Dundee Parish Church

Dundee Church, exterior, from south west

Summary description

The medieval burgh church, which was largely rebuilt between 1443 and 1495, was one of thelargest in medieval Scotland; it was cruciform with an ambitious west tower that is the only survivor of the medieval building. The nave was abandoned after an English attack in 1547, and a church over the area of its western bays eventually built in 1787-89. The east limb was rebuilt in 1842-44 and the transepts and eastern bays of the nave in 1846-47. 

Historical outline

In the great charter listing the founding endowments of Lindores Abbey, the parish church of Dundee was amongst the ecclesiastical resources made over to the monks in 1190 by Earl David of Huntingdon, within whose lordship in Scotland Dundee lay.(1)  Shortly afterwards, possibly as early as 1191, Earl David’s elder brother, King William, confirmed the founding endowment. (2)  Possession of the church in proprios usus was confirmed to Lindores by bull of Pope Celestine III in 1195(3) but it was only in 1224 that a vicarage settlement was instituted by which it was agreed that the parsonage and vicarage revenues would pertain to the abbey and the monks would install a vicar pensionary with a stipend of £10.(4

In 1239, Pope Gregory IX extended his papal protection to Lindores and confirmed possession of the church of Dundee, noting that the abbey had received the consent of the bishop and chapter of Brechin to the annexation, ratifying the institution of a vicar pensioner supported on an unquantified ‘suitable’ reserved portion of the parochial income.(5)  This settlement, however, lasted only thirteen years before a new agreement was reached whereby the abbey received the parsonage revenues and a portion of 10 merks annually from the vicarage, the remainder falling to the vicar.(6)  This arrangement is reflected in the 1274 valuation for taxation of the vicarage – 2 merks 5 shillings and 4 pence – which is contained in Bagimond’s Roll, and continued at the Reformation.(7)

St Clement or St Mary?

To which church these early documents refer has been a matter of debate, for they make no reference to a dedicatory saint at the church in question; it is referred to simply as ‘the church of Dundee’.  As there are references to distinct churches of St Clement and St Mary in the town throughout the Middle Ages, past discussion has revolved around which foundation was the earlier and has gone so far as to suggest that Dundee might be unique amongst Scotland’s medieval burghs (Berwick-upon-Tweed being overlooked) in having more than one parish church.(8

Given both the later exclusive application of that designation to St Mary’s and the nature of parochial development and parish church appropriation in Scotland in the later twelfth and early thirteenth century, it seems unlikely that there were two parish churches in the burgh in the twelfth century, a position made even less likely by the surviving documentation’s consistent usage of ecclesia singular rather than ecclesiae plural.  It is, of course, possible that St Clement’s was the original parish church and was gradually supplanted by the newly-founded, more conveniently-located and probably more spacious and architecturally ambitious St Mary’s in the thirteenth century. 

The burgh’s later medieval seals place great stress on the two patronal figures of Clement and Mary, usually with Clement interpreted as holding the place of pre-eminence in the sigillography, which has been taken as indicative of a long-established and deep-seated association of the community at Dundee with Clement before the introduction of the Marian dedication in the time of Earl David.  Certainly, in the Dundee-born historian Hector Boece’s Latin Scotorum historia, in which the legendary foundation of St Mary’s by Earl David is presented, it is claimed that the church of St Clement already existed in Dundee and that although St Mary’s supplanted its role it remained a popular focus for worship amongst Dundonians down to Boece’s time.(9)

There is other circumstantial evidence to support the notion that St Clement’s might have been the older foundation, located as it was in the core settlement area around which the planned burgh crystallised in the 1190s and early 1200s, close to the castle and just above the original harbour of Dundee, unlike St Mary’s, which appears to be part of the more formally laid-out development of the burgh along the line of the High Street to the west of the castle by Earl David in the late twelfth century and which filled up in the thirteenth.(10

Barbara Crawford has suggested that St Clement’s may have been as old as the mid-eleventh century and linked potentially to trading activities involving Danes – amongst whom the Clement cult was most popular - or the military involvement in Scotland of the Anglo-Danish King Cnut’s earl of Northumbria, Siward.(11)  That interpretation is inferred from the early date and cultural associations of Clement dedications elsewhere in the British Isles rather than from any secure archaeological or historical record.

When the parish of Dundee emerges around the same time as Earl David’s new burgh, it is linked immediately to the cult of the Virgin in the parish church which he is also claimed to have founded.  In the unreliable account by Boece, the church of St Mary was a new-built thanks-offering constructed by Earl David in a former wheat field between the old settlement at Dundee and the site of the later chapel of St Nicholas in return for his safe deliverance into the Tay estuary from a violent North Sea storm.(12

The community of Dundee already existed before Earl David’s arrival, Boece informs us, the earl’s development of the burgh built on earlier foundations.  Letters of Thomas, abbot of Lindores (1259-1273), concerning the feuferme of one of the tofts in Dundee possessed by the abbey to the clerk Laurence Mowat described the property as that ‘which lies next to the land of the vicar of the same town, which that same vicar has next to the church of St Clement the Martyr on the west side.(13)  It is unclear whether Richard Wryth, described in his charter of 20 May 1418 as perpetual chaplain of St Clement the martyr in the burgh of Dundee, was chaplain serving St Clement’s church or the holder of a chaplainry at an altar to St Clement within St Mary’s church.(14

As late as 1440, however, references occur in papal supplications to a separate church of St Clement, within which David Seras held a chaplainry.(15)  There is no medieval reference to any cleric of higher designation serving in St Clement’s, which provides the clearest indication that the church did not hold parochial status and, although designated ecclesia in some documents, was simply a substantial chapel which lacked the full baptismal role associated exclusively with parish churches, as was the case with the church of St Mary of the Fields, Edinburgh, which until its early sixteenth-century foundation as a collegiate church was just a chapel within the parish of Edinburgh St Cuthbert. 

It was, however, an uncommon chapel for it contained subsidiary chaplainries and altars within it.  in 1540, one Richard Jackson, chaplain of the chaplainry of the BVM in the church of St Clement, Dundee, feued property adjacent to the burgh with which his benefice had been endowed, and referred to the manse known as St Clement’s.(16)  It seems, then, that a substantial ecclesiastical establishment had continued to function at St Clement’s into the mid-sixteenth century but it is unclear what status this building had in relation to St Mary’s, which was clearly regarded as the only parish church in the burgh by the mid-thirteenth century.(17)  Reference to St Clement’s as ‘one of Dundee’s two parish churches’ is therefore misleading: there was only ever one parish church in Dundee, St Mary’s.(18

Nineteenth-century traditions reports that the churchyard of St Clement’s was the only burial-ground in the burgh until 1564, when Queen Mary granted the gardens of the Greyfriars’ convent to the town for that purpose,(19) but frequent references in the burgh and head court books to St Mary’s kirkyard in the sixteenth century, plus the considerable numbers of medieval burials excavated in the area around St Mary’s (let alone the known lairs purchased within the church) shows this view to be erroneous.  In the 1890s, the local antiquarians A Maxwell and A C Lamb both described the location of St Clement’s church and its associated manse as beneath what is now City Square, with various sculptural elements being discovered in 1872 during the clearance of the site.(20)

Development of St Mary’s

After the early records relating to the foundation of St Mary’s and its speedy appropriation to Lindores, there is no historical record of its continuing development down to the late fourteenth century.  Much must be left to inference from imprecise chronicle accounts.  For example, according to Walter Bower, writing in the second quarter of the fifteenth century, it was at Dundee in 1209 that Alan lord of Galloway married Margaret, daughter of Earl David.(21)  This claim has no contemporary corroboration but Dundee was at that time the chief economic jewel amongst the earl’s Scottish possessions.  Bower does not mention St Mary’s but, given that there was no other ecclesiastical establishment of any scale in the burgh at that date it seems likely that the parish church was the scene of the wedding ceremony. 

Other oft-repeated claims are that the church was burned during the Wars of Independence (1335 is cited as the year of an English piratical attack on the burgh) and again in 1385, but secure contemporary references for these events are lacking.(22)  The loss of much of the early record material for the burgh of Dundee in the sacking of the town in the mid-sixteenth, and again in the mid-seventeenth century, accounts in large part for this obscurity in the history of what was one of the largest and richest burgh churches in Scotland. 

References to the parish and to incumbents of the vicarage continue across the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, grants of elements of the second teinds from the burgh underscoring the wealth of the community which was served by the church, but the building itself is effectively invisible within these records.

This invisibility arises from the loss of the financial records of the abbey at Lindores, within which details of expenditure on the maintenance, enlargement and decoration of the appropriated parish churches in the abbey’s hands would have been recorded.  This situation changed to a degree in the 1440s, when responsibility for upkeep of the building was transferred.  Before the mid-fifteenth century the monks of Lindores, as appropriators of the parish revenues, were responsible for the maintenance of the choir of the church.  In 1443, however, the monastery entered an indenture with the burgesses of Dundee in respect of the church buildings. 

Under the terms of this indenture the burgh’s council assumed the sole burden of maintaining the whole fabric of the choir, including the window-glass and wooden fittings, and to provide all vestments, books, chalices and ornaments for the high altar, in return for a fairly minor five-merk annualrent received from properties owned by the abbey in Dundee.(23)  Given the scale of the building that appears to have been developed after the burgesses gained full control of the fabric, that five merk annual payment at best constituted a token recognition of the burden being assumed by the town.

As the scale of the western tower signifies, Dundee’s burgesses had great ambition for their parish church, which was very much a physical manifestation of civic pride and of the burgh’s rivalry with Perth and Aberdeen.  Unfortunately, we have few records from before the mid-1500s for the sequence of building operations that they undertook or the scale of works set in train.  What appears to be our earliest surviving record of council-directed repairs post-dates the 1443 indenture and involved a programme of work on that eastern limb of the building for which they had taken on the responsibility. 

Significant repairs were undertaken at the direction of the council on the roof of the choir in 1461, when individual contributions from burgesses were sought towards the costs of purchasing the lead for the roof-covering.(24)  A substantial portion of the necessary money was obtained by selling rights to burial-places within the church.(25)  Families gave as they could afford, one burgess, George Spalding, delivering a redundant lead brewing vat for re-use in the ‘thekyn of the queyr’ in lieu of making a cash payment.(26

Work on the choir was still in progress in the 1470s, a charter of David Spalding dated 6 July 1471 recording payment of 20 shillings at the altar of the Blessed Virgin ‘towards the repairing of the choir of the said church’.(27)  Once the re-roofing of the choir had been completed, the remaining money was used to complete the roof of the ‘new aisle’, which was believed by nineteenth-century antiquarians to refer to work on the north transept of the church.(28

A Great Seal charter of June 1524 confirming at mortmain the endowment of a chaplain at the altar of St Peter in the church described that altar as lying in the ‘new south aisle’,(29) which has likewise been interpreted as referring to the completion of an enlarged south transept.  Reference to pillars standing east-west in a charter of September 1525, which received Great Seal confirmation in March 1526, however, indicates that part of the church had at least one lateral aisle by that date.(30

A second charter of September 1525, which received Great Seal confirmation on 4 March 1531 concerned arrangements by the Weavers’ guild for the maintenance of the altar of ‘St Severanus’ on the north side of the choir,(31) implies the presence of a north choir aisle or the existence of a chapel other than the north transept projecting from that side of the building.  Conclusive documentary evidence is lacking but, as eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century pictorial records (discussed below) appear to show, the mid-fiftenth-century construction work at St Mary’s seems to have involved the construction of a fully-aisled eastern limb.

Growing support for Protestant reform in the Scottish east coast burghs exploded into violence in Dundee in October 1543.  According to the Diurnal of Occurrents, ‘thair was ane greit heresie in Dundie; thair thai destroyit the kirkis, and wald haue destroyit Abirbrothok kirk, war it not the lord Ogilbie’.(32)  It has been suggested that St Mary’s escaped this incident unscathed and that the principal targets for the Protestant rioters were the convents of the Dominicans and Franciscans in the burgh, which were broken into and looted, but there is no hard evidence to support that view.(33

Four years later and barely twenty-five after the completion of work on the east end of the church, St Mary’s was comprehensively sacked and burned by the English force that was based from September 1547 in Broughty Castle at the mouth of the Tay.  A significant element of the leading burgesses in Dundee had shown themselves well-disposed to the English garrison, whom they viewed as a route to securing ecclesiastical reform in Scotland, but in November 1547 the Scottish regent, the earl of Arran, occupied the town with a military force.  Despite failing to dislodge the English force from Broughty, when Arran withdrew towards Perth in December he left a substantial garrison in the burgh. 

This failed to prevent the town from again submitting to the English before Christmas.  On 12 January 1548, the English commander Thomas Wyndham reported to the Duke of Somerset that by advice of Sir Andrew Dudley and the pro-English Patrick, 4th Lord Gray, he had mounted ‘a saker, a falcon and 4 double bases, hackbuts of croke and 20 tall men in St Mary’s steeple’ and victualled the garrison for a month.(34

Negotiations between the English commanders and the earl of Argyll, who had brought a second Scottish army against the English-held burgh, stalled when Argyll demanded that the steeple and the guns in Dundee should be delivered to him.  Realising that he could not hold the burgh in the face of Argyll’s superior force, Wyndham and Dudley, together with Lord Gray, loaded the guns onto their ships, together with all of the brass, copper and bells from the church, burned all of the ‘ydolls’ they found in St Mary’s and then set fire to the steeple before withdrawing from the burgh.(35)  

Damage to St Mary’s appears to have been much more extensive than Wyndham’s report suggests, with much of the nave and possibly the crossing being left as a roofless ruin.  Nineteenth-century antiquarian accounts claimed that the chancel was shortly afterwards walled off from the ruinous western portion of the church and roofed anew, this time with cheaper slate rather than with lead as in the fifteenth-century operations.(36

An entry in the Dundee Burgh and Head Court Book for 11 August 1551 reveals that steps were swiftly put in place to begin repairs on the church, with fines for breaches of burgh regulations being assigned towards rebuilding work.(37)  In November 1551, James Scrymgeour, master of works at the church, was noted in the same book as making his account and being ordered to explore the possibility of putting land which belonged to St Mary’s to more profitable use in order to raise additional revenue for the rebuilding. 

