Kinglassie Parish Church

Kinglassie Church, exterior, from south east

Summary description

Possibly originating as a two-compartment medieval church, to which a lateral north aisle has been added. Major rebuilding in 1773, 1839-40 and 1887-9.

Historical outline

Dedication: unknown

The first surviving reference to the church of Kinglassie is in general confirmations by Bishop Robert of St Andrews granted to the monks of Dunfermline between c.1130 and 1159.(1)  It is likely that only the rights of presentation were held by the monks at that time and there is no indication that any of his successors from Bishop Arnold to Bishop Roger de Beaumont (d.1202) extended Dunfermline’s control to the parish revenues.(2)  It was Pope Honorius III who in 1226 granted the church – along with that of Hailes – to be enjoyed by the monks in proprios usus, with suitable provision being made for vicars who were to be presented to the bishop of St Andrews.(3)  Eight years later, Bishop William Malveisin of St Andrews confirmed Dunfermline in possession of the garbal teinds of Kinglassie to enable them to bear the burden of the hospitality which they had to dispense to travellers and as alms to the poor.(4)

Despite that papal grant of 1226 and Bishop Malveisin’s 1234 grant of the garbal teinds, according to Walter Bower, it was the church of Kinglassie along with Hailes of which the abbey was deprived by that same bishop at some indeterminate time during his episcopate (1202-1238).  Bower claimed that Malveisin ‘arbitrarily took from the church of Dunfermline….the right to nominate to the vicarages of Kinglassie and Hailes, because on one occasion when he was spending the night at Dunfermline he had insufficient wine to drink for his refreshment in his room after supper’.(5)  It is certainly possible that the bishop had deprived the monks of possession towards the start of his episcopate and that Pope Honorius’s grant and the subsequent granting of the garbal teinds represented a recovery of rights by the monastery rather than their first award.  Indeed, the pairing of Kinglassie and Hailes in the pope’s letter suggests that there might be a basis of fact to the tradition reported by Bower.  Any rescinding of rights does not seem to have occurred at the end of Malveisin’s episcopate, for when the status of the church is recorded in 1274/5 in the tax-rolls of the papal tax-collector in Scotland Kinglassie is entered as a vicarage only, assessed for payment at one merk.(6)

Apart from the notice in the St Andrews records of his dedication of the parish church of Kinglassie on 27 May 1243,(7) there is no record of any involvement in the affairs of this church by Bishop David de Bernham or his successor, Bishop Gamelin.  Both men were active regularisers of vicarage settlements in respect of the churches in their diocese but there is no indication that they saw a need to institute a settlement at Kinglassie.

It is only in the mid-fifteenth century that the holders of the vicarage perpetual are named in surviving sources.  The first is John of Kinghorn, who resigned the benefice in 1441 whereupon another John of Kinghorn supplicated the pope for provision.(8)  On Kinghorn’s death in 1473, John Learmonth was presented to the church by the abbot and convent of Dunfermline, who were described as ‘ancient patrons’. John was in turn dead by 1477 leading to a suit between Robert Fairweather and Thomas Spens over the perpetual vicarage. Robert eventually yielded up his rights in return for 10 marks annual pension.(9)  At the Reformation the parsonage was still evidently annexed to the abbey while the vicarage, described as pertaining to sir Adam Kinghorn, was valued at £25 16s.(10)

Notes

1. Registrum de Dunfermelyn (Bannatyne Club, 1842), nos 92, 94 [hereafter Dunfermline Registrum].

2. Dunfermline Registrum, nos 98, 596.

3. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, i, 1198-1304, ed W H Bliss (London, 1893), 107.

4. Dunfermline Registrum, no.107.

5. Walter Bower, Scotichronicon, eds D E R Watt and others, iii (Aberdeen, 1995), 295.

6. A I Dunlop (ed), ‘Bagimond’s Roll: Statement of the Tenths of the Kingdom of Scotland’, Miscellany of the Scottish History Society, vi (1939), 37.

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

8. Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, iv, 1433-1447, ed A I Dunlop and D MacLauchlan (Glasgow, 1983), no.769.

9. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, xiii, 1471-1484, ed J A Twemlow (London, 1955), 118, 329.

10. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 67.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: Confirmed to Dunfermline by Robert, bishop of St Andrews in 1112 - x59, the presentation alone appears to have rested with the abbey. Repeated conflict with William Malvoison over church.

1234 Finally confirmed to abbey, with provision for a perpetual vicarage.(1)

Place Names of Fife vol. 1: No references to the church dedication.(2)

c.1202-38 Bower recounts a legend in which William Malvision, bishop of St Andrews (1202-38), ‘arbitrarily took from the church of Dunfermline….the right to nominate to the vicarages of Kinglassie and Hailes, because on one occasion when he was spending the night at Dunfermline he had insufficient wine to drink for his refreshment in his room after supper’.(3)

1226 Grant to abbot and convent of Dunfermline of the possession of the churches of Hailes and Kinglassie, given to them by the patrons (unnamed) of those churches, vicars being presented by the abbey to the bishop of St Andrews.(4)

1409 Dispensation to minister for a certain John Stil, clerk of SA, who had fatally wounded Peter, clerk of the parish church of Kinglassie in a quarrel.(5)

1441 Supplication for the perpetual vicarage of Kinglassie by John de Kinghorn, on the resignation of another man named John de Kinghorn [Possible relative; not specified in charter].(6)

1473 On death of Kinghorn, John Learmonth presented to the church by Dunfermline (£8 value) who are described as ‘ancient patrons’. John dead by 1477 leading to suit between Robert Faerwedder and Thomas Spens over perpetual vicarage. Robert gives up in return for 10 marks annual pension.(7)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The parish church is described as a prebend of St Mary’s, St Andrews, held by Thomas Methven, joint with Kingask £24 13s 4d.

Vicarage held by Adam Kinghorne, valued at £25 16s.(8)

Account of Collectors of Thirds of Benefices (G. Donaldson,): Third of vicarage £8 12s 8d.(9)

Post 1560 The Aytouns of Inchdairnie took over the chancel at Kinglassie and used it as their burial aisle.(10)

1630 (15 Apr) Record of the stipends of ministers in the Pres of Kirkcaldy, the minister gets 400 marks pa and some produce.(11)

1630 (22 Apr) James Wilson, minister of the church, presents his compt (itemised) for building and repairing of the manse of Kinglassie (341 marks in total).(12)

1632 (5 July) Messenger sent from the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy to the parish of Kinglassie requiring the parishioners to convene and chose honest skilled men to set down and stent for repairing of the kirk and kirk yard dykes under the pain of horning.(13)

1636 (28 July) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy finds the minister (Thomas Melville) to be competent, ordains a new school to be planted, brethren suggests £100 pa. The Laird of Colbirnie and William Wardlaw request their own seats to be cited in the church.(14)

1641 (9 Dec) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy recommends removing the pulpit from the place that it stands to some other more commodious place.(15)

[Kirk Session records from 1666-1694 make several references to minor repairs to the church.] 

1668 (8 Mar) £12 contract made with a slater to poind the kirk.(16)

1671 (19 and 26 Feb) James Henderson given £4 for making of a ‘snek’ to the choir door and mending some holes thereof with timber.(17)

1679 (Feb) £3 5s 4d given to the workmen for mending the bell.(18)

1684 (19 Oct) £2 given to David Rerson for mending of the kirk floor.(19)

1693 (23 July) That day the heritors being met for the reparation of the church, John Stewart contracted to point and mend the church £14 for workmanship and £16 for materials (mostly slates).(20)

1709 (10 Nov) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Kinglassie notes that the manse is in good condition and there is a part of the kirk roof repaired and they are to repair the rest in the spring.(21)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Thomas Scott, 1791): ‘The church was repaired in 1773’.(22)

New Statistical Account of Scotland ( Rev J.M Cunninghame, 1836): ‘The exterior of the fabric has a heavy appearance, being nearly 90 feet long, and its very subordinate and disproportionate dimensions in height and width. The east gable, and part of the contiguous side walls are supposed to have stood for at least two centuries. The remainder was built in 1773 when the whole received a new roof’.(23)

The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches (George Hay, 1773): incorporating earlier fragments; repaired 1835, repaired and re-roofed 1888, addition 1891, remains arched gateway. Rectangular church which embodied original walling.(24)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 112.

