Penicuik Parish Church

Penicuik Church, from north west

Summary description

The east and west ends were evidently adapted as burial enclosures after the church was replaced by a new building in 1771. Attached to the west end is a seventeenth-century tower with a belfry stage of 1731-32. Attached to the east end is a mausoleum of 1683-84.

Historical outline

Dedication: St Mungo(1)

Apparently an independent parsonage throughout its history, little record evidence survives for the development of the church and parish of Penicuik.  Surprisingly, there is no listing of it in the accounts of the papal tax-collector in Scotland in the mid-1270s but it does occur in the late thirteenth-century taxation records, where the church of Penicuik was noted as valued at £13 6s 8d annually and taxed at a tenth, equalling 26s 8d.(2)  Rectors are known by name from 1344, when it was resigned by Robert de Den on his successful supplication for transfer to the church of Kirkliston.(3)  It seems likely that the church was in the lay patronage of the Penicuiks of that Ilk by the fifteenth century; a father and son succession of Penicuiks, George and Alexander, exchanged their charges of Penicuik and Kilconquhar in 1461.(4)  In George’s supplication, the church was described as being of lay patronage.  The church remained independent at the Reformation, when it was valued at £92 4s annually.(5)

Notes

1. This dedication is known only from post-Reformation sources.

2. The Correspondence, Inventories, Account Rolls and Law Proceedings of the Priory of Coldingham, ed J Raine (Surtees Society, 1841), cviii.

3. 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), 153.

4. Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, v, 1447-1471, eds J Kirk, R J Tanner and A I Dunlop (Glasgow, 1993), no.856.

5. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 119.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: An independent parsonage, the patronage being  with the Penicuiks from at least 1472.(1)

1344 Robert de Den has the church (resigns on getting Kirkliston).(2)

1420 Successful supplication for re-admittance to Lasswade by Patrick Stephens (former rector of Penicuik) who had been deprived after committing simony when exchanging churches with previous rector John Dalchet (value 40 marks).(3)

1429 George de Penicuik holds the church, described as in lay patronage (also has Kilconquhar).

1461 George (or man of the same name) swaps Penicuik for Kilconquhar now held by Alexander de Penicuik; seeks dispensation for the exchange as Alexander is his son.(4)

1503-1513 Vicarage held by John de Houvygh.(5)

1523 David Wauchop, rector of Penicuik, declares how he had been greatly hurt by James Betoun, archbishop of St Andrews, in the taxation of said rectory, and intends to appeal to the pope, in front of witnesses.(6)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church is an independent parsonage, valued at 138 marks.(7)

Account of Collectors of Thirds of Benefices (G. Donaldson): Third of parsonage £30 14s 8d.(8)

[Mount Lothian parish annexed to Penicuik in 1635]

1629 (2 July) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Dalkeith reports that the kirk yard dykes are unbuilt, that the windows of the church are unglassed and that they do not have a bell (a stent is ordered to pay for it).(9)

1635 (4 June) Report from the minister to the Presbytery of Dalkeith notes that the roof of his kirk, both timber and slates, were so ‘faultie’ that none might bide into it in winter and desires that the brethren might organise a visitation. On the 12 June a visitation from the presbytery finds the roof altogether faulty and organises a stent from the heritors.(10)

1648 (17 Aug) During a visitation by the Presbytery of Dalkeith, the minister regretted that the kirk yard dykes were not built and that the east end of the kirk was without glass and that they wanted a bell. The heritors are willing to sort it out.(11)

1648 (2 Nov) In the survey of the parishioners of the Presbytery of Dalkeith it was noted that Penicuik consisted of three kirks; Penicuik, St Katherine in the Hopes and St Marys in Mount Lothian. It also notes that Penicuik was in lay patronage and the other churches belonged to Holyrood house.(12)

1656 (3 Apr) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Dalkeith, finds the necessity of the reparation of the kirk, the roof thereof, east gabell door and kirk yard dykes.(13)

1656 (no date) A compt of the expenses for the building of the choir at Penicuik [survives in a separate document]. Includes; 2 window cases (£16), 8 pairs of window bands (£5 12s), 23 foot of glass bands (£2 19s), 19 foot of glass for 2 windows (£6 12s), Mason’s wages (£33), for pointing the choir (£13+ various for lime etc). The first compt amounted to £87 but further work was required including £11 2s d for a mason and more for materials, lime, slates etc. The total amount spent on the choir was £106 15s 2d.(14)

1660 (23 Aug) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Dalkeith, reports that the lord of Penicuik had repaired the church according to the warrant he had received from the presbytery. The presbytery is to organise a stent of the parishioners to pay the money owed to the lord.(15)

