Cults / Quylt Parish Church

Cults Church, exterior, from south

Summary description

Rebuilt in 1793, probably on the site of the medieval church.

Historical outline

Dedication: St Maelrubha?

The earliest surviving reference to the church of Cults or Quilt appears to be the record of its dedication, possibly to St Maelrubha,(1) by Bishop David de Bernham of St Andrews on 8 August 1243.(2)  It is recorded three decades later in the accounts of the papal tax-collector in Scotland as the parish church of ‘Quilt’, paired for collection purposes with the parish church of Dunino, collectively assessed at 2 merks 4s.(3)  A separate entry under the same tax year noted an increase of 9d for the church of Quilt and for two terms of the second year of taxation it was again paired with Dunino at an assessment of 24s.(4)

Cults remained a free parsonage into the mid-fifteenth century.  It was recorded on 20 May 1381 as a rectory in the hands of Robert of Montrose, who remained in possession down to around 1420.(5)  Further provisions ae recorded down to the 1430s.  In 1450, however, the parsonage was annexed by Bishop James Kennedy to the provostry of the collegiate church of St Salvator in St Andrews on its foundation by him.(6)  It remained so annexed at the Reformation.  The whole vicarage fruits, however, were assigned for the support of a vicar perpetual, that arrangement continuing thereafter.  Neither the benefices nor their values were recorded in the Books of Assumption after the Reformation.

Notes

1. S Taylor and G Markus, The Place-Names of Fife, ii, Central Fife between the Rivers Leven and Eden (Donington, 2008), 112-113.

2. A O Anderson (ed), Early Sources of Scottish History, ii (Edinburgh, 1922), 524.

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), 37.

4. Dunlop (ed), ‘Bagimond’s Roll’, 39, 62.

5. Calendar of Papal Letters to Scotland of Pope Clement VII of Avignon 1378-1394, ed A I Dunlop (Scottish History Society, 1976), 59; Calendar of Papal Letters to Scotland of Pope Benedict XIII of Avignon 1394-1419, ed F McGurk (Scottish History Society, 1976), 117; Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, i, 1418-1422, eds E R Lindsay and A I Cameron (Scottish History Society, 1934), 249.250, 251.

6. R G Cant, The Collegiate Church of St Salvator (Edinburgh, 1950), 54-60; I B Cowan,The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society, 1967), 41.  

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: Parsonage annexed to provost of collegiate church of St Salvator, St Andrews in 1450, vicarage assigned to parish priest.(1)

Place Names of Fife vol. 2 notes that the church may have been dedicated to St Maelrubha. The only evidence for this is from 1541, when Pitlessie was created a burgh of barony. In the chartr of liberties it was given licence for 3 fairs, those of SS Philip and James, Katherine and Maelrubha.(2)

1404-1421 Master Robert de Monros (papal chaplain) described as rector of Quilt.(3)

1421 Three separate supplications for the church on the death of Robert; John de Sethane, John de Keremor and David de Hamilton (MA from Paris).(4)

1424 David Broun (vicar of Stery?), exchanges church for Cults with John Lavrok.

1425 Laurence Bell and Robert Alexander in two separate supplications claim that church is void and has been unlawfully occupied for 2 years by Broun.(5)

1429 Robert Fevyr provided by the bishop of  St Andrews.(6)

1432 Robert moves to Crail, church then held by Robert Dernwyle and Hugh Turyne, the latter still vicar in 1436.(7)

1547-51 5 people (1 woman, 4 men) from the parish registered their testaments at the St Andrews Commissary court. One did not specify a burial location.(8) Duncan Jameson (17 Aug 1549, 5s 8d fee), Mariota Geid (15 Dec 1547, 5s fee) and John Thomson (10 Mar 1551,15s fee) specified burial in the parish church, while Walter Grunderson (26 July 1549) specified burial in the cemetery (the latter was witnessed by the curate of the church, John Grunderson).(9)

Post-medieval

1619 (5 Oct) the synod of Fife orders that the stipend of Cults should be augmented. The local heritors are to coordinate with the college (?).(10)

