Rhynd / Rindalgros Parish Church

Rhynd Old Church, exterior, 1

Summary description

The original site of the church is uncertain. A site where there are fragmentary structural remains of a church of uncertain date was abandoned in 1842, after a new church was built elsewhere in 1839-42. That later church has passed out of ecclesiastical use and has been adapted as a house.

Historical outline

Dedication: unknown

In the mid-1140s King David I granted the lands of Rhynd to the Cluniac abbey of Reading in Berkshire on the condition that Reading should establish a cell there.(1)  Between 1153 and 1159 King Malcolm IV extend the Reading interest in Rhynd, granting the monks of ‘Rindelgros’ all of the teinds that belonged to the church of that ‘vill’.(2)  It seems unlikely that the cell at Rhynd was ever established and in 1231 the teinds of the parish church were listed amongst the possessions of Reading’s functioning cell in Scotland, the priory on the Isle of May.(3)  Indeed, it is probable that the revenues were held by the monks of May from the 1150s.

May Island priory’s link with Reading was severed in the fourteenth century but the priory continued to control the resources that had been granted to it in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, including the fruits of the church of Rhynd.  The monks were active in upholding their rights in the parish revenues, on 30 April 1405 reaching a settlement through the arbitration of Bishop Henry Wardlaw in a legal dispute with the nuns of Elcho Priory, which lay in Rhynd parish, over the garbal and other lesser teinds due to the two communities, with an equal division of the teinds being agreed.(4)  The dispute re-emerged in 145, where the issue was the teinds due to the church of Rhynd from the demesne land of the nunnery in the parish. A final settlement was reached with nuns agreeing to pay ten merks a year and keeping the teinds from their properties.(5)

By the fourteenth century it seems that the priory community had transferred from May Island to Pittenweem and, at some unknown stage, had become a dependency of the Augustinian priory at St Andrews and transferred to the Augustinian order.(6)  From c.1447, Pittenweem was held in commendam by a succession of bishops and archbishops of St Andrews, who used the resources of the priory for their own needs.  Indeed, it seems that from 1472 that the pope had intended that the fruits of the priory should be annexed permanently to the archiepiscopal mensa, but the grant was not to become effective.  Bishop Patrick Graham, for whom the annexation was attempted following his elevation as first archbishop in 1472, frst used the priory’s resources as a means of paying off rival candidates for the priorship or commend of Pittenweem.  On 12 February 1467 he granted a pension of 80 merks to Walter Moneypenny, prior of Loch Leven, to be paid from the priory’s lands of Rhynd and from the teind sheaves of the parish, until such time as he could provide Walter to a suitable benefice of equal value to the priory (noted as worth £100 annually).(7)

Although the parsonage teinds had clearly been annexed since the twelfth century, there is no early record that establishes the nature of the cure.  The church is not recorded as either a parsonage or a vicarage in the accounts of the papal tax-collector in Scotland in the 1270s, which suggests that the whole fruits had been annexed by that date.  A full appropriation does seem to be hinted at, too, in the records of the 1405 settlement between Pittenweem and Elcho over the teinds, where the priory’s interest was in both the garbal and the lesser teinds.  In1489, however, one Robert Colisoun occurs as vicar of Rhynd, when he obtained the vicarage pensionary of Barry through exchange with John of Dundee.(8)  The parsonage continued to be annexed to the priory at the Reformation, when the teind sheaves of Easter and Wester Rhynd were recorded as set for £60 annually.(9)  The vicarage appears to have been a vicarage perpetual, being recorded at the Reformation as worth £20 annually.(10)

Notes

1. Charters of David I, ed G W S Barrow (Woodbridge, 1999), nos 166, 188; Records of the Priory of the Isle of May, ed J Stuart (Edinburgh, 1868), no.1.

2. Regesta Regum Scottorum, i, The Acts of Malcolm IV, ed G W S Barrow (Edinburgh, 1960), no.137; Stuart (ed), May Records, no.8.

3. I B Cowan and D E Easson, Medieval Religious Houses: Scotland, 2nd edition (London, 1976), 59-60, 61; Stuart (ed), May Records, no.39.