2. Taylor and Markus, The Place-Names of Fife. Volume One, pp. 430-434.

3. Scotichronicon by Walter Bower in Latin and English, 1987-99, iii, 295.

4. Calendar of entries in the Papal registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland; Papal letters, i, 107.

5. Calendar of Papal letters to Scotland of Benedict XIII of Avignon, 1976, 202.

6. Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1433-47, iv, no. 769.

7. Calendar of entries in the Papal registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland; Papal letters, xiii, 329 and 118.

8. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 67 and 77.

9. Donaldson, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, 12 .

10. Spicer, “Defyle not Christ’s kirk with your carrion”, 160.

11. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, Minutes, 1630-1653, CH2/224/1, fol. 8.

12. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, Minutes, 1630-1653, CH2/224/1, fols. 11-14.

13. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, Minutes, 1630-1653, CH2/224/1, fol. 70.

14. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, Minutes, 1630-1653, CH2/224/1, fol. 180-181.

15. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, Minutes, 1630-1653, CH2/224/1, fols. 368-369.

16. National Records of Scotland, Kinglassie Kirk Session, 1666-1694, CH2/406/2, fol. 11.

17. National Records of Scotland, Kinglassie Kirk Session, 1666-1694, CH2/406/2, fol. 29.

18. National Records of Scotland, Kinglassie Kirk Session, 1666-1694, CH2/406/2, fol. 80.

19. National Records of Scotland, Kinglassie Kirk Session, 1666-1694, CH2/406/2, fol. 133.

20. National Records of Scotland, Kinglassie Kirk Session, 1666-1694, CH2/406/2, fol. 210.

21. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, Minutes, 1704-1713, CH2/224/3, fol. 212.

22. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1791), iv, 503.

23. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1836), ix, 201-02.

24. Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, pp. 77, 169, 232 and 257.

Bibliography

National Records of Scotland, Kinglassie Kirk Session, 1666-1694, CH2/406/2.

National Records of Scotland,  Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, Minutes, 1630-1653, CH2/224/1.

National Records of Scotland,  Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, Minutes, 1704-1713, CH2/224/3.

Calendar of Papal letters to Scotland of Benedict XIII of Avignon, 1976, ed. F. McGurk, (Scottish History Society) Edinburgh.

Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1433-47, 1983, ed. A.I. Dunlop and D MacLauchlan, Glasgow.

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.

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

Scotichronicon by Walter Bower in Latin and English, 1987-99, D. E. R. Watt, Aberdeen.

Spicer A., 2000, ‘’Defyle not Christ’s kirk with your carrion”: burial and the development of burial aisles in post-Reformation Scotland’, in B. Gordon and P. Marshall The Place of the Dead and Remembrance in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, Cambridge, 149-69.

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

Taylor, S and Markus G., 2006, The Place-Names of Fife. Volume One. West Fife between Leven and Forth, Donington.

Architectural description

A grant of Kinglassie Church to Dunfermline Abbey was confirmed by Bishop Robert of St Andrews at a date between 1126 and 1159. Initially it seems that only rights of presentation were involved, but it was confirmed to the uses of the abbey by Bishop Malvoisine in 1234.(1) Bishop David de Bernham carried out one of his many dedications here on 27 May 1243.(2)

The church continued in use after the Reformation, though it is said that the chancel was taken over as a burial enclosure at some date by the Aytoun of Inchdairnie family. Some re-ordering was taking place in 1641, when presbytery recommended moving the pulpit to a more suitable position,(3) and repairs were carried out in 1693 by John Stewart.(4) At an uncertain date a transeptal aisle was added on the north side of the church.

Major rebuilding was undertaken in 1773,(5) by the masons Roger Black and Robert Baxter together with the wright James Lawson;(6) this involved the construction of a new roof, the partial reconstruction of the south wall and the provision of new windows. As a result of these works, it was said in the New Statistical Account (which was written in 1839) that the east gable and parts of the adjoining walls were thought to be at least two centuries old, but the rest of 1773. It was also said that the church was nearly 90 feet (27.4 metres) long but ‘very disproportionate in height and width’.

