Garvald Parish Church

Garvald Church, exterior, from south west

Summary description

An extensively remodelled medieval rectangular structure retaining some mid-twelfth century mouldings. Extended eastwards in 1677. A north aisle was added, possibly in 1829.

Historical outline

Dedication: unknown

The history of this parish church before the Reformation is utterly obscure.  It is known that the lands of the parish were chiefly held by the nuns of the Cistercian priory at Haddington and it is a reasonable assumption that the church was held by the priory since its foundation by Countess Ada before 1159.(1)  It is likely that both the parsonage and vicarage were annexed to the nunnery from the middle of the twelfth century, although the loss of the priory cartulary makes this impossible to verify.  Certainly, the church does not appear in any recognisable form in the rolls of the papal tax-collector in Scotland in the 1270s, but in the 1298 tax-roll the church of Garvald, taxed at a teind of its income at £6 17s 4d, was listed amongst the possessions of the nuns of Haddington.(2)  It is likely that Ian Cowan’s proposal that the nuns supported a parochial chaplain to serve the cure is correct and at the Reformation it was simply recorded that the parsonage and vicarage lay with the priory.(3)

Notes

1. I B Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society, 1967), 72-3; I B Cowan and D E Easson, Medieval Religious Houses: Scotland, 2nd edition (London, 1976), 147.

2. The Correspondence, Inventories, Account Rolls and Law Proceedings of the Priory of Coldingham, ed J Raine (Surtees Society, 1841), appendix, cxii.

3. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 177, 178, 181-2.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: Parish lands and probably the church were with the nuns of Haddington by 1298; the priory provided a chaplain to serve the cure.(1)

[No pre-Reformation references]

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church parsonage and vicarage with the priory of Haddington. Garvald grange and a ‘hous and hauch at Garvald Kirk (value £5 5s) referred to in priory accounts. Minister at kirk paid £7 13s 4d.(2)

[Garvald and Barra were united in 1702; until 1744 minister used both churches alternately and after that the parish church at Garvald]

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: No references

1566 William Hume of Newland agrees to pay £40 to William Hume of Haddington on the high altar, or place where the high altar used to stand, in the parish church of Garvald.(3)

1674 (14 Oct) Report anent the parishes of Garvald and Barra. Heritors to be spoken to anent uniting Barra with an adjacent parish as the only way of augmenting the minister’s stipend.(4)

1676 (2 Nov) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Haddington, notes that the minister declares that the church and manse are in a tolerable condition, except that some of the windows did want glass.(5)

1702 (15 July) Act of annexation of the parishes of Baro and Garvald, stipend to be settled on one minister who is to serve both churches. The Marquis of Tweedale is the main heritor.(6)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Andrew Nisbet, 1793): ‘The church (at Garvald) is old but has been lately repaired’.(7) (no reference to Barra)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev John Sangster, 1835): ‘The church is still in good repair. An addition was made to it in 1829’.(8)

Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches: (George Hay): 1829, incorporating 12th century masonry, 1633 sun dial, and 1677 burial aisle.(9)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 72.

2. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefice, 177, 178 & 181-2.

3. Yester Writs, no. 739.

4. NRS Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1662-1686, CH2/185/7, fol. 178.

5. NRS Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1662-1686, CH2/185/7, fol. 228.

6. NRS Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1698-1716, CH2/185/10, fols. 100-101.

7. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1793), xiii, 359.

8. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1835), ii, 98.

9. Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, pp. 240 & 255.

Bibliography

NRS Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1662-1686, CH2/185/7.

NRS Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1698-1716, CH2/185/10.

Calendar of writs preserved at Yester House, 1166-1625, 1930, eds. C. Harvey & J. McLeod (Scottish Record Society), Edinburgh.

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.

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.

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

Architectural description

Despite an unsuccessful attempt by Archbishop Robert Blackadder in 1506 to annex the church to the college of Glasgow University, Garvald remained an independent parsonage. By the time of the Reformation the patronage was exercised by the Trinitarian house at Fail.(1)

The rectangular core of the building, which measures about 16.3 by 7.23 metres, appears to be essentially medieval. A base course with a narrow top chamfer, which steps up at the eastern end of the south wall, runs under much of the rectangular core, and there are extensive areas of white or pink cubical masonry throughout.

The most diagnostically significant feature is a lozenge-decorated string course a little above mid-height, which runs along much of the west wall and the western part of the north wall. Taken together with the form of the base course and the character of the masonry, this points to a date for the construction of the church around the mid-twelfth century.

The survival of a sundial dated 1633, may indicate that some works were carried out in that year, but the first known significant augmentation was in 1677. The east aisle was probably added at that time, since it has the inscription ‘IH 1677’ on the lintel of the door in its south wall. However, some caution is required here, since the walls of the aisle are predominantly of white sandstone, whereas the lintel is of red sandstone, which might suggest it has been re-used.

In 1702 the parish was united with that of Bara,(2) since the church at the latter was in a ruinous condition, but it is not known if any modifications were made to Garvald Church at the time.

The church was said to have been ‘lately repaired’ in the 1790s.(3) More extensive works were carried out in 1829, when it was said that ‘an addition was made’,(4) which was perhaps the north aisle. The contractor, and possibly the designer of those works was John Swinton of Haddington.(5)

The main front, to the south, has a regular sequence of four pointed and hood-moulded windows containing sashes with intersecting glazing bars, which probably date from the earlier nineteenth century. The windows are constructed of red sandstone, as is the evidently reconstructed south-west corner above the base course.

Elsewhere, less care was taken to suppress the evidence for earlier post-Reformation changes, and blocked openings that interrupted the twelfth-century string course can be seen in the northern part of the west wall and the western part of the north wall. A porch has been added against the west wall, the gable of which is surmounted by a gabled bellcote.

Notes

1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 72.

2. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1698-1716, CH2/185/10, fols 100-01.

3. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-99, vol. 13, p. 359.

4. New Statistical Account of Scotland, vol. 2, 1834-45, p. 98.

5. Colin McWilliam, The Buildings of Scotland, Lothian, Harmondsworth, 1978, p. 207.

Map

Images

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  • 1. Garvald Church, exterior, from south west

  • 2. Garvald Church, exterior, from north west

  • 3. Garvald Church, exterior, base course at south-west corner

  • 4. Garvald Church, exterior, east extension, south wall, inscribed door lintel

  • 5. Garvald Church, exterior, north wall, base course along east part

  • 6. Garvald Church, exterior, north wall, string course along west part

  • 7. Garvald Church, exterior, south wall, base course of east part

  • 8. Garvald Church, exterior, sundial

  • 9. Garvald Church, exterior, west wall, string course along south part

  • 10. Garvald Church, interior, looking east

  • 11. Garvald churchyard, monument, 1

  • 12. Garvald churchyard, monument, 2