Ceres Parish Church

Ceres Church, exterior, from south east

Summary description

Rebuilt in 1806 on the site of the medieval church. A mausoleum may be on the site of the chancel. Within the church is a knight’s effigy.

Historical outline

Dedication: unknown

There are no early records of this church.  It does not appear in Bagimond’s Roll in the 1270s which suggests that by that date its parsonage and vicarage had already been appropriated to the collegiate church of St Mary on the Rock in St Andrews, with which they remained at the Reformation.(1)  A letter from the bishop of St Andrews to the vicar of Erroll dated 25 January 1376, however, referred to Gilbert Armstrong, late rector of Ceres.(2)  This must surely be an error, as all subsequent references to the pre-Reformation incumbents speak only of a vicar pensioner or perpetual chaplain.  In September 1441, for example, William of Wemyss was holder of the perpetual chaplaincy, vauled at £10 annually.(3)  At the Reformation, the cure was served by a vicar pensioner.(4)

There is a reference in 1537 to a subsidiary altar, dedicated to the Invention of the Blessed Virgin Mary, somewhere within the church.(5)  The altar was served by James Small, priest.  A small number of testaments are reorded in the records of the St Andrews Commissary Court for 1548-1550 where the testator requested burial at the church of Ceres.  Three, witnessed by the curate, James Goodwill, made no specific requests with regard to location of their burial-place.(6) Two, those of the wonderfully-named Agamemnon Ness and Christine Patullo, paid for burial within the church, Ness specifically identifying burial in the choir.(7)

Notes

1. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 55.

2. NRS Transcripts and photocopies of Miscellaneous Charters and Papers, RH1/2/138.

3. Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, iv, 1433-1447, eds A I Dunlop and D MacLauchland (Glasgow, 1983), no.814.

4. Kirk (ed), Books of Assumption, 55.

5. NRS Protocol Book of James Androson, 1535-48, NP1/5A, fol. 8r.

6. NRS St Andrews, Register of Testaments, 1 Aug 1549-12 Dec 1551, CC20/4/1, fols. 64, 186-7 & 232-33.

7. NRS St Andrews, Register of Testaments, 1 Aug 1549-12 Dec 1551, CC20/4/1, fols. 233-34 & 259.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’ s Parishes: Parsonage and vicarage annexed to provostry of St Marys, St Andrews by 1274. Cure a vicar pensioner.(1)

Place Names of Fife vol. 2 prior to St Mary’s, links to Culdees, last overnight stop on route to shrine of St Andrew. Chaplaincy of St Ninian mentioned in Register of the Great Seal of Scotland, vii, 2111.

Place Names of Fife vol. 2 notes that there is no early record of the dedication but that we can dismiss the suggestions that it was St Siris or Cyrus. Various sources point to a Mary dedication for the church.(2)

1376 (25 Jan) Letter by William, bishop of St Andrews to Master Robert Bell, Vicar of Errol, commanding him to induct Master William de Dalgernok in the Parish Church of Seres, vacant by the death of Master Gilbert Armstrong, rector thereof.(3)

1441 William de Wemyss dispensed for being illegitimate, obtains perpetual chaplaincy in the parish church of Ceres (£10 value).(4)

1548-50 5 people (2 women, 3 men) from the parish registered their testaments at the St Andrews Commissary court. 3 did not specify a burial location, but were witnessed in 1548-1550 by the curate of the church, James Gudwill.(5) Agamemnon Ness (1 Apr 1550) specified burial in the choir of the church (he paid 12s) and Christine Pittyllo (28 Dec 1550) asked to be buried in the church (Christine paid a fee of 14s 4d).(6)

Altars and chaplaincies

Our Lady

1537 (22 July) John Small instituted as the the priest at the altar of the invention of Our Lady in Ceres, by Andrew Kinnimont of Craighall (Andrew described as the the p/re/protharious of Seres). Witnessed by the vicar of Ceres, James Guderhale.(7)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The parish church annexed to St Mary’s on the Rock, St Andrews, parsonage in produce. Vicarage of Ceres also pertains to provostry of church, value 50 marks with a vicar pensioner paid from that.(8)

1600 (21 Mar) Supplication by James, lord Lindsay of the Byres and gentlemen and parishioners of Ceres to have Robert Buchanan, provost of Kirkheugh as their minister. Assembly intervenes in dispute between them and Presbytery of Cupar, allowing Buchanan to remain minister.(9)

1651 750 marks raised by the parish for the Scottish army, [probably explains lack of work on the church in 1650's]

