Nevay Parish Church

Nevay Church, exterior, from south

Summary description

The shell of a rectangular church said to be in ruins by 1842. Replaced by a new church on a different site in 1833, which is itself no longer in ecclesiastical use.

Historical outline

Dedication: unknown

There is no record of the church of Nevay before 1350 when it appears as an independent parsonage in the hands of Maurice of Dunblane, who was also a canon of Dunkeld.(1)  It was held in 1360 by William of Chesham, a clerk of King David II, and in 1363 by Richard of Cheslam (a possible kinsman of William’s).(2)  A papal mandate of October 1387 to collate John Oggistone followed from his provision to the parish church by Cardinal Walter Wardlaw.(3) Rectors of the church are recorded through the fifteenth century, several of whom were clearly absentees.(4)  The cure of the church may have been served by a chaplain, one such man being recorded in 1531 when he was cited for violent and criminal acts in the justiciary court at Dundee.(5)  It is only at the Reformation that the independent status of the church is confirmed in a record source, at which time it was described as lying in the patronage of the archbishop of St Andrew, with whose predecessors it had probably lain since at least the first half of the fourteenth century.  It was held in 1560 by George Swinton, its fruits valued at £75 15s 1½d.(6)

Notes

1. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, iii, 1342-1362, eds W H Bliss and C Johnson (London, 1897), 344.

2. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Petitions to the Pope, ed W H Bliss (London, 1896), 359-360, 421.

3. Calendar of Papal Letters to Scotland of Clement VII of Avignon 1378-1394, ed C Burns (Scottish History Society, 1976), 134.

4. Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, i, 1418-1422, eds E R Lindsay and A I Cameron (Scottish History Society, 1934), 272; Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, iii, 1428-1432, ed A I Dunlop and I B Cowan (Scottish History Society, 1970), 253; Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, iv, 1433-1447, eds A I Dunlop and D MacLauchlan (Glasgow, 1983), no.243; Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland, xv, 1484-1492, ed M J Haren (Dublin, 1978), no.86.

5. NRS Papers of the Earls of Airlie, GD16/41/7.

6. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 367-8.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: An independent parsonage when it first appears in the 14th century, the church was unappropriated at the Reformation and the patronage was with bishops of St Andrews.(1)

1350 Maurice of Dunblane (MA) provided to canonry of Dunkeld, holds Nevay.(2)

1360 William de Cheshem (clerk of David II) holds the church shortly followed in 1363 by Richard de Cheslem [related to William?].(3)

1421 Adam Christini provided to Nevay (value 40 marks).(4)

1432 Robert Fevyr  in possession, value £20 sterling.(5)

1436 Andrew Young confirmed to the parish church of Nevay (value 40 marks).(6)

1486 Rector of Nevay David Brown made commendator of abbey of Melrose.(7)

1531 (15 Feb) Narrating that John Ramsay of Dunvne compeared before a justiciary court held at Dundee by Sir John Campbell of Lundy, Kt, and compounded for art and part in theft and oppression against Katherine Barclay, his mother, he being indicted of theft from the said Katherine her terce lands of Manwellrig and profits thereof, for complicity in robbery and 'hamesuckan' committed by sir Andrew Awairie, chaplain at the church of Naway, against the said Katherine, for theft from said Katherine of a gold signet ring, for theft from Mr Alexander Lyoun, precentor of Murray of his teinds from the parish of Glammes for the years 1529 and 1530, for violent ejection of the said Katherine from the demesne lands of Dunvne after the death of Archibald Ramsay, her husband, and for violent occupation of the demesne lands of the Mains of Dunvne and for burning of the place of Kirktounhill. James, Lord Ogiluy, appeared as surety. 16 February 1531. [Extracted by Thomas Scott, clerk of justiciary].(8)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church independent; patronage with archbishops of St Andrews, George Swinton parson. Total value £75 15s 1.5d.(9)

1600 (21 Mar) The General Assembly ratifies a supplication by the Presbytery of Meigle that the parishes of Eassie and Nevay be united and a new parish church be built in the midst of the two parishes. This was done partly in respect of the fewness of parishioners (less than 500 combined), partly out of respect for the commodity of the place (the furthest extent of the parishes not being too far apart, and partly because it was impossible to sustain 2 ministers at the said two kirks.(10)

1610 (19 Sept) That day it was declared that the churches of Eassie and Nevay are united by parliament. The greatest parts of the parishioners live nearest to Eassie and may most commodiously compear in the same and also it is found that the church of Nevay is not of bounds sufficient to receive the parishioners.(11)

[it appears that the new church planned in 1600 was never built]

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Dr Playfair, 1793): ‘There is a small church in each parish where divine service is performed alternately. ..Both are mean fabrics’.(12)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev James Flowerdew, 1842): ‘There were formerly two places of worship in the united parishes. They were situated at the eastern and western extremities, and are now in ruins. A commodious and elegant new church was built a few years ago’.(13) (c.1839?)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 155.

