Kinneff Parish Church

Kinneff Church, exterior, from south west

Summary description

Rebuilt 1738, possibly on the site of its predecessor; further works in 1784, 1834 and 1876, and on the last occasion a lateral north aisle was added.

Historical outline

Dedication: St Adomnan?

There are apparently no early references to this church surviving. Its first documented mention occurs in 1242 when its dedication, possibly to St Adomnan,(1) on 5 August by Bishop David de Bernham was noted.(2)  It was an independent parsonage in 1274/5 when as the church of ‘Kynesc’ it was recorded in the rolls of the papal tax-collector in Scotland, paying four merks in taxation in the first year of assessment.(3)

Its independent status was maintained into the mid-fourteenth century.  In 1345 Queen Joan, wife of King David II, petitioned the pope on behalf of her chaplain, John of Mar, the rectory then being vacant because Robert Moyne, the previous provisee, allegedly had not been ordained and had taken a wife. In 1357, however, Robert was still in possession when Robert Moneypenny supplicated the pope for the church.(4)  Bishop William Landallis of St Andrews effected its union in1363 to the archdeaconry of St Andrews in place of the church of Tarvit that had been formerly annexed to that office.  That year William Greenlaw (papal collector and nuncio in Scotland) was collated, the letters relating to that process referring to the union of the church with the archdeaconry.(5)  By 1381 a certain Philip was described as perpetual vicar pensionary of Kinneff,(6) which confirms that the 1363 union had seen the full incorporation of the parsonage and vicarage fruits to the archdeacon’s office with a pension being assigned for a vicar to serve the cure.

The union of the parsonage and vicarage continued at the Reformation.  At that time the parsonage was recorded as annexed to the archdeaconry.(7)  The vicarage pensionary was recorded as pertaining to William Owsteane, who was also vicar of the nearby church of Catterline in Brechin diocese, his pension being recorded at £14.(8)

Notes

1. J M Mackinlay, Ancient Church Dedications in Scotland. Non-Scriptural Dedications (Edinburgh, 1914), 59.  He also notes the existence of a ‘St Arnty’s Well’ in the parish, possibly reflecting a dedication to St Anthony.

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

3. 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.

4. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Petitions to the Pope, ed W H Bliss (London, 1896), 85-6, 304 [hereafter CPP]; Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, iii, 1342-1362, eds W H Bliss and C Johnston (London, 1897), 582.

5. CPP, 409.

6. CPP, 564.

7. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 66-7.

8. Kirk (ed), Books of Assumption, 397.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: Annexed to the archdeaconry of St Andrews in exchange for the church of Tarvit in 1363. Both the parsonage and the vicarage were appropriated, with the cure served by a vicar pensioner.(1)

Mackinlay notes that the church was dedicated to St Adomnan and that a spring in the parish was called St Arnty’s well.(2)

1345 Petition by Queen Joan on behalf of her chaplain John de Mar (illegitimate); vacant because Robert Moyne was not ordained and took a wife.

1357 Robert still in possession when Robert Moneypenny (MA) supplicates for the church.(3)

1363 William Greenlaw (papal collector and nuncio in Scotland) collated, refers to union of church with archdeaconry of St Andrews in that year.(4) By 1381 a Philip is described as vicar perpetual, pensionary of Kinneff.(5)

1497 George Brown is the perpetual vicar of Kinneff [unclear whether he was bishop of Dunkeld]

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church pertains to archdeaconry of St Andrews, parsonage value £72 13s 4d. Vicar pensionary William Owstean (also vicar of Catterline), value £13 6s 8d + manse and glebe 13s 4d.(6)

Account of Collectors of Thirds of Benefices (G. Donaldson): Third of vicar pensionary £4 13s 4d. Third of parsonage and vicarage £200.(7)

1664 (5 Oct) Lord Arbuthnott is noted as the patron.(8)

1678 (26 June) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Fordoun finds that the minister (James Bonnyman) has a stipend of 500 marks; being asked concerning the fabric of the church it was answered that the heritors have accorded to make up current defects necessary, for its entire reparation: there are no utensils and no bell for calling the people. The minister is appointed to urge the heritors to supply these wants.(9)

1700 (23 July) Visitation of Kinneff reports that the church and manse are ruinous (further visit required). Subsequent visit on 16 Aug reports that the heritors had failed to turn up, repairs were therefor delayed.(10)

1701 (2 July) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Fordoun following a report that the church and manse were ruinous. The report notes that the heritors of the place would of their own accord repair the said church and manse (to report on their progress to the presbytery).(11)

1702 (18 Aug) Presbytery of Fordoun completes a perambulation of the parishes of Benvie, Kinneff and Catterline. The report noted that the church of Kinneff is situated hard by the town of Kinneff upon the seacoast. Part of the process as to whether Catterline should be annexed to Kinneff. Decision taken to join the two parishes and keep services at both churches. Part of Kinneff parish was to be disjoined and added to Benvie.(12) [ultimately decision delayed until 1719 when the churches were joined].

1737 (22 June) Report to the Presbytery of the workmen anent the new church of Kinneff. The heritors and presbytery declare that the present church is not sufficient and concluded to build new church upon the same foundations of the following dimensions; 67 in length over the walls, 25 feet in breadth over the walls and 31 feet in height. It is also to have a sufficient bell house, well done but not fine. The total cost of the new building estimated to be £2235.(13)

1738 (20 Jan) The session notes that ‘considering the church is to be taken down next week’ public worship to be transported to Caterline.(14)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Patrick Stewart, 1791): ‘Remains of a religious house called St Arnty’s kill in the corner of the farm garden (between parish church and castle)’.(15)

‘The church and manse were built in 1738 and repaired in 1784’.(16)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Thomas Brown, 1842): ‘St Arnty’s kill, (mentioned in above account) has since wholly disappeared’.(17)

‘Present church built in 1738, repaired in 1784 and again in 1831’.(18)

‘The former church, is thus described as it stood in the days of Rev Andrew Honeyman (1693-1733) ‘very old fabric, the walls supported by 8 strong buttresses and the roof by pillars of wood, so it is probably the oldest country church presently possessed and use of any in Scotland’.(19)

Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches: (George Hay): 1738; repaired 1784 and 1831, some additions 1876, 17th century mural monument.(20)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 114.

