Newbattle / Masterton Parish Church

Newbattle Abbey, site of church

Summary description

The medieval parish may have been housed in the Cistercian abbey founded in 1140. Perhaps around the end of the sixteenth century a new church was built at some distance from the abbey church, where there is now a burial enclosure. This was replaced in 1726 by another church outside the policies of the post-Reformation Newbattle House.  

Historical outline

Dedication: unknown

It is not recorded in any surviving source that the lands of Newbattle granted in 1140 by David I as the founding endowment of his new Cistercian abbey already constituted a discrete parish.  It is likely, however, that it quickly came to be regarded as such, with all revenues from the parish being lifted by the monks and in the seventeenth century it was commented that the parish church was ‘the principall kirk of the abbacie of Newbottill’, presumably originally served by a parish altar located in the nave of the abbey church.(1)  Certainly, no separate parish of Newbattle is recorded in any form by the papal tax-collector in Scotland in 1275-6. 

Although it was being treated as an effectively independent parish down to the 1320s, there is no record of Masterton as a church or parish in any earlier documents, being named in no form in either the papal taxation of 1275-6 or in 1298.  In a process started in 1320, the three heiresses of Robert de Ros sold their thirds of the lands of Masterton and their rights of advowson in its parish church to the monks of Newbattle, securing permission from their husbands and heirs, where appropriate.  The first sister, Mariota de Ros, wife of Neil of Carrick, secured the permission of her son, Robert, and the second sister, Ada, secured that of her husband Gilbert of Ayton and their son John.(2)  The third sister’s charter does not survive but must have been received as King Robert I confirmed the abbey’s possession, also in 1320.(3

In 1350 Bishop William Landallis of St Andrews annexed the church to Newbattle in proprios usus, uniting both parsonage and vicarage teinds to the monastery.(4)  It seems that the parish was merged with that of Newbattle proper from that point (qv), there being no further independent reference to Masterton. The cure appears to have been served from that time by one of the convent or by a chaplain. The union continued at the Reformation when the parsonage, set for £80, as recorded as pertaining to the abbey.  The vicarage, however, was at that time held by one George Adamson, the fruits being valued at thirty merks.(5) But it is not mentioned as one of the annexed churches when the lands of Newbattle were erected into a temporal lordship for Mark Kerr in 1587.(6)

Notes

1. Reports on the State of Certain Parishes in Scotland, 1627 (Maitland Club, 1835), 86.

2. Registrum S Marie de Neubotle (Bannatyne Club, 1849), nos 53-57 [hereafter Newbattle Registrum].

3. Newbattle Registrum, no.58.

4. Newbattle Registrum, no.273.

5. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 100-102.

6. Registrum Magni Sigilli Regum Scotorum, v, 1580-1593, ed J M Thomson (Edinburgh, 1888), no.1307.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: The parishes of Newbattle and Masterton were united by at least 1350, with the revenues annexed to the abbey and the cure served by a chaplain or monk.(1)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church pertains to abbey of same name, parsonage set for £80

Vicarage held by George Adamson, worth 30 marks.(2)

Altars and Chaplainries

Chaplaincy of St Catherine in Newbattle, valued at £16.(3)

1591 (30 Dec) Visitation of the church of Newbattle by the presbytery of Dalkeith. Report by the minister that the whole land of Newbattle was kirk land; reference also made to the ‘old parish church’ where the gleib was once.(4) 1592 (6 Apr) A second visitation finds the minister describing the kirk as ruinous and that the minister also lacks a manse and gleib. The lord (of Newbattle) has said that he will sort out the problems but has done little.(5)

1627 (30 Apr) Report on the parish by the minister describes the church as standing in the town of Newbattle; since the reformation it is in the patronage of the Earl of Lothian.(6)

1649 (8 Aug) Discharge to James Wauch, glasier in Dalkeith, 60 marks for repairing of the west end of the kirk of Newbattle with glass.(7)

1671 (29 Oct) The session, taking into account the baseness of the kirk floor, agrees that John Edmonstone to lay it with paving stones at a cost of £36.(8)

