Tyninghame Parish Church

Tyninghame Church, interior, chancel and apse arches

Summary description

The partly reconstructed skeleton of a finely detailed four compartment mid-twelfth century church with an east apse and a west tower. Abandoned after 1761 and treated as an eye-catcher. Further works in 1947.

Historical outline

Dedication: St Baldred

A late and fabulous account in the Aberdeen Breviary links the church of Tyninghame with the eighth-century hermit, Baldred, who died in 756.(1)  The monks of Lindisfarne maintained a claim to the lands of Tyninghame into the twelfth century and a monastery had certainly been developed at the site of Baldred’s burial-place at Tyninghame by the ninth century and flourished into the tenth century until its burning c.941 by Olaf Godredsson, Norse king of York.(2)  There is no record of any continuation of regular monastic life at the site after this attack but it seems likely that some local ecclesiastical function was restored here in the later tenth or eleventh century.

In the foundation legend of the cathedral-priory at St Andrews it was claimed that the priest Robert, brother of Bishop Robert of St Andrews, renounced the secular life and became a canon in the priory at the time of its foundation, bringing with him possession of the church of Tyninghame.(3)  If such a union did occur it was personal and temporary, for Tyninghame was one of the churches listed as lying in the patronage of the Bishop of St Andrews in a papal letter of Honorius III of 1218.(4)  It was a free parsonage in 1274-5 when the rector of Tyninghame was recorded in the accounts of the papal tax-collector in Scotland as paying nine merks in the first tax year.(5)

There are few twelfth- or thirteenth-century references to the church, principally because it remained independent.  One important record, however, is the note in the Lanercost chronicle that it was the burial-place in 1270 of Nicholas of Moffat, archdeacon of Teviotdale and bishop-elect of Glasgow, who had been a former rector.(6)  It is possible that his tomb was located in one of the mural recesses in the chancel of the church.

Tyninghame remained independent until 1473 when, amongst other churches in the diocese of St Andrews, it was annexed to the mensa of the new archbishopric.(7)  In 1477, however, it becomes clear that Archbishop Patrick Graham had been unable to secure possession, for on the resignation of the incumbent rector, Andrew Martin, Hugh Douglas was collated and King James III petitioned the pope on his behalf to request that any union with St Andrews should be delayed until after Hugh’s death or cession of the church.(8)  That proposed deferral of the union did not occur, for the church was held down to 1484 by George Brown, prior to his promotion to the bishopric of Dunkeld, and after him it was given to Nicholas Greenlaw.(9)  In 1487, a second attempt was made to annexe Tyninghame to the archiepiscopal mensa but that attempt, too, failed.(10)

George Brown’s resignation in 1484 also marked the start of a new departure in the fortunes of the parish church, an effort to annexe it to an academic college at the University of St Andrews.  On 26 April 1485, letters were issued in the Apostolic Camera for George ‘Carunkael’ (Carmichael), a canon in the collegiate church of St Salvator, in respect of the annates of the parish church of Tyninghame, ‘or rather, for annates of new erection of canonry and prebend in [St Salvator’s]’, Tyninghame having been assigned as the prebend for the canonry, the church being vacant on account of Brown’s resignation.(11)  Carmichael, however, died in Rome later that year and a fellow canon of the college, James Brown, was collated to the prebend in succession to him.(12)  Like the attempted annexation to the archbishop’s mensa and despite the securing of papal confirmations for Carmichael and Brown, this effort to unite the church as a prebend of St Salvator’s failed to become effective. 

From 1487 until 1537 Tyninghame continued as an independent parish church with no further efforts by the archbishops or by canons of St Salvator’s to secure its annexation.  In 1537, however, Archbishop Beaton succeeded in annexing the parsonage and vicarage to the ‘New College’ of St Mary in the University.  This union was confirmed in 1554 and the annexation remained effective at the Reformation.(13)  In the rental of St Mary’s College entered in the Books of Assumption, the parsonage and vicarage of the kirk of Tyninghame were set for 3 chalders 8 bolls wheat; 6 chalders bere; 5 chalders oats, giving a total of 14 chalders 8 bolls victual.(14)  The vicarage was separately noted as pertaining to the New College, St Andrews, and set for £12 13s 4d, held by Thomas Manderston described as reader and formerly curate.(15)

Notes

1. Breviary of Aberdeen, i (Spalding Club, 1854), 64-4; Chronicle of Melrose (facsimile edition), eds A O Anderson and M O Anderson et al (London, 1936), s.a.756.

2. A O Anderson (ed), Scottish Annals from English Chroniclers (London, 1908), 60 note 8; Chronicle of Melrose , s.a. 941.

