Ormiston / Hormeston Parish Church

Ormiston Church, interior, 1

Summary description

Fragmentary shell of the chancel, with a tomb recess in the north wall and an arch that presumably opened into a lateral south aisle.

Historical outline

Dedication: St Giles(1)

It is unknown when the church of Ormiston was first granted to the Hospital of Soutra but it was confirmed in proprios usus to the brethren of the hospital in 1211 x 1226 by Bishop William Malveisin.(2)  The hospital was permitted by this annexation to serve the cure with one of their own number who was a priest.  Its inclusion in a papal confirmation of Pope Innocent IV of 1243 x 1244 in favour of Kelso Abbey was clearly an error and it is never mentioned subsequently in the records of that house.(3)  Despite the annexation, however, in the accounts of the papal tax-collector in Scotland in 1275-6, Ormiston appears as an independent parish church paying taxation of 20s.(4)  The church is next mentioned in 1293 when in the will of Sir William Lindsay which made a grant of £20 of annual rents to the monks of Newbattle Abbey, an allocation from that sum of half a merk was to be given for the maintenance of the Lady Light in the church of St Giles of Ormiston.(5)

In the middle of the fifteenth century a series of attempts were made to annexe the church, along with Soutra itself, to the proposed collegiate church of the Holy Trinity in Edinburgh.  In 1454 Gilbert Stitchel, canon of St Andrews, who had been previously a canon of Soutra and had served the cure in Ormiston for 20 years, supplicated that as the church was now annexed to Holy Trinity he should be provided to the perpetual vicarage, valued at £9.(6)  On 1 April 1462 in his confirmation of the foundation of the Hospital of the Holy Trinity, Edinburgh, Bishop James Kennedy made the provision that four prebendaries sustained from the fruits of Ormiston were to be responsible for the repair and sustentation of that church.(7)

At the Reformation the union of the church with Holy Trinity, Edinburgh continued, it being noted in the accounts of the collectors of the thirds of benefices that Ormiston pertained in common to the prebendaries and its ‘third’ was assessed at £66 13s 4d.(8)  It seems that since the annexation of Soutra and its appropriated churches to the college the cure had been served by a chaplain, a chaplainry of Ormiston pertaining to Trinity College, Edinburgh, valued at £8, being the only reference to religious provision in that parish.(9)

Notes

1. Registrum S Marie de Neubotle (Bannatyne Club, 1849), no.174 [hereafter Newbattle Registrum].

2. Charters of the Hospital of Soltre, of Trinity College, Edinburgh, and Other Collegiate Churches in Midlothian (Bannatyne Club, 1861), no.18 [hereafter Midlothian Charters].

3. Liber S Marie de Calchou (Bannatyne Club, 1846), no.460.

4. A I Dunlop (ed), ‘Bagimond’s Roll: Statements of the Tenths of the Kingdom of Scotland’, Miscellany of the Scottish History Society, vi (1939), 58.

5. Newbattle Registrum, no.174.

6. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, x, 1447-1455, ed J A Twemlow (London, 1915), 164.

7. Midlothian Charters, Trinity College, no.2.

8. G Donaldson (ed), Accounts of the Collectors of Thirds of Benefices (Scottish History Society, 1949), 28.

9. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 175.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes:  The church was confirmed to Kelso in 1243x54, but this was evidently in error, as it had already been given to the hospital of Soutra 1211x2. It was annexed, with the hospital, to Trinity College in 1460. Canons served the cure initially and after 1460, a chaplain.(1)

1454 Gilbert Stitchel (canon of St Andrews), had been a canon of Soutra and served the cure in Ormiston parish for 20 years. Church now annexed to Trinity, supplicates for perpetual vicarage value £9.(2)

1520x22 James Hunter, vicar of Kinnoul (canon lawyer), appears on behalf of Elizabeth Buchanan, Lady of Cader, in her divorce case against Robert Knollis (within related degrees of consanguinity and he had been contracted to a Margaret Mentieth).(3)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church - chaplainry of Ormiston pertaining to Trinity College, Edinburgh, valued at £8.(4)

Account of Collectors of Thirds of Benefices (G. Donaldson): Third of parsonage (common to Trinity college), £66 13s 4d.(5)

1622 (25 June) A visitation of the church approves the minister and finds problems of access to the church as it is blocked by the Lords Orchard(?).(6)

1627 (24 Apr) Report on the parish by the minister (Nathanial Harlaw) describes the church as formally belonging to Trinity college and now under the patronage of the lord of Ormiston.(7)

1642 (23 July) Visitation of the church recommends that the parish be united to Pencaitland.(8)

1647 (15 July) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Dalkeith finds the minister (John Sinclair) to be competent; they find that there are no kirk yard dykes (the heritors to see to it).(9)

1649 (6 Oct) Report in the presbytery records on the state of the church of Ormiston, notes that the church stands in the middle of the parish with 550 communicants. The people of Paxton also go there. The kirk stands within the ‘lairds orchard’.(10)

