Fowlis Easter Parish Church

Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, exterior, from south east

Summary description

A finely detailed rectangular structure rebuilt in the early 1450s to accommodate a collegiate foundation; restored in 1889-90. A uniquely significant group of liturgical fixtures and furnishings has survived.

Historical outline

Dedication: St Marnan/Marnoc the Confessor

The early history of the parish church of Fowlis Easter is very complex.  The traditional narrative, as presented by Ian Cowan, is that around 1163 William Maule, lord of Fowlis, granted his chapel of Fowlis to the canons of St Andrews cathedral-priory, the date being determined by Pope Alexander III’s confirmation of the priory’s possession in that year.(1) The grant, however, was not immediately effective as William presented his nephew, Thomas the clerk, to the ‘church of Fowlis’, Thomas being required to make an annual render of one merk to the canons at Martinmas.(2)  A charter of Bishop Arnold of St Andrews (1160-1162), however, had granted and confirmed the the chapel of Fowlis to the priory as a dependency of the church of Rossie, which he had also given to them.(3)  In a general confirmation of all of the priory’s possessions made shortly afterwards, Rossie and Fowlis were presented as Arnold’s own gift with no reference made to William Maule.(4)  It is Arnold’s grant of the chapel that was confirmed in 1163 in Pope Alexander III’s general confirmation of the priory’s possessions, with subsequent confirmations by Pope Lucius III in 1183 and of the ‘church’ by Pope Gregory VIII and Clement III in 1187 and 1188.(5)

Between 1165 and 1169 the chapel was confirmed to the canons as a gift of Bishop Arnold in King William’s confirmation of the priory’s possessions.(6) It was probably around this time that William Maule yielded to the seemingly inevitable and ‘gave’ the canons his chapel of Fowlis, along with all the rights in land and teinds which he had earlier assigned to his nephew, Thomas,(7) receiving in return an ‘obit’ and the promise of a right of burial in the cathedral-priory.  Thomas’s interest in the church was restated between 1189 and 1199 by William Maule’s son-in-law and successor as lord of Fowlis, Roger Mortimer, who repeated William’s arrangements including the annual payment of one merk due to the canons of St Andrews.(8)  Then, between c.1225 and 1235, Hugh Mortimer, grandson of William Maule, confirmed the canons’ possession of Fowlis in almost a repeat of his grandfather’s original charter.(9)  This deed was witnessed by William Malveisin, bishop of St Andrews, and may have marked a decisive stage in the process whereby Fowlis was both elevated to full parochial status and appropriated to the priory by the bishop.

William Malveisin confirmed the church of Fowlis to the priory of St Andrews in proprios usus before 1235.(10)  A vicarage settlement was instituted by Bishop David de Bernham around 1241 when he confirmed the church in proprios usus.(11)  The following year on 31 August, Bishop David dedicated the church, with a note in the St Andrews’ priory giving the dedication as St Marnan.(12)  The church appears as the vicarage of ‘Foules in Gouerin’ in the rolls of the papal tax-collector in Scotland in 1274-5, paying 9s 4d in taxation.(13)  The parsonage thereafter remained annexed to the prioy at St Andrews.

On 27 January 1450, a supplication to the pope noted that John Chalmers, priest of the church of Abernyte in Dunkeld diocese, had intimated his intention to demit his church so that it could be annexed to a collegiate church that Andrew, Lord Grey, intended to found in ‘his town of Fowlis’ and for which he had provided £40 of revenues.  The move, however, had been blocked by James, bishop of Dunkeld, who wished to annexe Abernyte to his episcopal mensa.(14)  This is the first reference to an attempt to establish a collegiate church at Fowlis and, while Lord Grey failed to secure Abernyte as a source of additional revenue for his scheme, a limited establishment may have resulted, as an inscription at the church records construction in 1453.(15)  The eventual full establishment of the collegiate church does not appear to have been achieved until after 1514.  Although the parish and collegiate churches evidently shared the same building, there was no institutional relationship as the parsonage remained with the priory at St Andrews whilst the vicarage perpetual seems also to have been served by a canon of St Andrews.(16)  Only the parish clerkship appears to have been annexed to the collegiate church, providing the revenue to support one of seven prebends.(17)

At the Reformation, the church was recorded as pertaining to the cathedral-priory of St Andrews and was valued at £40 annually.(18)  The third of the vicarage was recorded at £4 13s 4d.(19)

Notes

1. I B Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society, 1967), 70-71; Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree in Scotia (Bannatyne Club, 1841), 40-41, 55, 264-5 [hereafter St Andrews Liber].

