Fogo Parish Church

Fogo Church, exterior, from south

Summary description

A remodelled medieval rectangular core augmented by a south lateral aisle and an eastern burial vault, possibly in the late seventeenth century. Further modifications in 1775, 1817, 1853 and 1927. 

Historical outline

Dedication: unknown

The church of Fogo was given and confirmed to the monks of Kelso by Cospaptric, earl of Dunbar, between 1153 and 1160.(1)  It was confirmed to the abbey along with the other churches in his diocese which they possessed by Bishop Arnold of St Andrews (1160-1162), who referred to a previous confirmation by his predecessor, Bishop Robert.(2)  Fogo was confirmed to Kelso in proprios usus by Bishop Roger de Beaumont (1198-1202) along with seven other churches in his diocese.(3)  There is no record as to whether the parsonage alone or both parsonage and vicarage revenues were annexed at this time, but when the vicarage was recorded in 1274-5 in the tax-rolls of the papal tax-collector in Scotland, the 20s representing the tenth of income at which the vicar was assessed is on a level around that of other vicarages perpetual in St Andrews diocese.(4)

On 2 April 1242 Bishop David de Bernham dedicated the chapel of William, son of the Earl of March, at Fogo, and on 29 March 1243 he returned to dedicate the church.(5)  Nothing is thereafter known of the church until 1349, when it was recorded as being held by one Henry of Smailholm.  In 1354 Henry was promoted to the archdeaconry of Teviotdale with the provision that he was to resign Fogo, but it was noted at that time that he received no revenues from the church on account of the war, a further document the same year recording that the church’s revenues had been wasted by war.(6)  The exposed frontier position of the church might account in part for the report of its dilapidation in a list of twenty-two churches in the Deanery of Merse presented to John Hamilton, Archbishop of St Andrews, in the 1550s.  The report laid the main responsibility for the ruinous condition of many of the buildings on the appropriators and parishioners by equal measure.  The Archbishop instructed the Dean of Christianity of the Merse to investigate and take measures as appropriate,(7) but any steps by the dean were soon overtaken by the events of the Reformation.

While the cure may have been served by a perpetual vicar in the late thirteenth century it was served only by a vicar pensioner at the Reformation.  At that date it was reported that the parsonage and vicarage, together valued at £13 6s 8d, was held by the abbey of Kelso.  The cure was recorded as being served by a vicar pensioner, but neither his stipend nor his name is recorded.(8)


1. Liber S Marie de Calchou (Bannatyne Club, 1846), no.71 [hereafter Kelso Liber]

2. Kelso Liber, no.439.

3. Kelso Liber, no.83.

4. A I Dunlop (ed), ‘Bagimond’s Roll: Statement of the Tenths of the Kingdom of Scotland’, Miscellany of the Scottish History Society, vi (1939), 33, 59.

5. A O Anderson (ed), Early Sources of Scottish History, ii (Edinburgh, 1922), 521, 523 [Pontifical Offices of St Andrews].

6. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, iii, 1342-1362, ed W H Bliss (London, 1897), 346, 516, 520; Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Petitions to the Pope, ed W H Bliss (London, 1896), 175, 254.

7. NRS Miscellaneous Ecclesiastical Records, CH8/16.

8. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 220, 221, 226, 232, 238, 241.

Summary of relevant documentation


Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: Granted to Kelso by Gospatrick 1153x66; the  parsonage and vicarage were annexed and a vicar pensioner served the cure.(1)

1349 Henry de Smailholm (MA) holds church of Fogo, promoted to archdeaconry of Teviotdale in 1354, to resign Fogo. 1354 charter states that ‘on account of the war he gets nothing (from the revenues of Fogo). Charter same year states that ‘revenues of the church have been destroyed in the wars’.(2)

1556 (9 April) Parish church is one of 22 from the Merse specifically mentioned in two letters [the 1555 letter does not have a specific date, McRoberts suggests August] from John Hamilton, archbishop of St Andrews (1547-1571) to the Dean of Christianity of the Merse. Hamilton states that ‘a great many of the parish churches are-their choirs as well as naves -wholly thrown down and as it were levelled to the ground; others were partly ruinous or threatening collapse in respect of their walls and roofs; they were without glazed windows and without a baptismal font and had no vestments for the high altars and no missals or manuals…. The fault and shortcomings belong to the parishioners as well as to the parsons’. The dean was instructed to investigate the fruits, garbal teinds and other rights of the said churches.(3)


Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church parsonage and vicarage (£13 6s 8d) Kelso, served by a vicar pensioner.(4)

1683 (14 Aug) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Duns finds the church ‘in ruins’. John Bald, mason, William Knowford, wright commissioned to mend the church. They report that the vault by west the door by which the minister enters the pulpit by no act could be made to stand and that the south and north walls the same length behoven to be taken down and there after built anew to be heightened two feet in order to set on the roof, and that the north side wall was further to be taken down so far as it is double walled, that the west gabell behoved likewise to be taken down, and that the rest of the vault which was not to be taken down is behoved to be thackit with stone. Total cost estimated at 600 marks.(5)

1705 (6 Mar) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Duns notes some defects of the roof of the church; the session is ordered to sort it out.(6)

#1775 [no kirk session records survive from 1755 or 1775 and there are no references to the building work in the presbytery records]

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev John Tod, 1791): ‘the walls and roof of the church were repaired in 1775’.(7)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev George McLean, 1834): ‘At what time it [the parish church] was built is unknown. The walls and roof were repaired in 1755 and plastered in 1817’.(8) [different date from above]

Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches: (George Hay): 1755 with 17th century burial aisle; repaired 1817, good pulpit, 1644 Meikle bell. With a good belfry dates largely from a 1755 renovation, at the east end is a large burial vault with a 17th century doorway (‘T’ plan church).(9)


1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 67.

2. CPL, iii, 346, 516 & 520, CPP, 175 & 254.

3. NRS Miscellaneous Ecclesiastical Records, CH8/16. Noted in Donaldson, Scottish Reformation, p. 23 and McRoberts, ‘Material destruction caused by the Scottish Reformation’, 427.

4. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 220, 221, 226, 232, 238 & 241.

5. NRS Presbytery of Duns, Minutes, 1659-1688, CH2/113/1, fols. 247-249.

6. NRS Presbytery of Duns, Minutes, 1698-1707, CH2/113/3, fol. 95.

7. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1791), xx, 275.

8. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1834), ii, 229.

9. Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, pp. 91, 187 & 252.


NRS Miscellaneous Ecclesiastical Records, CH8/16.

NRS Presbytery of Duns, Minutes, 1659-1688, CH2/113/1.

NRS Presbytery of Duns, Minutes, 1698-1707, CH2/113/3.

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.

Cowan, I.B., 1967, The parishes of medieval Scotland, (Scottish Record Society), Edinburgh.

Donaldson, G., 1960, The Scottish Reformation, Cambridge.

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.

McRoberts, D., 1962., ‘Material destruction caused by the Scottish Reformation’, in D. McRoberts, Essays on the Scottish Reformation, 1513-1625, Glasgow.

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

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

Architectural description

Earl Gospatrick granted Fogo Church to the Tironensian abbey of Kelso at a date between 1153 and 1166; both parsonage and vicarage were annexed, with the cure served by a vicar pensioner.(1) There are records of two dedications at Fogo by Bishop David de Bernham, one on 2 April 1242, and the other on 29 March 1243,(2) and it should perhaps be assumed that one of those was at the church of the small Tironensian community at Fogo that was dependent on Kelso.(3)

The much rebuilt rectangular core of the parish church, with dimensions of 20.95 by 6.63 metres, is likely to perpetuate the final medieval plan, though no pre-Reformation architectural details remain in evidence. The one surviving medieval artefact is the lower part of a thirteenth-century foliate cross grave slab with lavish stiff leaf decoration, that is now located in the burial aisle at the east end of the building.

The church was one of 22 in the Merse that had evidently suffered in the disturbances resulting from the Border warfare with England, since it is said to have been in a decayed state in a letter of 9 April 1556 from Archbishop John Hamilton.(4)

The first major recorded structural intervention took place in 1683, at which time the north, south and west walls were taken down and heightened by the mason John Bald and the wright William Knowford.(5) Much of the masonry of that campaign appears to be identifiable by the use of horizontally tooled rubble. It is not clear, however, if the south aisle which gives the church its T-plan and the vaulted burial aisle of the Harcase family at the east end were added at the same time.