On 31 December 1551, furthermore, the burgh council and the deacons of the various craft guilds ratified further provision for ‘the repairing and decorating of the mother church’.(38)  In the record of that meeting it was noted that the bells of the parish church had been amongst the spoils looted by the English raiders, confirming Wyndham’s 1548 report to the duke of Somerset.  Sufficient resources appear to have been gathered by late 1552 for work to begin on the re-roofing of the choir, for on 10 October 1552 William Kinlothie, the kirk master, entered into contract with one Paton Black and his sons Andrew and George for the raising of the timber ‘cuppils’ that spanned the central compartment of the choir.(39)  On 9 December 1552, the kirk master and council entered into a contract with eight other craftsmen, who were to labour on ‘our lady werk’ summer and winter as directed, until discharged.(40)

By January 1553 repairs to the choir were sufficiently advanced for the burgh council to ordain that temporary arrangements for the housing of altars that had been located in the still ruined western portions of the church should be set in place.  On 9 January, the dean of guild was instructed to prepare the Holy Blood altar at ‘the second pillar from the […] gabill of the choir upon the south side thereof’ until such time as the continuing repairs permitted it to be returned to its original position.(41

A second ordinance issued on that same date instructed all of the craft guilds to repair their altars and resume services at them according to their old constitutions, and where those crafts had their altars in the rebuilt choir they were to make reservation there for the chaplains of those other crafts whose altars were in the still incomplete western portions of the church.(42)  Payments to Paton Black on 26 and 31 January 1553 for his work on the choir suggest that operations there had been largely completed by that date, and references to replacement of glass in a window of the south choir aisle in January 1554 might indicate that re-glazing of the windows was also complete.(43)  Progress in re-roofing the western limb might be indicated by the resumption from summer 1553 of references in the council records to meetings being held within the church after a period of two-and-a-half years during which no council business had been conducted there.(44

Work on the nave was still underway in January 1555.  A council ordinance prohibiting the export of slates from the burgh alludes to shortages of building materials at that time and the need to keep what was available for the continuance of work on the church.(45)  Revenue to cover the costs of rebuilding, too, appears to have become an issue by 1555-6, perhaps indicative of the growing support within the burgh for Protestant reform.  In January 1556 James Forester, the kirk master, was required to produce an account of all outstanding income due from the possessors of burial lairs within the church as the level of arrears from this important source of revenue had grown significantly.(46)  Concern over finance may have related particularly to the cost of replacing the bells that had been removed from the western tower by the English raiders, for in September 1556 the council records reveal that the burgh’s agents were in the process of securing new bells in Flanders.  One that had already been obtained was deemed too small and on 17 September the council instructed its return to Flanders for part exchange for a larger one.(47

The surviving council records contain no further information on the progress of the rebuilding operations but an ordinance of 10 January 1558 prohibiting children from playing in the kirkyard and breaking the windows suggests that work was by then far advanced if not already completed.(48)  Within months, the storm of Reformation had broken over Dundee – John Knox in his History of the Reformation stating that reformed worship was openly established in the burgh in 1558(49) - and the ten-year efforts of the town’s authorities to restore the church buildings and the rich fitments associated with the various chapels within it were overturned in an eruption of iconoclasm which stripped the building.

Altars, Chapels and Chaplainries

The scale of the loss of the material fabric of Scotland’s medieval religious culture is horrifying.  In the case of St Mary’s Dundee, the impact of the succession of events from 1543 to 1559 which saw at least two episodes of iconoclasm and plundering before the final overturning of the pre-Reformation order within the parish church is difficult to overstate.  The material discussed in this section relates to the numerous altars and endowed chaplainries serving at them that had been established in the church by private lay and ecclesiastical patrons and the various trade and craft guilds down to the sixteenth century.  It provides also a glimpse of the smaller individual acts of patronage that furnished these altars and chapels with mass equipment, altar cloths and tabernacles, vestments and the other paraphernalia through which patrons could express their faith.

The high altar of the parish church was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and, from 1252 was served nominally by a vicar pensioner sustained on a reserved portion of the parochial teinds.  It is unlikely that there were no additional endowments made to the principal altar of the church before the fifteenth century, but it is only in December 1452 that some suggestion of elaboration of services at St Mary’s altar occurs in a surviving source.(50)  In a papal supplication of 29 December 1452, Patrick Black was noted as current perpetual chaplain at the altar of St Mary the Virgin of Dundee, a benefice valued at £5 sterling. 

Further evidence of rich endowments made to the altar is provided in the inventory of the moveable goods belonging to various altars in the church drawn up in 1454 by the burgh’s provost.  The list detailed ‘twa missal, ane auld and ane given by Mr Richard de Crag (a former vicar), a chalice of silver our gilt with a crystal stane in the midst (gifted by Provost Fotheringham), a silver spoon, also a silver censor, ane schip of brass, 3 long towels for the altar, one blue, one red and one divers colours, a water cloth to hang before the high altar, two clothes for the sepulchre, one claith of arras for the [  ] to sit in, and two cords of silk.’  To this rich array there was added in 1482 other gifts including 4lbs 10oz of silver for making a cross for the altar, donated by Isabella, the widow of David Spalding, and in 1495 ‘one gryt bell, a eucharist of silver, one silver chalice, one new mass book and one great kist’ were gifted by George Spalding, son of Isabella and David.(51

What appears to be a second altar to the Blessed Virgin is recorded in a charter of 6 July 1471, which identifies an altar of the BVM ‘founded behind the high altar’ in the church, as the location for payment to be made towards the repair of the church’s choir.(52)

As the parish church of one of the largest and wealthiest burghs in medieval Scotland it is likely to have attracted additional endowments from amongst its parishioners from an early date and to have seen the set-up of additional altars and chaplainries within it.  At the time of the Reformation it has been calculated that there were some thirty to thirty-four endowed altars in the church.  The earliest surviving reference for such developments, dating only from 1387, referred to the refounding of the Holy Rood altar in the church and granted an indulgence to those visiting the re-dedicated altar on specified days and within set periods.(53

A second altar, dedicated to St Salvator and described as ‘newly founded’, was endowed with a chaplaincy by King Robert III in March 1391 in a pro anima foundation for the soul’s weal of his late servant, Patrick of Innerpeffer, burgess of Dundee, who had been the altar’s founder.(54)  The closeness of the re-dedication of the Holy Rood altar and the new foundation of St Salvator’s altar suggests a significant episode of expansion of the church.  The date of such work, occurring in the aftermath of the destructive English invasion of south-eastern Scotland in 1385, might point to it being the result of damage inflicted by English raiders entering the Firth of Tay and attacking the burgh, which is the traditional local account offered, but there is no record of such an incident. 

King Robert III continued to direct his patronage towards St Salvator’s altar, in 1405 allocating 100 shillings annually to it from the great customs of the burgh for masses for the soul of his late eldest son, David, duke of Rothesay.(55)  The patronage of this chaplainry was gifted by the king in future to the burgh council.

Patronage continued to flow towards St Mary’s in the early fifteenth century, much of it from David Lindsay, earl of Crawford, who proved to be one of the church’s greatest lay patrons.  In December 1406 he granted 20 merks of annual rents from his lands of Melginch and Bagraw in eastern Perthshire for the maintenance of a perpetual chaplain at the altar of St George the Martyr in the church of St Mary.(56)  According to the early sixteenth-century chronicle of Scotland compiled by the Dundee-born scholar Hector Boece, the earl had founded the chapel in thanksgiving for a tournament victory over the Englishman Lord Wells, which had occurred on St George’s Day in 1390.(57

The earl’s charter set out the details of the services that his new chaplain was to perform at the altar and mentions other chaplains whom he had already endowed in the church.  Before February 1407, when his charter received confirmation from Robert Stewart, duke of Albany, Earl David had endowed a further chaplainry, supported on annual rents of 12 merks from his lands in the parish of Inverarity.(58

The version of the confirmation enrolled in the Register of the Great Seal specifies that this chaplain, too, was to serve at St George’s altar, and subsequent charters confirm the foundation at the same time of second, third and fourth chaplainries.(59)  This was a very generous endowment, establishing one of the largest private chapel arrangements for any lay individual outside of the collegiate churches that were beginning to be founded by some of the principal magnate families of the kingdom.  Despite the association with Earl David’s victory over Lord Wells, the multiple-chaplain endowment does seem to have been conceived of as a unified chantry establishment, for the primary function was the saying of requiem masses and prayers for the souls of the founder and his family and for all those who had had some positive role in the shaping of his life.  Despite this clearly pro anima function, Earl David was buried in the church of the Franciscans in Dundee rather than in his chapel in St Mary’s.(60) Its role, however, was wider in that it reflected the influential position of the Lindsays in Dundee at this time, underscoring their social prominence, and also it provided the earls with a significant resource from which to reward their valued clerical servants and the younger sons of cadet lines and politically associated families.  The chaplainries founded by Earl David were evidently retained in the gift of the Lindsays and in 1419 Alexander, earl of Crawford, Earl David’s son, supplicated the pope on behalf of his secretary, John Fleming, who was described as already in possession of the chaplainries of ‘Kylgeny’ (Kingennie) and St George.(61

An All Saints altar, with an endowed chaplainry, is first recorded in June 1419.(62)  In the confirmation of the collation of the chaplain to the altar, dated 22 June 1419, it was noted that the patron was the Earl of Crawford.(63)  It is not clear, however, if this is one of the chaplainries founded by Earl David before 1407 or an additional foundation made subsequently.  Further Lindsay endowments received royal confirmation in 1429 when King James I issued confirmation of grants made by Alexander Lindsay, earl of Crawford, for a further chaplainry at the altar of St George and St Leonard, supported on annual rents of 12 merks from his lands of Wester Brichty in the barony of Kinblethmont.(64)

Although they were the most generous of the church’s patrons, the Crawford Lindsays were not alone in directing endowments towards it in the fifteenth century and it is evident that several other altars and chaplainries had been established within the church by the early 1400s.  Amongst the first for which there is a surviving pre-1450s reference is the altar of St Michael the Archangel, on record in July 1427 when King James I confirmed a charter of May 1418 whereby Richard Wryth, described as perpetual chaplain of St Clement the martyr in the burgh of Dundee, endowed a chaplainry at St Michael’s altar for the salvation of his soul, and the souls of his brother sir William, and of their parents, friends and benefactors, with various lands and annual rents in the burgh.(65

Sixteenth-century documents referring to a new altar being established in the choir of the church indicate that St Michael’s altar was also located there but give no firmer detail of its precise siting.(66)  It was recorded in 1438 that this altar was one of the principal altars of the parish church and that its patronage lay in the hands of the burgh council.(67)  St Michael’s altar is next mentioned in the inventory of 1454 that catalogued the equipment and furnishings associated with the church’s various altars, but no equipment or mass paraphernalia belonging to it is given in that record.(68)  No subsequent record of this altar survives until February 1514, when instruments record the resignation by Mr John Fletcher, chancellor of Aberdeen, of a tenement in the Wellgate of Dundee for endowment of a perpetual chaplainry at St Michael’s altar and the presentation of one Andrew Milne as chaplain.(69)  The altar is last mentioned in a pre-Reformation source in 1554 when its perpetual chaplain, John Philip, resigned his right to one third of the arrears of rents due to him from properties that had been burned during the English occupation of Broughty in the late 1540s.(70)

An altar of St Stephen is first recorded in 1427 when an indenture between Thomas Maule of Panmure and Andrew Grey was written and witnessed ‘at’ the altar.(71)  A chaplainry at the altar was endowed in 1456 by John Scrymgeour, constable of Dundee, whose charter of mortification endowed it with a tenement in the Murraygate and annualrents from various properties in the Castle Hill and Murraygate.(72)  It may have been these properties that James Scrymgeour confirmed to the altar on 6 May 1466 but a separate confirmation of this gift under the Great Seal, dated 7 December 1470, suggests that it was a further act of Scrymgeour patronage towards this altar.(73

A further mortification in 1459, by William Cairns, vicar of Glamis, provided for a chapel and chaplainry at the altar of St Stephen, which was described as being located on the west side of the door within the parish church.(74)  This rather vague wording suggests a location to the west of the principal public portal of the church, probably on the south side of the nave.  Further gifts are recorded on 30 November 1464 in a notarial copy of an otherwise lost charter of mortification dated 13 January 1455/6 by David Spalding, burgess of Dundee, to the altar and chaplain of St Stephen, of certain annualrents from properties in the burgh.(75)  Spalding was a benefactor of other altars within the church.  What may have been a further chaplainry was founded around 1492 by John Scrymgeour, who endowed it with rents from property that became known subsequently as ‘St Stephen’s Land’.(76)

St James’s altar was in existence by 1432 when its perpetual chaplain, John Leuchars, rector of Alyth, was named in a papal supplication.(77)  The chaplainry was noted in 1435 as being in lay patronage (the patron not being named) and endowed with annual rents to the value of £4 (78)  Leuchars was still in possession of the chaplainry in April 1444, when he resigned a tenement in the Castlegate into the hands of Sir John Scrymgeour, constable of Dundee.(79)  Additional endowments flowed to the altar later in the 1440s, with King James II in October 1446 confirming a mortification of property in the burgh made to it by Robert Seres.(80)  An instrument of transumpt concerning the subject-matter of this confirmation reveals that it followed upon a indenture by Robert Seres of certain lands for the support of a chaplaincy at the altar, the patronage of which was to remain with him and his heirs, and secondly to Sir John Scrymgeour, the constable, and his heirs, the Seres and Scrymgeour families making presentations to the chaplainry in turn.(81

In 1474, one of Robert’s heirs Katherine Seres, wife of John Hamilton, resigned her rights of patronage into the hands of the bishop of Brechin.(82)  This resignation sparked long-running litigation between a younger Seres heir and the Scrymgeour family, recorded in 1486 in a notarial instrument.(83)  The right of presentation to the chaplainry, then vacant by the death of Sir Henry Donald, was claimed by James Scrymgeour, constable of Dundee, by virtue of a contract that had been made between him and the heirs of Robert Seres.  Exercising that right, Scrymgeour granted the chaplainry to Mr William Lambie, but his entitlement to do so was disputed by the younger Seres heir. On account of this challenge, the bishop of Brechin refused collation to Lambie.  The outcome of the dispute is not known, but it seems that the Scrymgeours maintained a special interest in St James’s altar and are reputed to have made significant endowments to it of property in the Westfield of the burgh.(84

In common with other chaplainries in the parish church in the 1550s, in July 1556 William Lowyd, chaplain of St James altar, gave up one third of rents due to him from lands pertaining to his altar that had been burned during the English raids on Dundee in the 1540s.(85)  Although the altar is mentioned in the inventory of 1454, no items belonging to it were noted and its physical location within the church is unknown.

In order of surviving first reference, the next recorded altar in the church was dedicated to St Helen.  This altar occurs in a papal supplication dated 23 April 1433, when Richard Thorne, priest of Moray diocese, petitioned that the pope would provide him canonically to the perpetual chaplainry at the altar of St Helen in the parish church of Dundee, valued at £3, which had fallen vacant by the death of Nicholas de Lindores, and which Richard had held for seven years without canonical institution or collation.(86)  No further reference to either altar or chaplainry appears to survive and it is unknown where in the church it was located.

The Holy Rood or Holy Cross altar referred to as being refounded in 1387 is not mentioned again in a surviving source until 1446.  In that year, reference is made to a perpetual chaplain, John de Seras,(87) who was probably a member of the prominent Dundee burgess family who were noted above as patrons of a chaplainry attached to the altar of St James.  The 1454 inventory of the moveable goods associated with the altars in St Mary’s reveals the Holy Rood altar to have been particularly richly endowed.  The inventory records

a missal claspit with silver and a psalter coverit with a selch [seal] skin, a silver chalice with a paten gilt, a crowat and a pax bred of silver, a gold ring and 3 stanes set in silver, twa chandilers and a little chandiler, vestments two albs, 2 chesills [chasubles], with stolis, phantris, amytis, all belts, 2 long towels for the altar and a long settle at the altar.(88

It was also noted at that time that the presentation rights rested with the town council.  While the inventory does not reveal the location of the altar, it was presumably placed in the loft of the rood screen that separated the nave from the chancel of the church.