2. St Andrews Liber, 40-41.

3. St Andrews Liber, 126-7.

4. St Andrews Liber, 130-132.

5. St Andrews Liber, 55, 58, 63-4, 68.

6. Regesta Regum Scottorum, ii, The Acts of William I, ed G W S Barrow (Edinburgh, 1971), no.28.

7. St Andrews Liber, 264-5.

8. St Andrews Liber, 41-2.

9. St Andrews Liber, xxxviii [no.40], 265-6.

10. St Andrews Liber, 157.

11. St Andrews Liber, 170.

12. A O Anderson (ed), Early Sources of Scottish History, ii (Edinburgh, 1922), 522 [Pontifical Offices of St Andrews]; St Andrews Liber, 308.

13. A I Dunlop (ed), ‘Bagimond’s Roll: Statement of the Tenths of the Kingdom of Scotland’, Miscellany of the Scottish History Society, vi (1939), 38.

14. Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, v, 1447-1471, eds J Kirk, R J Tanner and A I Dunlop (Glasgow, 1997), no.309.

15. I B Cowan and D E Easson, Medieval Religious Houses: Scotland, 2nd edition (London, 1976), 221.

16. Cowan, Parishes, 71.

17. Cowan and Easson, Medieval Religious Houses, 221.

18. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 8, 16, 18.

19. G Donaldson (ed), Accounts of the Collectors of Thirds of Benefices, (Scottish History Society, 1949), 15.  

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes:  William de Maule gave his chapel of Fowlis Easter to the priory of St Andrews in c.1163. Provision was made for a suitable vicar and the parsonage remained with the priory. Church becomes a collegiate 1514x38 but the vicarage perpetual remained separate with the priory.(1)

William Maule reputedly received the lordship of Fowlis from David I after the Battle of the Standard. The chapel of Fowlis Easter appears to have originally been a pendicle of the church of Rossie, in which both the king and the bishop of St Andrews had an interest (Cowan’s Parishes, pp. 70-1). It appears that Arnold, bishop of St Andrews, attempted to convey the chapel of Fowlis Easter to the priory along with the church of Rossie. 1160 x 1162, Arnold, bishop of St Andrews, conceded the chapel of Fowlis Easter and all other rights pertaining to the church of Rossie. 1160 x 1162, Arnold, bishop of St Andrews, confirmed (general confirmation) the chapel of Fowlis Easter as his own gift.(2)

1165 x 1169 The chapel of Fowlis Easter is confirmed (general confirmation) as a gift of Bishop Arnold by William I.(3)

1165 x 1166 Richard, bishop of St Andrews, confirmed (general confirmation) the chapel of Fowlis Easter as a gift of Bishop Arnold.

1198 x 1199 Roger, bishop of St Andrews, confirms (general confirmation) the chapel of Fowlis Easter as a gift of Bishop Arnold.(4)

Papal Confirmations

1163 Pope Alexander III confirmed the chapel of Fowlis Easter as a gift of Bishop Arnold.

1183 Pope Lucius III confirmed the chapel of Fowlis Easter as a gift of Bishop Arnold 1187, Pope Gregory VIII confirmed the church of Fowlis Easter.(5)

The church was confirmed in the same terms by Clement III in 1188, Innocent III in 1206, and Honorius III in 1216.(6)

1165 x 1170 William Maule, lord of Fowlis, gave (dare) the chapel of Fowlis Easter to the priory with its ancient glebe land and ten acres of land given ‘as an increase’ to the chapel with tithes and oblations.(7)

1189 x 1198 Roger de Mortimer, the new lord of Fowlis (and husband of William Maule’s daughter), renewed the possession of the church of Fowlis Easter by Thomas the clerk following the terms set out by William Maule (including the annual payment of one mark to the canons of St Andrews).(8)

c. 1225 x 1235 Hugh de Mortimer, grandson of William Maule, confirmed the language of the original dare charter to the cathedral priory (excepting one clause concerning a third part of the lord’s assets). This charter was witnessed by William Malveisin, bishop of St Andrews.

