Kirknewton / Newton Parish Church

Kirknewton Churchyard, from north

Summary description

Abandoned after 1750. Two burial enclosures mark the site of the church and probably incorporate some of its fabric.

Historical outline

Dedication: unknown

No references to the church of Kirknewton or Newton survive earlier than 1275, when it was recorded in the accounts of the papal tax-collector in Scotland.  At that time, the rector of Neuton was recorded as paying 20s in taxation.(1)  Almost no references to parochial clergy are recorded either, the first known rector being named in 1450 as Patrick Lesours, who in 1454 founded a chaplainry at the altar of St Michael the Archangel in St Giles’ Edinburgh for the souls of James II and his own family.(2)   Lesours’ connection with St Giles may have been the route through which in 1472 Kirknewton was fully appropriated to a prebend in the collegiate church.(3)  It is not certain that the union was ever either effective or remained in force, one James Brown being recorded as ‘rector’ in 1556.(4)  The parsonage was recorded as pertaining to Brown at the Reformation, but a deduction of 40s was due to the prebendaries of St Giles, and a further £10 plus part of the glebe was assigned to the vicar pensionar.  There was also 40s deducted for the pointing and glassing of ‘ane quier and kirk yierlie’.(5)  Despite the manner of its recording, it is probable that Brown was a prebendary of St Giles while the cure at Kirknewton was served by the vicar pensioner.

Notes

1. A I Dunlop, ‘Bagimond’s Roll: Statement of the Tenths of the Kingdom of Scotland’, Miscellany of the Scottish History Society, vi (1939), 34.

2. Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, v, 1447-1471, eds J Kirk, R J Tanner and A I Dunlop (Glasgow, 1997), no.344; Registrum Cartarum Ecclesie Sancti Egidii de Edinburgh, ed D Laing (Bannatyne Club, 1859), no.76.

3. A I Cameron, The Apostolic Camera and Scottish Benefices (Oxford, 1934), 172.

4. Protocol Book of Dominus Thomas Johnsoun, 1528-1578, eds J. Beveridge and J Russell (Scottish Record Society, 1920), no.376.

5. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 104.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: Both parsonage and vicarage were erected into a prebend of the Collegiate church of St Giles, Edinburgh in 1472. The cure was served by a vicar pensioner.(1)

1454 Patrick Lesours, rector of church of Newton, for the souls of James II and his own family, founds a chaplainry at altar of St Michael the Archangel in parish church of Edinburgh.(2)

1556-1576 James Brown, rector of the church, includes inventory of books lent to him by Archbishop of St Andrews. Described as ‘formerly rector’ in 1576.(3)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church parsonage held by James Broun, value 176 marks [no reference to St Giles].(4)

Account of Collectors of Thirds of Benefices (G. Donaldson): Third of parsonage £39 6s 9 1/3d.(5)

[See notes on Newton; it is not completely certain which of the two churches the references below refer to]

1593 (25 Jan) Report to the Presbytery of Dalkeith by the Laird of Edmonstone about the rebuilding of Newton. Church requires a minister and his provision.(6)

1620 (21 Sept) A visitation of the church approves the minister and reports that Mr Murray of Newton has sited a seat and a burial place in an aisle ‘forganist the pulpit’.(7)

1623 (23 Jan) A visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Dalkeith approves the minister and orders a stipend to be paid to the minister in part by the heritors and in part by the crown. The visitation records that there is no manse or kirkyard dykes (the heritors agree to  build the same).(8)

1627 (8 May) Report on the parish by the minister (James Laing) describes the church as being under the patronage of the Lord Balmerinoche. He describes the church as ‘ruinous, the roof already decayed, and the parishioners being all poor landowners will hardly repair it. Suggests the parish be united to Calder Clere.(9)

1628 (29 May) A visitation of the Newton by the Presbytery of Dalkeith describes how the seats have been placed in the church; the pulpit is to be moved to the east side in between the Murray and Edmonstone aisles.(10)

1669 (3 Nov) £3 9s paid for repairing the church for wainscot to the pulpit nails, dressing, the floor and setting mortar.(11)

