East Calder / Calder-Clere Parish Church

East Calder Church, exterior, from south west

Summary description

The shell of a rectangular church that was abandoned for worship in 1750.

Historical outline

Dedication: St Cuthbert

Dedicated to St Cuthbert(1) and granted in the mid-twelfth century to the monks of Kelso, the donor, Ralph de Clere, reserved the right to found a private chapel at his residence within the parish but without detriment to the rights of the rector.(2)  The grant was confirmed by King William, along with the other properties and rights of the abbey.(3

Between 1198 and 1202, Bishop Roger de Beaumont of St Andrews confirmed Calder-Clere in proprios usus to the abbey, but a vicarage settlement followed only c.1251, whereafter the parsonage remained annexed to the abbey and the cure was a vicarage perpetual.(4)  The only other surviving early reference to the church is a record of its dedication by Bishop David de Bernham on 31 May 1247.(5)

The recorded pre-Reformation history of the church is limited to a series of names of vicars or to litigation concerning provision to the cure.(6)  Although this was a vicarage perpetual, there is no reference to it in either the surviving sections of the papal tax rolls of the 1270s or the Books of Assumption drawn up following the Reformation.

Notes

1. Liber S Marie de Calchou (Bannatyne Club, 1846), no.349 [hereafter Kelso Liber].

2. Kelso Liber, no.348.

3. Kelso Liber, no.13.

4. Kelso Liber, no.83; I B Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society, 1967), 25.

5. A O Anderson (ed), Early Sources of Scottish History, ii (London, 1922), 526 [Pontifical Offices of St Andrews].

6. See, for example, Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers for Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, ii, 1305-1342, ed W H Bliss (London, 1895), 21, 37; Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers for Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Petitions, ed W H Bliss (London, 1893), 574; Calendar of Papal Letters to Scotland of Pope Benedict XIII of Avignon 1394-1419, ed F McGurk (Scottish History Society, 1976), 333; Protocol Books of Dominus Thomas Johnsoun 1528-1578 (Scottish Record Society, 1920), no.375.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes:  The church was granted to Kelso by Ralph de Clere c.1170. Vicarage settlement in 1251. Vicarage settlement in 1251, parsonage remained with the  abbey, with a separate vicarage.(1)

Mackinlay notes that the church was dedicated, along with that of Mid Calder, to St Cuthbert.(2)

1306/1307 James de Dalileye (canon of St David’s) with Edward I’s army in Scotland, dispensed to hold Calder and various other churches.(3)

1390 Gilbert de Bothwyle described as perpetual vicar.(4)

1415 John Kaa accused of a simonical transaction when he exchanged Calder Clere for Bathgate with Walter de Bathgate.(5) [Kaa and Walter deprived]

1439 Suit between Thomas Penven and Robert Croyser over church. By 1440 Thomas is the victor.(6)

1463 Instrument of sasine in favour of John of Cockburn, vicar of Calderclare, chaplain of the altar of Our Lady in parish church of Haddington.(7)

1496 George Hepburn is rector, and is granted it for life in 1499.(8)

1555 William Henderson holds the vicarage.(9)

Post-medieval

[No reference to the church in the Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices]

1641 (14 July) Report made to the Presbytery of Linlithgow on the diligence of the parishioners of Calder Clere in the re-edification and repairing of the ‘old parish church’ on the great changes and great expense. At the next general assembly a supplication is to be put to disjoin them from the kirk of West Calder, and Calder Clere to desire recognition as a parish kirk.(10)

1646 (4 Nov) Supplication to the Synod of Lothian and Tweeddale from the parishioners of Calderclare to disjoin their church from the presbytery of Linlithgow and switch to the presbytery of Edinburgh.(11) (Laird of Selmes mentioned as the presenter)

1684 (4 June) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Linlithgow finds the ‘fabric of the church to be in very good care. The minister notes that the ‘poor money’ is still sometimes used to uphold the church fabric and glass windows. The heritors are ordered to repay the money taken from the box; the laird of Torphichen is noted the undoubted patron of the church.(12)

1687 (20 Aug) Reference in the presbytery records to an incident at the church on that date when local militia company officer, James Carmichael of Podishaw had broken up the door of the school house, which is part of the fabric of the church, and kept guard therein. The session is ordered to repair the door.(13)

1736 (14 Apr) Visitation of the church anent the repairs to the kirk and steeple notes that the gabell of the kirk, roof and bell house, the bell having been taken down [for which the heritors have no explanation] and that the gabel needs repairs.(14)

[East Calder and Kirknewton united in c.1750; a new church was then built in the middle of the new parish]

1750 (20 Apr) Letter read in the presbytery on behalf of the elders and a great number of the heritors, remonstrating against the proposed conjunction of East Calder and Kirk Newton (they describe it as unreasonable and inexpedient).(15)

1751 (17 Apr) Noted in the presbytery records that Mr Alexander Bruce admitted minister at East Calder of the now joined parishes [includes further complaints about the union from the elders].(16)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev William Cameron): [No references to earlier parish churches]

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Alexander Lockhart Simpson, 1844): ‘In the churchyard of East Calder, adjacent to the village so called, stands in like manner, the ruins of the ancient place of worship, with one of the gables mantled with ivy’.(17)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 25.

