Kinross Parish Church

Kinross, mausoleum on site of medieval church

Summary description

The site of the medieval church is probably marked by a mausoleum of 1675, which was re-cased in 1860. A new church was built in a more convenient location in 1831-32.

Historical outline

Dedication: unknown

There are no records surviving of the church of this important royal property before the listing of Kinross in the records of St Andrews as being dedicated by Bishop David de Bernham on 27 June 1246.(1)  It occurs next in the accounts of the papal tax-collector in Scotland in the 1270s.  A first entry records payment of two merks ‘de Kynros’, then a subsequent payment of 12 merks from the church of Kinross [ecclesia de Kynros] and a final payment of 6½ merks for a half-year.(2)  It was evidently a free parsonage at that time and presumably in the gift of the king.  A first rector of the church is recorded in 1312 when William Sinclair, rector, was granted faculty to retain the fruits for two years after his provision to the see of Dunkeld.(3)

Kinross’s independence ended on 14 November 1314 when King Robert I granted it and its dependent chapel of Orwell to the monks of Dunfermline, saving the rights of the current rector.(4)  King Robert then wrote from Dunfermline on 16 November to Bishop William Lamberton of St Andrews, requesting that he confirm the church and chapel to the uses of the abbey since it had suffered heavy damages in the wars and was bearing the burden of hospitality for travellers, guests and the poor.(5)  Acting on the king’s wishes, Lamberton confirmed the grant under letters date at Torry near Dunfermline on 18 November 1314.(6)  Since the king, as patron of the church, had recently presented one Patrick of ‘Louchylddem’ to the rectory, it was not until his demission of Kinross in May/June 1317 that the appropriation to Dunfermline became effective.(7)  Lamberton’s charter confirming the appropriation of the church of Kinross and chapel of Orwell, reserving a portion of 45 merks annually for a vicar, was issued at Dunfermline in December 1317.  Although theportion for the vicar was generous, he was to bear the burden of roofing the choirs of both Kinross and Orwell, and of providing books and ornaments for the altars.(8)

Although a certain Thomas of Strathmiglo occurs as ‘rector’ of Kinross in 1405 there is no evidence that the 1317 annexation and vicarage settlement was ever challenged.(9)  James Simson was vicar of Kinross and Orwell in 1506, a title which suggests that the former dependent chapel of Orwell was acquiring quasi-parochial status.(10)  This arrangement seems to be reflected in a record dated 25 August 1551 of the presentation by George commendator of Dunfermline, of sir John Mowff to John Hamilton, archbishop of St Andrews, for the vicarage pensionary of the churches of Kinross and Orwell.(11)  The union and vicarage pensionary arrangements remained in force at the Reformation, when it was recorded that the parsonage and vicarage of Kinross, with the pendicle of Orwell, was set by Dunfermline for £120 annually.  At that time, the vicar pensioner John Mows was described as recently deceased, but it was noted that he had been paid 40 marks and served both Kinross and Orwell.(12)


1. A O Anderson (ed), Early Sources of Scottish History, ii (Edinburgh, 1922), 526 [Pontifical Offices of St Andrews].

2. A I Dunlop (ed), ‘Bagimod’s Roll: Statement of the Tenths of the Kingdom of Scotland’, Miscellany of the Scottish History Society, vi (1939), 36, 39, 61.

3. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, ii, 1305-1342, ed W H Bliss (London, 1895), 96.

4. Registrum de Dunfermelyn (Bannatyne Club, 1842), no.341 [hereafter Dunfermline Registrum].

5. Dunfermline Registrum, no.342.

6. Dunfermline Registrum, no.343.

7. Dunfermline Registrum, no.351.

8. Dunfermline Registrum, no.604.

9. Copiale Prioratus Sanctiandree. The Letter-Book of James Haldenstone, Prior of St Andrews (1418-1443), ed J H Baxter (Oxford, 1930), 54, 81, 413.

10. Registrum Magni Sigilli Regum Scotorum, ii, 1424-1513, ed J B Paul (Edinburgh, 1882), no.2955.

11. Dunfermline Registrum, no.572.

12. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 26, 38, 48, 88.

Summary of relevant documentation


Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: Granted with its chapel of Orwell to Dunfermline by Robert I in 1314. By 1317 both parsonage and vicarage revenues to abbey with vicar pensioner, still conjoined with Orwell at reformation.(1)

1312 William Sinclair, bishop of Dunkeld, granted faculty to receive fruits of Kinross for 2 years, of which he was rector on his consecration to Dunkeld.(2)

1405 (30 Apr) Thomas of Stramyglot was rector of the parish church.(3)

1506 James Simson vicar of Kinross.

1555 (29 Sept) Deal between the Betoun and the Douglases of Lochleven on one side and David Ogilvy of Balfour done in the presence of the curate Alex Wardlaw in the parish church of Kinross.(4)


Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church parsonage and vicarage with Dunfermline, with its pendicle/chapel of Orwell set for £120. Vicar pensioner John Mows recently deceased. He had been paid 40 marks and served both Kinross and Orwell.(5)

1658 (14 July) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Dunfermline finds the manse to be in a ruinous state (stent organised), recommendation by the Presbytery to the Kirk session to ‘take care for upholding the fabric of the church’.(6)

1729 (28 May) Proposal presented to the Presbytery of Dunfermline for ‘a plan of a new kirk, the old kirk is inconveniently situated for the town and parish and also for the manse to be transported.’ [The presbytery agree to the proposal].(7)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Archibald Smith): [No reference to church buildings.]