The key record for altars in existence by 1454 but for which no earlier reference survives is the inventory of the moveable goods of the various altars in the church drawn up in that year by the burgh’s provost.  The first of these, in alphabetical order, is St Agatha’s altar, for which record of neither precise location within the church nor of founder or patron survives.(89)  No further reference to the altar occurs until 13 May 1552, when record of the feuing of a tenement in the burgh belonging to it occurs.(90)  A chaplain, Andrew Gray, is named in 1556.(91)  Gray had either died or demitted office by 1564 when the feu mails pertaining to the altar, valued at 17 merks, were given by the council for the maintenance of a grammar school in the burgh.(92

Next is an altar of St John the Baptist, but its location in the church is again not specified.  It appears, however, to have been the location of one of the richer chaplainries, its endowment of £19 of annualrents being reassigned for the support of the burgh almshouse in 1564, while in a 1580 rent roll it was valued at £17 13s 4d.(93)

A third pre-1454 foundation was the altar of St Katherine for which there is likewise no precise location in the church given.  The inventory lists the goods of the altar as ‘vestments of red colour, mass book claspit with silver, chalice, gilt [with] silver but made of tin’.(94)  The only subsequent pre-Reformation reference to this altar occurs in February 1554, when John Barnes was noted as chaplain.(95)  St Severus’s altar is likewise first recorded in the 1454 inventory (see below for discussion of Severus and Servanus).(96

The final altar first mentioned in 1454, that of St Thomas of Canterbury or St Thomas the Martyr,(97) is likely to be significantly older, given the popularity of that saint’s cult in Scotland from the later twelfth century onwards.  What was apparently an existing chaplainry at this altar was endowed on 31 October 1455 by William Strachan, later to serve as provost of Dundee, with a tenement in the burgh.(98)  That this endowment was an augmentation of an existing chaplainry appears to be confirmed by Strachan’s instruction that patronage was to alternate between the Scymgeour family and his daughter Margaret and her heirs.  Margaret yielded her rights in the chaplainry to Malcolm Guthrie of Kingennie in 1481, but dual patronage continued until as late as 1587.  It was perhaps more probably to this popular altar that on 27 September 1510 Elizabeth Mason, widow of John Scrymgeour, burgess of Dundee, endowed a chaplain at the altar of St Thomas with various properties, royal confirmation under the Great Seal being obtained on 24 Sept 1511.(99)

Alongside the ‘universal’ saints and cults represented in the altars recorded by the mid-fifteenth century, Scottish national saints emerge in the surviving records of St Mary’s from the 1450s.  The first securely recorded of such dedications was the altar of St Margaret the Queen, whose cult based on her shrine at Dunfermline Abbey in Fife enjoyed new popularity in the later Middle Ages.  On 13 January 1456, David Spalding, burgess of Dundee, mortified certain of his properties in the burgh to provide annual rents to endow the altar of St Margaret and to sustain a perpetual chaplain serving there, royal confirmation being received five days later.(100)  On 16 August 1459 one John Cousin, priest, was named as holding the chaplainry at the altar of St Margaret the Queen , valued at £2 sterling.(101

It may have been in respect of this same altar that on 22 April 1466 King James III gave letters of confirmation and mortification under the Great Seal upon the charter made by David Spalding, burgess of Dundee, for the support of a chaplain at the altar of St Margaret from a tenement on the north side of the Market Gait or Ratton Raw of Dundee, and from an annual rent of 5 merks from a second property on the south side of the street, but there is also reference to an altar to St Margaret of Antioch, to which this grant may have belonged.(102

An altar of St Ninian may have existed in the church since shortly after 1400, Maxwell offering a date of 1401.(103)  The earliest secure reference to the altar, however, is a charter of 10 Sept 1478, which was confirmed under the Great Seal on 7 December 1480.(104)  The 1478 charter was granted by William Barry, burgess of Dundee, for support of a chaplain celebrating at the altar of St Ninian, which he claimed had been founded of old by his ancestors.  He assigned to it various rents including from a property mortified by the king to the altar of St Serf in the same church.  What may have been a second chaplainry rather than simply an augmentation of the existing one received an endowment in June 1498, confirmed under the Great Seal on 24 August 1498, from sir Andrew Whitehead, vicar of Kilmaronock, comprising of various annualrents in the burgh.(105)

Despite the growing significance of the national cult of St Andrew in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, no reference survives to an altar dedicated to him before 1471.  The altar, for which there is also evidence for neither founder nor subsequent patrons, existed by 26 November 1471 when land in Argylegait in the burgh was given to sir Thomas Fife, perpetual chaplain of the altar of St Andrew, for his maintenance (106)  Maxwell, in an unreferenced statement, claims that Fife had a burial-place assigned to him in front of the altar in 1480, which he suggests was located at the east end of the choir.(107)  Lamb, again citing no source, locates the altar in the south aisle of the chancel.(108)  The altar occurs next on 31 May 1504, when payment of redemption money for a loan was made there.(109)  No further mention of the altar occurs in a surviving pre-Reformation source. 

Amongst the most important of the Scottish saints’ cults represented in the church was that of St Columba, whose altar was established in St Mary’s before 1474.(110)  It has been claimed that around 1500 Bishop George Brown of Dunkeld, who was baptised in St Mary’s and whose cathedral held the principal Scottish shrine of Columba, undertook its effective refoundation as part of a wider charitable provision that involved the town’s almshouse.(111)  Maxwell’s sources for this claim, however, appear to relate to the altar of St Mary and the Three Kings of Cologne that Brown is recorded to have founded in the church (see below).  An altar of St Columba, however, certainly existed in St Mary’s in the sixteenth century.  On 29 May 1552, one James Wricht or Wright is recorded as chaplain of the altar of St Columba in the parish church in a feu-charter by which he set the lands in Argylegait assigned to his benefice.(112)  Wricht had resigned his chaplainry by 21 October 1552, when John Young was instituted in his stead.  No further reference to this altar occurs in a surviving pre-Reformation source. 

An altar to St Magnus is said to have been founded around 1492 by the brothers Robert and Thomas Seres, town clerks of Dundee.  Lamb and Maxwell separately note that in a charter relating to the altar of ‘St Severus’, St Magnus’s altar is described as lying adjacent to it on the north side of the choir. (113)

Maxwell’s reference to an altar of ‘St Severus’ illustrates a significant problem with the identification of the dedications at some altars in Dundee.  There are seven saints named Severus, of Antioch, Avranches, Barcelona, Naples, Ravenna, Reims and one named Sulpicius Severus, all continental and all dating to the fourth to seventh centuries.  In reference to the altar in Dundee, there might be some confusion with Servanus, the Latin form of the name of the south Fife St Serf.  It is suggested that an altar of ‘St Severus’ existed at St Mary’s by 1454, when such a dedication is given in the inventory drawn up in that year.(114)  In 1478, however, reference is made to an altar of St Servanus, to which William Barry, burgess of Dundee, had made a mortification of £4 of annualrents from the lands of Hundmanhill.(115)  A chaplainry of St Servanus existed before 18 August 1505, when an instrument of collation by William, bishop of Brechin, recorded the vacancy of the chaplainry of St Servanus at the altar of St Stephen by the death of sir David Beron, and its filling by Mr James Scrymgeour, clerk.(116)

A different form again of the name occurs in the royal confirmation of 4 March 1531 of the arrangements made by the Weavers’ craft on 20 September 1525 for the upholding of their altar of ‘St Severane’, described as located on the north side of the choir of the church.(117) A fourth version, this time clearly referring to the Fife saint, occurs on 2 April 1554, when James Wallace, chaplain of ‘St Serfis’ altar, demitted revenue due to him.(118)  It seems, then, that an altar of St Serf should be added to the list of Scottish saints with altars in the church, as well as a separate chaplainry of St Serf at St Stephen’s altar.  Alongside this, however, there is also the possibility of the presence of an additional altar to one of the several St Severuses.

Two further altars to Scottish saints appear to have been founded only in the late 1540s or 1550s.  The altar of St Monan was first recorded in 1547 when Walter Bourgole was presented to the chaplainry at that altar, which Maxwell argued had been founded by and was in the patronage of the Carnegies of Kinnaird and Farnell in Angus.(119)  In 1551, Bourgole produced evidents in the burgh’s head court that he had been properly instituted in the chaplainry and there is a reference in the head court minutes that properties formerly owned by the Carnegies in Dundee provided annualrents for the maintenance of St Monan’s chaplainry.(120

St Triduana’s altar is first mentioned on 5 October 1556 when James Scrymgeour, chaplain, pursued the estate of the late William Stewart for an annualrent of 3 merks owed to the altar.(121)  This altar and chaplainry are otherwise only recorded in post-Reformation sources, it being mentioned in 1583 that it had formerly lain in the patronage of the Scrymgeours of Dudhope. (122)

New foundations to non-Scottish saints also continued through the late fifteenth and into the sixteenth century.  An altar of St Paul seems to have been founded around June 1477, when property in the burgh that was known later as St Paul’s Land, was given by Richard Barrie, burgess of Dundee, for the support of a chaplain.(123)  Further endowment of this altar came on 24 July 1490, when Elizabeth Mason, widow of John Scrymgeour, gave a further 14 merks of annualrents to the altar.(124)  On 3 February 1489 John Farquhar, burgess of Dundee, founded an altar of St Anthony in the church for the salvation of the souls of the king, and Margaret Gould his late wife, and endowed it with property in the burgh, and also a separate chapel of St Anthony which lay on the south side of the Cowgate in Dundee.(125)

Two of the most significant late medieval endowments made in the parish church belong to the first quarter of the sixteenth century.  The first, made around 1500 by Bishop George Brown of Dunkeld, was for an altar and perpetual chaplainry in the church, where the bishop had been baptized, in honour of St Mary and the Three Kings.  This act may have been a refoundation and more generous endowment, for there is reference to an altar of the Three Kings founded by the dowager countess of Erroll around 1481 and supported on slender resources.(126)  To fund its erection and future sustenance, Brown endowed it with lands which he acquired in the burgh plus an annual rent of £10 from property at Kirkbuddo.(127)  Work on Bishop Brown’s endowments in Dundee was still in progress in 1507-1508, from when accounts survive relating to work on the altar and on the chaplain’s lodgings, with nearly £126 spent by July 1507.(128)  In 1508, the bishop bought a tabernacle in Flanders for his new altar, which together with customs, freight and other charges cost £30 18s.(129

According to Lamb, following the bishop’s death in 1514 the patronage of the altar passed into the hands of the earls of Crawford, but this statement appears to be based on a misunderstanding of a mortmain charter by John Lindsay, earl of Crawford, relating to the property with which the altar was endowed.(130)  The Great Seal confirmation at mortmain of 2 May 1517 records Crawford’s grant in pure alms to sir John Carmannoch and his successors chaplains of the altar of the BVM and the Three Kings founded within the parish church of the burgh of Dundee by George, recently deceased bishop of Dunkeld, and an annual rent of £10 from the property in the earl’s barony of Kirkbuddo, arising from the bishop’s purchase of that land from Crawford.(131

Rather than reverting to the bishop and chapter of Dunkeld by 1539, when they provided James Erskine to the chaplainry,(132) it is clear that the Lindsays had not held any interest in the patronage, their only connection to the altar being as superior lords of the property in Kirkbuddo with which it had been endowed.  In the valuations of Scottish benefices compiled after the Reformation, the altar of the BVM and Three Kings was the wealthiest in St Mary’s, receiving £30 per annum from its properties.(133)  In comparison to the endowment of the altar of St Barbara, however, that income appears relatively meagre. 

A Great Seal confirmation of 21 April 1528 of the charter of the late Andrew Abercrombie, provost and burgess of Dundee, and Elizabeth Barry his wife, records Abercrombie’s endowment on 4 May 1521 of one perpetual chaplain at the altar of St Barbara that he had founded in St Mary’s.(134)  This was a substantial new benefaction, its endowment being valued at £78 15s, but only 20 merks annually of this were assigned for the maintenance of the chaplain, the remainder being distributed amongst the burgh’s poor.  On Abercrombie’s death in 1526, the patronage of the altar was reported to have been bequeathed by him to the Dominicans of Dundee.(135)  The location of this well-endowed altar within St Mary’s is unknown. 

A third new altar of similar date was dedicated to St Peter. The first reference to this altar occurs in a Great Seal charter of June 1524 which confirmed at mortmain the charter of Master John Barry, canon of Dunkeld, who had endowed with various annualrents a perpetual chaplainry at the altar of St Peter, described as located in the new south aisle of the church.(136)  The only surviving further reference to this altar and chaplainry is an incidental mention in a charter of February 1554 to land at Niggshill which pertained to St Peter’s chaplainry.(137)

A final foundation of apparently late fifteenth- or early sixteenth-century date was an altar to St Sebastian, whose popularity as a protector against plague was heightened at this period across northern Europe and whose cult may have enjoyed similar prominence in Scotland on account of the successive epidemics that afflicted Scotland in the late 1400s and in the first quarter of the sixteenth century.  The altar was in existence by 26 April 1502 when a feu charter was given by sir Bernard Marshall, chaplain of the altar of St Sebastian, to William Maitland, burgess of Dundee, of the tenement of St Sebastian in the Argyllgait.(138)  Further reference to  it occurs in January 1529 when the chaplain, Mr Robert Fif, issued an instrument of resignation and sasine in favour of the weekly chaplains of the choir of parish church, for an annualrent of 16s Scots from the east land of Andrew Just in Dundee, which was to be used by them for an obit.(139)  No further reference to this altar is known.

A number of these later foundations were associated with the trade and craft guilds of the burgh.  By 1454, for example, the Baxters’ Guild had its altar of St Aubert or ‘Towbert’, which was furnished with a silver chalice, silk vestments, altar books and a chandelier, to which in 1486 Thomas Turner offered a mass book ‘new written and boundin’.(140)  In 1515 the Merchant Guild erected an altar dedicated to the Holy Blood in the south aisle of the church, providing a fund for masses to be said their weekly on Thursdays.(141)  There are few surviving references to this altar, the next occurring in October 1551 when the council awarded all of the fines levied on non-freemen who traded in the burgh and infringed the privileges of the Merchant Guild to the guild’s altar.(142)  It was amongst the altars temporarily relocated in January 1553 in accordance with the arrangements for the resumption of services at the various craft altars following the burning of the church by English attackers.  At that time it was described as standing ‘at the second pillar’ west of the east gable of the choir in its south aisle, but that on completion of repairs to the church it would be returned to its original position.(143)  On 9 January 1554 it was still located in the south aisle of the choir, when Robert Peebles was ordered to pay for a pane of glass for a window in the south choir aisle beside the Holy Blood altar.(144

The Waulkers’ Guild seems also to have founded an altar and chaplainry, dedicated to St Mark the Evangelist, in 1515.  A Great Seal mortmain confirmation of 26 March 1526-7 was secured for a charter dated 27 January 1515 of the late William Doig, burgess of Dundee, concerning a chaplainry of St Mark the Evangelist, and a second charter of 20 Sept 1525 by John Thomson, deacon for the time of the Waulkers’ craft, and all the master craftsmen of the said craft, who made a substantial endowment for the repair of an altar’ to be built and repaired before the pillar now founded next before St Michael’s altar to the west of the said altar’, and for maintenance of a chaplain there.(145

Additional chaplainries were founded at existing altars as the fifteenth century progressed.  One such case occurred in April 1452 when a settlement was reached between Helen Elge widow of the deceased Peter of Dundee, burgess of Dundee, and John Simson, with consent of Robert Simson his younger son, concerning the All Saints altar, which had been established around 1400 by David Lindsay, earl of Crawford (see above).(146)  In July the same year, Simson resigned his rights to the patronage of the chaplainry at the altar of All Saints, described as newly-founded, into the hands of John Scrymgeour, constable of Dundee.(147)  This chaplainry, it seems, was a second foundation at the altar that had been founded around half a century earlier by the Lindsays. 

