Collessie Parish Church

Collessie Church, exterior, 1

Summary description

Rebuilt in 1839, probably on the site of an elongated rectangular medieval predecessor.

Historical outline

Dedication: St Andrew

The earliest surviving documentary reference to the church of Collessie is the record of its dedication to St Andrew(1) on 30 July 1243 by David de Bernham, bishop of St Andrews.(2)  It occurs as the church of St Andrew of Collessie in the mid-1250s in a charter of Sir Serlo of St Andrews by which he granted away to the church at the urging of the then rector, Master Adam of Mackerstoun, all of the rights which he had in the property associated with the parsonage there, including access on the south onto the highway.(3

In 1262 Roger de Quincy, earl of Winchester, granted the church to Lindores Abbey, the grant to become operative on the death or resignation of Mr Adam of Mackerstoun, with the right to convert it in proprios usus.(4)  On 5 June 1262, Bishop Gamelin confirmed the church to Lindores in proprios usus, with a vicarage settlement that established a perpetual vicarage.(5)  Six days later, the rector resigned his charge into the hands of Thomas, abbot of Lindores. (6)  Royal confirmation of the grant by Earl Roger was received on 23 December 1263.(7)  The vicarage, assessed for taxation at 20s, was recorded in the rolls of the papal tax-collector in the mid-1270s.(8)

Perpetual vicars of Collessie are recorded through the fourteenth and fifteenth century, the first named incumbent being one John Balneaves, who was also a secular canon of the collegiate church of Abernethy, who in 1393 was dispensed by Pope Clement VII to hold both the vicarage and his prebend.(9)  There are several references in the fifteenth century to the intrusion of candidates for the vicarage by secular authorities and in the early 1500s to conflict between the abbey and the vicar.(10)  The appropriation of the parsonage to the abbey with the cure being served by a vicar perpetual continued at the Reformation, when the latter was valued at 48 merks.(11)

In addition to the principal dedication to St Andrew, there are references from the mid-fifteenth century to a second altar dedicated to St Laurence.  In 1451 and 1459, record occurs in the Exchequer Rolls of payment of 10 merks from the renats of the lands of Kinloch to the chaplain celebrating at St Laurence’s altar in the church.(12)  A further payment is recorded in 1460,(13) and in 1473, when it was described as being ‘of ancient foundation’.(14)  There is, however, no record of when the altar and chaplainry was founded or by whom, but the payments from the royal exchequer imply an association with the crown.

Notes

1. Chartulary of the Abbey of Lindores (Scottish History Society, 1903), no.XCI [hereafter Lindores Charters].

2. A O Anderson (ed), Early Sources of Scottish History, ii (Edinburgh, 1922), 524 [Pontifical Offices of St Andrews].

3. Lindores Charters, no.XCI.

4. Lindores Charters, nos CXXXI, CXLI.

5. Lindores Charters, no.CXLII.

6. Lindores Charters, no.CXLIII.

7. Regesta Regum Scottorum, iv pt.i, The Acts of Alexander III, eds C Neville and G G Simpson (Edinburgh, 2012), no.47.

8. A I Dunlop (ed), ‘Bagimond’s Roll: the Statement of the Tenths of the Kingdom of Scotland’, Miscellany of the Scottish History Society, vi (1939), 63.

9. Calendar of Papal Letters to Scotland of Pope Clement VII of Avignon 1378-1394, ed A I Dunlop (Scottish History Society, 1976), 183.

10. See, for example, Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1433-47, 1983, eds A I Dunlop and D MacLauchlan (Glasgow, 1983), nos. 404, 1424 & 1426; Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1447-71, eds J Kirk, R J Tanner and A I Dunlop (Edinburgh, 1997), no.97; Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, xviii, 1503-1513 (Dublin, 1989), no.624.

11. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 33, 81, 89.

12. The Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, v, 1437-1454, ed G Burnett (Edinburgh, 1882), 473; The Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, vi, 1455-1460, ed G Burnett, (Edinburgh, 1883), 567 [hereafter ER, vi].

