Cranston Parish Church

Cranston churchyard, 1

Summary description

No physical remains of the medieval church, the site being perpetuated by a graveyard containing a basin that could have been a font. It had been rebuilt on the same site in 1788, but was relocated to a different site in 1824-25, where it was rebuilt after a fire in 1861.

Historical outline

Dedication: unknown

The church of Cranston was granted to Kelso Abbey by Hugh Ridel, lord of Cranston, and confirmed to them by King William in around 1193.(1)  Between 1198 and 1202, Bishop Roger de Beaumont issued a general confirmation to the monks of Kelso of all of their parish churches in proprios usus, but a vicarage settlement which assigned all of the altarage and the teinds from the lands of New Cranston appears to have occurred only recently when it was referred to in 1240 in letters relating to the vicarage settlement at Langton.(2

Shortly after this, on 17 April 1244, Bishop David de Bernham, bishop of St Andrews, dedicated the church of Cranston.(3)  In Bagimond’s Roll, the accounts of the papal tax-xollector in Scotland from the mid-1270s, Cranston was recorded as a vicarage, assessed for taxation at one merk.(4)

The appropriation of the parsonage to Kelso Abbey lasted until 1316, when the monks exchanged it for the church of Nenthorn and its chapel of Newton, which had previously been controlled by the bishops of St Andrews.(5)  From that point, the parsonage was in the hands of the bishops and remained so at the Reformation, when it was listed amongst properties pertaining to the spiritualities of the archbishops of St Andrews.(6

The vicarage, however, remained independent until between 1450 and 1464 when it was annexed along with the parsonage of Kinnell in Angus first to support two chaplains in Bishop James Kennedy’s new academic College of St Salvator in St Andrews, and then to sustain a prebend.(7)  The revenues of Kinnell were disjoined from those of Cranston before 1473, but Cranston’s vicarage fruits continued to support the prebend in St Salvator’s, while the cure of souls was served by vicars pensioners.(8)  In 1527, one William Lidderdale was described as ‘chaplain’ of the church,(9) but in 1557 John Greenlaw was recorded as vicar of Cranston.(10)  At the Reformation, the vicarage was valued at £33 6s 8d.(11)

Notes

1. Liber S Marie de Calchou (Bannatyne Club, 1846), nos 13, 316 [hereafter Kelso Liber]; Regesta Regum Scottorum, ii, The Acts of William I, ed G W S Barrow (Edinburgh, 1971), no.367.

2. Kelso Liber, nos 83, 419.

3. A O Anderson (ed), Early Sources of Scottish History, ii (Edinburgh, 1922), 525 [Pontifical Offices of St Andrews].

4. 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), 34.

5. Kelso Liber, no.310.

6. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 3.

7. I B Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society, 1967), 38; I B Cowan and D E Easson, Medieval Religious Houses: Scotland, 2nd edition (London, 1976), 234.

8. Vetera Monumenta Hibernorum et Scotorum Historiam Illustrantia, ed A Theiner (Rome, 1864), no.dcccliv; Registrum Secreti Sigilli Regum Scotorum, i, 1488-1529, ed M Livingstone (Edinburgh, 1908), no.1025.

9. Selkirk Protocol Books, 1511-47, eds T Maley and W Elliot (Stair Society, 1999), C42.

10. NRS Prot Bk of Thomas Stevin, 1548-1565, B30/1/5, fol. 163v, 164r. He appears again in Jan 1558 appointing procurators for the said lands, NRS Haddington Burgh: Court Books, 1555-60, B30/10/1, fol. 111v.