In some cases, altars received secondary dedications, as was the case with the already well-provided altar of Stephen.  A Great Seal confirmation of 19 June 1496 of a charter of Elizabeth Mason, widow of the late John Scrymgeour, records how she had made provision in March 1493 for two perpetual chaplains at the Corpus Christi altar (the only surviving reference to that altar), one the chaplain of St Blaise the Martyr and the other the chaplain of St Bartholomew the Apostle.(148) An instrument of collation by William, bishop of Brechin, dated 18 August 1505, relates to a chaplainry of St Servanus at the altar of St Stephen, in the parish church of Dundee, vacant by the death of sir David Beron, to which Mr James Scrymgeour, clerk, had been provided.(149

Possibly the most extreme example of multiple dedications relates to the altar founded in the north-east part of the church on 10 April 1500 by Elizabeth Mason, widow of John Scrymgeour, burgess of Dundee.  A Great Seal mortmain confirmation of 22 June 1500 records that Elizabeth had granted towards the sustentation on one chaplain at the altar of saints John the Evangelist, Martin the confessor, Erasmus and Dionysius/Denis, a package of annualrents in Dundee.(150)  Additional chaplainries might also have been established at this altar, or separate altars to some of the collective dedicatees founded, for in 1552 George Scott was named as chaplain of St John the Evangelist.(151)  This seems to have been the same chaplainry as that referred to in 1563 as ‘lytill sanct John, formerly possessed by George Scott’.(152)  Likewise, in 1516 a chaplain of St Duthac was founded by the Skinners’ craft guild at the altar of St Martin.(153)

A blank page in the 1454 inventory of the moveable goods of the various altars in St Mary’s suggests that the altar of St Gregory was in existence by that date, but it is only in 1550 that a chaplain, Thomas Deuchar, is mentioned in any surviving source.(154)  There are first references in 1554 to three further altars, St Mary Magdalene, mentioned in July, August and September 1554 and then not again until the 1630s, St Matthew, mentioned on 8 March 1554 and possibly supported on rents from the property known as St Matthew’s Close, and St Thomas the Apostle, mentioned on 5 March 1554.(155)  An altar of St Anne appears only at the Reformation, when two properties attached to it in Argylegait in the burgh and valued at £9 3s 4d were disponed.(156)  No record survives of the altar’s date of foundation, patron, or location in the church.  The existence of an altar of St Luke has been postulated on the basis of a reference in 1560 to property in the burgh known as St Luke’s Land.(157)

Despite the scale of the religious endowments of St Mary’s and the numbers of ecclesiastical personnel who served at the altars within it, there is no indication that an attempt to secure its erection into a collegiate church was ever contemplated seriously.  As the protracted efforts to set in place the mechanisms for the erection of St Giles’ in Edinburgh into a collegiate church indicate, it was a far from straightforward process and, without either a single powerful patron or the unified collective will of the burgh community, unlikely to succeed.  Given that of the other major burghs in Scotland only Aberdeen, Haddington and Stirling were successful in establishing their parish churches as collegiate foundations, with all securing that status only in the 1540s, it is possible that Dundee might have thought to follow suit but that the religious tensions evident in the burgh by 1543 and the scale of damage inflicted in 1547-8 ended any further efforts.  St Mary’s, therefore, remained just one of the largest and most richly endowed of Scotland’s medieval parish churches.

Notes

1. Chartulary of the Abbey of Lindores (Scottish History Society, 1904), nos II and III [hereafter Lindores Cartulary].

2. Regesta Regum Scotorum, ii The Acts of William I 1165-1214, ed G W S Barrow (Edinburgh, 1971),198, no.363

3. Lindores Cartulary, no.XCIII.

4. Liber Sancte marie de Lundoris (Abbotsford Club, 1841), no.15 [hereafter Lindores Liber].

5. Lindores Cartulary, no.XCVIII.

6. Lindores Liber, no.13.

7. Miscellany of the Scottish History Society, vi, (Edinburgh, 1939), 52; J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices: Scottish Ecclesiastical Rentals at the Reformation (Oxford, 1995), 32, 399 [hereafter Kirk (ed), Books of Assumption].

8. See, for example, J H Baxter, Dundee and the Reformation (Dundee, 1960), 8-11; D Perry, Dundee Rediscovered: the Archaeology of Dundee Reconsidered.  Tayside and Fife Archaeological Committee Monograph 4 (Perth, 2005), 24-25.

9. Hector Boethius, Scotorum Historiae, 2nd edition (Paris, 1574), fo. cclxxxvi, lines 21-32.

10. I B Cowan, The Medieval Church in Scotland, ed J Kirk (Edinburgh, 1995), 41.

11. B E Crawford, ‘The dedication to St Clement at Rodil, Harris’, in B E Crawford (ed), Church, Chronicle and Learning in Medieval and Early Renaissance Scotland (Edinburgh, 1999), 109-122 at 114.

12. The Chronicles of Scotland Compiled by Hector Boece, Translated into Scots by John Bellenden, ed E C Batho and H W Husbands, ii (Scottish Text Society, 1941), 211. For the Latin text, see Boece, Scotorum Historiae, fo. cclxxxvi.

13. Lindores Cartulary, no LXXXIX.

14. Registrum Magni Sigilli Regum Scotorum, ii, 1424-1513, ed J Balfour Paul (Edinburgh, 1882), no.95 [hereafter RMS, ii].

15. Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, iv, 1433-1447, eds A I Dunlop and D MacLauchaln (Glasgow, 1983), nos 660 and 697 [hereafter CSSR, iv].

16. Charters, Writs and Public Documents of the Royal Burgh of Dundee, ed W Hay (Dundee, 1880), no.12.  The lands of the chaplainry were confirmed in the possession of the burgh by King James VI in 1601, ibid., no.75 [hereafter Dundee Charters].

17. For explicit reference to St Mary’s as ecclesia parochialis in the 1250s, see Lindores Liber, nos 7 and 11.

18. Perry, Dundee Rediscovered, 7, 24-25.

19. Dundee Charters, no.60.

20. A Maxwell, Old Dundee, Ecclesiastical, Burghal and Social, prior to the Reformation (Edinburgh and Dundee, 1891) [hereafter Maxwell, Old Dundee], 47-9; A C Lamb, Dundee: Its Quaint and Historic Buildings (Dundee, 1895).

21. Walter Bower, Scotichronicon, eds D E R Watt and others, iv (Aberdeen, 1994), 445.

22. Baxter, Dundee and the Reformation, 9.

23. Dundee Charters, no.28.

24. A Maxwell, The History of Old Dundee (Edinburgh and Dundee, 1884), 23 [hereafter Maxwell, History].

25. Maxwell, History, Appendix 1, 564-566 for list of burgesses to whom lairs were sold.

26. Maxwell, History, Appendix 1, 560.

27. RMS, ii, no.1279.

28. Maxwell, History, 23.

29. Registrum Magni Sigilli Regum Scotorum, iii, 1513-1546, eds J Balfour Paul and J M Thomson (Edinburgh, 1883), no.266 [hereafter RMS, iii].

30. RMS, iii, no.435.

31. RMS, iii, no.996.

32. A Diurnal of Remarkable Occurrents that have passed within the country, since the death of King James the Fourth till the year 1575 (Bannatyne and Maitland Clubs, 1833), 30.

33. F Mudie, D M Walker and I MacIvor, Broughty Castle and the Defence of the Tay, revised edition (Dundee, 2010), 12.

34. Calendar of State Papers Relating to Scotland and Mary, Queen of Scots 1547-1603, ed J Bain, vol 1 (Edinburgh, 1898), no.127 [hereafter CSP].

35. This summary is based on the account in Mudie, Walker and MacIvor, Broughty Castle, 18-23.  See CSP, i, nos 132, 142.

36. Maxwell, History, 74.

37. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, 85v.

38. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol 125v.

39. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol 190v.

40. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol 202v.

41. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol 205v.

42. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol 252v.

43. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol 209v, fol 210v, fol. 278r.

44. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol, 230-250 passim.

45. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 6.

46. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1555-1558, fol. 20r.

47. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1555-1558, fol. 69v.

48. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 15.

49. The Works of John Knox, ed D Lang, i (Edinburgh, 1846), 300.

50.CSSR, v, 1447-1471, no.498.

51. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 13-14.

52. RMS, ii, no.1279.

53. Calendar of Papal Letters to Scotland of  Clement VII of Avignon 1378-1394, ed C Burns (Scottish History Society, 1976), 134 [hereafter CPL, Clement VII].

54. Registrum Magni Sigilli Regum Scotorum, i, 1306-1424, ed J Maitland Thomson (Edinburgh, 1882), no.831 [hereafter RMS, i].

55. Dundee Charters, 26.  For payment of the endowment see, for example, The Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, vi, 1455-1460, ed G Burnett (Edinburgh, 1883), 16.

56. Registrum Episcopatus Brechinensis (Bannatyne Club, 1856), i, no.18 [hereafter Brechin Registrum].

57. The Chronicles of Scotland Compiled by Hector Boece, Translated into Scots by John Bellenden, ed E C Batho and H W Husbands, ii (Scottish Text Society, 1941), 357.  For a near contemporary account of Crawford and Wells’ joust, see Water Bower, Scotichronicon, eds D E R Watt and others, viii (Aberdeen, 1987), 13.  Safe conducts for a period of two months from 25 May 1390 survive for Lindsay and his household to come to London, with his armour, and for the ship St Mary of Dundee, which seems to have carried them: Calendar of Documents Relating to Scotland, ed J Bain, iv (Edinburgh, 1888), no.410.

58. Brechinensis Registrum, ii, Appendix, nos 9 and 10; RMS, i, no.877.

59. RMS, i, nos 877, 878, 879, 880, 881.

60. W M Bryce, The Scottish Greyfriars, i, History (Edinburgh, 1909), 220 and note 1.

61. Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, i, 1418-22, eds E R Lindsay and A I Cameron (Scottish History Society, 1934), 65 [hereafter CSSR, i].

62.CSSR, i, 66.

63.CSSR, i, 80.

64. Brechinensis Registrum, ii, Appendix, no.15.

65. RMS, ii, no.95.

66. RMS, iii, no.435.

67. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 22.

68. Maxwell, History, App 1, 559.

69. NRS GD137/3848; GD137/3849.

70. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 285v.

71. Registrum de Panmure, ed J Stuart (Edinburgh, 1874), 196; Lamb, Dundee: Its Quaint and Historic Buildings, xxxivh.

72. NRS GD137/3744.

73. NRS GD137/3764; NRS GD137/3767.

74. NRS GD137/3753.  Royal confirmation was obtained on 20 November 1464, NRS GD137/3761.

75. NRS GD137/3762.

76. Lamb, Dundee: Its Quaint and Historic Buildings, xxxivh.

77. Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, iii, 1428-1432, eds A I Dunlop and I B Cowan (Scottish History Society, 1970), 212 [hereafter CSSR, iii].

78.CSSR, iv, no.197.

79. NRS GD137/3719.

80. NRS GD137/3728.

81. NRS GD137/3749.

82. NRS GD137/3770.

83. NRS GD137/3795.

84. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 31.

85. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1555-1558, fol. 61r.

86.CSSR, iv, no.35.

87.CSSR, iv, no.1267.

88. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 24-35.

89. Lamb, Dundee: Its Quaint and Historic Buildings, xxxiv.

90. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, 23 May 1552.

91. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1555-1558, fol. 19.

92. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 113.

93. Lamb, Dundee: Its Quaint and Historic Buildings, xxxivc; DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 107.

94. Maxwell, History, App.1, 558-9.

95. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 288.

96. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 27-28.

97. Maxwell, History, App 1, 559.

98. Lamb, Dundee: Its Quaint and Historic Buildings, xxxivh.

99. RMS, ii, no.3650.

100. NRS GD 137/3742; GD137/3743.

101.CSSR, v, 1447-1471, no.748.

102. RMS, ii, no.873; Maxwell, Old Dundee, 22-23.

103. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 32.

104. RMS, ii, no.1456.

105. RMS, ii, no.2446.

106. NRS GD137/3768; GD137/3769.

107. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 35.

108. Lamb, Dundee: Its Quaint and Historic Buildings, xxxiv.

109. NRS GD4/242.

110. Lamb, Dundee: Its Quaint and Historic Buildings, xxxiva.

111. Rentale Dunkeldense Scottish History Society, 1915), 226, 243 [hereafter Dunkeld Rentale]; Maxwell, Old Dundee, 33.

112. DDARC, Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 155v.

113. Lamb, Dundee: Its Quaint and Historic Buildings, xxxivd; Maxwell, Old Dundee, 27-28.

114. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 27-28.

115. RMS, ii, no.1456.

116. NRS GD137/3831.

117. RMS, iii, no.996.

118. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 284r.

119. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 32.

120. DDARC , Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 54r; Lamb, Dundee: Its Quaint and Historic Buildings, xxxivf.

121. DDARC , Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1555-1558, fol. 73r.

122. NRS GD137/3921.

123. Lamb, Dundee: Its Quaint and Historic Buildings, xxxivf.

124. Lamb, Dundee: Its Quaint and Historic Buildings, xxxivf.

125. RMS, ii, no.1935.

126. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 34.

127. A Myln, Vitae Dunkeldensis Ecclesiae Episcoporum (Bannatyne Club, 1831), 41.

128. Dunkeld Rentale, 270-271.

129. Dunkeld Rentale, 2, 3.

130. Lamb, Dundee: Its Quaint and Historic Buildings, xxxivh.

131. RMS, iii, no.157.

132. Lamb, Dundee: Its Quaint and Historic Buildings, xxxivh.

133. Kirk (ed), Books of Assumption, 381.

134. RMS, iii, no.578.

135. Lamb, Dundee: Its Quaint and Historic Buildings, xxxiva.

136. RMS, iii, no.266.

137. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 284r.

138. NRS GD137/3825.

139. NRS GD76/156.

140. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 30; Maxwell, History, App.1, 561.

141. Maxwell, History, App.1, 558.

142. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 92v.

143. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 205v.

144. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 278.

145. RMS, iii, no.435.

146. NRS GD137/3736.

147. NRS GD137/3737.

148. RMS, ii, no.2317.

149. NRS GD137/3831.

150. RMS, ii, no.2538.

151. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 201v.

152. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 107.

153. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 29-30.

154. Lamb, Dundee: Its Quaint and Historic Buildings, xxxivc.

155. St Mary Magdalene: NRS GD137/3223; DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fols 322r, 329v and 339r.  St Matthew: Lamb, Dundee: Its Quaint and Historic Buildings, xxxive; DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fols 294v and 335r.  St Thomas the Apostle: DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 239.

156. Lamb, Dundee: Its Quaint and Historic Buildings, xxxiva.

157. Lamb, Dundee: Its Quaint and Historic Buildings, xxxivd.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: Granted to Lindores by David, earl of Huntingdon (1191x95); vicarage revenues to abbey, maintenance of a stipendiary vicar in the parish. Decision reversed in 1252; abbey to receive 10 marks from vicarage in addition to parsonage revenues.(1)

1381 John Hugonis has the chapel of St Nicholas, Dundee, described in a 1428 indulgence as ‘by the sea’ [not in the burgh itself?].(2)

1387 Indulgence of 100 days for all those who visit the altar of the Holy Rood in the church of St Mary’s, Dundee, which has been re-founded canonically and endowed, on certain principal feasts and on the Holy Cross dedication of altar.(3) [damaged during English invasion of 1385?]

