Muckhart Parish Church

Muckhart Church, exterior, from south east

Summary description

Rebuilt in 1838.

Historical outline

Dedication: unknown

Two references to Muckhart, in 1207 and 1218, place it amongst the possessions of the bishops of St Andrews, suggesting that the parsonage lay in the gift of the bishops by that time.(1)  There appear to be no other references to the church of Muckhart surviving from before 1275, when it was named in the records of the papal tax-collector in Scotland, where the rector was entered as having paid one merk.(2)  Rectors continue to be recorded throughout the pre-Reformation period,(3) and the church remained independent in 1560 at which time the parsonage lay with John Sempill and was set for 100 merks per annum.(4)

Notes

1. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, i, 1198-1304, ed W H Bliss (London, 1893), 30, 61.

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), 37.

3. See, for example, Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Petitions to the Pope, ed W H Bliss (London, 1896), 204-5, 546; Calendar of Papal Letters to Scotland of Clement VII of Avignon, 1378-1394, ed C Burns (Scottish History Society, 1976), 32; Calendar of Papal Letters to Scotland of Benedict XIII of Avignon, 1394-1419, ed F McGurk (Scottish History Society, 1976), 299, 331; Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, iv, 1433-1447, ed A I Dunlop and D MacLauchlan (Glasgow, 1983), nos 86, 866, 874, 915; Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, ix, 1431-1447, ed J A Twemlow (London, 1912), 263; StAUL, Burgh Charters and Miscellaneous Writs, B65/23/43c; Abstract of the Protocol Book of the Burgh of Stirling, 1469-84 (Edinburgh, 1896), 38.

4. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 338.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: Parsonage in Bagimond, church remained unappropriated at the Reformation, patronage with Archbishops of St Andrews.(1)

1207 and 1218 Muckhart amongst the possessions of the bishops of St Andrews.(2)

1350 Thomas Bur (chaplain and almoner of Queen Joan and King David) is rector.(3)

1378 John de Crail (student at Paris) has possession of the church (value 10 marks).(4)

1414 John de Lichton is rector, by 1415 replaced by Robert de Dryden who obtained the church through an exchange with Hugh Hunter.(5)

1433-42 Thomas Archer described as rector (value £14). On his resignation unsuccessful supplication by Donald Rede, John Russell (vicar of Aberluthnot) provided to the church.(6)

1466 (29 Sept) Charter by David Kay, doctor of decreets, rector of the parish church of Idvie (Idvy), and Sir John Anderson, rector of the parish church of Muckhart , whereby intending to found a chaplainry in the parish church of St Andrews at an altar to be built by them, they with consent of Patrick Graham, bishop of St Andrews give grant and mortify to the Holy Trinity, the Virgin Mary, St. Katharine the Virgin, and to the said altar and the chaplain serving thereat, for the safety of the souls of the bishop, themselves, and their families, one tenement each.(7)

1478 John Anderson is still rector.(8)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church parsonage with John Sempill, set for 100 marks (£66 13s 4d).(9)

1586 (15 Sept) A visitation finds the fabric of the church described as ‘at a very evil point especially in the roof and that which is rotten and ruined. The reparation thereof there is several of the congregation are nominated; a third of the parsonage is designated to pay for (£40)’.  A further order is made that no burials shall take place in the kirk.(10)

1591 (20 July) request to the Presbytery of Stirling from the parishioners that they be provided with a minister. The presbytery reply that they are to be provided when they can ensure a honest manse and gleib for the minister.(11) 30 Nov 1591 Muckhart finally planted with Alexander Simpson with the parishioners agreeing to pay 100 marks pa. Later the parishioners were admonished for not providing an adequate stipend.(12)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Andrew Gibson, 1791): ‘The archbishop of St Andrews was originally patron of the parish’.(13) [no reference to church buildings]

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev James Thomson, 1836): ‘The church is situated to the north east of the principal village called the Pool… it appears to have been built since the Roman Catholic times as the font stone is used to form part of the front wall. [dates on it 1620, 1699, 1715, 1789 which author suggests relate to building work]. At present it is rather ruinous’.(14)

Bibliography

National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Stirling, Minutes, 1589-96, CH2/722/2.

St Andrews University Library, Burgh Charters and Miscellaneous Writs, B65/23/43c.

Abstract of the Protocol Book of the Burgh of Stirling, 1469-84, 1896, Edinburgh.

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.

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

Calendar of Papal letters to Scotland of Clement VII of Avignon, 1976, ed. C. Burns, (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.

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.