4. Copiale Prioratus Sanctiandree, ed J H Baxter (Oxford, 1930), 78, 428.

5. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, x, 1431-1447, ed J A Twemlow (London, 1912), 469.

6. I B Cowan and D E Easson, Medieval Religious Houses: Scotland, 2nd edition (London, 1976), 94-5.

7. Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, v, 1447-1471, eds J Kirk, R J Tanner and A I Dunlop (Glasgow, 1997),  no.1180.

8. Liber S Thome de Aberbrothoc, ii (Bannatyne Club, 1856), no. 323.

9. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 22.

10. Kirk (ed), Books of Assumption, 321.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: The church belonged to Reading Abbey, who were granted teinds by Malcolm IV. By 1231 the church was in the possession of the priory of May (itself a dependency of Reading). Throughout the transactions, parsonage revenues remained with the priory, and the cure was served by a perpetual vicar.(1)

1405 (30 Apr) Dispute between the prior of May and the prioress of Elcho of the garbal and other lesser teinds of the parish of Rhynd settled by Henry Wardlaw, with an equal division of the teinds.(2)

1451 Dispute between Priory of May and Cistercian Nunnery of Elcho over the tithes of Rhynd and demesne land of the nunnery in the parish. Settlement with nuns paying 10 marks a year and keeping the tithes.(3)

1467 Pension plaid to Walter Penny, prior of Loch Leven, from lands and teind sheaves of the abbey of Rhynd (mentioned as pertaining to priory of May).(4)

1489 Robert Colisoun (vicar of Rhynd) obtains the vicarage pensionary of Barry through exchange with John of Dundee.(5)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church parsonage belongs to Pittenweem, value £60. Vicarage separate valued at £20.(6)

1575 (6 Aug) Report to the General Assembly that the church of Rhynd had no reader, ‘by reason of a controversy amongst the readers’.(7)

1628 (26 Mar) Parishioners of Rhynd ask for the admission of John Wood junior to the church in place of John Wood senior (patron is the archbishop of St Andrews).(8)

1642 (17 Aug) Following an act of the General Assembly anent the patronage of churches the Presbytery of Perth records the patrons of churches within its bounds; Perth belongs to the town, Kinnoul belongs to the earl of Kinnoul, Scone belongs to the king, Cambusmichael also belongs to the king, Kilspindie also belongs to the king being a former kirk of abbey of Scone, Errol belongs to the earl of Kinnoul, Kinfauns belongs to the king being a former kirk of the abbey of Scone, Rhynd belongs to the king being a former church of the priory of Pittenweem, Arngask belongs to the king being a former church of Cambuskenneth, Dunbarney belongs to the town of Edinburgh, Forteviot belongs to the (old) college of St Andrews, Methven belongs to the Duke of Lennox and Luncarty belongs to the king.(9)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev William Taylor):[No reference to the church fabric or condition]

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev James Traquair, 1837):

 ‘The church is situated at the southeast corner of the parish. It is extremely narrow and appears, from the inscriptions in the walls, to have been built more than two hundred years ago. The floor, which is composed of clay, is about 2 feet below the level of the church yard, and is in consequence extremely damp and uncomfortable’. A plan for the new church has however, been drawn, which is hoped will soon be built’.(10)

Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches (George Hay): 1842; refurnished.(11)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 171.

2. Copiale Prioratus Sanctiandree, pp. 78 & 428.

3. CPL, x, 469.

4. CSSR, v, no.1180.

5. Liber Aberbrothoc, ii, no. 323.

6. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 22 & 331.

7. Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, i, 334.

8. NRS Presbytery of Perth, Minutes, 1618-1647, CH2/299/1, fol. 191.

9. NRS Presbytery of Perth, Minutes, 1618-1647, CH2/299/1, fol. 423.

10. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1837), x, 306.

11. Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, 270.

Bibliography

NRS Presbytery of Perth, Minutes, 1618-1647, CH2/299/1.

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 Scottish Supplications to Rome 1447-71, 1997, ed. J. Kirk, R.J. Tanner and A.I. Dunlop, Edinburgh.