1392 William de Galvidia (nephew of Thomas de Rossy, bishop of Whithorn, 1379-93) has ‘a chaplaincy or cure in the church of Dundee [vague language].(4) William de Galway is a perpetual chaplain in the parish church of Dundee [no altar mentioned].(5)

1398 John Wylde provided to perpetual vicarage; dead by 1402 when Richard Cornel is collated (in the third year at the university of Avignon), value £30. Richard is a local, the church is only 4 miles from his birthplace.(6)

1403 William Ochtulowny has the chaplaincy of St Clements, Dundee [separate church?](7)

1404 Litigation between Richard and another John Wylde (chaplain of David Lindsay, earl of Crawford) over the church [John ultimately successful, or man of the same name is vicar in 1434].(8)

1429 Confirmation by Martin V of Lindores’ rights with regard to Dundee (and other churches); vicarages were unlawfully detained for several years by secular intruders due to war and other disruptions.(9)

1434 Exchange between John Wylde and John Fleming with latter becoming perpetual vicar (Fleming son of a priest).(10)

1439 (Jan) Vicar of Dundee Richard Crag accused of simony and of having a concubine by John Wright. In Feb 1439 Richard is deprived and excommunicated having also laid violent hands upon John.(11) [John Wright is involved in a similar case, accusing vicar of Musselburgh of various crimes, see Musselburgh]

1443 Indenture between Abbot of Lindores and town of Dundee regarding repairs to the church of St Mary’s. Dundee council undertake sole burden of constructing, sustaining, supporting and repairing the choir of the church, in walls, windows, pillars, windows glass, wood work, roof and covering as well above as below, also the vestments, books, chalices, palls and clothes of the great altar, and other ornaments whatsoever in any manner belonging to the choir of the said parish church. In return the rectors get 5 marks annual rent from a tenement in Dundee belonging to the abbey of Lindores.(12)

1461 Contributions begin to be made for the cost of ‘theiking’ the choir with lead. Some gave sums of money in return for burial places within the church. After the choir had been covered with lead the payment made for ‘lairs’ were appropriated toward the putting into order of the roof of the new aisle, by which name the new north transept had probably been designated.(13) George Spalding delivers a ‘brew led’ that was in Patrick Barber’s land for the ‘thekyn of the queyr’.(14)

1463 Following Gilbert’s death, Alexander Inglis in suit with Wylie, collated in 1463, but Richard still in possession in 1467 when he enters the monastery of Kelso and is replaced in Dundee by John Spalding (counsellor of James III).(15)

1473 John Spalding is dean of Brechin and vicar of parish church of Dundee.(16)

1475 John Barry (MA and from 1487 collector of the Camera in Scotland for the papacy) collated to the vicarage. Spalding accused of holding two incompatible benefices. Dispute between two men (described as kinsmen) settled in 1487 when Spalding granted a pension from the church by Barrie.(17)

1494 (8 Nov) Mr John Barry, vicar of Dundee, pays John Spalding an 80 mark pension from the fruits of the vicarage.(18)

1495 (Nov) James Scrymgeour, the constable and provost of Dundee given lairs in the church for himself and his wife in return for fees owed to him by the burgh.(19)

1506 Following conflict within the convent at Lindores between Andrew Charteris and Abbot Henry, confirmation by the Pope Alexander VI of the abbeys rights in the church of Dundee, withheld by the vicars during the conflict.(20)

1513 Perpetual vicarage vacant by resignation of John Barrie senior (who is more than 60 years old). John Barrie junior provided, who provides John senior with  a pension of 90 marks pa, less than half the vicarage fruits’.(21)

[South Aisle finished]

#c.1524 One of the later foundations, Lamb suggests around 1524. Charter of that year whereby Master John Barrie, canon of Dunkeld granted certain lands to uphold ‘a perpetual chaplain to the altar of St Peter, founded in the new south aisle of the parish church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dundee'.(22)

[Repair of church following English occupation of the town and Post-Reformation division of the church]

#1549-1550 Church left in ruins following English occupation. The nave was broken down and the transepts lay in ruins; but the chancel, although defaced and spoiled, was not destroyed and the noble tower was left and happily yet remains.(23) After a time the choir was walled off from the ruins, and roofed anew with slate rather than lead.

1551 (11 Aug) Fines from a number of urban violations (blocking passages, misuse of waste etc) to be put toward the building of the Lady Kirk.(24)

1551 (12 Nov) James Scrymgeour, kirk master to make his compt, ordered to examine whether lands belonging to the church could be put to more profitable use for the kirk work.(25)

1551 (31 Dec) The Council and Deacons of the Craft guilds for the ‘repairing and decorating of the mother church, grant, ratify and approve that the auld privileges’ of lairs in the said kirk and choir and within the bell ringing to be uptaken and upliftit as of old use and as they constituted in tymes begone and tymes to come notwithstanding the spoliation and away taking of our bells by our old enemy of England’.(26

#1552 Church re-roofed, starting with the choir. Work attributed to John Scrymgeour of the Myres, the Royal Master of Work; the distinctive modern, ungothic design of the church with its rectangular windows might be attributed to him.(27)

1552 (10 Oct) Agreement and contract between William Kinlothie, kirk master (with consent of the council) and Patone Black, wright [name is unclear, not Patrick], for himself and his two sons, Andrew and George and one other man whom he is to choose to ‘mak till our lady kirk or quier as many cuppilla as well serve the length of the said quier or to be set up upon the body of the kirk be the said wrights as shall be thought expedient by the said kirk master and council of this burgh the said cuppilas shall be wrought sufficient with dowble balk and angeler on the best manner that may be devisit according to the height and breadth of the gabills with parpane jestis to ane sufficient number as shall be thought necessary by the said kirk master and council and the said cuppillas to be squarit from the nether balk dor for syling for the which cuppilas making and upsetting as said by the said kirk master. Pattone to be paid 6s 8d for each cuppila, he agrees to work solely on this job until it is finished.(28)

#1552 (9 Dec) Thomas Sinclair, George Trumpet, John Laing, David Robertson, James Forsyth, John Thomson, James Bruce and David Wilson to work on ‘our lady werk’ summer and winter whenever they be dischargit by James Forester, kirk master until the tyme they be dischargit by the baillies and council etc.(29)

[Re-organising of guild and craft altars]

1553 (9 Jan) Council ordains the dean of the guild to prepare the Holy Blood altar at the second pillar from the ….. gabill of the choir upon the south side there of unto the time of the kirk being re-edified when the said altar will be placed where it was before.(30)

On the same day the council orders that all crafts prepare their altars and cause divine service to be done that conform to the laws of the craft and old constititue and where the crafts that have altars and places in the choir now built it is ordained that each craft have one altar and place shall reserve one other craft with their chaplain there unto the time they get their places and altars where they were before.(31) [Essentially all the altars in the choir are to reserve space for the chaplains of altars formerly sited in the nave until it is rebuilt]

1553 (26 Jan) Pattone Black to be paid £22, money given to James Forester for repairing of the choir of this burgh on behalf of the abbot of Lindores.(32) 31 Jan 10 marks to be paid to Black for the ‘bowntettis’ of the binding of the cuppilas of the choir and making of scaffolding there and for the fulfilling of his contract.(33)

[Around June-Aug of 1553 Council meetings and the resolution of disputes begin to be specified as taking place in the parish church (perhaps a sign that roof etc has been sufficiently rebuilt by this stage? Now reference to anything taking place in church 1550-1553)].(34)

1553 (22 Aug) Master John Rolland presents letters to the council showing that he had been provided to the vicarage of Dundee by the abbot and convent of Lindores, but had been denied institution by John Hepburn, bishop of Brechin (1516-57) and that George Wilson has intruded upon the vicarage.(35) Council Head Court agrees with Rolland.

1554 (9 Jan) Robert Peblis fined for ‘mispersoning’ an office of the council, ordered to deliver a sum of money to James Forester to help put up a pane of glass in the south aisle of the choir beside the Holy Blood altar.(36)

1555 (3 Jan) Council ordinance that slates are not to be exported from the burgh due to the need for use in repairs and the shortage of available materials.(37)

1556 (13 Jan) James Forester ordered to provide a compt of all that is owed for lairs in the kirk from times now gone and also during the space of his office.(38)

1556 (17 Sept) Provost, bailies etc commit full power to James Forester (kirk master) or the time until he intromits and ships the bell which was brought from James Rollok younger in  Alexander Curries ship in Flanders or to any other part or port where the said James shall think expedient the interchanging of the bell with ane greater one, as the said James thought expedient (James to have power to borrow money in Flanders on the town’s account).(39) [original bell too small, sent back to Flanders to be exchanged for a larger one].

1556 (5 Oct) Ordinance for the making of graves in the kirk yard, 12 s for an old person; one plack for a child; poor people free.(40)

1558 (10 Jan) Council ordinance against children playing in the kirk yard and breaking the windows.(41)

Altars/Chaplainries within the church of St Mary

34 separate Altars in Dundee according to A. Maxwell, 1891,(42) Aaside from those listed below, others reputedly dedicated to SS Helen and Lawrence. Lamb lists a different range of dedications, 30 in total.(43)

High Altar (Our Lady)

Stood in the centre of the raised floor of the chancel, dedicated to Our Lady, endowed from teinds owing to abbey of Lindores in Dundee.

1454 Inventory of the church by Provost Fotheringham includes;

‘twa missal, ane auld and ane given by Mr Richard de Crag (former vicar), a chalice of silver our gift with a crystal stane in the midst [by the provost], a silver spoon, also a silver censor, ane shcip of brass, 3 long towels for the altar, one blue, one red and one divers colours, a water cloth to hang before the high altar, two clothes for the sepulchre, one claith of arras for the to sit in, and two cords of silk.

1482 Other gifts in included 4 10 ounces of silver for making a cross for the church, by Isabella relic of David Spalding.

1495 One gryt bell, a eucharist of silver, one silver chalice, one new mass book and one great kist gifted by George Spalding, son of above.(44)

1551 (6 April) David Alexanderson is chaplain at the altar.(45)

All Saints 1 (see below for 2nd altar/ Lindsay altar)

1452 Instrument recording the agreement between Helen Elge widow of the deceased Peter of Dundee burgess of Dundee, and John Simson of Dundy with consent of Robert his younger son, touching the altar of All Saints in the parish church.(46)

1452 Instrument of the resignation into the hands of Sir John Scrymgeour constable of Dundee, by John Simson of Dundee and Robert his son, of their right of patronage of the chaplainry and altar of All Saints newly founded in the parish church of Dundee.(47)

1557 (27 Jan) John Davisone, chaplain of Allhallows altar (All Saints?) demits 1/3 from rents of burnt lands pertaining to the altar.(48)

Holy Blood (St Bartholomew) (founded 1515 by merchant guild)

#b.1495 (19 June) Charter confirmed by James IV mentions chaplain of St Bartholomew celebrating divine service at the altar of the Corpus Christi. Elizabeth Mason; relic of John Scrymgeour was the patron.(49)

1515 Guild merchant erected the altar in the south aisle of the church, masses to be said each Thursday.(50)

1551 (6 Oct) Council grants to the Holy Blood altar fines levelled on unfreemen who trade in the burgh and overstep the priveledges of the merchant guild.(51)

1553 (9 Jan) Council ordains the dean of the guild to prepare the Holy Blood altar at the second pillar from the ….. gabill of the choir upon the south side there of unto the time of the kirk being re-edified when the said altar will be placed where it was before.(52)

1554 (9 Jan) Robert Peblis fined for ‘mispersoning’ an office of the council, ordered to deliver a sum of money to James Forester to help put up a pane of glass in the south aisle of the choir beside the Holy Blood altar.(53)

Holy Cross/Rood Altar (refounded 1387, no founder information)

1387 Indulgence of 100 days for all those who visit the altar of the Holy Rood in the church of St Mary’s, Dundee, which has been re-founded canonically and endowed, on certain principal feasts and on the Holy Cross dedication of altar.(54)

1446 John de Seras perpetual chaplain of Holy Cross.(55)

1454 Inventory in that year refers to altar having ‘a missal claspit with silver and a psalter coverit with a selch skin, a silver chalice with a paten gilt, a crowat and a pax bred of silver, a gold ring and 3 stanes set in silver, twa chandilers and a little chandiler, vestemts two albs, 2 chesiills, with stolis, phantris, amytis, all belts, 2 long towels for the altar and a long settle at the altar’. Presentation rights with the town council.(56)

1554 (20 April) Robert Gray, chaplain of the Rude altar, demits 1/3 from burnt lands pertaining to the altar.(57)

St Salvator (founded by Patrick of Inverpeffir c.1390, no location)

#1390 (7 March) (Re)founded by Patrick of Inverpeffir, burgess of Dundee; endowed at his death as a perpetual chaplaincy.(58) Lamb suggests refoundation as altar was sustained from lands of Craigie which are first mentioned as belonging to the church in 1200.(59)

1405 Charter by Robert III gifting 100 shillings from great customs of Dundee to the chaplain of the altar of St Salvator in the parish church of Dundee, for masses to be said for the soul of his son David, Duke of Rothesay, patronage granted to the burgh council.(60)

St Agatha (founded by 1454, no location or founder)

#b1454 Included in an inventory of that year.(61)

1552 (13 May) Reference to a tenement held in feu of St Agatha’s altar.(62) (Andrew Gray is chaplain in 1556).(63)

1564 The Town Council gave the feu mails pertaining to the chaplaincy to the Grammar School, amounting to 17 marks.(64) Annual rents in 1567 amounted to £11 6s 8d.

St Andrew (founded by 1471, no founder )

1471 Earliest reference to altar in existence, Thomas Fyf mentioned as chaplain.(65)

1480 Thomas of Fyf had burial place assigned to him before the altar of which he had been chaplain. Situated at the east end of the choir, only altar that survived the fire of 1542.(66) Lamb suggested situated on the south side of the chancel.(67)

St Anne

#No date, revenue from two lands in Argyll’s gait. When disponed at the Reformation valued at £9 3s 4d.(68)

St Anthony (founded by William Farquhar by 1489, no location)

#1489 (3 Feb) Charter by William Farquhar, burgess, appointing a chaplain for divine worship at his altar in the parish church or at the chapel also founded by him situated in the south side of the Cowgait. At £5 5s 4d annual rents at the Reformation.(69)

1552 (9 Aug) David Scrymgeour, chaplain of St Anthony’s altar sues John Duncan for 2 annual rents of 30s.(70)

St Aubert/Towbert (founded by 1486, Baxter’s guild, no location)

b.1486 First mentioned belonged to the Baxter’s craft guild, Thomas Turner offers a ‘mass book, new written and bounding’ to the altar; already had a silver chalice, silk vestments, books and a chandelier.(71)  Version of the charter in book containing 1454 inventory describes it as ‘Sanct Towburtis altar’.(72)

St Barbara (by 1521 when chaplaincy founded by Andrew Abercrombie, no location)

#1521 (4 May) Founded perpetual chaplaincy in parish church by Andrew Abercrombie of Pitelpie, provost of Dundee. On his death in 1526 the patronage went to the Blackfriars. Initial endowment worth £78 15s. 20 marks per annum to the chaplain and the rest distributed to the poor (confirmed by James V in 1528.(73)

1554 (18 July) Council commands that bailles arrest all annuals pertaining to St Barbara’s chaplaincy from lands of late Andrew Abercrombie, current chaplain is William Spens.(74)

1567 Thirds of benefices: Chaplaincy at the altar of St Barbara, value 12 marks, held by Robert Abercrombie.(75)

St Blaise (before 1492, no location)

#1492 (20 Sept) James IV confirms charter by which Elizabeth Mason instigated a chaplain at the altar of the St Blaise in the parish church.(76)

St Clement (before 1554, no location or founder)

1554 (11 Oct) John Watson, chaplain of St Clements (mentions in parish church) mentioned in otherwise unrelated charter.(77)

St Columba (probably founded by George Brown, before 1474, no location)

#1474 Reference in a charter to a building pertaining to the altar of St Columba.(78)

c.1500 Founded by George Brown, bishop of Dunkeld. Priest was also the chaplain of the almshouse.(79)

1552 (29 May) James Wicht, chaplain of St Columba’s [St Colonis in the document] altar in the parish church, sets in feu the lands of his chaplaincy situated in Argyll’s gate to his kinsman John Wicht.(80)

1552 (21 Oct) John Young chaplain of St Columba [Colm] on the resignation of James Wright.