3. ‘Legend of St Andrew’ in Chronicles of the Picts, Chronicles of the Scots, and other Early Memorials of Scottish History, ed W F Skene (Edinburgh, 1867), 193.

4. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, i, 1198-1304, ed W H Bliss (London, 1893), 61.

5. A I Dunlop (ed), ‘Bagimond’s Roll: Statement of the Tenths of the Kingdom of Scotland’, Miscellany of the Scottish History Society, vi (1939), 33.

6. Chronicon de Lanercost (Bannatyne Club, 1839), s.a.1245 (p.53).

7. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, xiii, 1471-1484, ed J A Twemlow (London, 1955), 17 [hereafter CPL, xiii].

8. CPL, xiii, 71-2.

9. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, xv, 1484-1492, ed M J Haren (London, 1978), no.19 [hereafter CPL, iv].

10. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, iv, 1484-1492, ed J A Twemlow (London, 1960), 180-181 [hereafter CPL, xiv].

11. A I Cameron, The Apostolic Camera and the Scottish Benefices 1418-1488 (Oxford, 1934), 214.

12. CPL, xiv, 110; CPL, xv, no.5.

13. Evidence, oral and documentary, taken and received by the Commissioners for visiting the Universities of Scotland (London, 1837), 357-8, 362-6.

14. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 65.

15. Kirk (ed), Books of Assumption, 65.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: Granted to the priory of St Andrews, the patronage of the church and lands in the parish belonged to the bishops of St Andrews from an early date. The church was appropriated to the archiepiscopal mensa in 1473 & 1487. In 1485 it was erected into a prebend of St Salvator’s, then  in 1537 it was annexed to St Mary’s College, St Andrews.(1)

1218 One of the churches confirmed as in the possession of the bishops of St Andrews.(2)

1344 Petition on behalf of the rector of Tyninghame, Patrick de Lochris, by David II and Queen Joan.(3)

1432-62 Alexander de Newton holds the church, value 40 marks.(4)

1462-65 George Carmichael described as priest and parson of church (value £20); obtained provision through exchange with Alexander de Newton. Succeeded in quick succession by Hugh Douglas and then Thomas Vaus (MA) in 1466.(5)

1473 United to archiepiscopal mensa of St Andrews along with Lasswade and others.(6) Problems emerge in 1477 when after resignation by Andrew Martin, Hugh Douglas was collated to church with no reference to St Andrews. Petition on his behalf by James III that union be delayed until after his death of cession of church.(7)

1477-84 George Brown holds the church until collated to bishopric of Dunkeld; replaced by Nicholas Greenlaw.(8)

1485 Tyninghame newly erected into a prebend of St Salvator’s for George Carmichael (counsellor of James III), on the death of George (in Rome). In the same year James Brown (canon of St Salvator’s) collated to the prebend.(9)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church vicarage pertains to New College, St Andrews, set for £12 13s 4d. Thomas Manderston described as reader and formerly curate.(10)

1620 (29 May) Kirk session mentions that the church was visited with the particulars contained in the presbytery book [no longer extant].(11)

1625 (20 Mar) Reported in the kirk session that on that day the minister had spoken to James Baillie anent the new bell. Decision taken that the heritors be stented anent the cost.(12)

1625 (27 Mar) The minister and session convened and decided that a new pulpit should be built in the kirk. An agreement is reached with Alex Storie, wright, for making the new pulpit, and if there should be money than would extent to the hanging of the bell, that it should be taken to help build the pulpit.(13) 17 April - the expenses of the bell (£159 8s 6d) and the pulpit (£59 4s).(14)

1628 Earl of Haddington became the proprietor in that year.

1634 (28 Sep) Noted in the kirk session that a stent is to be organised for pointing the kirk and mending the glass windows. They ordain that ‘twentie ane coupillis [rafters] of the kirk to be upheld and pointed be the Earle of Haddington, and sevin coupill to be upheld and pointit be the laird of Scougall.(15) [Hately suggests this means that the church was 85 feet long]

1656 (6 Aug) Visitation of Tyninghame by the Presbytery of Dunbar [no reference to fabric, so presumably acceptable].(16)

1665 (31 May) At a meeting of the Presbytery of Dunbar, the representatives of the various parishes are asked to report to the session of the condition of their kirks and manse; Alexander Bisset reports that the kirk is in good care.(17)

1668 (8 Aug) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Dunbar; the brethren recommend to the heritors the reparation of the kirk and providing the necessary for the practice of communion.(18)

