Craig / Inchbrayock / Inchbrioch / Insula Sancti Bricchi Parish Church

Craig Church, exterior, from south west, 2

Summary description

Rebuilt in 1797-98, probably on the site of the medieval church and its virtual replacement of 1760. Passed out of use in about 1970 and adapted as a house.

Historical outline

Dedication: St Brioc

A cluster of Pictish stones found at the site of the medieval parish church on what was until the 1970s the island of Inchbrayock or Rossie Island at the mouth of the River South Esk points to the very early origins of Christian activity at that place.(1)  Despite that obvious antiquity, it is only in 1243 that the firstsurviving documentary record of the church occurs, when it was noted that it was dedicated on 23 August by Bishop David de Bernham.(2)  Inchbrayock appears as a free parsonage in 1275 in the records of the papal tax-collector in Scotland.  Andrew, ‘rector of the church of the island of St Bricchi’ was one of the sub-collectors of the tax and assessed himself, probably, at the substantial figure of four merks for the first year of the taxation.(3)

In the early fifteenth century the church seems to have been associated closely with the Lindsays, earls of Crawford, but there is no firm evidence that they held the rights of presentation.  In 1403 John Lindsay, described as (illegitimate) brother of David, earl of Crawford, was incumbent, and from 1419 it was held by James Lindsay.(4)  James was still in possession in 1452, when he resigned in favour of a second James Lindsay (described as ‘junior’), but in 1456 a vicar perpetual, William Lindsay, who was described as the illegitimate son of a priest, is recorded in possession.(5)  William occurs again in the papal records in 1470 and 1471 – on the latter occasion described as ‘vicar of St Brioc of Inchbrayock, called pensioner’ – when he resigned his charge to become an Augustinian canon.(6)  Again, there is no surviving documentary evidence to this effect, but it seems that James Lindsay junior was an absentee for whom his kinsman, William, discharged the duties of parish priest.

William’s resignation appears to have marked the end of clear Lindsay influence in the church, for in February 1473 Pope Sixtus IV attempted to annexe Inchbrayock to the mensa of the archbishop of St Andrews, with further attempts in 1484 and 1487.(7)  All of these efforts were unsuccessful, but at some point between the foundation of St Mary’s College in the University of St Andrews in 1537/8 and 1552 when it was first recorded as such, both parsonage and vicarage had been annexed to the college.  Letters issued to Master John Hamilton of Milburn dated 6 June 1546 describe it as still to be formally incorporated by terms of a bull issued to the late Cardinal David Beaton of St Andrews as the college was as yet unfounded and no-one had yet been nominated to it.  As a result of cardinal’s death the church pertained to the queen for presentation, as the papal bull permitted.(8)  This arrangement was confirmed in 1553/4.(9)  The cure was thereafter served by a curate, the parsonage and vicarage together valued at £206 13s 4d being recorded at the Reformation as in the possession of the College of St Mary.(10)

Notes

1. J Romilly Allen, The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1903), part III, 223-4, 254-5; H Coutts, Ancient Monuments of Tayside (Dundee, 1970), 64.

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

3. A I Dunlop (ed), ‘Bagimond’s Roll: Statement of the Tenths of the Kingdom of Scotland’, Miscellany of the Scottish History Society, vi (1939), 30, 39.

4. Calendar of Papal Letters to Scotland of Benedict XIII of Avignon 1394-1419, ed F McGurk (Scottish History Society, 1976), 104-5; Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Petitions to the Pope, ed W H Bliss (London, 1896), 596, 598, 600, 630.

5. Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, v, 1447-1471, eds J Kirk, R J Tanner and A I Dunlop (Glasgow, 1997), nos 572, 577, 585 [hereafter CSSR, v].

6.CSSR, v, nos 1463, 1491.

7. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, xiv, 1484-1492, ed J A Twemlow (London, 1960), 180-181; I B Cowan, Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society, 1967), 85.

8. Registrum Secreti Sigilli Regum Scotorum, iii, 1542-1548, eds D Hay Fleming and J Beveridge (Edinburgh, 1936), no.1705.

9. Evidence, oral and documentary, taken and received by the Commissioners for visiting the Universities of Scotland (London, 1837), 202, 360-368, 395.

10. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 64.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: It was made a mensal church of the archbishop of St Andrews in 1473, but in spite of further supplicates in 1484 and 1487 this was unsuccessful. Both parsonage and vicarage revenues were however, annexed to the Collegiate church of St Mary, St Andrews in 1552, with the cure served by a vicar pensioner thereafter.(1)

Mackinlay suggests the church was dedicated to St Brioc, an early medieval Welsh saint.(2)

1345 Amelin de Truppe (student of canon law) was collated to Craig on resignation of his possession of Logie (Aber).(3)

1351 John de Lycton dispensed to hold Inchbrayock after being provided to canonry of Moray; in 1355 John (MA) described as licentiate of civil law.(4)

1359 William de Fonte Rubeo collated on death of John.(5)

1403 John Lindsay (illegitimate relative of earls of Crawford) is described as rector (value 40 marks), in his 3rd year of study at University of Paris.(6) Calendar of entries in the Papal registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland petition describes him as the brother of David Lindsay, earl of Crawford. In 1409 and 1412 he is described as Treasurer of Aberdeen; briefly lost Craig (having not been ordained priest in allotted time), but gets it back on petition of Duke of Albany and Earl of Crawford.(7)

1419 Litigation between James Lindsay (new incumbent and presumably relative of previous rector) and Alexander de Foularton over possession of Craig; James successful.(8) Further litigation in 1428; James absolved for taking up the fruits without papal dispensation (for 10 years), value still 40 marks.(9)

1452 Rectorship resigned by James Lindsay; dispute between another James Lindsay (described as ‘junior’) and James Kennedy (future bishop of St Andrews) which James wins. By 1456 William Lindsay is in possession (described as illegitimate son of a priest).(10)

1470 William becomes an Augustinian canon and resigns the church in favour of John Edwardis.

In 1471 William Lawson, vicar of Duddingston supplicates for same church (unclear whether John or William is successful, no further references to church in Papal registers.(11)

1487 William Scheves makes further attempt to have church united to archiepiscopal mensa of St Andrews on death of the current holder [Name not recorded].(12)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church parsonage and vicarage pertain to St Mary’s College, St Andrews, value £206 13s 4d.(13)

1573 John Erskine of Dun (superintendent of Angus and Mearns) criticised for his maintenance of kirks by the General Assembly and had to refute claims that he had deliberately demolished the church of Inchbrayock. He replied that during a visitation he had found the church largely in ruins and invited the congregation to worship at Maryton until the situation could be resolved.(14)

1641 (24 June) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Brechin.(15) [no details]

1649 (28 June) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Brechin finds the minister to be competent. The presbytery order that the fabric of the kirk be sufficiently repaired, pavementing the floor, and overcasting the walls thereof with lime. A stent is to be organised. Also a dyke is to be built about the old burial place in the inch that no beast maybe able to enter. The visitors also refer to the money paid to the mason who built the bellhouse, to be paid back to the heritors from whom the minister borrowed the money. [Also a reference made to restricting the local custom of lighting bonfires on 24 June; Bannockburn celebrations perhaps?].(16)

1651 (26 June) Reference to James Lyon, minister of the church being sent to be the chaplain for Colonel Harry Sinclair’s regiment.(17)

1723 (8 Jan) Necessary repairs to the church of Craig amounted to £309 4d. (the presbytery had intervened because the session had considerable trouble getting the money from the heritors).(18)

1760 (2 Aug) Session records a meeting with the heritors anent the repairs. The following proposal was offered by the session for the consideration of the heritors. The session proposed that (to alleviate the problems of a lack of space in the church) that the north aisle be enlarged and expanded. The heritors to pay the costs, some of the money being refunded in the form of seat rents. The changes were finished by December when seats in the aisle were allocated to the aisle.(19)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev James Paton, 1792): ‘The patrons of church are the masters of New College, St Andrews. The manse was built in 1748, offices in 1774. The manse is about a mile from the church. The church was repaired, and almost new built in 1760’.(20)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev James Brewster, 1835): ‘The parish church was built in 1799, at the expense of the late Mrs Ross of Rossie’.(21) [no reference to older church]

Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches: (George Hay): 1799; small 19th century addition. First of this style (aisled and arcaded churches), aisled kirk of three bays with elegant arches, square west tower with a large doorway.(22)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 85.

2. Mackinlay, Non-Scriptural Dedications, p. 205.

3. CPL, ii, 204, CPP, 86.

4. CPL, iii, 419 & 568.

5. CPP, 347.

6. CPL, Ben, 111.

7. CPP, 596, 598. 600, & 630.

8. CSSR, i, 231.

9. CSSR, ii, 191.

10. CSSR, v, nos. 472 & 585.

11. CSSR, v, nos 1463 & 1491.

12. CPL, xiv, 180-81.

13. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 64.

14. Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, i, 314, Dunbar, Reforming the Scottish church, p. 121.

15. NRS Presbytery of Brechin, Minutes, 1639-1661, CH2/40/1, fol. 25.

16. NRS Presbytery of Brechin, Minutes, 1639-1661, CH2/40/1, fol. 112.

17. NRS Presbytery of Brechin, Minutes, 1639-1661, CH2/40/1, fol. 237.

18. NRS Presbytery of Brechin, Minutes, 1721-1729, CH2/40/8, fols. 100-101.

19. NRS Craig or Inchbrayock Kirk Session, 1758-1806, CH2/616/5, fols. 25 & 29.

20. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1792), ii, 502.

21. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1835), xi, 258.

22. Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, pp.116, 117, 128, 176, 194 & 245.

Bibliography

National Records of Scotland, Craig or Inchbrayock Kirk Session, 1758-1806, CH2/616/5.

National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Brechin, Minutes, 1639-1661, CH2/40/1.

National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Brechin, Minutes, 1721-1729, CH2/40/8.

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

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

Calendar of entries in the Papal registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland; Papal Petitions, 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 1423-28, 1956, ed. A.I. Dunlop, (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.

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

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

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.

Architectural description

Three early carved stones that were found in the graveyard, and that are now in Montrose Museum, suggest that the site has a long association with Christian worship.(1) One stone, found in 1848, has a cross decorated with key-pattern and spiral work to the front, flanked by a beast and a beast-headed figure attacking a man, while the rear has a horseman, fighting figures and beasts. A second, found in 1857, has the upper part of an interlace-decorated cross flanked by birds, and there is a horsemen to the rear. The third has a hunting scene.

A church was in existence at Inchbrayock no later than 23 August 1243, when Bishop David de Bernham carried out one of his many dedications.(2) In 1473 there was an abortive attempt to annexe the church to the mensa of the archbishop of St Andrews. Eventually, in 1552, it was annexed to the college of St Mary in St Andrews, with the subsequent cure a vicarage pensionary.(3)

Following the Reformation it seems there was an attempt to abandon the church in favour of Maryton. John Erskine of Dun, who was superintendent of Angus and Mearns, denied in 1573 that he had demolished the church, but said that, since it was in ruins, he had suggested the parishioners should worship at Maryton.(4) The parish was united with that of Dunninald in 1618, and the united parish was subsequently known as Craig, with its church at Inchbrayock.(5)

Maintenance of the building was a recurring problem. On 28 June 1649 presbytery ordered repairs, including paving of the floor and rendering of the walls, and there was a reference to a mason having built a bellcote.(6) On 8 January 1723 necessary repairs were costed at £309.4d.(7) On 2 August 1760 the session suggested to the heritors that the north aisle should be expanded,(8) and this apparently led to the church being ‘almost new built’ in that year.(9)

However, nothing is known either of the medieval church, or of its expansion in 1760, because it was completely rebuilt in about 1797-8 for Mrs Hercules Ross, to the designs of the architect Richard Crichton.(10) It is likely that the new church was on or near the site of its predecessor, though its alignment from east-north-east to west-south-west may indicate that it is not on the same footprint.

The main body of the new church was built as an aisled rectangle. Its most prominent feature is a tall western tower with a crenellated and pinnacle parapet. Its lowest storey serves as a porch, and has a western frontispiece with charming rococo Gothick detailing.  Projecting from the eastern part of the north flank is the early nineteenth-century mausoleum of the Ross of Rossie family, who had paid for the rebuilding of the church.

The church passed out of ecclesiastical use in about 1970, and has since been adapted for occupation as a house.

Notes

1. J. Romilly Allen and Joseph Anderson, The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1903, pt 3, pp. 223-24 and 254-55.

2. Alan Orr Anderson, Early Sources of Scottish History, Edinburgh, 1922, vol. 2, p. 524.

3. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 85.

4. Acts and proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland (Bannatyne Club), 1839-45, vol. 1, p. 314.

5. New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. 11, p. 245.

6. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Brechin, Minutes, 1639-61, CH2/40/1, fol. 112.

7. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Brechin, Minutes, 1721-9, CH2/40/8, fols 100-1.

8. National Records of Scotland, Craig or Inchbrayock Kirk Session, 1755-1806, CH2/616/5, fols 25 and 29.

9. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-9, vol. 2, p. 502.

10. Howard Colvin, Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 4th ed., New Haven and London, 2008, p. 287; Edinburgh Evening Courant, 4 June, 1796.

Map

Images

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

  • 1. Craig Church, exterior, from south west, 2

  • 2. Craig Church, exterior, from south west, 1

  • 3. Craig Church, exterior, west door

  • 4. Craig church yard, mausoleum against north wall of church

  • 5. Craig church yard, Millar of Rossie Mausoleum

  • 6. Craig, cross slab 1, front (Montrose Museum) (Allen and Anderson)

  • 7. Craig, cross slab 1, back (Montrose Museum) (Allen and Anderson)

  • 8. Craig, cross slab no 2 (Montrose Museum)(Allen and Anderson)

  • 9. Craig, cross slab no 3 (Montrose Museum)(Allen and Anderson)