SS Erasmus and Dionysius

#1500 Elizabeth Mason, relict of John Scrymgeour, granted a charter for the sustentation of a chaplain for the altars of St John the Evangelist, St Martin and SS Erasmus and Dionysius; erected in the north east side of the parish church of Dundee. Confirmed by James IV on 22 June 1500.(81)

St George, Leonard and All Saints (founded 1400, David Lindsay, in the choir)

1400 Altar founded by David Lindsay, earl of Crawford (according to Bellenden in thanks for jousting victory over Lord Wells in 1390), chaplain with 12 mark endowment, to say daily matins, mass, vespers, and all the hours, also a requiem mass at the altar at 9am daily. Further endowment of 40 marks by Lindsay, (confirmed by Duke of Albany) to fund 3 further chaplains at altar.(82)

1419 Perpetual chaplaincy mentioned at the altar of All Saints; patron Alexander de Lindsay and chaplain Robert de Fodrington (7 marks value). In 1419 John Fleming (son of a priest and secretary of Alexander Lindsay, earl of Crawford) has the two chaplainries of Kylgey and St George in Dundee.(83)

1420 Robert Clerici (MA from university of Paris) has the perpetual chaplainry at All Saints.

1429 Earl Alexander, son of above, founded further chaplaincy in the choir, 12 marks pa endowment. Chaplin to celebrate mass forever at the altar of the Blessed George, Leonard the confessor and All Saints (conf by James 1, see Register of the Great Seal of Scotland).(84)

St Gregory

#1454 Blank page in the inventory of that year suggests that altar in existence. 1550 chaplain was Thomas Deuchar.(85)

St James (founded by 1432, no location)

1432 John de Luchris (rector of Alyth, Dunkeld) holds chaplainry at the altar of St James (value £4).(86)

1444 Instrument of resignation by sir John Luchirs, perpetual chaplain of the altar of St James in the parish church of Dundee, of a tenement in the Castlegate, into the lands of Sir John Scrymgeour, constable of Dundee.(87)

1454 Altar of St James the apostle included in inventory of that year. No entries of items pertaining to the altar.(88)

1456 Instrument of transumpt following upon a indenture by Robert Seres, burgess of Dundee, of certain lands for the support of a chaplaincy at the altar of St James, the patronage of which is to remain with him and his heirs, secondly to Sir John Scrymgeour constable of Dundee and his heirs in turn.(89)

1474 Procuratory of resignation by Katherine Seres, wife of John Hamilton, for resigning into the lands of John, bishop of Brechin, the patronage of St James's altar in the parish church of Dundee.(90)

1486 Instrument touching the disputed patronage of St James's altar in the parish church of Dundee, vacant by the death of Sir Henry Donald, claimed by James Scrymgeour, constable of Dundee, by virtue of a contract between him and the heirs of Robert Seres, and granted to Mr William Lamby, and disputed by the younger heir of the said Robert Seres. The bishop of Brechin refuses collation.(91)

1556 (21 July) William Lowyd, chaplain of St James altar, demists 1/3 of rents from burnt lands pertaining to his altar.(92)

Westfield given by the Scrymgeour family to fund the altar (no date), connected with seafaring; various nautical deals done before the altar.(93)

St John the Baptist (founded by 1454, no location)

b.1454 Unverified reference in secondary work: Richly endowed chaplainry; in 1580 rent roll valued at £17 13s 4d.(94)

1563 (11 Dec) Thomas Deuchar, chaplain of a benefice called ‘lytill sanct John, formerly possessed by George Scott.(95)

1564 (30 June) James Kynlocht, chaplain of St John the Baptist, £19 annual rents reassigned to the almshouse.(96)

St John the Evangelist (founded by 1500)

1500 Unverified reference in secondary work: Elizabeth Mason, relict of John Scrymgeour, granted a charter for the sustentation of a chaplain for the altars of St John the Evangelist, St Martin and SS Erasmus and Dionysius; erected in the north east side of the parish church of Dundee. Confirmed by James IV on 22 June 1500.(97)

1552 (28 Nov) Chaplain George Scot sues in court for 4 French crowns owing to his chaplaincy of John the Evangelist.(98)

St Katherine (founded by 1454, no founder or location)

b.1454 Early foundation, in inventory of that year altar had ‘vestments of red colour, mass book claspit with silver, chalice, gilt qioth silver but made of tin’.(99)

1554 (21 Feb) John Barnis, chaplain of St Katherine’s, demits 1/3 of rents from certain burnt lands pertaining to the altar.(100) Barnis described in 1556 as chaplain of the ‘Holy Spirit’.(101)

St Luke

# No date, reference in 1560 to St Luke’s land suggests tenement dedicated to altar of that saint.(102)

St Magnus

#1492 Founded by Robert Seres and his brother Thomas, town clerks of Dundee. A charter relating to the altar of Severus describes it (Severus altar) as situated next to the altar of St Magnus, lately founded by Robert and Thomas Seres on the north side of the choir.(103)

Margaret of Scotland

1455 Founded by David Spalding.(104)

SS Margaret of Antioch and Thomas the Apostle

1471 Altar founded by David Spalding, patronage granted by him to the abbot of Lindores, 30 marks endowment. Situated behind the high altar. Altar of St Margaret existed previously but had been displaced with services at St Michael’s.(105)

St Mark

#1514 Earliest reference to altar in a charter by which William Dog sold to John Thomson certain annual rents from a property to be applied to the sustentation of a chaplain at the altar.(106)

1525 Founded by the Walkers/Fullers craft guild. Situated before the pillar next to (west of) St Michael’s altar.(107) (actual wording ‘before the pillar now founded next before St Michael’s altar, be-west of the said altar’).

St Martin (Duthac)

#1500 Elizabeth Mason, relict of John Scrymgeour, granted a charter for the sustentation of a chaplain for the altars of St John the Evangelist, St Martin and SS Erasmus and Dionysius; erected in the north east side of the parish church of Dundee. Confirmed by James IV on 22 June 1500.(108)

1516 A chaplain of St Duthac founded by the Skinners craft guild performing divine service at the altar of St Martin.(109)

Mary Magdalene

1554 (13 July/23 Aug/22 Sept) John Murray, chaplain of the Magdalane altar demits 1/3 from rents of burnt lands pertaining to the altar.

1636 Late reference to land pertaining to the chaplaincy of St Mary Magdalene within the parish church of Dundee.(110)(111)

St Matthew

# No date but chaplainry supported by rents in ‘St Matthews close’.(112)

1554 (8 Mar) John Spens, chaplain of altar of St Matthew, demits 1/3 from burnt lands pertaining to the altar.(113)

St Michael

#1418 (20 May) (Confirmation by James I, 26 July 1427) Charter whereby Richard Wrycht, chaplain of St Clement granted lands and rents to support a chaplain at the altar of St Michael.(114)

b.1438 John Wright as chaplain, patrons the burgh council (as one of the principal altars of the church chosen as place for the redemption and delivery of lands).(115)

1454 Inventory mentions altar but no items belonging to it.(116)

1514 Presentation by Mr John Fletcher, chancellor of Brechin, to sir Andrew Milne, of the chaplainry founded by him [new chaplainry?] at the altar of St Michael the Archangel in the parish church of St Mary, Dundee.(117)

1554 (9 Feb) John Philip, chaplain of St Michael’s altar in parish church demits 1/3 of the annuals due from certain burnt lands pertaining to altar.(118) (same 10 Sept 1554).

St Monan

#b.1547 First mentioned when priest (Walter Bourgole) presented to the chaplaincy, mentioned as simply situated within the parish church.(119) Lamb suggests that patrons were the Carnegy family as Walter’s evidence of his presentation was dated at Fernwell, home of that family and that the land mentioned in the charter of 1551 also belonged to them.(120)

1551 (30 April) Walter is still chaplain, produces a document to prove that he was instituted as chaplain in 1547. Entry in Head Court Book refers to an annual rent for support of the chaplaincy of St Monan in the parish church.(121)

1567 Thirds of Benefices: third of altarage of St Monan £1 8s 8d.(122)

St Ninian

1401 Founded by burgess William Barry.(123)

#1478 Charter, confirmed by James III in 1480, by William de Barry referred to chaplaincy founded ‘of old by his ancestors’ and (re) endowed it with £6 worth of annual rents.(124)

#1498 Andrew Whitehead, vicar of Kilmaronock, (Stirlingshire) granted an annual rent from his Dundee property to sustain a chaplain at the altar (confirmed by James IV 24 Aug 1498).(125)

1554 (6 Sept) Chaplain Andrew Coupar sets the lands of St Ninian’s chaplaincy with consent of the council etc of Dundee who are patrons.(126)

St Paul

#b.1477 (2 June) The property, later known as ‘St Paul’s land’, in the burgh was given to sustain a chaplain at the altar of St Paul in the parish church by Richard Barrie, burgess.(127)

#1490 (24 July) Further grant to altar by Elizabeth Masoun, relict of John Scrymgeour who gave 14 marks of annual rents.(128)

St Peter

#c.1524 One of the later foundations; Lamb suggests around 1524. Charter of that year whereby Master John Barrie, canon of Dunkeld granted certain lands to uphold ‘a perpetual chaplain to the altar of St Peter, founded in the new south aisle of the parish church of Our Lady, Dundee’.(129)

(1554, 9 Feb) Reference in an unrelated charter to land in Niggshill pertaining to St Peter’s chaplainry.(130)

St Sebastian

#1524 A tenement belonging to the altar of St Sebastian mentioned in an unrelated charter by Magister John Barrie, canon of Dunkeld.(131)

1529 (19 Jan) Instrument of resignation and sasine by Mr. Robert Fif, chaplain of altar of St. Sebastian the Martyr in parish church of Dundee, in favour of weekly chaplains of choir of said parish church, for annual rent of 16s. Scots from east land of Andrew Just in burgh of Dundee, to be used for celebration of obit.(132)

St Severus

#c.1454 Seems to have been in existence at this date when mentioned in the inventory of the church.(133)

#1478 £4 Mortified to the altar by the Blessed King [Robert II or III perhaps?] mentioned in William Barrie’s charter to the altar of St Ninian.(134)

1492 Founded by the Weavers craft guild. Situated next to the altar of St Magnus, lately founded by Robert and Thomas Seres on the north side of the choir.(135)

1554 (2 Apr) James Wallace, chaplain of altar of St Serfis situated within the parish church, demits 1/3 rents from burnt lands pertaining to the altar.(136)

St Stephen (Severus) (founded by 1427, located on the west side of the door, further chaplain in 1456, chaplain of St Severus before 1505)

1427 Earliest reference when an instrument between Thomas Maule and Andrew Gray recorded in the register of Panmure was written and witnessed before the altar of St Stephen.(137)

1456 Charter of mortification by John Scrymgeour constable of Dundee for a chaplain at the altar of St Stephen in St Mary's church, Dundee, of a tenement in the Murraygate and of annual rents from lands in the Castle Hill and the Murraygate.(138)

1459 Mortification by William of Cairns, vicar of the parish church of Glamis, for a chapel and chaplaincy at the altar of St Stephen on the west side of the door within the parish church of St Mary in Dundee.(139)

#b.1492 John Scrymgeour founded a chaplaincy at the altar, rents from property which afterwards became known as ‘St Stephen’s land’.(140)

1505 Instrument of collation by William, bishop of Brechin, on the vacancy of the chaplainry of St Servanus at the altar of St Stephen, in the parish church of Dundee, by the death of sir David Beron, to Mr James Scrymgeour, clerk.(141)

1554 (15 July) 8.5 marks to be paid to John Burrell, chaplain of St Stephens altar by the ‘Joke’ charterhouse(?).(142)

1567 Thirds of benefices: Chaplaincy of the altar of St Stephen held by John Burell, value £14 4s 11d.(143)

No reference to founder or date, also a place at which important financial transactions took place.(144)

St Thomas the Apostle (no location or founder)

1554 (5 March) John Sowter, chaplain of the altar of Thomas the Apostle in parish church, demits 1/3 rents from certain burnt lands pertaining to the altar.(145)

St Thomas of Canterbury or Martyr (founded by 1454, further chaplaincy founded by William Strathachan in 1455, no location)

1454 Altar of St Thomas the Martyr included in the inventory of that year, no entries relating to items belonging to it.(146)

#1455 (31 Oct) Chaplaincy founded at the altar by William Strathachan, later provost of Dundee. Tenement from which the annual rents came later known as ‘St Thomas chaplainries land’. Charter gives right of patronage alternately to Scrymgeour’s and Margaret his daughter. She gave this up to Malcolm Guthrie of Kingennie in 1481.(147) (dual patronage still as late as 1587).

1553 (18 July) Brief reference to James Kinloch, chaplain of altar of St Thomas, martyr.(148)

Three Kings of Cologne (founded in 1481 by countess of Errol, no location)

1481 Founded by Dowager Countess of Errol, small endowments.(149)

#1485 Lamb suggests that George Brown, bishop of Dunkeld, founded the altar, After his death in 1514 the patronage was passed to the Lindsay earls of Crawford.(150)

#1517 Confirmation by James V of a charter by earl of Crawford presenting John Carmannoch to the chaplaincy.(151)

#1539 James Erskine was chaplain with the patronage having reverting to the bishop and chapter of Dunkeld.(152)

1553 (9 June) Gilbert Oislar chaplain of the Three Kings, sues in court for payment of annuals.(153)

1567 Thirds of Benefices: Chaplaincy of the altar of the Three Kings of Cologne in Dundee, held by Gilbert Oslar, value £30.(154)

St Triduana (no founder or location)

1556 (5 Oct) James Scrymgeour, chaplain of St Triduana’s chaplainry pursues late William Stewart’s estate for 3m annual owed to the altar.(155)

The only references to this altar are post-reformation.