11. Kirk (ed), Books of Assumption, 112.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: Granted to Kelso by Hugh Riddell 1165x78, vicarage settlement in 1240, in 1316 exchanged for Nenthorn. 1450 conjoined with Kinnell to support 2 chaplains in St Salvators, 1464 separate prebend from Kinnell, cure served by vicar pensioner.(1)

1527 William Lidderdale described as chaplain of church.(2)

1539 The value of the the vicarage of Cranstonryddale (assuming it is the same church) recorded as £26 8s 4din the St Andrews rental book.(3)

1557 (26 Jan) John Greenlaw, vicar of Cranston, resigns some land in the burgh of Haddington to Sir John Broun.(4)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church parsonage with archbishops of St Andrews, set for £26 13s 4d.Vicarage valued at £33 6s 8d.(5)

Account of Collectors of Thirds of Benefices (G. Donaldson): Third of vicarage £11 2s 2/3d.(6)

1563 (28 Dec) Visitation of Menteith by Thomas Drummond and John Duncansone led to a complaint made against the Robert Acheson, priest, who continued to say mass in Cranston.(7)

1582 (Dec) Elders of the church compear at Presbytery of Dalkeith and are warned over the disorder of their church and the lack of a minister.(8)

1589 (2 Apr) Complaint to the Synod of Lothian and Tweeddale by the parishioners against the minister Andrew Blackhall (who has charge of pluralities of churches); synod agrees to provide a new minister.(9)

1617 (2 Jan) Presentation of John Robeson to the church of Cranston by the patron David Macgill of Cranston-Riddell is protested by the gentlemen, elders and parishioners of Cranston who described David as a ‘pretended patron’. Various arguments made but essentially the complaint is that Robeson had been imposed on them (presbytery weigh up the arguments and find no reason for removing Robeson).(10)

1619 (10 July) Visitation of Cranston by the Presbytery of Dalkeith records the regrets of the minister (Robeson) that the kirk was not repaired in the seats, the bell house to have the outside mended and the roof. James Macgill to be consulted and a stent to be made, the minister also regrets the ‘heaps of stones lying throughout the churchyard and belonging to the lord of Cranston-Riddell’ (he has brought them to build the kirk yard dykes). The minister also complained that there was a great dereliction in the kirk floor by reason of a heap of paving stones heaped in the middle of the gutter (Laird of Cranston and Nether Cranston to deal with it).(11)

1627 (18 May) Report on the parish by the minister (Henry Cockburn) describes the church as standing in the toun of Nether Cranston, formally belonging to the bishops of St Andrews and now under the patronage James McGill of Cranston-Riddell.(12)

1627 (7 July) The minister of Cranston (John Robeson) reports that the laird of Cranston has repaired the cover of his seat which impaired the light in the church.(13)

1685 (3 June) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Dalkeith; the minister notes that the church is very ruinous as was obvious to anyone who saw it, but the heritors seemed very ready and willing to set about the repair.(14)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Walter Fisher): [No reference to church buildings]

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Alexander Welsh, 1839): ‘The parish church…was built in 1825’.(15) [no reference to earlier church buildings]

Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches: (George Hay):1825; alterations and additions 1851 and 1861. Cockpen, Kilconquhar and Cranstoun are of identical style (‘T’ plan churches); it is a ‘T’ kirk but the south aisle is much narrower than the main body and at the east end there is a square tower.(16)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 38.

2. Selkirk Protocol Books, 1511-47, C.42.

3. Rentale Sancti Andree, pp.39-40.

4. NRS Prot Bk of Thomas Stevin, 1548-1565, B30/1/5, fol. 163v & 164r, appears again in Jan 1558 appointing procurators for the said lands, NRS Haddington Burgh: Court Books, 1555-60, B30/10/1, fol. 111v.

5. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 3 & 112.

6. Donaldson, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, 27.

7. Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, i, 40.

8. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1582-1630, CH2/424/1, fol. 53.

9. Synod Records of Lothian and Tweeddale, pp.9-10.

10. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1582-1630, CH2/424/1, fols. 422-423.

11. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1582-1630, CH2/424/1, fol. 463.

12. Reports on the State of Certain Parishes in Scotland, pp. 50.

13. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1582-1630, CH2/424/1, fol. 551.

14. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1673-1688, CH2/424/5, fols. 253-254.

15. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1839), i, 196.

16. Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, pp. 122, 128 & 264.

Bibliography

National Records of Scotland, Haddington Burgh: Court Books, 1555-60, B30/10/1.

National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1582-1630, CH2/424/1.

National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1673-1688, CH2/424/5.

National Records of Scotland, Prot Bk of Thomas Stevin, 1548-1565, B30/1/5.

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

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.

Rentale Sancti Andree, 1913, ed. R. Hannay (Scottish History Society), Edinburgh.

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.

Selkirk Protocol Books, 1511-47, 1993, eds. T. Maley and W. Elliot (Stair Society), Edinburgh.

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

Synod Records of Lothian and Tweeddale, 1589-1596, 1640-1649, 1977, ed. J. Kirk (Stair Society), Edinburgh.

Architectural description

Following a grant of the church to Kelso Abbey by the lord of Cranston, Hugh Riddel, it was confirmed to the uses of the abbey by Bishop Roger at a date between 1188 and 1200, and in 1240 there was a vicarage settlement. However, in 1316, as a result of an exchange for Nenthorn and its chapel of Newton, the parsonage passed to the bishops of St Andrews. In 1450 the vicarage was conjoined with the parsonage of Kinnell to fund two chaplains in St Salvator’s College in St Andrews, following which the cure was a vicarage pensionary.(1) Bishop David de Bernham carried out one of his dedications at Cranston on 17 April 1244.(2)

The medieval church was on a site that was subsumed within the policies of Oxenfoord Castle, at NT 38741 65609. Its location is perpetuated by a burial ground to the north west of the castle, and adjoining the walled garden to the east;(3) it is entered through an imposing pair of gate piers. The church is said to have been rebuilt on the same site after a fire in 1788.(4)

Nothing remains visible of either the medieval church or its post-1788 successor. There is said to have been a cross-incised grave slab of possibly twelfth-century date,(5) which appears to have been lost. However, a basin though to have been a font is still to be seen. It is of cubical shape, with what appear to have been roll mouldings at the angles. The carvings on the face are now so weathered and moss-covered that it is impossible to see what was there, though the groupings of boss-like forms on one face might almost suggest that it is a cut-down fragment of an earlier stone.

The church of 1788 was replaced by a new church in 1824-5,(6) on a site at the edge of the Oxenfoord Castle polices, at NT 38431 65556; it incorporates a sundial dated 1797 that presumably came from its predecessor. It was again rebuilt to the same design by Wardrop after a fire in 1861. It is a T-plan structure of two-and-a-half buttressed bays, with panelled tracery in the windows. There is a tower-porch at the east end, and an inscription over the entrance records ‘ERECTED 1824 DESTROYED BY FIRE IN 1861 AND RESTORED SAME YEAR’. There were further works by Wardrop and Reid, probably in 1875.(7)

Notes

1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 38.

2. Alan Orr Anderson, Early Sources of Scottish History, Edinburgh, 1922, vol. 2, p. 525.

3. Alan Reid, ‘Churchyard Memorials of Cranston, Blairgowrie and Rattray; a Record and Comparison’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 43, 1908-9, pp. 206-14.

4. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Canmore online resource.

5. Alan Reid, ‘Churchyard Memorials of Cranston, Blairgowrie and Rattray; a Record and Comparison’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 43, 1908-9, pp. 206-14.

6. New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. 1, p. 196.

7. Colin McWilliam, The Buildings of Scotland, Lothian, Harmondsworth, 1978, p. 143.

Map

Images

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  • 1. Cranston churchyard, 1

  • 2. Cranston churchyard, 2

  • 3. Cranston churchyard, supposed font

  • 4. Cranston churchyard, gravestone, 1

  • 5. Cranston churchyard, gravestone, 2

  • 6. Cranston churchyard, gravestone, 3

  • 7. Cranston, later church, 1

  • 8. Cranston, later church, 2

  • 9. Cranston Church, inscription over entrance