1687 (9 Aug) Report on a visitation of the church by the presbytery of Dalkeith, notes that the condition of the fabric of the  is found to be somewhat faulty and ruinous but Mr Davidson, town baillie is immediately to repair it.(9)

1691 (1 Sept) Record of a visitation by the presbytery of Dalkeith notes that the manse has been recently replaced. The visitors find the kirk to want some slates and pointing and the windows to lack glass. The brethren recommend the heritors to sort it out.(10)

1710 (22 Aug) The presbytery of Dalkeith notes that the roof of Newbattle requires several reparations. A stent is to be organised to pay for it.(11)

1725 (20 Aug) Report of the presbytery notes that the Marquess of Lothian had sent letters to them asking for a meeting. Mason and Mr McGill, architect, have viewed the church, who are of the opinion that much of the walls, if not all, are insufficient. Masons, Andrew Farquhar and Robert Curry used visited the church and report that the walls are ruinous. The decision was taken to build a new church upon the old spot of ground. Measurements taken note that the side walls and gavels amount to 18 rood and a half (at the cost of 18m per rood for workmanship). The steeple consists of 336 foot of ‘aisles work’. The cost of the work amounts to £801 for wrights, £538 for slate works, and £90 glass works.(12)

1726 (9 Aug) Meeting of the presbytery of Dalkeith at Newbattle, anent the new church. The Marquess of Lothian notes that ‘the piece of ground lying in the west side of the street of Newbattle, betwixt the manse on the south side of the weind on the north, was the best place for the church. Mr McGill has made the plan.(13)

[No further references to the building, which presumably took place and was completed the following year.]

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev James Brown, 1791): ‘The church, which was built in 1727’.(14)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev John Thomson): [Nothing to add to above, neither refers to church buildings from before 1727.]

Notes

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

2. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 100-102.

3. Ibid, 68.

4. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1582-1630, CH2/424/1, fol. 261.

5. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1582-1630, CH2/424/1, fol. 266.

6. Reports on the State of Certain Parishes in Scotland, pp. 86-90.

7. NRS Newbattle Kirk Session, 1643-1673, CH2/276/4, fol. 105.

8. NRS Newbattle Kirk Session, 1643-1673, CH2/276/4, fol. 125.

9. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1673-1688, CH2/424/5, fols. 324-325.

10. NRS Newbattle Kirk Session, 1673-1702, CH2/276/5, fols. 150-151.

11. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1705-1711, CH2/424/9, fol. 293.

12. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1711-1726, CH2/424/11, fols. 412-413.

13. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1711-1726, CH2/424/11, fols. 10-11.

14. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1791), x, 215.

Bibliography

NRS Newbattle Kirk Session, 1643-1673, CH2/276/4.

NRS Newbattle Kirk Session, 1673-1702, CH2/276/5.

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

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

NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1705-1711, CH2/424/9.

NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1711-1726, CH2/424/11.

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.

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.

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

Architectural description

The lands of Newbattle were granted to the Cistercian Abbey of Newbattle by David I on its foundation in 1140. At a date of after 1350 the parish was augmented by the incorporation of the parish of Masterton, and the cure of souls of the conjoined parishes was served either by a chaplain or one of the monks of the abbey.(1)

The abbey, which was a daughter house of Melrose, was founded by David I together with his son, Earl Henry.(2) Despite Cistercian objections to lay encroachment, it seems likely that the parishioners were accommodated in a part of the abbey church by the later middle ages, and probably before.

Some support for parochial use of part of the abbey church may come from the survival of a baptismal font. It was found at Mavisbank House in 1873, but was believed to have originated at Newbattle because one of its panels has arms thought to be of Abbot James Haswell (1529-47). Since a Cistercian monastic church would not ordinarily require a baptismal font, this might point to a parochial presence. Other panels have the arms of James IV and his queen, James V and his two queens, and Ramsay of Dalhousie.(3)

The font is now held in the vaulted undercroft of the east conventual range that has been incorporated within the house that has taken shape since the Reformation. The house was the residence of the Kerr family, the earls and marquesses of Lothian, the post-Reformation successors of the commendators of Newbattle, but now houses a college.