1677 (16 Dec) The elders agree to pay a mason to mend the kirk yard dykes, as long as the parishioners pay for the materials.(16)

1683 (19 Aug) The minister reports that he has spoken to the heritors concerning the money that was expended for slating and mending of the church and that they condescended to paying it on demand.(17)

1726 (26 Apr) Meeting at Penicuik notes that the ‘kirk of Penicuik is very much too little for accommodating the parishioners (agreed by heritors and session). The clerk gives his opinion that an aisle should be built upon the north side of the kirk opposite to the pulpit-to the extent of 20 feet in length and 18 in breadth within the walls. For the building it is necessary that the heritors pay 1 years stipend amounting to 688 marks.(18)

1771 (8 Aug) It was noted in the session that as by the new kirk, the area of the old should be vacant. Several heritors desire to have their burial places enlarged (mainly James Clerk). The session agrees. The same meeting notes that the area of the new kirk inclusive of the aisle… which was built of James Clerk own charge and for his own use… is one third larger than the area of the old kirk.(19) [the remains of the old kirk seem to have been left as burial places for James Clerk of Penicuik]

Statistical Account of Scotland (Thomas McCourty, 1797): ‘The original seat of the old proprietor of St Mungo’s, is still to be traced on an eminence above the Esk. It is now called the Tower, but the old name was Terre eagles’.(20) [reference to site of former church?]

‘the [new] church, was built in 1771’.(21) [no reference apart from perhaps that noted above to remains of earlier buildings]

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Scott Moncrieff): [Nothing to add to above.]

Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches (George Hay): 1771; enlarged 1837, refurnished 1880, 1800 hearse house, tower of previous kirk extant. Wide rectangular kirk illustrative of the academic classicism of the late part of the 18th century.(22)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 163.

2. CPL, iii, 153.

3. CSSR, i, 221-22.

4. CSSR, iii, 58-59 & 61, CSSR, v, no. 856.

5. CPL, xix, no. 887.

6. Prot Bk of John Foular, no. 420.

7. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 118.

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

9. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1582-1630, CH2/424/1, fol. 575.

10. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1630-1639, CH2/424/2, fols. 73-74

11. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1639-1652, CH2/424/3, fols. 256-257.

12. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1639-1652, CH2/424/3, fol. 261.

13. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1652-1662, CH2/424/4, fols. 231-232.

14. NRS Accompt of the expenses of building of the choir at Pennycuke, GD18/2937.

15. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1652-1662, CH2/424/4, fols. 424-425.

16. NRS Penicuik Kirk Session, 1674-1744, CH2/297/2, fol. 35.

17. NRS Penicuik Kirk Session, 1674-1744, CH2/297/2, fol. 63.

18. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1711-1726, CH2/424/11, fols. 1-2.

19. NRS Penicuik Kirk Session, 1708-1812, CH2/297/3, fols. 239 & 243.

20. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1797), x, 420.

21. Ibid, 423.

22. Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, pp. 76, 86, 174, 239 & 266. 

Bibliography

NRS Accompt of the expenses of building of the choir at Pennycuke, GD18/2937.

NRS Penicuik Kirk Session, 1674-1744, CH2/297/2.

NRS Penicuik Kirk Session, 1708-1812, CH2/297/3.

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

NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1630-1639, CH2/424/2.

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

NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1652-1662, CH2/424/4.

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

Calendar of entries in the Papal registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland; Papal letters, 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 1447-71, 1997, ed. J. Kirk, R.J. Tanner and A.I. Dunlop, Edinburgh.

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 John Foular, 1514-28, 1944, ed. M. Wood (Scottish record Society), Edinburgh.

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

Architectural description

Penicuik continued as an independent Parsonage throughout its medieval history, and from at least 1472 was in the patronage of Penicuik of that ilk.(1)

Virtually nothing is recorded of the building in the course of the middle ages, but on 12 June 1635, in which year in which the parish of Mount Lothian was annexed to Penicuik, the roof was found to be altogether faulty.(2) In 1656 £106.15s2d. was spent on the choir, chiefly involving work to the windows and pointing.(3)

The role of the Clerk of Penicuik family in the history of the church became increasingly prominent from the later seventeenth century. In 1683-4 Sir John Clerk built a family mausoleum to his own design a short distance to the east of the church, connected to it by a linking section.(4) It is ashlar-built and square in plan, with margins around the edges of the three exposed faces, which have panels framed by bolection mouldings at their centre. Rising above a prominent cornice and blocking course is a stone pyramid.