1675 (23 Sept) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Dalkeith, notes that the fabric of the church is good and sufficient, only the roof needs pointing. The steeple is altogether ruinous.(12)

1688 (3 July) Report on the visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Dalkeith notes that the church is found to be somewhat faulty in the roof. James Murray, slater, asked to assess the costs of the work.(13)

[East Calder and Kirknewton united in c.1750; a new church was then built in the middle of the new parish]

1750 (20 Apr) Letter read in the presbytery on behalf of the elders and a great number of the heritors, remonstrating against the proposed conjunction of East Calder and Kirk Newton (they describe it as unreasonable and inexpedient).(14)

1751 (17 Apr) Noted in the presbytery records that Mr Alexander Bruce admitted minister at East Calder of the now joined parishes [includes further complaints about the union from the elders].(15)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev William Cameron): [No references to earlier parish churches]

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Alexander Lockhart Simpson, 1844): ‘In the middle of it the site of the former churchyard is marked by some scanty remains’.(16)

Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches (George Hay): 1742; alterations and additions 1890, 1742 Taylor bell, mort bell, fragments decorated woodwork 1732 and 1747. New belfry in 18th century.(17)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 123.

2. Registrum Sancti Egidii de Edinburgh, no. 76.

3. Prot Bk of Dominus Thomas Johnsoun ,nos. 376, 694 & 935,

4. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 104-05.

5. Donaldson, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, 27.

6. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1582-1630, CH2/424/1, fol. 291.

7. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1582-1630, CH2/424/1, fol. 475.

8. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1582-1630, CH2/424/1, fol. 511.

9. Reports on the State of Certain Parishes in Scotland, pp. 82-85.

10. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1582-1630, CH2/424/1, fol. 561.

11. NRS Kirknewton Kirk Session, 1663-1688, CH2/412/2, fol. 38.

12. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1673-1688, CH2/424/5, fols. 52-53.

13. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1673-1688, CH2/424/5, fols. 335-336.

14. NRS Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1742-1773, CH2/242/14, fol. 263.

15. NRS Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1742-1773, CH2/242/14, fol. 285.

16. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1844), i, 447.

17. Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, pp. 92, 169, 217, 233 & 266.

Bibliography

NRS Kirknewton Kirk Session, 1663-1688, CH2/412/2.

NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1582-1630, CH2/424/1.

NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1673-1688, CH2/424/5.

NRS Presbytery of Linlithgow, Minutes, 1742-1773, CH2/242/14.

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.

Protocol Book of Dominus Thomas Johnsoun, 1528-1578,  1920, eds. J. Beveridge & J. Russell (Scottish Record Society) Edinburgh.

Registrum Cartarum Ecclesie Sancti Egidii de Edinburgh, 1859, ed. D. Laing (Bannatyne Club), Edinburgh.

Reports on the State of Certain Parishes in Scotland, Made to his Majesty’s Commissioners for Plantation of Kirks, 1835, ed. A. MacGrigor (Maitland Club), Edinburgh.

Architectural description

The possibility of a church having been here from at least the late eleventh or early twelfth century is suggested by the survival of a hogback stone with tegulated coping in the churchyard.(1) In 1472 both the parsonage and vicarage were erected into a prebend of St Giles’ Collegiate Church in Edinburgh, with the parochial cure from then being a pensionary vicarage.(2)

Following the Reformation, there may have been extensive rebuilding of the church as early as 1593, on the basis of a report of 25 January of that year,(3) while on 21 September 1620 Mr Murray of Newton was said to have constructed a seat and burial place opposite the pulpit.(4) However, by 8 May 1627 the minister was complaining of the state of the building, and suggesting that the parish should be united with that of Calder-Clere (East Calder).(5)

But worship continued in the church, and on 29 May 1629 presbytery ordered that the pulpit was to be relocated to the east, between the Murray and Edmonstone Aisles,(6) demonstrating that at least one other aisle had been built, in addition to that of Murray of Newton. On 23 September 1675 it was said that the fabric of the church was in a good state, though the roof needed work and the steeple was in a ruinous condition.(7)

However, in 1750 the proposal that had been first advanced in 1627 for the union with East Calder was put into effect, and ‘a new church and manse, both very decent buildings, were then erected in a new and centrical position’.(8) The new church, located at NT 10598 67048, was later transformed by Brown and Wardrop in 1872.(9)

The old church was largely demolished after the union of 1750, and by the time of the New Statistical Account  all that could be said was that ‘the site of the former churchyard is marked by some scanty remains’.(10) Those scanty remains of the old church are probably identifiable in parts of the masonry of the axially aligned burial enclosures of the Campbell Maconochies of Meadowbank and the Cullens of Ormiston.