1222 x 1235 William Malveisin, bishop of St Andrews, gave the church of Fowlis Easter to the cathedral priory in proprios usus.(9)

1228 Alexander II confirmed (general confirmation) the church of Fowlis Easter as a gift of William Maule.(10)

1456 Thomas Brown (MA) described as perpetual vicar (value £5).(11)

1511 Henry Preston perpetual vicar of Fowlis.(12)

1553 George Ruthven, vicar of Fowlis referred to in a Perth land case.(13)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church recorded as pertaining to the priory of St Andrews 1586/7, value £40.(14)

Account of Collectors of Thirds of Benefices (G. Donaldson): Third of vicarage £4 13s 4d.(15)

1612 (6 May) Reference by the Synod of Fife to the ‘monuments of idolatry painted in the kirk of Fowlis’. The synod commissions four men to go to the church and abolish the foresaid paintings’.(16)

1614 (1 Oct) Further reference to the paintings; the minister to be brought in front of the synod to answer for it.(17)

1615 (3 Apr) The minister of Fowlis reported that Lord Gray had failed to attend a meeting with him regarding the paintings in the church. The synod finds fault with the vicar and orders him to abolish the paintings by the next meetings (on pain of removal from the church).(18)

[Kirk Session records survive from 1685-98 but contain no references to church fabric](20)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Andrew Halley, 1791): Long section on the church. (21)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Thomas Irvine, 1838-42): Further long section on the church.(22)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 70-71.

2. Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree, pp. 126-127 & 130-132.

3. RRS, ii, no. 28.

4. Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree, pp. 141-144 & 149-152.

5. Scotia Pontificia, nos. 50, 119 & 148.

6. Scotia Pontificia, no. 149, Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree, pp. 71-6, 76-81.

The identification of the chapel of Fowlis Easter as a pendicle of Rossie would explain the claims of the bishop of St Andrews to its patronage.

7. He also gave to the canons the tithe of his mill, common pasture, and easements in Fowlis for eight oxen, ten cows, three horses and 100 sheep. He also gave the first fruits from the pasture for one year and the third part of his property in revenues and grain. This was done in return for an obit and burial at the cathedral priory. This charter was attested by Richard, bishop of St Andrews, Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree, pp. 264-65. Beforehand, in 1160 x 1170 (prob. in 1160 x 1162), William Maule gave (dare) the church of Fowlis Easter to his nephew, Thomas the clerk, including the same spiritual assets and temporal assets as far as land (although perambulated, rather than measured) as those promised to the cathedral priory. In this charter, the canons of St Andrews are given a pension of mark annually from the church of Fowlis Easter to be paid by the parson (i.e. Thomas the clerk). The charter was attested by Walter, prior of St Andrews, and the convent (thus, at St Andrews), Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree, pp. 264-5 & 40-1.

8. Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree, pp. 41-2; see also, RRS, II, no. 302.

9. Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree, pp. 157 & 265-66.

10. Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree, pp. 232-36.

11. CPL, xi, 8-39.

12. CPL, xix, no.556.

13. NRS Perth, Protocol Books: Henry Elder, B59/1/1 fol. 113.

14. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices,  8, 16 & 18.

15. Donaldson, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, 15.

16. NRS Records of the Synod of Fife, 1610-1636, CH2/154/1, fols. 118-119.

17. NRS Records of the Synod of Fife, 1610-1636, CH2/154/1, fol. 190.

18. NRS Records of the Synod of Fife, 1610-1636, CH2/154/1, fol. 208.

19. NRS Lundie Kirk Session, 1685-1698, CH2/254/1.

20. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1791), vii, 287-88.

21. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1838, rev 1842), xi, 466.

Bibliography

NRS Perth, Protocol Books: Henry Elder, B59/1/1 fol.

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

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

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.

Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree in Scotia, 1841, ed. T. Thomson (Bannatyne Club), Edinburgh.

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

Regesta Regum Scottorum, Acts of William I (1165-1214), 1971, Edinburgh.

Scotia pontificia papal letters to Scotland before the Pontificate of Innocent III, 1982, ed. R. Somerville, Oxford.