Bell house rebuilt and bell re-sited between 1657-1660

1657 (1 Oct) Session decides to bring in some workmen to ‘right the bell house’.(10)

1660 (14 Mar) Meeting between the session and Lord Hope of Craighall who was contributed £20 to the bell silver but the other heritors have yet to contribute anything.(11)

1660 (22 Aug) £5 paid to Walter Thomson for his workmanship about the bell. £3 paid to George Miller, glass wright for a glass. £10 10s paid to Duncan Smith for his workmanship about the bell.(12)

1662 (3 Jan) The minister askes the kirk session that the 80 marks borrowed from Andrew Wallace in 1659 be put toward the fabric of the church which he notes is ruinous. The 80 marks is to be combined with a stent from the heritors.(13)

1664 (14 Oct) Repayment of £3 to Andrew Wallace that was borrowed from him for building the bell house and helping the bell.(14)

1677 (21 Sept) A slater was paid £9 10s and 8d for ‘dressing the church’.(15)

1684 (Oct) £3 9s given to the session by the Laird of Myreton as his proportion for the repairing of the fabric of the church.(16) (only reference to what appears to be a fairly substantive repair in this period)

1685 (21 June) £6 13s given to Andrew Dickson, glasier, for putting in two windows and for helping the west windows in the aisle, 25 foot of glass will be required.(17)

1692 (25 Dec) Jon Innes paid £5 for two new glass windows put in the east end of the kirk and for mending of the two others.(18)

1694 (21 Jan) £3 20 s more paid to John Innes for glassing a bay and timber for the windows of the church.(19)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Robert Arnot) 1791: ‘the church is a very old fabric, too which great additions have been see made at different times. At some remote point an aisle has been conjoined to it, at the east end, by the family of Crawford… An aisle has also been conjoined to the south which is the exclusive property of Sir John Hope of Craighall. This before the Reformation was a chapel dedicated to St Ninian’.(20)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Joseph Crichton) 1837: 'The present church was built in 1806. It stands on a height, where formerly stood the old church and chapel’.(21)

Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches: (George Hay) 1806: Original table pews, 15th century, recumbent effigy, fragment of previous kirk. A wide garbled rectangle with large sash windows and a steeple in primitive gothic, (Hall church, rectangular hall with a horseshoe gallery).(22)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 30.

2. Taylor & Markus, The Place-Names of Fife. Volume Two, pp. 54-55.

3. NRS Transcripts and photocopies of Miscellaneous Charters and Papers, RH1/2/138.

4. CSSR, iv, no. 814.

5. NRS St Andrews, Register of Testaments, 1 Aug 1549-12 Dec 1551, CC20/4/1, fols. 64, 186-7 & 232-33.

6. NRS St Andrews, Register of Testaments, 1 Aug 1549-12 Dec 1551, CC20/4/1, fols. 233-34 & 259.

7. NRS Prot Bk of James Androson, 1535-48, NP1/5A, fol. 8r.

8. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 58.

9. Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, iii, 961.

10. NRS Ceres Kirk Session, 1644-1686, CH2/65/1, fol. 150.

11. NRS Ceres Kirk Session, 1644-1686, CH2/65/1, fol. 173.

12. NRS Ceres Kirk Session, 1644-1686, CH2/65/1, fol. 176.

13. NRS Ceres Kirk Session, 1644-1686, CH2/65/1, fols. 185-186.

14. NRS Ceres Kirk Session, 1644-1686, CH2/65/1, fol. 196.

15. NRS Ceres Kirk Session, 1644-1686, CH2/65/1, fol. 255.

16. NRS Ceres Kirk Session, 1644-1686, CH2/65/1, fol. 283.

17. NRS Ceres Kirk Session, 1644-1686, CH2/65/1, fol. 288.

18. NRS Ceres Kirk Session, 1686-1697, CH2/65/2, fol. 48.

19. NRS Ceres Kirk Session, 1686-1697, CH2/65/2, fol. 63.

20. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1791), v, 386.

21. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1837), ix, 529.

22. Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, pp. 133, 182 & 256.

Bibliography

National Records of Scotland, Ceres Kirk Session, 1644-1686, CH2/65/1.

National Records of Scotland, Ceres Kirk Session, 1686-1697, CH2/65/2.

National Records of Scotland, Protocol Book of James Androson, 1535-48, NP1/5A.

National Records of Scotland, St Andrews, Register of Testaments, 1 Aug 1549-12 Dec 1551, CC20/4/1.