The church has been completely lost to sight. However, excavations carried out in 1893–4 for the ninth marquess of Lothian, under the supervision of John Ramsay the estate clerk of works, revealed the plan, and this was set out in the turf so far as the evidence was then understood. The plan was interpreted as having an aisled nave of ten bays, and aisles running the length of the short eastern arm, with very large eastern piers to the latter.(4)

These large piers can probably be best interpreted as marking a change of axis of the arcade, with the possible implication that there was an ambulatory or chapel aisle beyond the presbytery. If that is the case, this was a type of plan that may have been first introduced at the order’s house of Morimond in about 1160, and that was subsequently followed at the mother house of the order, Cîteaux, in enlargements that were dedicated in 1193.(5) In England it had been adopted at the Yorkshire house of Byland, soon after Morimond, and it was presumably from there that the idea could have been taken to Newbattle, where the church was sufficiently complete for a dedication in 1233.(6)

In 1592 the minister said that his church was ruinous,(7) and it is possible that it was the part of the abbey church that had remained in parochial use that was being referred to. At some date a new church was built about 100 metres from the abbey,(8) evidently recycling masonry from the medieval buildings, and apparently with an aisle for the Lothian family to one side.

That later church was in turn coming to be considered inadequate by the 1720s, and in 1725 the architect Alexander McGill opined that most of the walls were insufficient.(9) In the following year the marquess of Lothian, who probably wished to move the church out of his policies, suggested that ‘the piece of ground lying in the west side of the street of Newbattle, betwixt the manse on the south side of the wynd to the north, was the best place for the church’ He also said that ‘Mr McGill has made the plan’.(10)

The new church was set out to a T-plan, with a tall tower-porch capped by a slated pyramidal roof on the opposite side from the lateral aisle. The site of the removed church is marked by a burial enclosure for the family of the marquesses of Lothian. This was modified in the late nineteenth century according to an inscription which states ‘The front of this isle was enlarged by General Lord Mark Kerr K.C.B. A.D. 1888’.

Notes

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

2. Chronica de Mailros, ed. Joseph Stevenson (Bannatyne Club), 1835, p. 71; Ian B. Cowan and David E. Easson, Medieval Religious Houses, Scotland, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1976, p. 77.

3. J. Russell Walker, ‘Scottish Baptismal Fonts’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 21, 1886-7, pp. 346-448, at pp. 424-26; Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Inventory of Midlothian and West Lothian, Edinburgh, 1929, p. 144.

4. Accounts of the abbey include: David MacGibbon and Thomas Ross, The Ecclesiastical Architecture of Scotland, Edinburgh, vol. 2, 1896, pp. 251–63; J.C. Carrick, The Abbey of S. Mary Newbottle, 2nd ed., Selkirk and Edinburgh, 1908, pp. 79-86; Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Inventory of Midlothian and West Lothian, p. 144; Christopher Wilson in Colin McWilliam, The Buildings of Scotland, Lothian, Harmondsworth, 1978, pp. 345–47.

5. Anselme Dimier, L’art Cistercien, France, 3rd ed., La-Pierre-qui-vire, 1982, pp. 47–49.

6. Chronica de Mailros, p. 143.

7. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1582-1630, CH2/424/1, fol, 261v.

8. Carrick, 1908, p. 139.

9. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1711-26, CH2/424/11, fols 412-413.

10. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1711-26, CH2/424/11, fols 410-11.

Map

Images

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  • 1. Newbattle Abbey, site of church

  • 2. Newbattle Abbey, entrance front

  • 3. Newbattle Abbey, house

  • 4. Newbattle Abbey, undercroft 1

  • 5. Newbattle Abbey, undercroft 2

  • 6. Newbattle Abbey, font

  • 7. Newbattle Abbey, plan (MacGibbon and Ross)

  • 8. Newbattle Church

  • 9. Newbattle, presumed site of previous church, 1

  • 10. Newbattle, presumed site of previous church, 2