1583 Triduana’s altar was mentioned as being formerly under the patronage of James Scrymgeour of Dudhope.(156)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church parsonage with Lindores, value 300 marks (£200). Vicarage of Dundee held by John Hamilton, value £60.(157)

Altars and Chaplainries
  • Chaplaincy of the altar of the Three Kings of Cologne in Dundee, held by Gilbert Oslar, value £30.(158)
  • Chaplaincy of the altar of St Stephen held by John Burell, value £14 4s 11d.(159)
  • Chaplaincy at the altar of St Barbara, value 12 marks, held by Robert Abercrombie.(160)

Account of Collectors of Thirds of Benefices (G. Donaldson):

  • Third of vicarage £13 6s 8d.
  • Third of altarage of Three Kings of Cologne £10.
  • Third of altarage of St Monan £1 8s 8d.(161)

Post-Reformation changes

1561 (10 Jan) Council ordinance anent the kirk yard. Yard to be kept honest and close, dykes and styles to be put up again and all stones and loose timber removed.(162)

1562 (7 July) Baillies, treasurer and others ordered to investigate annual rents, feu mails and other duties which pertain to the town in patronage and were assigned to the priests and choristers for ‘maintenance and upholding of idolatry in tyme of ignorance’.(163)

1563 (16 March) Kirk master George Spens ordered to build and repair a convenient place for the master of the grammar school.(164)

1563 (19 Oct) Thomas Logy was elected sacristan , to ring the bell at all times appointed, to order the kirk, keep the same clean, and prepare water for baptism (receives 4 pennies from every person liable for taxation).(165)

1563 (11 Dec) Thomas Deuchar, chaplain of a benefice called ‘lytill sanct John, formerly possessed by George Scott.(166)

1564 (6 Oct) Kirk master ordered to ‘with all diligence put up a huist’ upon the steeple [to do with scaffolding?].(167)

1564 (6 Dec) Council ordains that a bred is to pass through the church every Sunday before the time of preaching for gathering of support for the reparation of the ‘decayit’ church.(168)

1565 (28 Aug) The council entered into a contract for the mending of the windows with Andrew Coupar (formerly chaplain of altar of St Ninian), glass wright and master gunner, under which he received a grant ‘for the space of his lifetime of lodging quilk he occupied …. for  which he actit himself to mend and repair the hail glass windows of the parish kirk, and mak the same sufficient with the provision’ that if he can try (find out) any person breking the glass …forced to pay a fine.(169)

1565 (2 Dec) Commission of baillies and others set up to investigate the annual rents, feu mails and other services and duties pertaining to the chaplaincies that belonged to the town.(170)

1566 (26 June) Council orders James Scrymgeour to pay to them for repair of the church 5 marks that he owes for the feu mail of St Agatha’s chaplainry.(171)

1567 (7 Oct) Ordinance against the bringing of children into the church under the age of 5.(172)

1570 (7 July) John Pantoune and his labourers, James Lowell and Alex Carnegy paid for ‘reparation and theking of the steepil’.(173)

1581 (9 Jan) Council orders that a special collections to be made every Sunday for the ‘reparation of the kirk, revestry and the loft or the steeple’.(174)

[Building the Cross Kirk]

1582 (1 Oct) Council ordinance that no one shall take away stone, lime, timber, clay or other materials from the kirk werk on pain of banishment.(175) Same day Dean of Guild ordered to take over the collection for the building of the cross kirk.(176)

1582 (25 Oct) The council presented a supplication to James VI and the Lords of Council for national help toward the work. The King, with the advice of his council discharged the burgh council of Dundee from payments of all stents and impositions of their burgh for the space of 5 years.(177)

1588 (7 Dec) New prison for fornicators and adulterers to be built ‘above the vault of St Andrews aisle in the east end of the church’.(178)

#c.1588-90 The northern transept had not been included within the building which was constructed across the main edifice and, in consequence, became known as the Cross church. But it was afterwards partly restored, and the kirk master was instructed to get’ the ruff of the nor aisle of the repairit with diligence’ so as to make the place suitable for the sepulchre of various persons of consequence.(179)

1589 (17 Jan) The council [several years having elapsed since first decision to build the church] with the advise of the deacons of the crafts ordains that the Croce church shall be built and repaired with all possible diligence and decide that a tax of 500 marks shall be lifted from all inhabitants in addition to various fines and fees which shall be put toward the work. John Trail nominated to be master of kirk work.(180) 4 Feb ordinance that all rentals, taxations and contributions of the burgh are to be applied to the reparation of the Cruce kirk, up to this date and until completion.(181)

(1589 18 Oct) Kirk master Thomas Davison given £40 from the kirk rental to spend on the building work.(182)

1590 (2 Oct) Council states that more money is needed for the repair of the Cruce church, decides to rely on charity, specifies officers and deacons to seek money from their neighbours, money needed especially for the making of chairs.(183)

#1590 Henry Lyell of Blackness made a contribution of timber to the new building, a memorial commemorating the gift remained on the wall until the destruction of the church.(184)

[Building the East Kirk]

1589 (8 Oct) The building of the Cross church not having made progress a scheme was devised for providing more accommodation in the other one. It was concluded that the old kirk be repaired… and lofts made within. One of the aisles became dilapidated and it was resolved that the ‘East Little Kirk’ (as it became known after the Cross church came into use), shall be repaired in the north aisle thereof (weekly collection organised to pay for it).(185)

Council ordinance reads’ the old kirk shall be reparit and all impediments within the same removed and lofts made within (various deacons and officers instructed to make collections).(186)

#1603 Robert Shetles to be the reader in the ‘new west kirk’.

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Robert Small (1791)): A long section on parish church (St Mary’s?).(187)

 ‘In 1789… a handsome new church (was built) in the situation of the ancient nave’.(188)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (collaboration by several ministers, 1832, revised 1833): A more concise version of changes to St Mary’s.(189)

Notes

1. Cowan, Parishes of medieval Scotland, 51.

2. CPP, 564 ,CSSR, ii, 185.

3. CPL, Clem, 134.

4. CPP, 577.

5. CPL, Ben, 1062.

6. CPL, Ben, 84 & 393.

7. CPP, 628.

8. CPP, 627 & 630.

9. CSSR, iii, 47.

10. CSSR, iv, no.155.

11. CSSR, iv, nos. 508 & 518.

12. Charters, Writs and Public Documents of the Royal Burgh of Dundee, p. 20.

13. Maxwell, History of Old Dundee, p.23 and App 1, pp.564-566 for list of Dundee  burgesses who contributed to roofing the choir with lead in return for lairs.

14. Included in small book which contains the 1454 inventory, Maxwell, History of Old Dundee, App 1, p. 560.

15. CPL, xi, 483-4, CPL, xii, 279

16. Abstract of the Protocol Book of the Burgh of Stirling, 1469-84, 16.

17. CPL, xiii, 432, CPL, xiv, 58, CPL, xv, no. 207.

18. Prot Bk of James Young, 1485-1515, no. 554.

19. Maxwell, History of Old Dundee, App 1, p. 565.

20. CPL, xviii, no.624.

21. CPL, xx, nos. 232 & 234.

22. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxivf.

23. Maxwell, History of Old Dundee, p.74.

24. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, 85v.

25. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, 12 Nov 1551.

26. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 125v.

27. MacKean, ‘What kind of Renaissance Town was Dundee?’, p. 10.

28. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 190v.

29. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 202.

30. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 205v.

31. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 205v.

32. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 209b.

33. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 210v.

34. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 230-50 passim.

35. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 244v.

36. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 278r.

37. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 6.

38. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1555-1558, fol. 20r.

39. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1555-1558, fol. 69v.

40. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1555-1558, fol.72v.

41. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 15.

42. Maxwell provides details on 18 dedications, BVM, Holy Blood, Holy Cross, St Salvator, Andrew, Columba, Cuthbert, Duthac, George/Leonard/All Saints, Katherine, James, Margaret/Thomas Apostle, Mark , Michael, Monan, Severus, Stephen, Three Kings, Maxwell, Old Dundee, pp13-35. He also notes dedications to Agatha, Barbara, Bartholomew, Gregory, Helen, John the Baptist, Lawrence, Magnus, Mary Magdalene, Matthew, Ninian, Sebastian, Thomas of Canterbury and Triduana, but provides no details, ibid, p. 35. Bold denotes those in both Maxwell and Lamb.

43. Lamb gives details of dedications to BVM, Holy Blood, Holy Cross, St Salvator, Agatha, Anne, Anthony, Barbara, Bartholomew, Blaise, Columba, Erasmus/Dionysius, Gregory, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, Katherine, Luke, Mark, Martin, Matthew, Michael, Monan, Ninian, Paul, Peter, Sebastian, Severus, Stephen, Thomas of Canterbury and Three Kings of Cologne. Bold denotes those in both Maxwell and Lamb; Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxiva-h.

44. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 13-14.

45. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 47v.

46. NRS, Scrymgeour of Wedderburn Writs, GD137/3736.

47. NRS, Scrymgeour of Wedderburn Writs, GD137/3737.

48. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1555-1558, fol. 99r.

49. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxiva.

50. Maxwell, History of Old Dundee, App 1, p. 558.

51. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 92v.

52. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 205v.

53. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 278.

54. CPL, Clem, 134.

55. CSSR, iv, no.1267

56. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 24-35.

57. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 297r.

58. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 20.

59. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxivf-g.

60. Charters, Writs and Public Documents of the Royal Burgh of Dundee, p. 26.

61. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings,xxxiv.

62. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, 23 May 1552.

63. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1555-1558, fol. 19.

64. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 113, Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings,xxxiv.

65. NRS, Scrymgeour of Wedderburn Writs, GD137/3768.

66. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 35.

67. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxiv.

68. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxiva.

69. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxiva.

70. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, 9 Aug 1552.

71. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 30.

72. Maxwell, History of Old Dundee, App 1, p. 561.

73. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxiva.

74. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 323v.

75. Kirk, Thirds of Benefices, 399.

76. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxiva.

77. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol.342r.

78. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings,xxxiva.

79. Rentale Dunkeldense, pp.226 & 243, Maxwell, Old Dundee, 33.

80. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 155v.

81. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxivb.

82. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 18-19.

83. CSSR, i, 79, 189-90 & 65.

84. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 20.

85. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxivc.

86. CSSR, iii, 212.

87. NRS, Scrymgeour of Wedderburn Writs, GD137/3719.

88. Maxwell, History of Old Dundee, App 1, p. 559.

89. NRS, Scrymgeour of Wedderburn Writs, GD137/3749.

90. NRS, Scrymgeour of Wedderburn Writs. GD137/3770

91. NRS, Scrymgeour of Wedderburn Writs, GD137/3795

92. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1555-1558, fol. 61r.

93. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 31.

94. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxivc.

95. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 107.

96. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 113.

97. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxivb.

98. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 201v.

99. Maxwell, History of Old Dundee, App 1.

100. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 288.

101. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1555-1558, fol. 73r.

102. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxivd.

103. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxivd, Maxwell, Old Dundee, 27-28.

104. RMS, ii, no. 873. In NRS John Horne Stevenson KC documents, RH4/30, the altar is referred to as of St Margaret the Queen. All other references including Great Seal and mortification, NRS, Scrymgeour of Wedderburn Writs, GD137/3742, just say altar dedicated to St Margaret.

105. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 22-23.

106. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxive.

107. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 301-31.

108. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxivb.

109. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 29-30.

110. NRS, Scrymgeour of Wedderburn Writs, GD137/3223.

111. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fols. 322r, 329v & 339r.

112. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxive.

113. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fols. 294v & 335r.

114. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxive.

115. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 22.

116. Maxwell, History of Old Dundee, App 1, p. 559.

117. NRS, Scrymgeour of Wedderburn Writs, GD137/3849.

118. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 285v.

119. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 32.

120. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxivf.

121. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 54r, Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxivf.

122. Donaldson, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, 11.

123. Maxwell, Old Dundee, p.32.

124. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxivf.

125. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxivf.

126. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 333b.

127. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxivf.

128. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxivf.

129. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxivf.

130. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 284r.

131. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxivg.

132. NRS Henderson Collection, GD76/156.

133. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 27-28.

134. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxivg.

135. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 27-28.

136. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 297r.

137. Registrum de Panmure, p. 196, Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxivh.

138. NRS, Scrymgeour of Wedderburn Writs, GD137/3744.

139. NRS, Scrymgeour of Wedderburn Writs, GD137/3753.

140. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxivh.

141. NRS, Scrymgeour of Wedderburn Writs, GD137/3831.

142. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 322r.

143. Kirk, Thirds of Benefics, 400.

144. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 23-24.

145. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol.291v.

146. Maxwell, History of Old Dundee, App 1, p. 559.

147. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxivh.

148. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 239.

149. Maxwell, Old Dundee, 34.

150. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxivh.

151. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxivh.

152. Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxivh.

153. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 232r

154. Kirk, Thirds of Benefices, 381.

155. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1555-1558, fol. 73r.

156. NRS, Scrymgeour of Wedderburn Writs, GD137/3921.

157. Kirk, books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 32, 36 & 394.

158. Ibid, 381.

159. Ibid, 400.

160. Ibid, 399.

161. Donaldson, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, 10 & 11.

162. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 30.

163. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 94.

164. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 111.

165. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 103, Maxwell, History of Old Dundee, p. 75.

166. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 107.

167. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 69.

168. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol, 116, Maxwell, History of Old Dundee, pp. 76-77.

169. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol . 120, Maxwell, History of Old Dundee, p. 76, Lamb, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, xxxivf.

170. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 70.

171. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 122.

172. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol.85.

173. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 114.

174. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol, 157, Maclaren, History of Dundee, p.202.

175. Maxwell, History of Old Dundee, p. 248.

176. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 165.

177. Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, iii, 520-21.

178. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1587-1603, fol. 20.

179. Maxwell, History of Old Dundee, pp. 252-53.

180. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 21, Maxwell, History of Old Dundee, pp. 250-51

181. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 25.

182. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 40.

183. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 56.

184. Maxwell, History of Old Dundee, p. 251.

185. Maxwell, History of Old Dundee, pp. 257-58.

186. DDARC Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 39.

187. Statistical Account of Scotland, viii, 229.

188. Ibid, 230-31.

189. New Statistical Account of Scotland, xi, 41.

Bibliography

Manuscripts

Dundee District Archives and Record Centre (DDARC)

Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, (2) 1550-1555.

Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, (3) 1555-1558

Dundee Town Council Minutes, (1) 1553-1587

Dundee Town Council Minutes, (2) 1588-1603

National Records of Scotland (NRS)

Henderson Collection, GD76

John Horne Stevenson KC documents, RH4/30

Scrymgeour of Wedderburn Writs, GD137

Printed Primary (also Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, The Exchequer Roll of Scotland, Register of the Great Seal of Scotland etc)

Abstract of the Protocol Book of the Burgh of Stirling, 1469-84, 1896, Edinburgh.

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

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

Calendar of Papal letters to Scotland of Benedict XIII of Avignon, 1976, ed. F. McGurk, (Scottish History Society) Edinburgh.

Calendar of Papal letters to Scotland of Clement VII of Avignon, 1976, ed. C. Burns, (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 1433-47, 1983, ed. A.I. Dunlop and D MacLauchlan, Glasgow.

Charters, Writs and Public Documents of the Royal Burgh of Dundee, 1292-1880, 1880, (Scottish Burgh Records Society), Dundee.

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.

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

Protocol Book of James Young, 1485-1515, 1952, ed. G. Donaldson (Scottish Record Society), Edinburgh.

Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, 1877-1970, ed. J. H. Burton et al, Edinburgh.

Registrum de Panmure, 1874, ed. J. Stuart, Edinburgh.

Rentale Dunkeldense, 1915, ed. R. Hannay (Scottish History Society), Edinburgh.

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

Relevant Secondary works

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

Lamb, A. C., 1895, Dundee. Its Quaint and Historic buildings, Dundee.

Mackean, C., 2009, ‘What kind of Renaissance Town was Dundee?, in C. Maclean, B. Harris and C. A Whatley, Dundee. Renaissance to Enlightenment, Dundee. 1-32.

Maclaren, J., 1874, History of Dundee, Dundee.

Maxwell, A., 1884, History of Old Dundee, narrated out of the Town Council register, Edinburgh.

Maxwell, A., 1891, Old Dundee. Ecclesiastical, Burghal and Social, prior to the Reformation, Edinburgh.