2. Mackinlay, Non-Scriptural Dedications, p. 254.

3. CPL, ii, 21 & 37.

4. CPP, 574.

5. CPL, Ben, 333.

6. CPL, viii, 263, CPL, ix, 96.

7. NRS Haddington Burgh: Court and Council Records 1530-55, B30/9/2, fol. 11v.

8. CPL, xvi, no. 627, CPL, xvii, no.237.

9. Prot Bk of Thomas Johnsoun, 1528-1578no. 375.

10. NRS Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1639-53, CH2/242/3, fol. 53.

11. Synod Records of Lothian and Tweeddale, pp. 192-93.

12. NRS Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1676-1688, CH2/242/6, fols. 110-111.

13. NRS Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1676-1688, CH2/242/6, fol. 122.

14. NRS Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1731-1742, CH2/242/13, fols. 150-151.

15. NRS Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1742-1773, CH2/242/14, fol. 263.

16. NRS Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1742-1773, CH2/242/14, fol. 285.

17. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1844), i, 447.

Bibliography

NRS Haddington Burgh: Court and Council Records 1530-55, B30/9/2.

NRS Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1639-53, CH2/242/3.

NRS Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1676-1688, CH2/242/6.

NRS Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1731-1742, CH2/242/13.

NRS Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1742-1773, CH2/242/14.

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.

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.

Kirk, J., 1995, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, (British Academy) Oxford.

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

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

Protocol Book of Dominus Thomas Johnsoun, 1528-1578,  1920, eds. J. Beveridge & J. Russell (Scottish Record Society) Edinburgh.

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

Architectural description

In about 1170 the church of Calder-Clere was granted to the Tironensian abbey of Kelso by Ralph de Clere, and at a date between 1188 and 1200 it was granted to the uses of that abbey. There was a vicarage settlement in about 1251.(1) On 31 May 1247 Bishop David de Bernham carried out one of his many dedications here.(2)

It appears that after the Reformation the parishes of Calder-Clere and West Calder had been united, because on 14 July 1641 it was said that the parishioners of the former had been repairing their church and wished it to be recognised as parochial once more.(3) This was followed on 4 November 1646 by a request to have the parish disjoined from the presbytery of Linlthgow and included within the presbytery of Edinburgh.(4)

A century later, in about 1750, the parish was united with that of Kirknewton. That was a union that had first been mooted by the minister of the latter as early as 1627,(5) and a new church was built to serve the two.

The medieval church of east Calder was a simple rectangle of about 19.03 by 7.04 metres, constructed of grey/buff masonry. The masonry in the lower parts of the two gable walls and the western part of the south wall rises from a narrow chamfered base course and is composed of large square blocks that suggest a date of construction in the twelfth or thirteenth centuries, though most of the details now seen are clearly much later than that.

In the east gable is a pair of windows with three-centred arches and chamfered reveals set within a segmental rear arch. In the south wall, adjacent to the site of the altar is a blocked pair of round-arched windows with chamfered reveals that was also set within a segmental rear arch. Both of these pairs of windows are within areas of roughly coursed masonry. Towards the west end of the south wall is a lintelled door with chamfered reveals and a segmental relieving arch; to its west is a blocked small window with a three-centred head that breaks into the chamfered wall-head cornice at this point. The west gable, which is surmounted by a bellcote, has been extensively rebuilt.

The old church was abandoned after the union of 1750 and soon fell into ruin. In the New Statistical Account it was said ‘in the churchyard of East Calder, adjacent to the village so called, stands in like manner, the ruins of the ancient place of worship, with one of the gables mantled in ivy’.(6) The church was retained in use for burials after passing out of ecclesiastical use, being divided into three separate enclosures by cross walls. Three of the medieval walls still stand to almost full height, but the north wall was dismantled to its lower courses, while the south wall of the central enclosure was entirely rebuilt.

The church that replaced the medieval building was expanded and converted into a medical centre in 1982; the church presently in use for worship was built for a United Presbyterian congregation in 1886.(7)

Notes

1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 25.

2. Alan Orr Anderson, Early Sources of Scottish History, Edinburgh, 1922, vol. 2, p. 526.

3. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1639-53, CH2/242/3, fol. 53.

4. Synod Records of Lothian and Tweeddale, 1589-96, 1640-49, ed. James Kirk (Stair Society), Edinburgh, 1977, pp. 192-93.

5. Reports on the State of Certain Parishes in Scotland, ed. A. MacGrigor (Maitland Club), 1835, pp. 82-5.

6.  New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. 1, p. 447.

7. Colin McWilliam, The Buildings of Scotland, Lothian, Harmondsworth, 1978, p, 195.

Map

Images

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

  • 1. East Calder Church, exterior, from south west

  • 2. East Calder Church, exterior, from north east

  • 3. East Calder Church, exterior, east gable wall

  • 4. East Calder Church, exterior, west gable wall

  • 5. East Calder Church, exterior, south wall, east part

  • 6. East Calder Church, exterior, south wall, west part

  • 7. East Calder Church, exterior, blocked door in west part of south wall

  • 8. East Calder Church, exterior, south wall, window in east part

  • 9. East Calder Church, interior, from north west

  • 10. East Calder churchyard, coped monument

  • 11. East Calder churchyard, gravestone, 1

  • 12. East Calder churchyard, gravestone, 2

  • 13. East Calder Church, plan (MacGibbon and Ross)