1693 (25 Aug) report made to the Presbytery of Cupar that the ‘business of Cults anent the reparation of the kirk’ had been adjusted by the heritors (delayed?).(11)

Statstical Account of Scotland (Rev David Wilkie) 1791: ‘The church and manse are at least 150 years old. The united college of St Andrews are the patrons’.(12)

New Statistical Account of Scotland, (Rev Thomas Crawford) 1838: ‘The church… was built in 1793’.(13)  (no reference to the fate of the earlier buildings)

The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches (George Hay) 1793: Renovated 1835, detached session house. Belfry with square moulded pillars in 18th century.(14)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 41.

2. Taylor & Markus, The Place-Names of Fife. Volume Two, pp. 112-113.

3. CPL, Ben, 117.

4. CSSR, i, 249, 250 & 251.

5. CSSR, ii, 53, 80-81, 108

6. CSSR, iii, 9.

7. CSSR, iii, 242 & 258, CSSR, iv, no. 288, CPL, xiii, 401.

8. NRS St Andrews, Register of Testaments, 1 Aug 1549-12 Dec 1551, CC20/4/1, fol. 76.

9. NRS St Andrews, Register of Testaments, 1 Aug 1549-12 Dec 1551, CC20/4/1, fols. 3, 4, 334 & 213-14.

10. NRS Records of the Synod of Fife, 1610-1636, CH2/154/1, fol. 245r.

11. NRS Presbytery of Cupar, Minutes, 1693-1702, CH2/82/2, fol. 19.

12. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1791), ii, 411.

13. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1838), ix, 574.

14. Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, pp. 80, 169, 233 & 256.

Bibliography

National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Cupar, Minutes, 1693-1702, CH2/82/2.

National Records of Scotland, Records of the Synod of Fife, 1610-1636, CH2/154/1.

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

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 Scottish Supplications to Rome 1418-22, 1934, ed. E.R. Lindsay and A.I. Cameron, (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 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.

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.

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

A dedication of the church at Cults was carried out by Bishop David de Bernham on 8 August 1243.(1) The parsonage, which was also referred to as Quylt, was annexed to the provostry of his new foundation of St Salvator’s College in St Andrews by Bishop James Kennedy, at its foundation in 1450, though the vicarage revenues continued to be enjoyed by the parish priest.(2)

In 1791 it was said that the church was at least one hundred and fifty years old,(3) but it was rebuilt two years later, in 1793.(4) The late eighteenth-century building is an oriented rectangle, with a turret against the west wall that houses a vestibule to the west loft at mid-height, and is capped by a bellcote, the balusters of which were replaced in 1983.(5) The bell, which was presumably relocated from the old church, was cast by John Meikle in 1699.

The principal face of the church, to the south, is built of squared droved blocks, and has a vertical arrangement of a door below a rectangular window towards each end, with two widely spaced round-headed windows at the centre. The other walls are rubble-built; that facing south has two levels of square windows towards each end, with a single square window between. The spread of graveyard memorials suggests that the church is likely to be on the same site as its medieval predecessor, but there is no identifiable medieval masonry in evidence.

Internally the galleries at the east and west ends, which are carried on Tuscan columns, are part of the arrangements of 1793. The north gallery, which connects with those at each end was an insertion of 1835.(6)

Notes

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

2. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 41.

3. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-9, vol. 2, p. 411.

4. New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. 9, p. 574.

5. Information from church guide leaflet.

6. Information from church guide leaflet.

Map

Images

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  • 1. Cults Church, exterior, from south

  • 2. Cults Church, exterior, from north west

  • 3. Cults Church, exterior, from west

  • 4. Cults churchyard, coped stone

  • 5. Cults churchyard, gravestone, 1

  • 6. Cults churchyard, gravestone, 2

  • 7. Cults churchyard, gravestone, 3

  • 8. Cults Church, interior

  • 9. Cults Church, interior, monument to Sir David Wilkie