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev George Buchanan, 1839): ‘The parish church was opened in 1832. … Before 1742 the parish church stood within the old burying ground, immediately beside the lake. It was then removed… to another at the west end of the town’.(8) [No reference to any remains by the lake.]


1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 116.

2. Calendar of entries in the Papal registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland; Papal letters, ii, 96.

3. Copiale Prioratus Sanctiandree, pp.54, 81 and 413.

4. National Records of Scotland, Protocol Book of James Dalrymple, 1551-57, NP1/19, no.5.

5. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 26, 38, 48 and 88.

6. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Dunfermline, 1647-72, CH2/105/1/1, fols. 326-327.

7. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Dunfermline, Minutes, 1729-1745, CH2/105/6, fol. 11.

8. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1839), ix, 14.


National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Dunfermline, 1647-72, CH2/105/1/1.

National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Dunfermline, Minutes, 1729-1745, CH2/105/6.

National Records of Scotland, Protocol Book of James Dalrymple, 1551-57, NP1/19.

Cowan, I.B., 1967, The parishes of medieval Scotland, (Scottish Record Society), Edinburgh.

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.

Architectural description

There was a church at Kinross by no later than 27 June 1246, when Bishop David de Bernham carried out one of his large number of dedications of existing churches across the diocese of St Andrews.(1) The church, along with its chapel of Orwell, was granted to the Benedictine Abbey of Dunfermline by Robert I in 1314. This grant came into full effect three years later, when both parsonage and vicarage were appropriated and provision made for a pensionary vicarage.(2)

The medieval church at Kinross is assumed to have been in the churchyard to the south-east of the policies of Kinross House, by the side of Loch Leven, at NO 12840 01815, where the mausoleum of the Bruce family now stands. That mausoleum was probably initially built as an aisle against the south flank of the medieval church after Sir William Bruce acquired the estate in 1675 and built his splendid house. A plan of the Kinross estate of about 1685, by Alexander Edward, shows an approximately oriented rectangular structure with a square offshoot off the centre of its south face.(3) It is probable that the rectangular structure is the church and the offshoot the aisle.

By 1729 it was felt that the location of the church was inconvenient, and proposals were put to the Presbytery of Dunfermline on 28 May of that year to relocate it to the western end of the burgh.(4) This may not have happened, however, until 1742.(5)

That second church was in turn replaced by the present church on Station Road in 1831-2, which was erected to the designs of George Angus.(6) Its design displays striking similarities with two of Angus’s other churches, at Kettle (1832-4) and Tulliallan (1832-3).(7)

The aisle, which was retained for use as a mausoleum after the demolition of the rest of the church, has dimensions of 5.6 by 6.5 metres. It was re-cased in a new shell designed in a robust Romanesque idiom in 1860, and above its door is the inscription ‘In Memoriam HB Refectum 1860’. The presumed original date of the aisle’s construction, in 1675, is commemorated in a second inscription in the same lettering, at a higher point of the wall. The only identifiable fragment of the seventeenth-century building is a chamfered jamb stone with a raised margin, below the left jamb of the nineteenth-century door.


1. Alan Orr Anderson, Early Sources of Scottish History, Edinburgh, 1922, vol. 2, p. 526.

2. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 116.

3. In the collection of Sir Robert Clerk at Penicuik House; reproduced in Marilyn Brown, Scotland’s Lost Gardens, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Edinburgh, 2012, figs 374 and 375.

4. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Dunfermline, Minutes, 1729-45, CH2/105/6, fol. 11.

5. New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. 9, p. 14.

6. Howard Colvin, Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, New Haven and London, 2008, p. 70; National Records of Scotland, RHP 93365-73.

7. John Gifford, The Buildings of Scotland, Perth and Kinross, New haven and London, 2007, p. 475.



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

  • 1. Kinross, mausoleum on site of medieval church

  • 2. Kinross, mausoleum on site of medieval church, jamb stone below entrance

  • 3. Kinross, mausoleum on site of medieval church, inscriptions above entrance

  • 4. Kinross old churchyard, monument, 1

  • 5. Kinross old churchyard, monument, 2

  • 6. Kinross old churchyard, monument, 3

  • 7. Kinross, later church, exterior, 1

  • 8. Kinross, later church, exterior, 2

  • 9. Kinross, later church, interior, 1

  • 10. Kinross, later church, interior, 2