The Campbell Maconochie enclosure is stated in an inscription above the door in its west wall to have been in use by that family since 1662. However, its east wall appears to be of an earlier date than the rest of the enclosure since its west face is of a strikingly different character, being of carefully coursed large blocks of grey cubical masonry of a type that would be consistent with a twelfth or thirteenth century date. The southern end of that wall continues a short distance beyond the enclosure, while at its northern end footings that project from it extend a short distance before turning eastwards at ninety degrees to form the dwarf wall of the burial enclosure of James Johnston of Hill House, who died in 1783; the latter enclosure backs onto the Campbell Maconochie enclosure.

On this evidence it may be suggested that the wall between those two enclosures could have been the west wall of the medieval church, and that the Campbell Maconochie enclosure had been built against its west wall while the church was still in use, while the contiguous Johnston enclosure was formed within what had been the west end of the church after its abandonment in 1750. If that is the case, the nave appears to have had a width of about 7.9 metres.

The Cullen of Ormiston enclosure, to the east of the other enclosures, is axially aligned with those enclosures. Its west wall, which is dated 1864 and has an elaborate Jacobethan doorway, is very different from the rubble built walls of the rest of the enclosure, which has evidently been in use since at least 1790 on the evidence of a memorial to William Cullen.

The distance from the east wall of the Campbell Maconochie enclosure to the east wall of the Cullen enclosure is some 21 metres, which would be an acceptable length for a medieval rural church, and, taking account of the axial alignment of the two enclosures it is reasonable to speculate that, if the east wall of the former has utilised the west wall of the medieval nave, the east, south and north walls of the latter have utilised the walls of the eastern part of the medieval chancel.

Nevertheless, if that is the case, the differing character of the masonry in the two parts suggests that they date from distinct building campaigns. It also seems that they have been of different widths since, so far as can be measured through the swathes of ivy that envelope the Cullen enclosure, it has a north-south width of about 7.2 metres. On that basis, it might be suggested that the medieval church had been a two-cell structure, with a chancel of slightly less width than the nave.       

Notes

1. J.T. Lang, ‘Hogback Monuments in Scotland’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 105, 1972-4, p. 227.

2. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 123.

3. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1582-1630, CH2/424/1, fol. 291.

4. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1582-1630, CH2/424/1, fol. 475.

5. Reports on the State of Certain Parishes in Scotland, ed. A. MacGrigor (Maitland Club), 1835, pp. 82-85.

6. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1582-1630, CH2/424/1, fol. 561.

7. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1673-88, CH2/424/5, fols 52-53.

8. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-9, vol. 9, pp. 407-8.

9. Colin McWilliam, The Buildings of Scotland, Lothian, Harmondsworth, 1978, p. 275.

10. New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. 1, p. 447.

Map

Images

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  • 1. Kirknewton Churchyard, from north

  • 2. Kirknewton Churchyard, Campbell Maconochie enclosure, east wall, west face

  • 3. Kirknewton Churchyard, Campbell Maconochie enclosure, footing to north east

  • 4. Kirknewton Churchyard, Campbell Maconochie enclosure, from north west

  • 5. Kirknewton Churchyard, Campbell Maconochie enclosure, monument against east wall

  • 6. Kirknewton Churchyard, Campbell Maconochie enclosure, south-east angle

  • 7. Kirknewton Churchyard, Campbell Maconochie enclosure, west wall, inscription above entrance

  • 8. Kirknewton Churchyard, Cullen of Ormiston enclosure, from south west

  • 9. Kirknewton Churchyard

  • 10. Kirknewton, later church