2. CPL, iii, 344.

3. CPP, 359-60 & 421.

4. CSSR, i, 272.

5. CSSR, iii, 253.

6. CSSR, iv, no.243.

7. CPL, xv, no 86.

8. NRS Papers of the Earls of Airlie, GD16/41/7.

9. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 367-368.

10. Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, iii, 961.

11. NRS Records of the Synod of Fife, 1610-1636, CH2/154/1, fols. 10-13.

12. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1793), xvi, 220.

13. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1842), xi, 483.

Bibliography

NRS Papers of the Earls of Airlie, GD16/41/7.

NRS Records of the Synod of Fife, 1610-1636, CH2/154/1.

Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, 1839-45, ed. T. Thomson (Bannatyne Club), 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 Scottish Supplications to Rome 1418-22, 1934, ed. E.R. Lindsay and A.I. Cameron, (Scottish History Society) Edinburgh.

Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1428-32, 1970, ed. A.I. Dunlop; and I.B. Cowan, (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.

Architectural description

The church of Nevay first appears on record in the fourteenth century, though it may have been in existence before then. It evidently remained a free parsonage in the patronage of the bishops of St Andrews throughout the middle ages.(1)

On 21 March 1600 the General Assembly agreed to the request of the Presbytery of Meigle that the parishes of Nevay and Eassie should be united, and a new church built between them.(2) But it seems that it was only ten years later, on 19 September 1610, that the union of the parishes was put into effect by parliament.(3)

However, rather than a single new church being built to serve the conjoined parishes, as suggested in 1600, both churches remained in use, ‘where divine service is performed alternately’, though both were dismissed as being ‘mean fabrics’.(4)

A new church was eventually built on a more convenient site between Eassie and Nevay in 1833 to the designs of David Paterson, being later modified in 1915 by Thoms and Wilkie.(5) By 1842 it was said of both churches that they were ‘now in ruins’.(6) The later church of the joint parishes is itself no longer in use for worship.

The earlier church of Nevay is an oriented rubble-built rectangle of 17.5 metres from east to west by 7.05 metres from north to south, and is set at the summit of a mounded oval churchyard. The south and north walls have been cut down from their original heights, though the two gable walls still stand largely complete. At the apex of the west gable is what appears to be the base for a bellcote.

The south wall has a central window flanked by a pair of doors that are now blocked by monuments. The western of those doorways has a lintel inscribed ‘16DN95’. A roughly formed recess towards the west end of the interior of the south wall is perhaps more likely to have been provided for a monument than for a window. The north wall appears to have been unpierced.

The east wall has a single elevated rectangular door, which must have provided access to a post-Reformation loft. The west wall has a round-headed door with chamfered reveals within a segmental rear arch, and within the gable is a small round-arched window with a roll-moulded reveal and a lintelled rear arch.

The church has evidently been extensively modified to meet the needs of reformed worship. Nevertheless, it appears to stand on the site within the churchyard that is most likely to have been occupied by the medieval church, and its oriented and elongated rectangular plan strongly suggests that it is on the footprint of its medieval predecessor, with the added likelihood that it incorporates some of that predecessor’s fabric. Beyond that, it could not be ruled out that the door and window in the west wall are of medieval date, albeit perhaps relocated to their present positions.

Notes

1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 155.

2. Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, ed. T. Thomson (Bannatyne Club), 1839-45, vol. 3, p. 961.

3. National Records of Scotland, Records of the Synod of Fife, 1610-36, CH2/154/1, fols 10-13.

4. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-99, vol. 16, p. 219.

5. John Gifford, The Buildings of Scotland, Dundee and Angus, New Haven and London, p. 571.

6. New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. 11, p. 483.

Map

Images

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  • 1. Nevay Church, exterior, from south

  • 2. Nevay Church, exterior, east gable

  • 3. Nevay Church, exterior, from south west

  • 4. Nevay Church, exterior, inscribed door lintel

  • 5. Nevay Church, exterior, west gable

  • 6. Nevay Church, exterior, west gable, door

  • 7. Nevay Church, exterior, west gable, window

  • 8. Nevay Church, interior, looking east

  • 9. Nevay Church, interior, looking west

  • 10. Nevay churchyard, gravestone

  • 11. Nevay churchyard, monument

  • 12. Nevay Church, plan (MacGibbon and Ross)