Copiale Prioratus Sanctiandree. The Letter-Book of James Haldenstone, Prior of St Andrews (1418-1443), 1930, ed. J. H. Baxter, Oxford.

Cowan, I.B., 1967, The parishes of medieval Scotland, (Scottish Record Society), Edinburgh.

Hay, G., 1957, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, 1560-1843, Oxford.

Liber S Thome de Aberbrothoc, 1848-56, ed. C. Innes and P. Chalmers, (Bannatyne Club) Edinburgh, i.

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.

Architectural description

The lands of Rindalgros, or Rhynd, were granted to Reading Abbey by David I at a date between 1143 and 1147, with the hope of establishing a Benedictine community there, and a church was mentioned in a charter of Malcolm IV of between 1153 and 1159, when its teinds were granted to Reading.(1) By 1231 Rhynd was said to be held by the monks of the Isle of May, a dependency of Reading, and any community at Rhynd is likely to have transferred there before then. It continued to be held by the successor to the priory of May after it had transferred to Pittenweem and adopted the Augustinian Rule, with the cure a vicarage perpetual.(2)

In the late eighteenth century there was a belief that the parish of Rhynd had initially embraced the area that later became the parish of St Madoes, at a time before the River Tay changed its course and separated the two areas. It was held that the church had been close to the confluence of the Rivers Tay and Earn, in a field on Easter Rhynd Farm known as Kirkland, which would be approximately at NO 1826 1854. In support of this it was said that the plough regularly turned up freestone,(3) though there is now no visible evidence of a church having been in this location.

The earliest church of which there are structural remains is at NO 18269 18546, in a churchyard that has clearly been in use since at least the eighteenth century on the evidence of surviving gravestones. After its abandonment in 1842 it appears to have been subdivided into a number of burial enclosures, one of which is still in use. But it is now in an extremely fragmentary state and much of it is swathed in such impenetrable growths of ivy that it is impossible. This renders any detailed analysis of its architectural evidence impossible.

This church is generally regarded as being of seventeenth-century construction, and a narrow offshoot on the north side that is partly visible below the ivy does indeed appear to be of seventeenth- or early eighteenth-century date on the evidence of the raised margins at its angles. Nevertheless, it must be seen as a possibility that the main body of the church is at least partly of medieval origin. Possible evidence for this may be found in what appears to have been an aumbry in the north wall of the part that is still in use for burials, since this is a feature that would not have been required in a post-Reformation church.

By 1837 the church was in a very poor condition. The minister described it as ‘extremely narrow, and [it] appears, from some inscriptions on the walls, to have been built more than two hundred years ago. The floor, which is composed of clay, is about two feet below the level of the church-yard without, and is, of consequence, extremely damp and uncomfortable. The timber of the windows is so much corroded by the injuries of time, as in some places, to be almost reduced to dust, and in other places, has literally fallen from the glass.’ But he went on to say that ‘a plan for a new church has, however, been drawn, and which, it is hoped, will soon be built in a more eligible situation’.(4)

That ‘more eligible situation’ was about 3.3 kilometres to the north west of the old church, where a new building, which was probably designed by W.M. Mackenzie, was constructed in 1839-42. That church has in turn passed out of ecclesiastical use, and was converted into a house by Calum McCalman of Davis Duncan Architects in 2003-4.(5)

Notes

1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 171.

2. Ian B. Cowan and David E. Easson, Medieval Religious Houses, Scotland, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1976, p. 61.

3. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-99, vol. 4, p. 183.

4. New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. 10, p. 366.

5. John Gifford, Buildings of Scotland, Perth and Kinross, New Haven and London, 2007, pp. 677-78.

Map

Images

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  • 1. Rhynd Old Church, exterior, 1

  • 2. Rhynd Old Church, exterior, 2

  • 3. Rhynd Old Church, exterior, 3

  • 4. Rhynd Old Church, interior, possible aumbry

  • 5. Rhynd Old churchyard, gravestone, 1

  • 6. Rhynd Old churchyard, gravestone, 2

  • 7. Rhynd, later church