1675 (20 Aug) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Dunbar, finds that the school is taught in the church and the fabric of the kirk was in good condition, that the plenishings of the kirk were not complete and that tall cloths and cups for communion were wanting, the manse also standing in need of repair. The heritors are to be consulted.(19)

1700 (22 Dec) The session finds that the church lacks rigging stones and the slates are broken and blown in several places; they did appoint it to be rigged, the slates mended and pointed.(20)

1761 (23 Aug) The kirk session of Tyninghame noted that on this day the annexation of the parish to Whitekirk took place [no further references to the union in presbytery or either parish’s session accounts].(21)

[The parishes of Tyninghame and Whitekirk were united in 1761, long before this Auldhame had been annexed to Whitekirk]

Statistical Account of Scotland (James Williamson): [No reference to church buildings]

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev James Wallace, 1835): ‘All that remains of the ancient church of Tyninghame, are two elegant arches of Anglo-Saxon architecture, between which is the cemetery of the Haddington family’.(22)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 203.

2. CPL, i, 61.

3. CPL, ii, 165.

4. CSSR, iii, 257-58, CSSR, iv, nos. 102 & 418.

5. CSSR, v, no. 1003 & 1145, CPL, xii, 188.

6. CPL, xiii, 17.

7. CPL, xiii, 71-72.

8. CPL, xv, no. 19.

9. CPL, xiv, 110, CPL, xv, no. 5.

10. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 65.

11. NRS Tyninghame Kirk Session, 1615-1650, CH2/359/1, fol. 35, Ritchie, The Churches of Saint Baldred, p. 186.

12. NRS Tyninghame Kirk Session, 1615-1650, CH2/359/1, fol. 52.

13. NRS Tyninghame Kirk Session, 1615-1650, CH2/359/1, fol. 52, Ritchie, The Churches of Saint Baldred, p. 207.

14. NRS Tyninghame Kirk Session, 1615-1650, CH2/359/1, fol. 52, Ritchie, The Churches of Saint Baldred, p. 209.

15. NRS Tyninghame Kirk Session, 1615-1650, CH2/359/1, fols. 85-86, Old Kirk Chronicle, being a History of Auldhame, Tyninghame, and Whitekirk, p. 27.

16. NRS Presbytery of Dunbar, Minutes, 1652-1657, CH2/99/1, fols.119-121.

17. NRS Presbytery of Dunbar, Minutes, 1657-1684, CH2/99/2, fols. 115-116.

18. NRS Presbytery of Dunbar, Minutes, 1657-1684, CH2/99/2, fol. 144.

19. NRS Presbytery of Dunbar, Minutes, 1657-1684, CH2/99/2, fol. 196.

20. NRS Tyninghame Kirk Session, 1699-1760, CH2/359/3, fol. 15, Old Kirk Chronicle, being a History of Auldhame, Tyninghame, and Whitekirk, p. 33.

21. NRS Tyninghame Kirk Session, 1747-1762, CH2/359/6, fol. 113.

22. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1835), ii, 38.

Bibliography

NRS Presbytery of Dunbar, Minutes, 1652-1657, CH2/99/1.

NRS Presbytery of Dunbar, Minutes, 1657-1684, CH2/99/2.

NRS Tyninghame Kirk Session, 1615-1650, CH2/359/1.

NRS Tyninghame Kirk Session, 1699-1760, CH2/359/3.

NRS Tyninghame Kirk Session, 1747-1762, CH2/359/6.

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 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.

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.

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

Old Kirk Chronicle, being a History of Auldhame, Tyninghame, and Whitekirk in East Lothian, from Session Records, 1615-1850, 1893, ed. P. Hately Wadell, Edinburgh.

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

Ritchie, A.I., 1880, The Churches of Saint Baldred: Auldhame, Whitekirk, Tyninghame, Prestonkirk, Edinburgh (contains a transcription of the kirk session records of kirk session).

Architectural description

Tyninghame has had a long association with Christian worship. St Baldred, who is assumed to have passed his life as a hermit here, is recorded as having died at Tyninghame in March 756.(1) The site was devastated by the Norse Olaf in 941,(2) and the only artefact that appears to have survived from the early religious history of the site is the fragment of a possibly ninth-century cross said to have been found within the walls of the church in about 1930, which is currently housed in the stable court of Tyninghame House.(3)

The lands of Tyninghame became a possession of the bishops of St Andrews from an early but unknown date,(4) and the church is likely to  have been built by one of them,(5) presumably around the second quarter of the twelfth century. Like a number of Scotland’s most prestigious Romanesque parish churches, including Dalmeny in West Lothian and Birsay in Orkney, it was planned with a four-part sequence from east to west of apse, chancel, nave and western tower, though the only parts now standing are the skeletally reconstructed chancel and apse arches and the wall shafts around the apse, together with the lowest walls of the rest. A projection within the south-western corner of the tower was presumably for a stair.