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

Visitation of the diocese of Dunblane and other churches, 1586-89, 1984, ed. J. Kirk (Scottish Record Society), Edinburgh.

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 153.

2. Calendar of entries in the Papal registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland; Papal letters, i, 30 and 61.

3. Calendar of entries in the Papal registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland; Papal Petitions, 204-5.

4. Calendar of entries in the Papal registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland; Papal Petitions, 546; Calendar of Papal letters to Scotland of Clement VII of Avignon, 32.

5. Calendar of Papal letters to Scotland of Benedict XIII of Avignon, 299 and 331.

6. Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1433-47, nos. 86, 866, 874 and 915, Calendar of entries in the Papal registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland; Papal letters, ix, 263.

7. St Andrews University Library, Burgh Charters and Miscellaneous Writs, B65/23/43c.

8. Abstract of the Protocol Book of Stirling, 1469-84, 38.

9. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 338.

10. Visitation of the diocese of Dunblane and other churches, pp. 26 and 30.

11. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Stirling, Minutes, 1589-96, CH2/722/2, fol. 123.

12. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Stirling, Minutes, 1589-96, CH2/722/2, fols. 163-174-75.

13. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1791), ix, 307.

14. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1836), x, 308-09.

Architectural description

Muckhart, which was in the patronage of the bishops of St Andrews, was a rare instance of a medieval church that remained unappropriated throughout the middle ages.(1)

Following the Reformation, by 1586 it was said to be structurally ‘at a very evil point, especially in the roof’, and it may be assumed that some repairs were subsequently carried out.(2) Later structural interventions are presumably commemorated in corbel stones that were said in 1836 to be inscribed with the dates 1620, 1699, 1715 and 1789,(3) and the first three of those are still to be seen set in the north-east wall, together with one inscribed ‘ANNO’. That account also stated that a font stone used to form part of the front wall, possibly in mistaken reference to a blind circlet at a higher point of the north-east wall.

The church was rebuilt in 1838.(4) The result is a simple rectangular rubble-built structure set out on an alignment running from south-west to north east, with three windows having three-centred arches to the two main fronts. A square bellcote, whose piers are decorated with blind Gothic arches, is corbelled out above the south-west gable; the date 1838 is inscribed on its base. A lower block housing a porch and session house has been added at the south-west end of the church.

It is not known if the present building is on the site of, or incorporates any of the fabric of the previous buildings. The south-west to north-east alignment of the church may argue against this, although this alignment may be a consequence of the sloping topography of the site. A watching brief that was carried out in advance of constructing a session house and meeting room in 2007 found no evidence either to support or reject this possibility.(5)

One factor that should perhaps be taken into some account is the location of the Christie of Cowden burial enclosure against the north-east end of the church. This appears to date from around 1875 on the indication of the dates of death of those commemorated, and its main feature is a neo-Romanesque blind arcade of three arches.

Somewhat curiously, this enclosure is set towards the southern end of the church wall rather than at its centre. Bearing in mind that the present church is rather wider than any medieval predecessor would have been, is it therefore a possibility that the enclosure perpetuates the site of an earlier burial place formed over the east end of the narrower medieval church? However, while this is an interesting possibility, without archaeological excavation there could be no way of knowing if there is any likelihood of this being the case.

Notes

1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland  (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 153.

2. Visitation of the Diocese of Dunblane and other Churches, 1586-89, ed. J.Kirk (Scottish Record Society), 1984, pp. 26 and 30.

3. New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. 10, p. 307.

4. Francis H. Groome, Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, vol. 5, 1884; John Gifford and Frank Arneil Walker, The Buildings of Scotland, Stirling and Central Scotland, New Haven and London, 2002, p. 636.

5. K. Haines, Discovery and Excavation, Scotland, 2007, pp. 58-59.

Map

Images

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

  • 1. Muckhart Church, exterior, from south east

  • 2. Muckhart Church, exterior, from north, 1

  • 3. Muckhart Church, exterior, from north, 2

  • 4. Muckhart Church, exterior, from south

  • 5. Muckhart Church, exterior, west gable, bellcote

  • 6. Muckhart Church, exterior, east wall, inscribed corbel, 1

  • 7. Muckhart Church, exterior, east wall, inscribed corbel, 2

  • 8. Muckhart Church, exterior, east wall, inscribed corbel, 3

  • 9. Muckhart Church, exterior, east wall, inscribed corbel, 4

  • 10. Muckhart Church, exterior, east wall, inscribed corbels

  • 11. Muckhart Church, interior, 1

  • 12. Muckhart Church, interior, 2