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

Architectural description

A combination of the complete survival of the building and the partial survival of an unparalleled number of its liturgical fixtures and furnishings gives the collegiate church at Fowlis Easter a unique significance for our understanding of the later medieval Church in Scotland. Nothing identifiable remains in place of the chapel that had been granted to St Andrews Cathedral Priory in about 1163,(1) and that had presumably achieved parochial status by the time of a dedication by Bishop David de Bernham on 31August 1242.(2

Although it seems that the Gray family’s college was not finally established until the early sixteenth century, the building that is now seen dates from a reconstruction of the mid-fifteenth century. At that time Andrew Lord Gray is known to have been making abortive plans to found a college, for which he was making provision to annexe the church of Abernyte according to correspondence with the pope on 27 January 1450.(3)

Construction of the new church may have started a little time before then, since painted inscriptions indicate that furnishings were being set in place in 1452 and 1453. One inscription said to have been on ‘the organ loft’ is recorded as stating ‘hoc templum structum fuit anno millesimo centesimo quadragesimo secundo ab A Gray’.(4) The other, which has been re-set on the frame of a surviving painting has been interpreted to read ‘[...venerabu]nd hoc templum construxere beato Mernoco si queras quoto semel millesimo centesimo quater quinquagesimo tertio anno quo fuit is Romae ceu dominus peregre taut amen’.(5

The church is an unbuttressed rectangular structure rising from a broadly chamfered base course and with a cavetto-moulded wall-head cornice; it has overall dimensions of 27.1 by 8.5 metres.(6) The west gable has a bellcote that dates from the restoration of 1889-90 by Thomas Sanders Robertson, while the east gable is surmounted by cross with crosslets that rises from lateral gablets at the head of the coping. The walls are constructed of superbly squared grey ashlar , many of the stones having incised masons’ marks. The stone, like much that is used in the area, is unfortunately prone to laminating, though where it has not fallen away, the surface preserves very crisp detailing.

There are three round-arched doorways into the church: one for the clergy in the south wall of the choir area, and one on each side of the nave towards its west end. The choir and north nave doors have simply chamfered reveals and are without hood mouldings  The doorway that was given greatest emphasis was that towards the west end of the south wall, which was the main entrance for layfolk, and which has continuous mouldings in the form of a filleted roll flanked by hollows terminating in narrow fillets. Its arch is framed by an ogee-shaped crocketed hood moulding with heraldic finial and corbels.

The windows, none of which have hood mouldings, are arranged according to liturgical and practical needs, with no regard to symmetry or regularity. Most were in the south and west walls. The only window in the east wall was a small circlet set relatively high, presumably to allow an altar retable to be placed below it; it now contains cast iron tracery that was evidently in place at the time that Billings prepared his engravings.(7)

Laterally directed light for the altar was through a three-light window with cusped intersecting tracery in the wall to its south; this is one of two more richly detailed windows in the church, having a reveal with a filleted roll at the junction of a broad chamfer with the wall face. There is a trifoliate-headed window to the west of the priests’ doorway, which would have lit the area occupied by their stalls, and there is a similar window in the south wall of the nave. The largest window in the nave was one of four lights in the west wall, the lights being grouped within a pair of sub-arches, with foiled figures at the heads of and between those sub-arches; it has reveals in the form of a pair of chamfers and a filleted roll.

The most liturgically interesting windows are a pair set one above the other a little to the east of the mid-point of the south wall, the lower one having a cusped pointed head, and the upper one rising up to the wall-head cornice and being of rectangular form; there is a window corresponding to the lower of the two in the north wall. An arrangement of windows of this kind may be found in a number of the more architecturally ambitious later medieval churches of rectangular plan, and is known to have existed at Innerpeffray Collegiate Church in Perthshire and at the Franciscan Friary in Aberdeen, amongst others. The intention behind it was to light the areas below and above the rood loft, with the lower windows lighting the nave altars in front of the screen, and the upper windows shedding light on the rood and perhaps a rood altar in front of it.

At several points there is heraldry relating to Andrew Lord Gray and his wife, Elizabeth Wemyss of Reres, whom he contracted to marry on 31 August 1418.(8) The finial of the south nave doorway has a helm with a swan’s-neck crest above a weathered shield flanked by lion supporters; the east corbel of the hood moulding is in the form of an angel with a pearl necklace, and the east corbel has an angel holding a shield with the arms of Gray impaling a lion rampant, perhaps either for Wemyss or in reference to Lord Gray’s mother, Janet Mortimer. Related heraldry is found on the skewputts of the two gables: at the south-east corner are the arms of Gray and Wemyss; at the south-west corner those of Wemyss of Reres; at the north-east corner the royal arms of Scotland; and at the north-west corner a lion rampant (for Wemyss or Mortimer?).  