No evidence survives of significant structural alterations to the church in the later middle ages. The parish was annexed to the newly founded college of St Mary in St Andrews, in 1537.

The estate of Tyninghame was acquired by the newly elevated earls of Haddington in about 1628, and the house of their descendants (now subdivided) is a short distance to the north of the church and the site of the village, the latter having been eventually relocated about a mile to the west of the house. Some repairs were evidently needed by 1634, when it was said that twenty-one pairs of rafters required repairs,(6) and further repairs were called for by presbytery in 1668.(7) In general a conscientious attempt appears to have been made to keep the church in repair, because in 1675 it was said that the church was in good condition,(8) while twenty-five years later it was said that repairs were made, including ridge stones for the roof.(9)

The church remained in parochial use until it was united with Whitekirk in 1761, and it was subsequently partly dismantled in order to create a ruined eye-catcher in the view from the house, whilst also continuing to serve as a family burial place. Much of the dismantled masonry was put to other uses, and many worked stones are to be seen built into the walls of the stable court.

By the mid-nineteenth century it was said ‘all that remains of the ancient church...are two elegant arches of Anglo-Saxon architecture, between which is the cemetery of the Haddington family’.(10) Views of the church from the late nineteenth and earlier twentieth century show the family burial place within the apse and chancel, with an iron fence around those parts. Early published plans illustrate neither the nave nor the west tower, suggesting that they had by then been lost to sight.(11)

Various works are known to have taken place in the first half of the twentieth century, though details of what was done are lacking. Suggestions that the early cross fragment had been found in the walls in about 1930 are consistent with the possibility that it could have been then that the footings of the nave and tower were excavated. Further works are recorded in 1947, when an inscription on the rear of the south east respond of the apse states that it was ‘reset’.

There seems little reason to doubt that the remaining fragments are authentically Romanesque, and it is known that they have been in their present form since at least 1896, when they were carefully illustrated by MacGibbon and Ross. Nevertheless, in view of their complex post-Reformation history, there must be some uncertainty over how much reconstruction there was when the earl of Haddington’s family burial place was created, and if all of the elements remain in the locations intended for them in the twelfth century.  

On the basis of what we now see, the apse vault was - most unusually - carried on wall responds which rise up from ground level. Those responds are composed of paired shafts separated by a spur, with a heavy mid-height band decorated with chevron. The scalloped caps above the shafts have hollowed lunettes and chip-carved abaci. The responds of both the apse arch and the chancel arch are in the form of a pilaster with a leading engaged shaft on its face, with flanking nook shafts. The apse arch has volute caps with broad leaves to the faces, and with anthemion to the abaci. On its west side that arch has two orders of chevron framed by a hood-mould decorated with semi-discs; on the east side the outer order has chip carving. The chancel arch caps and abaci have fish-scale decoration and chevron to the arch.

In the use of responds of an ultimately Durham-inspired type to the apse and chancel arches there is a reflection of work seen at Dunfermline Abbey, which was re-founded in 1128 and dedicated for worship in 1150. Support for the idea of debts to Dunfermline may be noted in the fish-scale capitals of the chancel arch and the anthemion decoration on the abaci of the apse arch capitals.

Responds of the type employed at Tyninghame are to be seen in the nave aisles of Dunfermline; fish-scale carving is to be found in the blind arcading below the aisle windows; and anthemion-decorated abaci are a prominent feature in the south-east nave door at Dunfermline. Nevertheless, it must be conceded that, despite the lavish enrichment of Tyninghame, there is a heaviness to some of the detailing that is not seen at Dunfermline. On that basis, it may be suspected that, while Dunfemline was almost certainly an admired model for the master mason of Tyninghame, it is unlikely that it was any of the principal masons who had worked at Dunfermline who were to move on to work at Tyninghame.

On each side of the chancel arch are small round-arched recesses, with projecting sills and chevron decoration to the arches. Recesses in this position are by no means unknown. Simple rectangular apertures are to be seen flanking the chancel arch at Old Cambus, for example, while deep three-quarter round recesses are found in a similar location at Birsay Church. Recesses of various kinds are also to be seen in comparable situations at a number of English Romanesque churches, including Barfreston in Kent and Castle Rising in Norfolk, and further afield they are found in a number of Scandinavian churches. Their function is uncertain though it is generally assumed that they were associated with nave altars.