1695 (30 Oct) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Dalkeith found the fabric of the church to be altogether ruinous; they, together with the heritors, considered of the place for the building of a new church and the ground may accordingly be marked out for it in the Westbyres.(11) The account in the presbytery records notes that there is a middle wall in between the body of the kirk and the choir at the left side of the pulpit. [The account mentions numerous problems]. The presbytery notes that it is unsafe for divine worship and that it should be entirely rebuilt from the foundations or building a new kirk in some convenient central place in the parish. The decision was taken to have a new kirk.(12)

1696 (29 Nov) It was noted that the first sermon took place in the newly built church.(13)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Alexander Colvill, 1791): [Church mentioned but no details.](14)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev James Bannerman, 1835): ‘the parish church [built in 1696] is situated about 1.5 miles southwest of the village [of Ormiston]…. The old church was more centrical. It was situated close by the Ormiston Hall to the west… and it and the churchyard were both within the orchard of the proprietor… The aisle attached to it is still in pretty good preservation’.(15) [Brief reference in 1649 presbytery accounts to old church still in use]

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 160.

2. CPL, x, 164.

3. Liber Officialis Sancti Andree, no.29.

4. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 175.

5. Donaldson, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, 28.

6. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1582-1630, CH2/424/1, fols. 495-496.

7. Reports on the State of Certain Parishes in Scotland, pp. 125-126.

8. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1639-1652, CH2/424/3, fol. 89.

9. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1639-1652, CH2/424/3, fols. 186-87.

10. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1639-1652, CH2/424/3, fol. 371.

11. NRS Ormiston Kirk Session, 1690-1703, CH2/292/3, fol. 21.

12. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1694-1700, CH2/424/7, fols. 45-46.

13. NRS Ormiston Kirk Session, 1690-1703, CH2/292/3, fol. 24.

14. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1791), iv, 170.

15. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1835), ii, 147.

Bibliography

NRS Ormiston Kirk Session, 1690-1703, CH2/292/3.

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

NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1639-1652, CH2/424/3.

NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1694-1700, CH2/424/7.

Calendar of entries in the Papal registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland; Papal letters, 1893-, ed. W.H. Bliss, London.

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.

Kirk, J., 1995, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, (British Academy) Oxford.

Liber Officialis Sancti Andree, 1845, (Abbotsford Club), Edinburgh.

Liber Officialis Sancti Andree, 1845, (Abbotsford Club), Edinburgh.

New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, Edinburgh and London.

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 church at Ormiston was granted to the hospital at Soutra at a date before 1211x26, at which time there was a confirmation of the grant; some years later there was a mistaken papal confirmation to the Tironensian abbey of Kelso. In 1460, however, the church was annexed to Trinity College in Edinburgh, along with Soutra itself.(1)

A visitation by the Presbytery of Dalkeith in 1695 found the church to be totally ruinous and unsafe for worship,(2) as a result of which it was decided to build a new church in the more convenient location of West Byres. The old church was subsequently abandoned, other than a part that was used for burials by the Cockburn family of nearby Ormiston Hall. The church currently in use for worship was built in 1936 to the designs of T. Aikman Swan.(3)

The fragment of the old church that survives appears to have been the chancel of the medieval church, which has been walled off, presumably after 1695, to serve as a burial enclosure. It measures approximately 5.85 metres from east to west by 5.7 metres from north to south. In the east wall is a pointed window arch that presumably once contained tracery, and that has a shouldered rear arch. There are two blocked rectangular windows in the south wall and a single rectangular window set high towards the west end of the north wall.

Recessed into the north wall is a round-arched tomb recess whose mouldings are carried on shafts, and there is a cartouche framing a shield at the apex. Above this there used to be a fine inscribed brass for Alexander Cockburn, who died in 1535 at the age of 28, which is now in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The Roman lettering of the extended Latin texts, and the flanking foliage trails, together with the account of the learning and travels of Cockburn demonstrate high classical aspirations. The design of the brass bears some comparison with that of James Stewart, earl of Moray, in Edinburgh St Giles’ Church.(4)

In the south wall, to the west of the cross wall that has been inserted to enclose the chancel is a pointed arch with a continuous chamfered inner order. This presumably opened into a lateral aisle. To the west of this arch the wall is constructed of cubical blocks, and there is a length of string course that is decorated with what appears to have been a form of chevron, which together suggest a twelfth-century origin for the building.

Notes

1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 160.

2. National records of Scotland, Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1694-1799, CH2/424/7, fols 45-46.

3. Colin McWilliam, The Buildings of Scotland, Lothian, Harmondsworth, 1978, p. 374.

4. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Inventory of East Lothian, Edinburgh, 1924, pp. 80-81 and fig. 119; Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Inventory of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, 1951, p. 34 and figs 142-144.

Map

Images

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  • 1. Ormiston Church, interior, 1

  • 2. Ormiston Church, interior, 2

  • 3. Ormiston Church, east window

  • 4. Ormiston Church, from north

  • 5. Ormiston Church, tomb recess in chancel north wall

  • 6. Ormiston Church, arch into lost south chapel, from north

  • 7. Ormiston Church, arch into lost south chapel, from south

  • 8. Ormiston Church, chancel north wall

  • 9. Ormiston Church, interior, tombs recess

  • 10. Ormiston Church, wall inserted at west end of chancel

  • 11. Ormiston Church, plan (MacGibbon and Ross)

  • 12. Ormiston Church, monument of Alexander Cockburn (MacGibbon and Ross)