2. Mackinlay, Non-Scriptural Dedications, p. 59.

3. CPP, 85-86& 304. CPL, iii, 582.

4. CPP, 409.

5. CPP, 564.

6. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 66, 67 & 359.

7. Donaldson, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, 10 & 12.

8. NRS Presbytery of Fordoun (alias Mearns), Minutes, 1662-1685, CH2/157/1, fol. 25.

9. NRS Presbytery of Fordoun, Records of Visitations, 1677-1688, CH2/157/13, fols. 17-20.

10. NRS Presbytery of Brechin, Minutes, 1698-1700, CH2/40/2, fols. 96 & 101.

11. NRS Presbytery of Fordoun, Minutes, 1700-1710, CH2/157/3, fols. 20-21.

12. NRS Presbytery of Fordoun, Minutes, 1700-1710, CH2/157/3, fols. 48-55.

13. NRS Presbytery of Fordoun, Minutes, 1722-1739, CH2/157/5, fols. 54-56.

14. NRS Kinneff and Caterline Kirk Session, 1733-1748, CH2/218/2, fol. 284.

15. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1791), vi, 197.

16. Ibid, 207.

17. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1842), xi, 311.

18. Ibid, 320.

19. Ibid, 320. This reference is a footnote to account by the above mentioned reverend, reference is MacF MSS p.323, Adv. Lib. Jac. V.4.21.

20. Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, pp. 203, 208 & 260.

Bibliography

NRS Kinneff and Caterline Kirk Session, 1733-1748, CH2/218/2.

NRS Presbytery of Brechin, Minutes, 1698-1700, CH2/40/2.

NRS Presbytery of Fordoun (alias Mearns), Minutes, 1662-1685, CH2/157/1.

NRS Presbytery of Fordoun, Minutes, 1700-1710, CH2/157/3.

NRS Presbytery of Fordoun, Minutes, 1722-1739, CH2/157/5.

NRS Presbytery of Fordoun, Records of Visitations, 1677-1688, CH2/157/13.

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., 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.

Mackinlay, 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

The finding of an early cross slab in the churchyard at Kinneff in 1898, which is now in the National Museums of Scotland, suggests that the site may have had a long association with Christian worship.(1) There was a dedication of a church here by Bishop David de Bernham on 5 August 1242,(2) though that probably has no bearing on the building’s structural history. The parish was annexed to the archdeaconry of St Andrews in 1363; both the parsonage and the vicarage were appropriated, and the cure served by a vicar pensioner.(3)

The church was rebuilt in 1738, with repairs carried out in 1784 and 1834.(4) There were further repairs in 1876, when a northern transeptal aisle was added to the designs of J. Russell Mackenzie, an operation that is commemorated by an inscribed tympanum over the entrance to the north-western vestibule. In its present form the church is a harled T-shaped structure with six Y-traceried windows in the south wall of the rectangular main body; a bellcote capped by an urn finial rises from the west gable.

Internally the pulpit is at the centre of the south wall, and there is a gallery above the pews in the north aisle. There are a number of imposing wall monuments, including one on the west wall for the Rev’d James Grainger and his wife; they hid the regalia of Scotland below the floor of the church after they had been smuggled out of Dunnottar Castle while it was under siege by Cromwell’s troops in 1651.

Despite its eighteenth- and nineteenth century appearance, it seems likely that the rectangular main body of the church perpetuates the plan of its medieval predecessor, and may incorporate some of its masonry. Its dimensions of 20.4 metres from east to west and 7.6 metres from north to south would certainly be consistent with medieval origins. In addition, removal of the harling in 1981 revealed evidence of an earlier pattern of doors and windows,(5) though these appear to have been insufficiently carefully recorded to be able to assess their date with confidence.

An account of the church before its rebuilding in the eighteenth century gives the following description: ‘The church of Kineff is a very old fabric the walls thereof being supported with eight strong butrishes of stone and the roof by pillars of wood so that probably it is the oldest country church presently possess’d and in use of any in Scotland.’(6) Unfortunately this description is insufficiently specific to be able to relate it to the present building, though it does suggest that in its later days considerable measures were having to be taken to shore it up.

Notes

1. J. Romilly Allen and Joseph Anderson, The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1903, pt 3, pp. 204-5.

2. Alan Orr Anderson, Early Sources of Scottish History, Edinburgh, 1922, vol. 2, p. 522.

3. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 114.

4. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-99, vol. 6, p. 207; New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. 11, p. 320.

5. Jane Geddes, Deeside and the Mearns, an Illustrated Architectural Guide, Edinburgh, 2001, pp. 27-28.

6. Geographical Collections relating to Scotland made by Walter Macfarlane, ed. Arthur Mitchell (Scottish History Society), vol. 1, 1906, pp. 257-58.

Map

Images

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  • 1. Kinneff Church, exterior, from south west

  • 2. Kinneff Church, exterior, from south east

  • 3. Kinneff Church, exterior, armorial stone in east wall

  • 4. Kinneff Church, exterior, stone above entrance commemorating restoration

  • 5. Kinneff Church, interior, looking east

  • 6. Kinneff Church, interior, looking north west

  • 7. Kinneff Church, interior, memorial stone, 1

  • 8. Kinneff Church, interior, memorial stone, 2