It is unclear to what extent the lower walls of Tyninghame have been rebuilt since being exposed, though the narrow chamfered base course appears to be largely composed of medieval masonry. One feature that has certainly been rebuilt, even if it is in its medieval location, is the arch of a tomb recess on the south wall of the chancel area. The arch has three orders of filleted rolls separated by hollows, and at the apex of the arch are three shields, one of which bears the arms of Carmichael while another bears arms that have been identified as Hamilton of Belhaven. It has been suggested that the former could relate to George Carmichael, who is known to have been rector of Tyninghame in 1475, and who was also treasurer of Glasgow, at which time he was elected Bishop of Glasgow by that cathedral’s chapter in 1483, an election that was declared void by the pope.(12) The recess now contains a female effigy, while the reconstructed tomb chest incorporates some Romanesque masonry.

Notes

1. Symeon of Durham, Historia Dunelmensis Ecclesiae, ed. T. Arnold, (Rolls Series), vol. 1, p. 48; Chronicle of Melrose, ed. Joseph Stevenson, (Bannatyne Club), 1835, p. 6.

2. Symeon of Durham, Historia Regum, ed. T. Arnold, (Rolls Series), vol. 2, p. 94; Chronicle of Melrose, ed. Joseph Stevenson, (Bannatyne Club), 1835, p. 29

3. R.B.K. Stevenson, ‘The Inchyra Stone and Some Other Unpublished Early Christian Monuments’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol.92, 1958-59, pp. 46-7. 

4. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland, (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 203.

5. Accounts of the church will be found in: David MacGibbon and Thomas Ross, The Ecclesiastical Architecture of Scotland, Edinburgh, vol. 1, 1896, pp. 326–29; Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Inventory of East Lothian, Edinburgh, 1924, pp. 129-30; Christopher Wilson in Colin McWilliam, The Buildings of Scotland, Lothian, Harmondsworth, 1978, pp. 454–55.

6. P. Hately Waddell, ed., Old Kirk Chronicle, being a history of Auldhame, Tyninghame and Whitekirk...from session Records, 1615-1850, Edinburgh, 1893, p. 27.

7. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Dunbar, Miniutes, 1657-84, CH2/99/2, fol. 144.

8. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Dunbar, Miniutes, 1657-84, CH2/99/2, fol. 196.

9. Waddell 1893, p. 19.

10. New Statistical Account of Scotland, Edinburgh and London, 1834-45, vol. 2, p. 39.

11. MacGibbon and Ross, Ecclesiastical Architecture, vol. 1, figs 283 and 285; Inventory of East Lothian, figs 169 and 170.

12. John Dowden, The Bishops of Scotland, Glasgow, 1912, pp. 329-31.

Map

Images

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  • 1. Tyninghame Church, interior, chancel and apse arches

  • 2. Tyninghame Church, apse arch

  • 3. Tyninghame Church, apse arch, north respond

  • 4. Tyninghame Church, apse arch, north respond caps

  • 5. Tyninghame Church, apse arch, south respond

  • 6. Tyninghame Church, apse arch, south respond caps

  • 7. Tyninghame Church, apse, north-east respond

  • 8. Tyninghame Church, apse, south-east respond

  • 9. Tyninghame Church, chancel arch

  • 10. Tyninghame Church, chancel arch from east

  • 11. Tyninghame Church, chancel arch, north respond

  • 12. Tyninghame Church, chancel arch, north respond caps

  • 13. Tyninghame Church, chancel arch, south respond

  • 14. Tyninghame Church, chancel arch, south respond caps

  • 15. Tyninghame Church, chancel south wall, tomb arch

  • 16. Tyninghame Church, chancel south wall, tomb effigy

  • 17. Tyninghame Church, coped stone

  • 18. Tyninghame Church, coped stone fragment

  • 19. Tyninghame Church, date inscription on south-east apse respond

  • 20. Tyninghame Church, effigy

  • 21. Tyninghame Church, exterior, from east

  • 22. Tyninghame Church, exterior, from west

  • 23. Tyninghame Church, fragments

  • 24. Tyninghame Church, from west

  • 25. Tyninghame Church, interior, apse arch north respond cap

  • 26. Tyninghame Church, interior, apse arch south respond cap

  • 27. Tyninghame Church, interior, apse wall shaft

  • 28. Tyninghame Church, interior, base

  • 29. Tyninghame Church, interior, chancel arch, altar recess

  • 30. Tyninghame Church, nave south wall footings

  • 31. Tyninghame Church, possible fragment of corbel table

  • 32. Tyninghame Church, recess in wall flanking chancel arch

  • 33. Tyninghame Church, south door

  • 34. Tyninghame Church, tomb arch

  • 35. Tyninghame Church, tower