Apart from the invaluable evidence preserved within the architecture for the liturgical provisions, Fowlis is extraordinarily fortunate in having preserved much else besides. Indeed, at no other Scottish church is it now possible to gain such a full picture of at least a part of the range of furnishings that such a collegiate church would have housed in order to enhance the setting of its services. While much of what is now seen within the church dates from the restoration of 1889-90 by Thomas Sanders Robertson, including the arch-braced roof and the location of the communion table at the east end, great care was taken to preserve what had survived of the evidence for the medieval liturgical provisions.

Of the permanent stone fixtures still in place, in the east wall, to the north of the site of the high altar, is an exceptionally fine sacrament house. Its locker is flanked by miniature pinnacle buttresses, and above the locker’s crocketed ogee arch is a relief carving of Christ as Salvator Mundi, accompanied by angels bearing two of the symbols of the Passion, the cross and the flagellation post. There are fragments of related sacrament houses at Tealing and Cortachy in Angus that may have been the work of the same mason. Above the sacrament house is a carving of the Annunciation, which appears to have been relocated to this position from an uncertain position elsewhere.

At the junction of the choir and nave there is a pair of corbels on each side, those on the south being set to either side of the head of the lower of the two levels of windows at this point, and those on the north flanking the head of the single corresponding window. These were clearly the supports for the platform of the rood loft. A third corbel on the north side, that is set to the west of the others and at a slightly lower level, may have been either to support the stair to the loft or for an image associated with the altar at this point.

In the nave there is a holy water stoup to the east of each of the two doorways. That on the north is decorated with relief carvings of square flower and a fleur-de-lis, while that on the south has a shield that would presumably once have been painted.

The finest feature in the nave is the font. This was turned out of the church at the Reformation, but was said in 1886 to have been found in fragments by the local schoolmaster, who attempted to restore it.(9) It was later removed to the grounds of the land owner’s shooting lodge to serve as a flower pot, before being eventually returned to the church.(10) Although some of the detail was lost when the upper part of the bowl was broken away, its eight panels can be seen to have relief carvings of the baptism of Christ, the arrest in the garden, Christ before Pilate, the Flagellation, Christ carrying the cross, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, and the Harrowing of Hell. The base of the shaft has the arms of Gray and Wemyss.

The most extraordinary survival in the church is a series of paintings, which were evidently preserved because the choir was partitioned off after the Reformation as a tomb house for Lord Gray’s descendants. Between 1612 and 1615 orders were repeatedly given for those that remained visible to be covered with green paint, and it was specified that these ‘monumentes of idolatrie’ were ‘upon the pulpit and the ruid-laft’.(11) It is not known if these orders were ever followed to any extent, but, if they were, at least some of them were again visible by the time of the Statistical Account of the 1790s,(12) and J. Stuart suggests that it may have been soon after 1746 that they were re-exposed.(13)

The paintings were fully exposed and conserved as part of the Robertson restoration of 1889-90, at which time the choir was re-opened and brought back into use for worship, with the communion table on or near the site of the medieval high altar replacing the pulpit as the main focus of worship. The open-timber roof constructed at that time replaced a roof said in the Statistical Account to have been constructed some four years earlier, and thus presumably in the 1780s, within which a low ceiling that blocked the upper part of the west window is said to have been inserted in about 1842.

The most unusual – although also the most damaged – survival is part of a retable, which may have been from the high altar.(14) The central, and much defaced, figure was of Christ, probably as Salvator Mundi, flanked to one side by St Catherine and on the other by St John the Baptist and the Virgo lactans. In the lower part of the panel are smaller figures that probably formed part of a predella, with the Virgin of Pity at the centre, flanked by a number of other saints.

A number of items formed part of the rood screen that separated the choir from the nave. The doors of the screen, which had apparently continued to serve at the entrance to the Gray burial place, were re-set as part of a draught-screen towards the west end of the church. They are of framed construction arranged in three tiers. At the lowest level are solid linenfold-decorated panels; at the middle level are openwork panels with sub-articulated reticulated tracery; the open upper half is punctuated by a series of pinnacled buttresses. A more complex, but essentially related development on screen doors of this kind is to be seen at King’s College Chapel in Aberdeen, where they date from the early years of the sixteenth century, and are thus likely to be almost a half-century later than those at Fowlis.  

