Channelkirk / Channel Kirk Parish Church

Channelkirk Church, exterior, from south west

Summary description

Rebuilt in 1817 on the site of a medieval predecessor said to have been cruciform.

Historical outline

Dedication: St Cuthbert

Dedicated to St Cuthbert,(1) the church of Channelkirk was granted to the canons of Dryburgh Abbey by Hugh and Richard de Morville between c.1150 and 1161, and confirmed in proprios usus to them by c.1220, with a vicarage settlement following in 1268.(2)  The church was dedicated by David de Bernham, bishop of St Andrews, on 23 March 1242.(3)  In Bagimond’s Roll, the vicarage of Channelkirk was valued for taxation in the first year of collection at 2 merks 6s 8d.(4)  At the Reformation, the parsonage remained annexed to Dryburgh, valued at £66 13s 4d in its set.(5)  The vicarage, described as a vicarage portionary, was set for £16 13s 4d.(6)

A testament of May 1529 and another of September 1533, by Mary Bathcat and James Symonson respectively, stipulated burial within the choir of the church, with both making provision on their wills for requiem masses.(7)  The choir is the one portion of the original building about which any further detail survives, it being noted in 1627 that it was roofless – and evidently had been for some considerable time - and ‘doune’.(8)

Notes

1. Liber S Marie de Dryburgh (Bannatyne Club, 1847), 304 for dedication of the church in charter of 1161 [hererafter Dryburgh Liber].

2. Dryburgh Liber, nos 6, 40, 234, 237, 255.  Confirmation by King Malcolm IV, dated 1162 x 1165: Regesta Regum Scottorum, i, The Acts of Malcolm IV, ed G W S Barrow (Edinburgh, 1960), no.218.  Ian Cowan mistakenly refers to the grant being made by Hugh and Robert de Morville: I B Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society, 1967), 30.

3. A O Anderson (ed), Early Sources of Scottish History, ii (Edinburgh, 1922), 521 [Pontifical Offies of St Andrews].

4. A I Dunlop (ed), ‘Bagimond’s Roll: Statement of the the Tenths of the Kingdom of Scotland’, Miscellany of the Scottish History Society, vi (1939), 34.

5. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 190, 197.

6. Kirk (ed), Books of Assumption, 188.

7. NRS Edinburgh Commissary Court. Register of Testaments, 1515-1532, CC8/8/1A, fol 23-24; CC8/8/1A, fols. 32-33.

8. Reports on the State of Certain Parishes in Scotland, 1627 (Maitland Club, 1835), 5 (7), 6 (3).

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: Granted by Hugh and Robert de Morville to Dryburgh, 1150x61; confirmed to uses of abbey c.1220. Vicarage settlement 1268, parsonage with abbey at Reformation.(1)

Mackinlay suggests that the church has been erroneously attributed to the Holy Innocents. It was a very ancient foundation dedicated to St Cuthbert.(2) A Dryburgh charter from 1161 mentions the dedication.(3)

1529 (11 May) Testament of Mary Bathcat specifies that she be buried in her tomb in the choir of the parish church of Channelkirk.(4)

1533 (6 Sept) Testament of James Symsonon specifies that he is to be buried in his tomb in the choir of the church of Channelkirk (12s pa payment for masses).(5)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church parsonage pertains to Dryburgh, set for £66 13s 4d. Vicar portionary set for £16 13s 4d.(6)

1627 (Jan) Report on the parish by the minister (Henry Cockburn) describes the church as having a choir without a roof, and there is only room in the church for half the parishioners.(7)

1703 (10 Jun) Visitation of the kirk and manse by the presbytery of Lauder includes a report from George Aitchison and George Kirkwood, mason, William Denhame and James Blakie, wright. The full costs of repair will be £874 13s (no specifics).(8)

1709 (22 Mar) Visitation of the church finds that ‘the north wall of the vault and the west gabell are both ‘fled’ (?) and suggests that the vaults must be struck and a timber roof put upon them. Thomas and Alex Dickson, workmen, report that the kirk should be altered and it should be in length 48 foot within the walls, from the east gabell of that part commonly called the choir… and that they should build 15 foot high and 17 foot broad wall over the walls in the north side of the church. They are also to put up the bell room anew. The total costs are estimated to be £826 4s 6d.(9)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Thomas Murray, 1791): ‘The church is built in the old Popish form of the cross. When it was erected is uncertain. It underwent a thorough repair in 1702’.(10)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev John Sangster, 1835): Rev James Rutherford, 1834 ‘The church…was built in 1817’.(11) [no reference to any remains of the earlier building]

Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches: (George Hay): 1817; original pulpit and fittings. A gothic church (of lateral rectangular plan) with harled walls.(12)

Notes

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

2. Mackinlay, Scriptural Dedications, pp. 309-10

3. Liber S. Mari de Dryburgh, p. 304, Mackinlay, Non-Scriptural Dedications, pp. 247-248.

4. NRS Edinburgh Commissary Court. Register of Testaments, 1515-1532, CC8/8/1A, fol 23-24.

5. NRS Edinburgh Commissary Court. Register of Testaments, 1515-1532, CC8/8/1A, fols. 32-33.

6. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 188, 190 & 197.