13. ER, vi, 613.

14. The Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, viii, 1470-1479, ed G Burnett (Edinburgh, 1885), 177.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: Granted to Lindores by Roger de Quincy in 1262. Parsonage with abbey and provision for perpetual vicarage.(1)

Place Names of Fife vol. 4: See Register of the Great Seal of Scotland, II, 1414; dedicated to St Andrew, on pilgrim route. Place Names of Fife notes that the earliest reference to the church being dedicated to St Andrew occurred in 1255-1256.(2)

1288 The grant of the patronage to Lindores Abbey, by Roger de Quincy, was confirmed by Bishop Gamelin of St Andrews, when a vicar portionary was being erected.(3)

1393-1414 John de Balnawys, canon of Abernethy, dispensed to hold perpetual vicarage.(4)

1414-16 John de Carnock (son of a priest) is vicar on death of Balnawys, promoted to archdeaconry of Sodor; William de Colvy provided in his place.(5)

1429 Confirmation by Martin V of Lindores rights with regard to Collessie (and other churches), vicarages were unlawfully detained for several years by secular intruders due to war and other disruptions.(6)

1437-47 Complaint by vicar John Lawrence that he had been collated but does not hold the church peaceably due to intrusions by Thomas de Rossy and John Wright; church had become vacant by death of William Naysterton. Followed by a suit between the 3 men. John wins and still holds church in 1447.(7)

1477 John Fresal (MA) collated on resignation of John Elearson (value £9).(8)

1506 Following conflict within the convent at Lindores between Andrew Charteris and Abbot Henry, confirmation by the Pope Alexander VI of the abbeys rights in the church of Collessie, withheld by the vicars during the conflict.(9)

Altars and chaplaincies

St Laurence

1451 and 1473 references to an altar dedicated to St Laurence whose chaplain received 10 marks annually for his services.(10)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The parsonage was held by Lindores Abbey, which received the teind sheaves, though the teinds were feu fermed. Following the Reformation, (when the vicarage was  held by Thomas Scot), it was valued at 48 marks (£32 6s 8d). The Easter and other dues were included in that but were no longer paid.'(11)

Account of Collectors of Thirds of Benefices (G. Donaldson): Third of vicarage £10.(12)

1609 James Melville laid to rest in a small gabled mausoleum at the edge of the church yard.(13)

1628 (7 Oct) Presbytery of Cupar to visit the church of Collace and remove the minister Henry Balfour who is impaired by his great age.(14)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Andrew Walker): [Nothing regarding the fabric of the church]

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev John Macfarlane, 1836):

 ‘The church is an exceedingly uncomfortable and ill adapted structure. It is one of the few remaining long and narrow buildings, that seem to have been common in Roman Catholic times. It is 75 feet long and 25 feet broad, the pulpit is in the middle and there are galleries to right and left…. There is no remedy but a new one, which is hoped will soon be erected’.(15)

Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches: (George Hay): 1839 R and R Dickson, architects; original pulpit and fittings. Designed by R and R Dickson, which replaced a characteristic medieval building of narrow rectangular plan. (‘T’ Plan church).(16)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 33.

2. Taylor & Markus, The Place-Names of Fife. Volume Four, pp. 192-193.

3. CPL, i, 494.

4. CPL, Clem, 183.

5. CPL, Ben, 349-50, CPP, 606.

6. CSSR, iii, 47.

7. CSSR, iv, nos. 404, 1424 & 1426, CSSR, v, no. 97.

8. CPL, xiii, 649.

9. CPL, xviii, no.624.

10. ER, vv, 473 & viii 177.

11. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 37, 81 & 89.

12. Donaldson, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, 13.

13. Spicer, ‘’Defyle not Christ’s kirk with your carrion”, 149.

14. Selections from the minutes of the Synod of Fife, pp. 107-8.

15. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1836), ix, 35.

16. Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, pp. 121 & 188.

Bibliography

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 Papal letters to Scotland of Clement VII of Avignon, 1976, ed. C. Burns, (Scottish History Society) Edinburgh.

Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1428-32, 1970, ed. A.I. Dunlop; and I.B. Cowan, (Scottish History Society) Edinburgh.

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

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.

Ecclesiastical Records. Selections  from the minutes of the Synod of Fife, 1611-87, 1837, ed. C. Baxter (Abbotsford Club), 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.

Spicer A., 2000, ‘’Defyle not Christ’s kirk with your carrion”: burial and the development of burial aisles in post-Reformation Scotland’, in B. Gordon and P. Marshall The Place of the Dead and Remembrance in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, Cambridge, 149-69.

Taylor, S and Markus G., 2010, The Place-Names of Fife. Volume Four. North Fife between Eden and Tay, Donington.

Architectural description

The church of Collessie was granted to the Tironensian abbey of Lindores in 1262 by Roger de Quincy, and provision was made for a perpetual vicarage.(1) A dedication was carried out by Bishop David de Bernham on 30 July, 1243,(2) which probably has no bearing on the structural history of the building.

The medieval church appears to have been a rectangular structure on the evidence of the extended complaint about it that was submitted by the minister to the New Statistical Account:

The church is an exceedingly uncomfortable and ill-adapted structure. It is one of the few remaining long and narrow buildings that seem to have been common in the country in Roman Catholic times. It is 75 feet long and 25 broad. The pulpit is in the middle, and there are galleries to the right and left of it. Some of the old seats that remain bear the date of the fifteenth century. From its original situation, or by the accumulation of graves in the church-yard in which it stands, it is sunk some feet below the level of the ground, and is in the winter season cold and damp in the extreme...it is irremediably defective in form, and can by no repair be rendered commodious or comfortable. There is no remedy but in a new one, which it is hoped will soon be erected.(3)

It was indeed replaced, even before completion of publication of the New Statistical Account. The new church is at the summit of a mounded churchyard, and it appears very likely that it is in the same location as the medieval church. The north face of its tower bears a tablet giving the name of the architects and date of construction: ‘R & R Dickson Arch 1839’, that is, Richard and Robert Dickson.(4) It is a large T-plan structure with a west tower, and is lit by pointed-arched windows; internally there are galleries on three sides, looking towards the pulpit in a shallow projection on the south side.

On the south side of the churchyard, overlooking the rood through the village, is the recently restored mausoleum of Sir James Melville of 1609, which is of particular interest for what one of the inscriptions on it says of reformed attitudes to burial within churches:

‘Defyle not Christ’s kirk with your carrion A solemn sait for God’s service prepar’d For praier; preaching and communion Your byrial should be in the kirk yard On your uprising set your great regard When savll and body joynes with joy to ring In Heaven for ay with Christ over head and king.’(5)

Notes

1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 33; Simon Taylor, The Place-Names of Fife, vol.4, Donington, 2010, pp. 192-93.

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

3. New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. 9, p. 35.

4. Howard Colvin, Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 4th ed., New Haven and London, 2008, p. 312; National Records of Scotland, HR 36/1 p. 101.

5. Andrew Spicer, ‘“Defyle not Christ’s Church with your Carrion”, Burial and the Development of Burial Aisles in Post-Reformation Scotland’, in Bruce Gordon and Peter Marshall, ed., the Place of the Dead: Death and Remembrance in Late Medieval and early Modern Europe, Cambridge, 2000, pp. 149-69.

Map

Images

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  • 1. Collessie Church, exterior, 1

  • 2. Collessie Church, exterior, 2

  • 3. Collessie Church, exterior, foundation stone

  • 4. Collessie Church, Melville Mausoleum, exterior

  • 5. Collessie Church, Melville Mausoleum, exterior, inscription, 1

  • 6. Collessie Church, Melville Mausoleum, exterior, inscription, 2