis, is ruined for fault of repairing’.(10)

1591 (22 July) Visitation of the churches of Bothkenner and St Ninians by the Presbytery of Stirling finds the ministers to be diligent with further details recorded in the book of visitation [unfortunately no longer extant].(11)

1594 (13 Feb) Report by the minister of Bothkenner that the previous Sunday there was great trouble made amongst his parishioners in the kirk yard with many swords being drawn. The trouble was begun by Robert and Henry Simpson (the minister was unable to stop them and asked for help from the Earl of Mar.(12)

1602 (14 July) Report of a visitation of Bothkenner by the Presbytery of Stirling reported that only 5 householders were present and warned that unless the minister’s stipend was augmented he (Edward Bruce) would be allowed to move on should he wish too.(13)

1603 (19 Jan) Bruce having left the parishioners appeal to the brethren for planting of their church. The presbytery told them that they must provide a 200 mark stipend; James Caldwell is eventually chosen.(14)

1606 (28 Jan) Report that Bothkenner is to be visited [no further information].(15)

1607 (9 Dec) James Caldwell, minister of Bothkenner, used his own money for repairing his manse, to be refunded (£19 10s) by the parishioners.(16)

1612 (29 Jan) Report to the Presbytery of Stirling finds that the manse and gleib of both Bothkenner and Airth are insufficient. Visitations ordered and completed with a report setting out the manse and gleib.(17)

1627 (3 May) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Stirling finds great disobedience there as a result of the problems between the minister (Mr John Norwell) and the people. A letter is to be sent to the archbishop of St Andrews requesting the transportation of the said John as soon as possible (referred by the archbishop to the next synod).(18)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev David Dickson, 1791): ‘The church was rebuilt in the modern form in 1789’.(19)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev John Caw): [Nothing to add to Statistical Account. Neither refers to buildings older than 1789 rebuild]

Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches: (George Hay): 1789; tower 1792; enlarged 1887.(20)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 21.

2. CPL, x, 728.

3. Abstract of the Prot Bk of Stirling, 1469-84, 72.

4. Liber Officialis Sancti Andree, App. no. 24.

5. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 183-84, 537 & 544.

6. Donaldson, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, 16.

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

8. Stirling Presbytery Records, pp. 273-74,  Workes of Mr Willia[m] Cowper late Bishop of Galloway, p.4, cited in Spicer, Calvinist Churches in Early Modern Europe, p.75.

9. Stirling Presbytery Records, pp.290-91.

10. Visitation of the diocese of Dunblane and other churches, pp. 83-84.

11. NRS Presbytery of Stirling, Minutes, 1589-96, CH2/722/2, fol. 154.

12. NRS Presbytery of Stirling, Minutes, 1589-96, CH2/722/2, fol. 301.

13. NRS Presbytery of Stirling, Minutes, 1595-1604, CH2/722/3, fol. 211v.

14. NRS Presbytery of Stirling, Minutes, 1595-1604, CH2/722/3, fols. 222r & 228v.

15. NRS Presbytery of Stirling, Minutes, 1604-1616, CH2/722/4, fol. 92.

16. NRS Presbytery of Stirling, Minutes, 1604-1616, CH2/722/4, fol. 142.

17. NRS Presbytery of Stirling, Minutes, 1604-1616, CH2/722/4, fols. 287 & 288.

18. NRS Presbytery of Stirling, Minutes, 1627-1640, CH2/722/5, fol. 4.

19. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1791), xviii, 295.

20. Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, pp. 172 & 275.

Bibliography

NRS Presbytery of Stirling, Minutes, 1589-96, CH2/722/2.

NRS Presbytery of Stirling, Minutes, 1595-1604, CH2/722/3.

NRS Presbytery of Stirling, Minutes, 1604-1616, CH2/722/4.

NRS Presbytery of Stirling, Minutes, 1627-1640, CH2/722/5.

Abstract of the Protocol Book of the Burgh of Stirling, 1469-84, 1896, Edinburgh.

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

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.

Liber Officialis Sancti Andree, 1845, (Abbotsford Club), Edinburgh.

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

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

Spicer, A., 2007, Calvinist Churches in Early Modern Europe, Manchester.

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

Stirling Presbytery Records, 1581-1587, 1981, ed. J. Kirk (Scottish History Society), Edinburgh.

Visitation of the diocese of Dunblane and other churches, 1586-89, 1984, ed. J. Kirk (Scottish Record Society), Edinburgh.

The workes of Mr Willia[m] Cowper late Bishop of Galloway, 1629, London.

Architectural description

It is thought that Bothkennar may have been the church referred to as Buchan that was granted to the Cistercian nunnery of Eccles by Bishop David at a date between 1250 and 1265. It is certainly the case that both the parsonage and the vicarage were appropriated to the nunnery by the Reformation.(1)

The core of the church is an approximately oriented rectangle of 17.5 by 10.7 metres. While there is nothing that is identifiably medieval in the fabric, it is likely that it is on the site of the medieval building, with the possibility that one or more of its walls are on medieval footings.

Major works appear to have been in progress in the 1580s. William Couper, who was later Bishop of Galloway (1612-19), was appointed to the charge in 1587 and set about rebuilding.(2) But his works were apparently limited to the nave, because a visitation in 1588 said that the part of the building pertaining to the parish was in good repair, while the part pertaining to the nunnery was ruinous.(3) It may have been as a consequence of this phase of work that the church was reduced to its present relatively short length.

There appears to have been further major rebuilding in 1654, and it is likely that the main body of the church, with its rubble walls and polished margins to the quoins is of that date. Two stones carved with that date and with the initials of William Bruce of Newtoun (and one with his arms) have been re-set in the walls of an extension of the church in 1887-8. On the north side of the church, below the later windows there is evidence of openings that extended to a lower level, and that have cut back margins; these may also be of 1654.

There was to be a yet further phase of remodelling in 1789,(4) by the wright John Moir, with the advice of John Adam.(5) The round-headed windows on the north and east walls are presumably of this date, as may be the diminutive west tower of three diminishing stages beneath a concave pyramidal cap. A stone inscribed with the date 1789 has been re-set within an oculus in the wall of the 1887-8 phase of works.

That 1887-8 phase was carried out by Sydney Mitchell and Wilson.(5) It took the form of a southern aisle with a central salient, extending much of the length of the south side of the church, with porches on each side of an axial polygonal vestry. Vestries were also added on the north side of the church.

Notes

1. Ian B. Cowan, the Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 21.

2. The Works of Mr William Cowper late Bishop of Galloway, London, 1629, p. 4.

3. Visitation of the Diocese of Dunblane and other Churches, 1586-89, ed. J. Kirk (Scottish History Society), 1981, pp. 83-84.

4. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-99, vol. 17, p. 295; New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. 8, p. 204.

5. John Gifford and Frank Arneil Walker, The Buildings of Scotland, Stirling and Central Scotland, New Haven and London, 2002, p. 275.

5. Gifford and Walker, 2002, p. 276.

Map

Images

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

  • 1. Bothkennar Church, exterior, from west

  • 2. Bothkennar Church, exterior, from south

  • 3. Bothkennar Church, exterior, tower, from west

  • 4. Bothkennar Church, exterior, east wall

  • 5. Bothkennar Church, exterior, north wall, traces of blocked window, 1

  • 6. Bothkennar Church, exterior, north wall, traces of blocked window, 2

  • 7. Bothkennar Church, exterior, relocated date stone on east face of south aisle

  • 8. Bothkennar Church, exterior, relocated date stone on west side of central salient of south aisle

  • 9. Bothkennar Church, exterior, relocated date stone on west side of south aisle