The largest single feature associated with the screen is the painting of the crucifixion, which was presumably set towards the east side of the rood loft, and of which eighteen oak boards survive; it has clearly been cut down on all sides, but more has been lost at the base and the left-hand side than elsewhere.(15) While the painting appears likely to be the work of a Scottish artist, and could not be claimed as a work of the highest artistic standard, the way in which it is closely packed with incidental detail suggests an awareness of contemporary Netherlandish and German work.

It has been suggested that the same artist may have been responsible for the painted ceiling in the collegiate aisle at Guthrie, now in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. There is, however, insufficient stylistic evidence to make a strong case for this, and, since the roof at Guthrie has been dated dendrochronologically to 1464,(16) the paintings there are likely to be at least a decade later than those at Fowlis.

The crucified Christ, at what was the original centre of the screen, is shown at the moment of death, with Longinus, his eyes newly opened, piercing his side with the spear, while the good centurion proclaims, ‘vere filius dei erat iste’. To either side of Christ the two thieves, their legs having been broken, are yielding up their souls, the bad thief’s to a devil and the good thief’s to an angel. At the base of the cross the Virgin, St John and St Mary Magdalene are particularly prominent, while on Christ’s left the figures include the High Priest and one who is perhaps meant to be Herod. A particularly unusual feature is the figure of a fool or jester, who, it has been suggested, may be a reference to the fool of psalm thirteen (in the Vulgate psalter), who has said in his heart that there is no god.(17

It appears that it was not uncommon in Scotland for the rood to be in the form of a painting rather than a carved representation of the crucifixion. At Elgin Cathedral, where there was the painting of the crucifixion on the west side of the boarding and a painting of the Last Judgemnt on the other side, it survived until 1640.(18)

At Fowlis the painting of the crucifixion is additionally valuable for the evidence it affords on the form of the internal ceiling. The painted boards were evidently fixed to the roof timbers, and the areas of the boarding that would have been concealed between the ceiling and the roof were left unpainted. This unpainted area indicates that the ceiling was of three-centred profile. In the later middle ages the more steeply arched timber-boarded ceilings that have survived in restored form in the choir at Glasgow Cathedral and of which there are indications in the east gable of Elgin Cathedral, seem to have fallen out of favour, with ceilings of more depressed profile coming to be preferred. At Fowlis Easter there is evidence for one of the earliest of these.

Also associated with the screen was a series of painted figures on eleven oak boards that are generally assumed to have formed part of the balustrade of the rood loft, but that might equally have been from the dado of the screen itself.(19) Flanking the figure of Christ are a number of apostles and saints, including Catherine, John, Peter and Antony of Egypt. The patronage of Lord Gray was made clear through his arms appearing as an apparel on the alb of St Ninian, as if that saint had taken Gray’s livery and his intercessory prayers before the Throne of Grace were thus at Gray’s command.

Another painted panel is composed of five fragments, including an armoured figure holding a halberd and possibly in a sleeping posture, together with five mounted individuals. According to one mid-nineteenth-century account there was a painting of the resurrection in the church,(20) and if, this is not a misinterpretation of the iconography, it may be that the sleeping soldier was from that panel.

Within the graveyard to the south of the church is a simply blocked out short-armed cross with a tapering shaft, which is presumably of medieval but otherwise uncertain date. To its east is a badly damaged and moss-covered coped gravestone that is recorded as having had relief carvings of a sword from which a hunting horn was suspended, together with what appear to have been traces of a foliate cross head.(21) Built into the walls of a nearby cottage there is said to have been a fragment of sculpted stone with three figures set within an arcade of ogee arches decorated with crockets and carried on miniature pinnacled buttresses.(22) This appears most likely to have come from a tomb chest, and it may be wondered if it could have been for the builder of the church, Andrew Lord Gray.

Notes

1. Cowan 1967, pp. 70–71.

2. Alan Orr Anderson, Early sources of Scottish history, Edinburgh and London, 1922, vol. 2, p. 522.

3. Registra Supplicationum, vol. 43, fo. 272.

4. This temple was constructed in the year 1452 by A. Gray, Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-9, vol. 7, pp. 287-8.

5. [Andrew Lord Gray and his devout lady] built this church of St Marnock; if you ask when [then] in 1453, the year in which he was abroad as ambassador at Rome. But thou, O lord, have mercy upon me. Amen. Arthur B. Dalgetty, History of the Church of Foulis Easter, Dundee, 1933, pp. 76 and 82-3.

