Kilspindie Parish Church

Kilspindie church, exterior, from south west

Summary description

Rebuilt in 1795 or 1821, incorporating some medieval worked stones, and probably partly on the footprint of the previous church.

Historical outline

Dedication: St Penandus?

The early history of the church of Kilspindie is utterly obscure and there is also little recorded of its later pre-Reformation history.  Possibly dedicated to St Penandus,(1) its first appearance in a surviving source is as an independent parsonage in 1274/5 when the assessment for the rector of Kilspindie in the account rolls of the papal tax-collector in Scotland was set at four merks.(2)  It maintained that independent status until 1395, when Bishop Walter Traill of St Andrews granted it in proprios usus to the canons of Scone to help the convent meet the burdens of the hospitality it provided.(3)  On 12 September 1395, Pope Benedict XIII confirmed the annexation, noting that the abbey had previously held the patronage of the church by royal grant.(4)  There is no formal record of the vicarage settlement that was made but the arrangement at the Reformation had the whole of the parsonage and part of the vicarage annexed to Scone, while a vicar portioner, at that date Mark Jameson who also held the vicarage of the church of Currie near Edinburgh.(5)

Notes

1. J M Mackinlay, Ancient Church Dedications in Scotland. Non-Scriptural Dedications (Edinburgh, 1914), 481.

2. A I Dunlop (ed), ‘Bagimond’s Roll: Statement of the Tenths of the Kingdom of Scotland’, Miscellany of the Scottish History Society, vi (1939), 35.

3. Liber Ecclesie de Scon (Bannatyne Club, 1843), no.193.

4. Calendar of Papal Letters to Scotland of Benedict XIII of Avignon 1394-1419, ed F McGurk (Scottish History Society, 1976), 48.

5. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 110, 307.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: An independent parsonage in 1274, the church was confirmed to the use of Scone in 1395. The parsonage and part of the vicarage was so annexed, while the cure was served by a vicar portioner.(1)

According to Mackinley the church was dedicated to St Pensandus (a companion of Boniface of Rosemarkie).(2)

1395 Confirmation of grant of the church (and others) in proprios usus to Scone to help meet needs of hospitality (church mentioned as already in patronage of Scone by royal grant).(3)

1395 Church included in confirmation by Walter Trail, bishop of St Andrews, of possessions of Scone in diocese of St Andrews.(4)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church of Scone controls revenues of £40. Vicar portionary in hands of Mark Jameson (also rector of Currie), value 20 marks (£13 6s 8d).(5)

Account of Collectors of Thirds of Benefices (G. Donaldson): Third of vicar pensionary, £4 8s 10 2/3d.(6)

1613 (1 Sept) Visitation finds the parishioners complaining that the minister, James Row, spends too much time in Perth, especially on a Saturday, at which time he, being given to drink, returns ill-disposed to teach on the Sunday. They also complain that he takes no pains to study and is given to drink and has used the poor folks silver (alms) for his own uses. (Row is rebuked by the Synod). Same visitation found that the roof of the church is very ruinous. For reparation thereof, and for building of a pulpit, it is concluded that a tax be raised of £200, 2/3 paid by the parishioners and 1/3 by the parson.(7)

1619 (15 Sept) Minister George Symes complains that Patrick Brunt of Fingask, his house, family and tenents are often absent from the church (getting up to playing and dancing).(8)

1629 (14 Oct) Suit by the minister of Kilspindie (David Williamson) that the two kirks (Kilspindie and Rait) have been united by Act of Parliament, the parish church of Kilspindie being the one in which they assemble. As this as it is not large enough the parishioners ask for it to be enlarged and extended or better supplied by the building of commodious lofts. The synod ordains the assembly to visit the church and work out what is building is required.(9)

1630 (9 June) Considerable prevarication on the part of David Williamson regarding a proposed visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Perth.(10)

1633 (25 Sept) Brief reference to a request by David Williamson for help with the reparation of his church. 1634 (5 Mar) report to the Presbytery of Perth by the parishioners (who often complain about their minister), requesting the building of an aisle to enlarge their church, upon the south side. The brethren agree, providing that the parishioners likewise augment the church yard.(11)

1635 (11 March) Thorough report of the visitation of Kilspindie by the Presbytery of Perth. The visitors found the church to be reasonably well plenished and decent within with seats, desks, lofts for the easement of the people; but no ways able to contain the parishioners of two so populous congregations. The kirk yard dykes were well put up and repaired. A new bell house standing in the kirk yard is ready to be put up and repaired.  Some parts of the roof are rotten. Some parts of the wall of the said kirk were marked to be mended as they often fall from the roof, due to its being flat. The east gable wall is described as likely to fall down. Some of the windows of the kirk are not glassed (filled with straw). The reparation to be dealt with by the parishioners and heritors.(12)

1642 (17 Aug) Following an act of the General Assembly anent the patronage of churches the Presbytery of Perth records the patrons of churches within its bounds; Perth belongs to the town, Kinnoul belongs to the earl of Kinnoul, Scone belongs to the king, Cambusmichael also belongs to the king, Kilspindie also belongs to the king being a former kirk of abbey of Scone, Errol belongs to the earl of Kinnoul, Kinfauns belongs to the king being a former kirk of the abbey of Scone, Rhynd belongs to the king being a former church of the priory of Pittenweem, Arngask belongs to the king being a former church of Cambuskenneth, Dunbarney belongs to the town of Edinburgh, Forteviot belongs to the (old) college of St Andrews, Methven belongs to the Duke of Lennox and Luncarty belongs to the king.(13)

1697 (9 Nov) Visitation of the churches of Erroll and Kilspindie. Notes that the church has been vacant for some time and that what initially appeared to be small reparations, on further inspection much more is required [no details].(14)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Anthony Dow, 1792): ‘There were originally two parishes, Rait and Kilspindie and the walls of the church of Rait are still standing’.(15)

‘The church and manse are situated in the Carse of Gowrie’.(16)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev David Black, 1843): ‘The church, with its surrounding burial ground, …. stands in the village of Kilspindie. It is a plain modern building’.(17)

[No further information regarding dates]

Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches: (George Hay): c. 1815; interior recast 1939.(18)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 109.