There was further major structural intervention in 1775,(6) when it is likely that some new windows were cut. The interior was re-seated and plastered in 1817.(7) Further external modifications were made in 1853, and in 1927 the Harcase vault at the east end was adapted as a vestry.(8)

The two main doorways into the church are set on each side of the south aisle, having a block rusticated surround and an oval window above it. Each of the doors is covered by porches, that to the east, which is attached to the aisle, being probably of 1853, A doorway into the east burial vault of a similar design to the south-east doorway, was converted into a window when that vault was adapted as a vestry and a doorway was instead cut into it from the church. Another doorway in the south face of the south aisle is also now converted into a window; it has a panel with a female figure flanked by two male figures in its apron and the inscription ‘We Three Served God, Lived in His Fear, And Loved Him who bought us Dear’.

Two lofts, at the east and west ends of the main body of the church, are approached by external forestairs, one against the west wall, which leads to a porch, and the other at the east end of the south wall. The majority of windows along the south flank and in the south aisle are round-headed with raised margins, and are presumably of 1775; the only element to break the cornice line is a dormer lighting the west loft. The north windows are all rectangular, and probably of 1853 in their present form. Rising above the west gable is a square domed bellcote dating from the works of 1755.

Internally the three arms of the church focus on the pulpit at the centre of the north wall, which is hexagonal with raised and fielded panels and has an ogee domed tester carried by a backboard with Tuscan pilasters. Close to the pulpit there are box pews with raised and fielded panels, presumably of 1817, and there are open pews further back.

The Trotter of Charterhall loft at the west end has that family’s arms carved in relief on the back wall and the date 1671, though in its present form this loft dates from 1854; it is carried on cast iron Tuscan columns. The Hog of Harcarse loft at the east end has their painted arms and the date 1677 on the front of the loft, though that cannot be the date of the loft as now seen; it is carried on a single cast iron column, and the front has flush panelling with beaded edges.


1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland, (Scottish Record Society) 1967, p. 67.

2. Alan Orr Anderson, Early Sources of Scottish History, Edinburgh, 1922, vol. 2, pp. 521 and 523,

3. Ian B. Cowan and David E. Easson, Medieval Religious Houses, Scotland, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1976, p. 67.

4. National Records of Scotland, Miscellaneous Ecclesiastical Records, CH8/16.

5. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Duns, Minutes, 1659-88, CH2/113/1, fols 247-49.

6. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-99, vol. 20, p. 275. The New Statistical Account gives the date 1755, though it is perhaps more likely that the date given in the Statistical Account is correct, since it was nearer in date to the work.

7. New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. 2, p. 229.

8. G.A.C. Binnie, The Churches and Churchyards of Berwickshire, Ladykirk, 1995, p. 245.



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

  • 1. Fogo Church, exterior, from south

  • 2. Fogo Church, exterior, from north east

  • 3. Fogo Church, exterior, from north

  • 4. Fogo Church, exterior, from south east

  • 5. Fogo Church, exterior, from south west

  • 6. Fogo Church, exterior, from west

  • 7. Fogo Church, exterior, burial vault from south east

  • 8. Fogo Church, exterior, burial vault, blocked east door

  • 9. Fogo churchyard, gravestones

  • 10. Fogo Church, exterior, south aisle, tablet set into blocked door

  • 11. Fogo Church, foliate cross slab fragment

  • 12. Fogo Church, interior, burial vault

  • 13. Fogo Church, interior, cross slab fragment

  • 14. Fogo Church, interior, east loft, heraldic panel

  • 15. Fogo Church, interior, looking east

  • 16. Fogo Church, interior, looking south west

  • 17. Fogo Church, interior, looking west

  • 18. Fogo Church, interior, pulpit

  • 19. Fogo Church, interior, west loft, armorial panel

  • 20. Fogo Church, interior

  • 21. Fogo churchyard, tomb chest