6. T.S. Muir, Descriptive notices of some of the ancient parochial and collegiate churches of Scotland, London, 1848, pp. 132-8; MacGibbon and Ross 1896–7, vol. 3, pp. 189–99; Dalgetty 1933; Apted and Robertson 1961–2; Med. Relig Houses, p. 221; McRoberts 1983.

7. Robert William Billings, Baronial and ecclesiastical antiquities of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1845-52, vol. 2.

8. The arms of Lord Gray are gules, a lion rampant argent, armed and langued or, a bordure engraved argent. His wife’s arms are  quarterly first and fourth or, a lion rampant gules. Second and third a bend argent. Bruce A. McAndrew, Scotland’s historic heraldry, Woodbridge, 2006, pp. 165 and 250.

9. J. Russel Walker, ‘Scottish baptismal fonts’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 21, 1886-7, pp. 442-3 and 445.

S. Muir, Descriptive notices of some of the ancient parochial and collegiate churches of Scotland, London, 1848, p. 137.

11. National Records of Scotland, Records of the Synod of Fife, 1610-36, CH2/154/1, fols 119r-v, 191r and 209v.

12. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-9, vol. 7, pp. 287-8.

13. J. Stuart, Historical sketches of the church and parish of Fowlis Easter, Dundee, 1865, p. 63

14. McRoberts 1983.

15. Thomas Ross, ‘Mural painting in Easter Foulis Church’, transactions of the Scottish Ecclesiological Society, vol. 6, 1921, pp. 154-6; Apted and Robertson 1961–2.  

16. Personal communication from Dr Anne Crone.

17. Michael Bath, ‘The jester at the Crucifixion? The fool at Fowlis, History Scotland, July/Augst 2008, pp. 14-18.

18. John Spalding, memorials of the Trubles in Scotland and in England, ed. John Stuart, Spalding Club, vol. 1, 1850, pp. 376-7.

19. Dalgetty 1933, p. 59; Apted and Robertson 1961–2

20. Stuart, 1865.

21. Dalgetty 1933, p. 36 and pl. VI.

22. MacGibbon and Ross 1896–7, vol. 3, p. 193 and fig 1115.

Map

Images

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

  • 1. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, exterior, from south east

  • 2. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, exterior, from north west

  • 3. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, exterior, from south, detail

  • 4. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, churchyard, coped monument

  • 5. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, churchyard, cross

  • 6. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, churchyard, gravestone

  • 7. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, exterior, nave south door, east corbel

  • 8. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, exterior, nave south door, west corbel

  • 9. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, exterior, nave south door, finial

  • 10. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, exterior, west window

  • 11. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, exterior, north-east skewputt

  • 12. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, exterior, north-west skewputt

  • 13. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, exterior, south-east skewputt

  • 14. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, exterior, south-west skewputt

  • 15. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, exterior, south door

  • 16. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, exterior, south door finial

  • 17. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, fragments 1

  • 18. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, painting fragments

  • 19. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, balustrade painting 1

  • 20. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, balustrade painting 2

  • 21. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, balustrade painting 3

  • 22. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, balustrade painting 4

  • 23. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, corbels and window at north end of loft

  • 24. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, corbels and window at south end of loft

  • 25. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, crucifixion painting 1

  • 26. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, crucifixion painting 2

  • 27. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, crucifixion painting 3

  • 28. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, crucifixion painting 4

  • 29. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, crucifixion painting 6

  • 30. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, crucifixion painting 7

  • 31. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, crucifixion painting, detail, 1

  • 32. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, crucifixion painting, detail, 2

  • 33. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, font 1

  • 34. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, font 2

  • 35. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, font bowl, 1

  • 36. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, font bowl, 2

  • 37. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, font bowl, 3

  • 38. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, font bowl, 4

  • 39. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, font bowl, 5

  • 40. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, font bowl, 6

  • 41. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, font bowl, 7

  • 42. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, font, arms on base

  • 43. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, looking east

  • 44. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, retable

  • 45. Fowlis Easter, interior, retable fragment

  • 46. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, Sacrament House

  • 47. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, Sacrament House, Salvator figure

  • 48. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, Sacrament House, lintel

  • 49. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, screen doors, 1

  • 50. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, interior, screen doors, 2

  • 51. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, stoup

  • 52. Fowlis Easter, coped stone in graveyard (Dalgetty)

  • 53. Fowlis Easter, carved stone 'built into one of the cottages' (MacGibbon and Ross)

  • 54. Fowlis Easter Collegiate Church, plan (MacGibbon and Ross)