7. Reports on the State of Certain Parishes in Scotland, pp. 5-8.

8. NRS Presbytery of Lauder/Earlston, Minutes, 1691-1704, CH2/118/1, fols. 271-272.

9. NRS Presbytery of Lauder/Earlston, Minutes, 1704-1716, CH2/118/2, fols. 154-155.

10. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1791), xiii, 389.

11. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1834), ii, 91.

12. Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, pp. 116, 117, 188 & 251.

Bibliography

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

National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Lauder/Earlston, Minutes, 1691-1704, CH2/118/1.

National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Lauder/Earlston, Minutes, 1704-1716, CH2/118/2.

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.

Liber S. Mari de Dryburgh, 1847, (Bannatyne Club), Edinburgh.

Mackinlay, J.M, 1910, Ancient Church Dedications in Scotland. Scriptural Dedications, Edinburgh.

Mackinlay, J.M, 1914, Ancient Church Dedications in Scotland. Non-Scriptural Dedications, Edinburgh.

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

Reports on the State of Certain Parishes in Scotland, Made to his Majesty’s Commissioners for Plantation of Kirks, 1835, ed. A. MacGrigor (Maitland Club), Edinburgh.

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

Architectural description

There was a church at Channelkirk by around 1150, when it was granted to Dryburgh Abbey by Hugh and Robert de Morville; a vicarage settlement was made in 1268.(1) Bishop David de Bernham carried out one of his dedications on 23 March 1242.(2)

The medieval building appears to have suffered in the aftermath of the Reformation, and by 1627 the choir was said to have been roofless for a long time,(3) with the rest in poor condition. Repairs were presumably carried out after that, though the condition of the building was again a matter of concern by the early eighteenth century, and in 1703 repairs were costed at £874.13s by the masons George Aitchison and George Kirkwood and the wrights William Denhame and James Blakie.(4)

It may be doubted if those repairs were carried out, because in 1709 major repairs were costed by Thomas and Alex Dickson at £826.4s.6d.(5) These repairs include intriguing references to the north wall of a vault, though it is not clear if that refers to a burial chamber or to a vault over part of the building.

In the 1790s the church is stated to have been ‘in the old Popish form of a cross’,(6) suggesting that there were either medieval transeptal chapels or post-Reformation lateral aisles. But by 1814 the minister was insisting that a new building was necessary, and this was built to the designs of James Gillespie Graham in 1817.(7) The new church was built on the site of the old one, and it is said that the foundations of its predecessor are visible below the floor.(8)

The main body of the building is a broad rectangle, north of which is a substantial offshoot with chamfered-angles for the stair to the gallery; the walls are harled with ashlar dressings.(9) The east and west walls have crow-stepped gables of shallow pitch, the former being surmounted by a cross finial, and the latter by a square bellcote that was repaired in 1857 and has gabled faces and a spirelet embellished with crockets and an oversized finial.

The main entrance, a four-centred-arched doorway with a broadly chamfered surround, is in the east gable; above the doorway rises a tall three-light window with rectilinear tracery, the tracery field itself being internally hidden above the ceiling. The corresponding window in the west gable is set lower, leaving the tracery internally visible. Along the south face are four two light Y-traceried and transomed windows, with a sundial on the central axis. Two similar windows flank the stair projection on the north side, with a third, central window lighting the stair.

Internally the church is covered by a flat ceiling with a simple cornice. The pews and galleries are arranged around the east, north and west sides, looking towards the pulpit and communion table at the centre of the south wall. The galleries, with panelled fronts, are carried on cast iron reeded columns that possibly date from 1833. A small vestry has been formed beneath the east gallery.

Notes

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

2. Alan Orr Anderson, Early Sources of Scottish History, Edinburgh, 1922, vol. 2, p. 521.

3. Reports on the State of Certain Parishes in Scotland, made to his Majesty’s Commissioners for Plantation of Kirks, ed. Alexander Macdonald (Bannatyne Club), 1835, pp. 5-6.

4. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Lauder and Earlston, Minutes, 1691-1704, CH2/118/1, fols 271-2.

5. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Lauder and Earlston, Minutes, 1704-16, CH2/118/2, fols 154-5.

6. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-99, vol. 13, 289.

7. New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. 2, p. 91, Howard Colvin, Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 4th ed., New Haven and London, 2008, p. 441, (National Records of Scotland, HR 313/2). 

8. G.A.C. Binnie, Churches and Churchyards of Berwickshire, Ladykirk, 1995, p. 49.

9. This description is based on that in Kitty Cruft, John Dunbar and Richard Fawcett, The Buildings of Scotland, Borders, New Haven and London, 2006, p. 605. 

Map

Images

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  • 1. Channelkirk Church, exterior, from south west

  • 2. Channelkirk Church, exterior, from south east

  • 3. Channelkirk Church, interior, from north east, 1

  • 4. Channelkirk Church, interior, from north west, 2

  • 5. Channelkirk churchyard, monument, 1

  • 6. Channelkirk churchyard, monument, 2

  • 7. Channelkirk churchyard, monument, 3

  • 8. Channelkirk churchyard, monument, 4