Since then there have been alteration by James Gillespie Graham in 1839-40, with more far-reaching works instigated between 1887 and 1890. In the course of those works, Kinnear and Peddie heightened the walls and reconstructed the roof, and then, perhaps as a continuation of that operation, James Wylie Hislop extended the part in use for worship eastwards to include the area that had been used as the Aytoun of Inchdairnie burial aisle.(7)

As it now stands, the church is an oriented structure composed of three principal elements, and built chiefly of large blocks of squared rubble with polished dressings. The largest element is a rectangle of 16.05 metres from east to west and 7.35 metres from south to north; axially aligned with and to the east of this is a second rectangle of 11 metres from east to west and 6.75 metres from south to north. The combined length of these, of 27.05 metres, matches closely with the overall length of nearly 90 feet referred to in the New Statistical Account.

To the north of the central part of the western rectangle is a laterally projecting north aisle. The location of this makes clear that, at the time of its construction, the western rectangle and north aisle would together have formed a symmetrical T-plan church, with the eastern rectangle cut off as the burial aisle of the Aytoun of Inchdairnie burial enclosure. Above the west gable is a rusticated bellcote capped by a square dome of ogee profile.

Throughout all its parts the church is lit by a regularly disposed arrangement of round-headed windows, and there is a round-headed door at each end of the south front. However, the arched window heads extend up into an area of masonry that differs from that in the lower walls. It may be speculated that they had initially been rectangular openings dating from 1773, and that they were given arches heads in the course of the heightening of the walls by Kinnear and Peddie in 1887-8. The upper part of the south-west door also appears to have been rebuilt at some stage, and the jamb stones, on the west side in particular, appear likely to be of considerably earlier date.

The eastern rectangular chamber has evidently been particularly extensively remodelled, and in the east wall there is the ghosting of a pair of window openings at a lower level than those that now light this part of the church. These are a short distance above a chamfered base course that is found only on this wall, which appears likely to be one of the earliest identifiable features of the building. Several of the changes to the eastern rectangle are presumably datable to the operations of 1890, when this part of the building was drawn back into use for worship. The timber and slate louvre over the junction of the east and west rectangles is also likely to be of this date.

At some stage, two dated stones were re-set into the west wall of the north aisle; they have come from openings with raised margins. One, which has the initials RA, has a date that is now indecipherable; the other has the initials IA and IS and the date 1671. The initial A for a surname on both of these stones may suggest that they commemorated members of the Aytoun family, and that they originated in that family’s burial enclosure.

What is now seen at Kinglassie is unquestionably the result of a long and complex sequence of structural interventions. However, it appears very likely that the two main elements, the axially aligned eastern and western rectangles, perpetuate the plan - and possibly parts of the masonry – of the medieval nave and chancel. The walls have clearly been heightened, in response to the complaints of disproportionate height of 1839, and none of the windows can represent the medieval fenestration.

Nevertheless, the survival of a chamfered base course along the east wall, and perhaps also the blocked windows above that base course and the lower jambs of the south-west door, suggest that more medieval fabric may have survived than is initially apparent.

Notes

1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 112.

2. Alan Orr Anderson, Early Sources of Scottish History, Edinburgh, 1922, vol. 2, p. 523.

3. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, Minutes, 1630-53, CH2/224/1, fols 368-69.

4. National Records of Scotland, Kinglassie Kirk Session Minutes, 1666-94, CH2/406/2, fol. 210.

5. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-99, vol. 4, p. 503; New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. 9, pp. 201-02.

6. John Gifford, The Buildings of Scotland, Fife, London, 1988, p. 273.

7. Gifford, 1988, p. 273.

Map

Images

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  • 1. Kinglassie Church, exterior, from south east

  • 2. Kinglassie Church, exterior, from south

  • 3. Kinglassie Church, exterior, from north east

  • 4. Kinglassie Church, exterior, from south west

  • 5. Kinglassie Church, exterior, east wall from south east

  • 6. Kinglassie Church, exterior, north aisle, west wall

  • 7. Kinglassie Church, exterior, north aisle, west wall, inscribed stones

  • 8. Kinglassie Church, exterior, south door

  • 9. Kinglassie Church, exterior, south wall

  • 10. Kinglassie churchyard, gravestone, 1

  • 11. Kinglassie churchyard, gravestone, 2