On 26 April 1726 it was proposed that an aisle 20 feet long and 18 feet wide (6.1 by 5.5 metres) should be built on the north side of the church, opposite the pulpit, at a cost of 688 marks.(5) The church was given yet greater prominence by the addition in 1731-2 of a new belfry stage to the seventeenth-century west tower, which was the work of the masons William Thomson and James Alexander.(6) It has round-arched windows with raised margins and block imposts and keystones. It is capped by a pyramidal slated roof that reflects the pyramid of the mausoleum at the opposite end of the building.

In 1771, however, the church was abandoned, in favour of a new one in the same churchyard, and it now survives as a fragmentary ruin. Lengths of the south and north walls were retained at both the east and west ends of the old church. The western lengths of wall enclose the burial place of the Hay of Newhall family, while the eastern lengths of wall, were formed into an enclosure in front of the Clerk of Penicuik Mausoleum.

Enclosing the east and west sides of the those enclosures respectively are cross walls. These were evidently built as part of a single operation, presumably soon after 1771, since they have identical doors with a cornice carried on consoles above the architrave that frames the door opening.

The overall length of the main body of the old church is 21.1 metres. The date of the retained section of walling at the east and west ends cannot be known with certainty, though the external masonry, which is formed of carefully cut and coursed blocks of cubical masonry could be as early as the twelfth or thirteenth centuries, and the north-south width across the walls of 6.5 metres could be consistent with such an early date. Some of the dismantled masonry between the two enclosures that were formed within the ends of the church was evidently re-cycled in constructing the cross walls of the enclosures.

In the retained western section of the south wall a large window and doorway have been inserted that were later blocked, presumably when the Hay enclosure was formed. They are framed with substantial roll mouldings that could be of sixteenth-century date, though it would be hazardous to suggest on such limited evidence if they are of pre-or post-Reformation date. There is also a window further east that has been blocked and truncated in inserting the cross wall.

Facing towards the interior, in the length of retained wall that extends east of the Hay enclosure, is the western half of what appears to have been a segmental-arched tomb recess, with the same substantial roll moulding as the door and window already mentioned. This recess contains a seventeenth-century slab with the arms and initials of Crichton and Adam, which appears to be a secondary insertion.   

The church that replaced the medieval building was almost certainly designed by Sir James Clerk, who had built his own splendid new Palladian mansion nearby in 1761-9.(7) It is a short distance to the west of the old church, and the westward-facing entrance front is constructed of fine ashlar; the imposing tetrastyle Tuscan portico at its centre is flanked on each side by a single round-headed window. The new church was said to be one third larger than its predecessor, and included an aisle built by Sir James at his own cost and for his own use. On 8 August 1771, several heritors expressed a wish to enlarge their burial places.(8)

Notes

1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 163.

2. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes,1630-39, CH2/424/2, fols 73-74.

3. National Records of Scotland, GD 18/2937.

4. Howard Colvin, Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 4th ed., New Haven and London, 2008, p. 258.

5. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes,1711-26, CH2/424/11, fols 1-2.

6. Colin McWilliam, The Buildings of Scotland, Lothian, Harmondsworth, 1978, p. 379.

7. Howard Colvin, Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 4th ed., New Haven and London, 2008, p. 259.

8. National Records of Scotland, Penicuik Kirk Session, 1708-1812, CH2/424/11, fols 1-2.

Map

Images

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

  • 1. Penicuik Church, from north west

  • 2. Penicuik Church, from south west, 1

  • 3. Penicuik Church, from south west, 2

  • 4. Penicuik Church, from east

  • 5. Penicuik Church, chancel, north flank

  • 6. Penicuik Church, chancel, south flank

  • 7. Penicuik Church, Clerk burial enclosure, door

  • 8. Penicuik Church, Clerk Mausoleum from south west

  • 9. Penicuik Church, Clerk Mausoleum, from north east

  • 10. Penicuik Church, Clerk Mausoleum, from north west

  • 11. Penicuik Church, Clerk Mausoleum, from south east

  • 12. Penicuik Church, Hay burial enclosure, door

  • 13. Penicuik Church, interior

  • 14. Penicuik Church, north flank

  • 15. Penicuik Church, recess in north wall

  • 16. Penicuik Church, south flank

  • 17. Penicuik churchyard, gravestone, 1

  • 18. Penicuik churchyard, gravestone, 2

  • 19. Penicuik churchyard, gravestone, 3

  • 20. Penicuik churchyard, gravestone, 4

  • 21. Penicuik, later church, from east

  • 22. Penicuik, later church, from west