National Records of Scotland, Transcripts and photocopies of Miscellaneous Charters and Papers, RH1/2/138.

Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, 1839-45, ed. T. Thomson (Bannatyne Club), Edinburgh.

Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1433-47, 1983, ed. A.I. Dunlop and D MacLauchlan, Glasgow.

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

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

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

Taylor, S and Markus G., 2008, The Place-Names of Fife. Volume Two. Central Fife between the Rovers Leven and Eden, Donington.

Architectural description

By 1274 both the parsonage and vicarage of Ceres had been annexed to the provostry of the collegiate church of St Mary on the Rock in St Andrews, with the parochial cure a pensionary vicarage.(1) According to the author of the entry in the Statistical Account, the church as it then stood had been augmented on a number of occasions, including at least one medieval chapel.

The church is a very old fabric, to which great additions have been made at different times. At some remote point an aisle has been conjoined to it, at the east end, by the family of Crawford....An aisle has also been conjoined to the south which is the exclusive property of Sir John Hope of Craighall. This before the Reformation was a chapel dedicated to St Ninian.(2)

Reference to the south aisle, dedicated to St Ninian, is of particular interest, though nothing remains of it.

There are records of a range of works in the course of the seventeenth century. In 1657 there were repairs to the ‘bell house’ (presumably a bellcote), and payments for work on the bell itself in 1660.(3) Repairs were being carried out in 1684 and 1685, with glazing in 1692 and 1694 that may mark the end of an extended campaign.(4)

The aisle of the Crawford family, to the east of the church, has dimensions of 5.95 by 6.8 metres. It appears to have been originally originally attached to the predecessor of the present church, and its west wall, which is more roughly constructed than the rest, must have been built after the connection with the church was severed. It should be seen as a possibility that it was built on the site of the medieval chancel, though its masonry shows no evidence of retained medieval fabric.

The east, south and north walls of the aisle are constructed of droved ashlar, and there is a door and a window in the east wall. The ogee profile of the cornice along the north and south walls, together with the roll mouldings of the door and window, point to a seventeenth-century date of construction.

The church was rebuilt to the designs of Alexander Leslie in 1806(5) ‘where formerly stood the old church and chapel’,(6) on an axis at ninety degrees to its predecessor. Its principal front, which is towards the west, is articulated by a blind arcade of three arches at the lower level, within which are windows flanking a central door, while at the upper level are three square windows. On the door lintel is the inscription. ‘IC.1806

The east front has a similar arrangement of windows and central door, but with less carefully finished masonry and no blind arcade, while the north face has a pair of round arched windows. There is a slender tower against the west wall, flanked on each side by two levels of windows.

The upper parts of the tower, with its pinnacled and crenellated parapet around the base of an octagonal spire, were added by Hugh Birrell in 1851, and the roof of the church was remodelled by John Milne in 1865.(7)

Internally there is a horse-shoe arrangement of galleries direct towards the pulpit set between the two north windows. Within the church is a late medieval knight’s effigy carved in high relief, with carefully detailed plate armour and a lion footrest; it now rests on balusters that may have originated as supports to a table tomb.

Notes

1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 30.

2. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-99, p. 386.

3. National Records of Scotland, Ceres Kirk Session, 1644-86, CH2/65/1, fols 150 and 176.

4. National Records of Scotland, Ceres Kirk Session, 1664-86, fols 283 and 288; 1686-97, fols 48 and 63.

5. Howard Colvin, Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Architects, New Haven and London, 2008; National Records of Scotland, CH/82/12, pp. 418-19.

6. New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, p. 529.

7. John Gifford, Buildings of Scotland, Fife, London, 1988, pp. 122-23.

Map

Images

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  • 1. Ceres Church, exterior, from south east

  • 2. Ceres Church, exterior, from east

  • 3. Ceres Church, exterior, from north

  • 4. Ceres Church, exterior, from south west

  • 5. Ceres Church, exterior, date stone over west door

  • 6. Ceres Church, interior

  • 7. Ceres Church, effigy, 1

  • 8. Ceres Church, effigy, 2

  • 9. Ceres Church, effigy, 3

  • 10. Ceres Church, effigy, 4

  • 11. Ceres Church, effigy, 5

  • 12. Ceres churchyard, Crawford Aisle, from north east

  • 13. Ceres churchyard, Crawford Aisle, from north

  • 14. Ceres churchyard, Crawford Aisle interior

  • 15. Ceres churchyard, gravestone, 1

  • 16. Ceres churchyard, gravestone, 2

  • 17. Ceres churchyard, gravestone, 3