2. Mackinley, Non-Scriptural Dedications, p. 481.

3. CPL, Ben, 48.

4. Scone Liber, no. 193.

5. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 110 & 307.

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

7. Selections  from the minutes of the Synod of Fife, pp. 63-64, NRS Records of the Synod of Fife, 1610-1636, CH2/154/1, fol. 142.

8. NRS Presbytery of Perth, Minutes, 1618-1647, CH2/299/1, fols. 24-25.

9. NRS Records of the Synod of Fife, 1610-1636, CH2/154/1, fol. 326.

10. NRS Presbytery of Perth, Minutes, 1618-1647, CH2/299/1, fols. 249 & 278, passim.

11. NRS Presbytery of Perth, Minutes, 1618-1647, CH2/299/1, fols. 321 & 327.

12. NRS Presbytery of Perth, Minutes, 1618-1647, CH2/299/1, fol. 341.

13. NRS Presbytery of Perth, Minutes, 1618-1647, CH2/299/1, fol. 423.

14. NRS Presbytery of Perth, Minutes, 1690-1700, CH2/299/5, fols. 187-188.

15. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1792), iv, 202.

16. Ibid, 202.

17. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1843), x, 1206.

18. Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, p. 269.

Bibliography

NRS Presbytery of Perth, Minutes, 1618-1647, CH2/299/1.

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

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.

Ecclesiastical Records. Selections  from the minutes of the Synod of Fife, 1611-87, 1837, ed. C. Baxter (Abbotsford Club), 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 ecclesie de Scon, 1843, (Bannatyne Club) Edinburgh.

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

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

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

Architectural description

Kilspindie remained an independent parsonage in 1274, but in 1395 it was appropriated to the Augustinian abbey of Scone by Bishop Walter. The parsonage and part of the vicarage pertained to the abbey, with the cure a portionary vicarage.(1)

Concerns over the state of the fabric and the scale of the building were recorded on a number of occasions in the seventeenth century, and as early as 1613 the roof was found to be ruinous.(2) In 1629 it was said that, since the union of the parishes of Rait and Kilspindie, it was too small and should either be enlarged or galleries should be constructed within it.(3) In 1633 it was agreed that a south aisle should be added,(4) while in 1635 a new bellcote was ready to be set in place.(5)

No identifiable evidence of such works survives, however, because the church was subsequently completely rebuilt, though there is some uncertainty over when this was done. One account gives the date 1795,(6) and another gives 1821 and the names the architect as David Neave of Forfar.(7) Since the new church appears to have been in place by the time that heritors’ records begin in 1818,(8) however, the earlier date may be more likely. It may be that the date given by the latter source refers to the Stuart of Rait mausoleum, to the east of the church, which is recorded on an inscription as haveing been built in 1822.

The south wall of the new church incorporates several re-used fragments, which were presumably originally concealed beneath a lime render. These include a number of stones with slender quirked roll mouldings likely to date from the sixteenth century, and which appear to be from window openings. There is also a moulded corbel and a sundial dated 1666. The source of these stones is uncertain, and it has been suggested that some could be from the demolished Kilspindie Castle, though it is equally possible that they are from the medieval church.

The church is an oriented building of 15.3 metres from east to west and 10.75 metres from north to south, and, apart from the reused stones there is nothing that is evidently medieval in its fabric. It is also the case that its proportions are not what would be expected in a medieval church.

However, its oriented alignment, together with its position at the highest point of a sloping churchyard, within which the spread of eighteenth-century memorials suggests there are no other suitable locations for the medieval church, points to the clear likelihood that it is on the site of the medieval church. It might be speculated if its footprint embraces both that of the medieval church and of the south aisle that it was agreed to build in 1633; it might also be speculated if the Stuart of Rait mausoleum, to the east of the church, is on the site of the chancel. However, there is currently no way of testing either of these possibilities.

Notes

1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 109.

2. Ecclesiastical Records, Selections from the Minutes of the Synod of Fife, 1611-87, ed. C. Baxter (Abbotsford Club), 1837, pp. 63-4; National Records of Scotland, Records of the Synod of Fife, 1610-36, CH2/154/1, fol. 143r.

3. National Records of Scotland, Records of the Synod of Fife, 1610-36, CH2/154/1, fol. 327r.   

4. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Perth, Minutes, 1618-47, CH2/299/1, fols 321 and 327.

5. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Perth, Minutes, 1618-47, CH2/299/1, fols 341.

6. John Gifford, The Buildings of Scotland, Perth and Kinross, New Haven and London, 2007, p. 453.

7. Howard Colvin, Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 4th ed., New Haven and London, p. 739 (National Archives of Scotland, HR 417/1).

8. Historic Scotland, lists of historic buildings.

Map

Images

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  • 1. Kilspindie church, exterior, from south west

  • 2. Kilspindie church, exterior, re-used masonry in south face, 1

  • 3. Kilspindie church, exterior, re-used masonry in south face, 2

  • 4. Kilspindie church, exterior, re-used masonry in south face, 3

  • 5. Kilspindie church, exterior, sundial in south face,

  • 6. Kilspindie churchyard, gravestone

  • 7. Kilspindie churchyard, Stuart of Rait mausoleum