Architectural description

Dundee was granted to the Tironensian abbey of Lindores by the founder of that abbey, David earl of Huntingdon, at a date between 1191 and 1195.(1) The church is assumed to have been damaged in the course of English onslaughts in both 1296 and 1385,(2) with consequent need for repairs, and the provision in 1387 of a 100-day indulgence for those who visit the altar of the Holy Rood in the church, which was said to have been re-founded, may be indicative of major works after the second of those attacks.(3)

The process of rebuilding the church to its final late medieval form, however, appears to have begun in 1443. In that year an indenture was drawn up between the abbot of Lindores and the town of Dundee, by which the town agreed to undertake the whole cost of rebuilding and fitting out the choir, which strictly speaking was the abbey’s responsibility, in return for an annual rent of five marks.(4) By 1461 the roof of the choir was being covered with lead,(5) and work appears already to have moved on to the transepts and nave, since in 1459 there is a reference to the altar of St Stephen on the west side of the door within the parish church, which presumably means the nave.(6) The end of the building project, if not the fitting out, is likely to have been in sight with the completion of the main body of the west tower, which was presumably in about 1495, when a great bell was donated.(7)

Amongst the large number of altar endowments for which there are records, several are of particular interest for the description of the location of those altars, and although some of them post-date a disastrous fire caused by English forces in 1547, it is likely that those that had predecessors continued in the same locations. The altar of Sts Margaret and Thomas, for example, was said to be behind the high altar in 1471,(8) while in about 1500 the altar of Sts Erasmus and Dionysius was at the north-east corner of the church.(9) The altar of the Holy Blood was in 1553 stated to be on the south side at the second pier from the choir gable.(10) An altar of particular structural interest may be that of St Andrew, which is said to have been at the east end of the choir.(11) This may have been contained within an architecturally emphasised two-storeyed chapel that is shown in early views at the east end of the south aisle; the reason for thinking this is that in 1588 it was decreed that a prison for fornicators and adulterers should be formed above the vault of St Andrew’s Aisle at the east end of the church,(12) and that two-storeyed chapel is a part of the building that appears likely to fit that description.

Repairs to the choir and transepts were carried out over an extended period after the fire of 1547. In 1552 the Kirk Master, William Kinlothie, entered into an agreement with the wright Patone Black and his sons Andrew and George to construct the new choir roof,(13) and he received payment for this in the following year.(14) Although repairs were evidently also carried out on the nave, it is not clear if these were ever completed, and certainly at some stage the western limb of the church was abandoned and demolished, as is clear from Thomas Pennant’s depiction of the tower from the north east as a free-standing structure in 1776.

There were repairs to the steeple and its roof in 1570,(15) but soon afterwards the decision was apparently reached that the transepts should be repaired for a second congregation, and arrangements were made for collections to pay for this to be taken,(16) The work evidently progressed slowly, however, and in 1589 it was decided that in the meantime lofts should be built in the choir to accommodate additional numbers.(17) The tower evidently required periodic works, and in 1643 John Mylne undertook to repair its stair turret.(18)

A new church was eventually built on the site of the western two-thirds of the nave in 1787-9, to the designs of Samuel Bell. It was set out as a broad aisle-less preaching box, with minimal Gothicism in the form of four bays of Y-traceried windows and a wall-head frieze decorated with quatrefoils. That part is currently known as the Steeple Kirk. In 1841 yet another of the disastrous fires that the church at Dundee suffered destroyed what remained of the medieval choir and transepts, and new churches were built on their sites to the designs of William Burn, assisted by David Bryce. The East Church, in the choir, was completed between 1842 and 1844, and what was known as the South Church, in the transepts and eastern bays of the nave, between 1846 and 1847.(19) The church in the choir is now known as St Mary’s, or the Town Kirk, while the church in the transepts goes by the name of the Mary Slessor Centre ande is linked with the Steeple Kirk.

In his designs for the new two churches Burn broadly reflected the basic forms of their medieval predecessor. Thus, the choir was given aisles and a clearstorey, and the transepts were of the same height as the choir but without aisles, though the new transepts appear to have been of considerably less projection than their predecessors. The architectural vocabulary, however, bore no relationship to what had been there before, and we have to rely on early views to obtain any idea of the medieval appearance of those parts. No medieval fabric is visible in the walls of Burn’s two churches, though it may be suspected that the footprint of the East Church is essentially the same as that of the medieval choir, with the possibility that he utilised at least part of the medieval foundations. 

On the indications of those views, it appears that, despite having been so extensively adapted for reformed worship on a number of occasions, until the fire of 1841, the shells of the churches that came to occupy the choir and transepts were still essentially medieval in form. One of the most useful engravings for reaching an understanding of what remained of the medieval church is the work of William Young and James Johnstone, which was published in 1822.(20) This shows the church from the south east, from which it is possible to see that the choir had an aisle on each side, with a low clearstorey. At the east end of the south aisle, where it was demarcated from the rest of the aisle by a buttress, was a slightly salient two-storeyed structure with a double-pitched roof running from south to north, and a polygonal stair turret capped by a tall spirelet giving access to the upper storey. This is the structure that it has been suggested above may have been St Andrew’s Chapel.

The south aisle is shown as being lit by a most unusual series of closely spaced rectangular windows that presumably date from the post-1547 - and probably post-Reformation - repairs. In the east gable and the south face of the lower storey of the south-east chapel are large window arches of presumably fifteenth-century origin, which occupy much of the space available and which, in the former case, must have extended well into the area of the roof. These are shown as being partly blocked, and with a number of elongated rectangular windows within the blocking. The choir roof appears not to have extended back into that of the transept, and thus presumably stopped against a west gable. Other views show what appears to have been a sacristy on the north side of the choir. The dimensions of the choir are given in Dundee Delineated  as 95 feet (28.95 metres) long by 54 feet (16.5 metres) high and 29 feet (8.8 metres) wide, with aisles of 14 feet 6 inches (4.5 metres) width.

The roof of the transepts evidently ran through unbroken from south to north. They were without aisles, and the south transept was braced by diagonal buttresses capped by pinnacles at the angles. Its length is said to have been 174 feet (53 metres), its height the same as that of the choir, and its breadth 44 feet (13.5 metres). An engraving of 1857 by D. Clark and Charles Young Roger, which depicts the church as it was in 1811, shows that, like the east wall of the choir, the south wall of the transept had a very large window arch that rose up well into the gable. This arch was similarly blocked and pierced by an array of rectangular windows by the time the view was drawn.

The Clark and Roger view makes clear that the church of 1787-9, on the site of the nave, stopped well to the west of the transept, with a number of smaller structures between the two parts. Construction of that church destroyed any upstanding evidence for the design of the nave, which is said to have been 120 feet (36.8 metres) long. However, an engraving of the tower from the north east published by Thomas Pennant appears to show that the central vessel of the nave rose to the same height as the church of the 1780s,(21) since a roof crease depicted on that view is in approximately the same position as the present roof. More significantly for our understanding of the nave, the view shows the western respond and arch springer of a south arcade, indicating that there must have been an aisle, and that there was sufficient height of wall above the arcade for a clearstorey on that side. What is depicted on the north side is less certain, though it might be interpreted as evidence for one arcade wall having been superseded by another; however, whatever the case, there can be little doubt that the nave was flanked by an aisle down each side.

As a result of all these changes, the only identifiably surviving part of the medieval church is now the magnificent west tower, which extends to a height of about 47.5 metres, and is by far the finest thing of its kind in Scotland. It rises through six external stages, with the western corners of the two lower stages having angle buttresses with recessed tabernacles, which terminate in miniature pinnacles and flyers at the corners. The rest of the tower’s height is unbuttressed.

At the base of the tower’s west face is a doorway which has a depressed rounded arch embracing a pair of semi-circular openings carried on a trumeau, and above this is a six light window with massive sub-arches containing circlets with spiralling daggers. Despite differences of detailing, the treatment of these two stages is comparable to what is to be seen in the west front at Haddington St Mary, and it would be difficult not to conclude that the masons responsible in each case were either closely aware of each other’s work, or were looking to similar sources of ideas. Unfortunately the carving of the west door has been subject to extremely insensitive modern recutting in the 1960s, and no longer represents what used to be there. MacGibbon and Ross show a shield with the arms of Brechin below a roundel with a relief carving of the Virgin and Child.(22) There is now instead a shield with a star below what may be intended as a lily pot.

At the stage above the west window is a round-headed window containing a circlet with six circular quatrefoils around a central quatrefoil,(23) and at the next level there are Y-traceried windows in the west and south faces. There are panels with carved figures that are now sadly weathered in the east and south faces of the tower. That on the east face is a seated figure resting on a head corbel within a frame rising into an ogee flip; it could be a representation of Christ in majesty. The figure on the south face stands on a foliate head corbel, and is within a rectangular frame; the figure is bearded and wears a robe that reaches to the ground.

The most striking feature of the design of the Dundee tower is the way in which the two upper storeys are inset from the lower storeys, creating a telescope-like appearance, and with the walkway at the junction of the two parts being marked by an openwork parapet punctuated by miniature pinnacles, the central one on the west side having a sunken tabernacle containing a grotesquely recut image of the Virgin and Child. The upper storeys have three single-light windows at the lower level and two at the upper, except on the north side where the stair turret means there is space for only two and one.

The tower is capped by a second openwork parapet finished with foliate cresting, and, like the lower parapet, it is punctuated by miniature pinnacles. Set back behind the parapet is a rather pedestrian cap house with a low double-pitched roof, which perhaps dates from the operations of the 1570s. But there is strong internal evidence that the original intention was that the tower should be surmounted by a crown steeple with eight flyers, like that at Edinburgh St Giles and that intended for Haddington St Mary.    

Internally the two lower stages of the tower are treated as a single soaring space, and are covered by a tierceron vault with ridge ribs pierced for bell ropes and with a central bell hole; there was a full-height arch opening from that level towards the nave, which is now largely blocked. It is not entirely certain that this vault represents the original intention. In the internal angles of the tower are substantial three quarter shafts with moulded capitals, and on the east side those capitals extend into the capitals of the respond of the arch towards the nave. However, at the same level as those caps, along the north and south walls there are five substantial corbels that appear to have been intended for a floor. The vault itself springs from triplets of small shafts with foliate capitals that rise above the main shafts, and that are of a very different scale from those main shafts. On this basis, the construction of the vault evidently followed on from some change of intention, though it is not clear what that change may have involved.

Internally, the intention to construct an eight-flyer crown steeple is made clear from the provision of pilaster-like projections carried on substantial corbels in the angles and at the centre of the walls within the tower’s top storey. These continue up into the later cap house before terminating at an arbitrary level. Within that later cap house there is also a fireplace, suggesting that the top of the tower may have been intended to serve as a look-out point when needed, a not unnatural function at a church that had suffered more than once from sea-borne attacks.

As has been said, the most striking feature of the tower’s design is it telescoped form, with the upper storeys recessed behind a parapet. This is a type of design that is widespread in the Low Countries, the earliest example of which may have been the enormous tower at the west end of Utrecht Cathedral, where the main part was built between 1321 and 1382.(24) There were many later examples in the coastal provinces of the Netherlands that were closer in scale to that at Dundee, however, which would have provided more approachable models.(25) These include fine towers at Amerongen and Culemborg, and there may have been at least one example in Bruges in the church of St Walburgha, on the evidence of the map by Marcus Gheerarts of 1562.

In a port that relied for much of its wealth on trade with the Low Countries, it is perhaps not surprising that, as one of the means of creating an architectural tour de force at the building that was the greatest symbol of the burgh’s civic pride, architectural inspiration should have been drawn from there. Even now, when there are so many high-rise buildings in its vicinity, it provides a magnificent landmark as seen from the Tay. In some support of the possibility that models in the Low Countries were being emulated, it may be reiterated that in the design of the west door and the window above it, there are clear similarities with those in the west front of Haddington St Mary, the overall design of which also seems likely to have depended heavily on Netherlandish prototypes.

Notes

1. Chartulary of the Abbey of Lindores, 1195-1479, ed. John Dowden, Scottish History Society, 1903, nos iii and xciii.

2. Alexander Maxwell, Old Dundee, Ecclesiastical, Burghal and Social, Edinburgh and Dundee, 1891, p. 7.

3. Calendar of Papal Letters to Scotland of Clement VII of Avignon, 1378-1394, ed. Charles Burns, Scottish History Society, 1976, p. 134.

4. Charters, Writs and Public Documents of the Royal Burgh of Dundee, ed. William Hay, Scottish Burgh Records Society, 1880, p. 20.

5. Maxwell, Old Dundee, p. 10.

6. National Records of Scotland, Scymgeour of Wedderburn Writs, GD 137/3753.

7. Maxwell, Old Dundee, pp. 13-14.

8. Maxwell, Old Dundee, pp. 22-23.

9. A.C. Lamb, Dundee, its quaint and historic buildings, Dundee, 1895, xxxivb.

10. Dundee District Archives and record Centre, Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 205v.

11. Maxwell, Old Dundee, p. 35.

12. Dundee District Archives and record Centre, Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1587-1603, fol. 20.

13. Dundee District Archives and record Centre, Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 190v.

14. Dundee District Archives and record Centre, Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1550-1555, fol. 210v.

15. Dundee District Archives and record Centre, Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 114.

16. Dundee District Archives and record Centre, Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fol. 165.

17. Dundee District Archives and record Centre, Dundee Town Council Minutes, 1553-1587, fols 25 and 56.

18. Robert Scott Mylne, The Master Masons to the Crown of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1893, p. 127.

19. Howard Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, New Haven and London, 2008, p. 188; John Gifford, The Buildings of Scotland, Dundee and Angus, New Haven and London, 2012, pp. 86-92.

20. In Dundee Delineated, Dundee 1822, facing page 58.

21. Thomas Pennant, A Tour in Scotland and Voyage to the Hebrides, 1772, pt 2, Chester, 1776, pl. xii.

22. David MacGibbon and Thomas Ross, the Ecclesiastical Architecture of Scotland, vol. 3, Edinburgh, 1897, p. 126.

23. This tracery was renewed in restoration by Gilbert Scott in 1871-3, and the original form pieces eventually found their way into a rockery in Balgay Park. See Adrian Cox and David Perry, ‘Sculptured stones in Balgay Park, Dundee, Tayside and Fife Archaeological Journal, vol. 11, 2005, pp. 100-02.

24. E.J. Haslinghuis and C.J.A.C. Peeters, De dom van Utrecht, (De Nederlandse Monumenten van Geschiedenis en Kunst), the Hague, 1965, pp. 404–60.

25. A number of these towers are illustrated in M.D. Ozinga, De Gothishe Kerkelijke Bouwkunst, Amsterdam, 1953, pls 12a–13b and 15.   

Map

Images

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

  • 1. Dundee Church, exterior, from south west

  • 2. Dundee Church (Dundee delineated, 1822, Wm Young & Jas Johnstone)

  • 3. Dundee Church (Pennant, 1776)

  • 4. Dundee Church tower (Billings)

  • 5. Dundee Church, exterior, from east

  • 6. Dundee Church, exterior, from north east

  • 7. Dundee Church, exterior, from south

  • 8. Dundee Church, exterior, from south east, 1

  • 9. Dundee Church, exterior, from south east 2

  • 10. Dundee Church, exterior, from south east 3

  • 11. Dundee Church, exterior, south transept and east bays of nave

  • 12. Dundee Church, balustrade statue

  • 13. Dundee Church, east face detail

  • 14. Dundee Church, exterior, cap house

  • 15. Dundee Church, exterior, image on west mid-height parapet

  • 16. Dundee Church, exterior, roofs

  • 17. Dundee Church, depiction of fire

  • 18. Dundee Church, exterior, tower and nave from south east

  • 19. Dundee Church, exterior, tower from south west, 1

  • 20. Dundee Church, exterior, tower from south west, 2

  • 21. Dundee Church, exterior, tower from west

  • 22. Dundee Church, exterior, tower, image on east face

  • 23. Dundee Church, exterior, tower, image on south face

  • 24. Dundee Church, exterior, tower, mid-height walkway, 1

  • 25. Dundee Church, exterior, tower, mid-height walkway, 2

  • 26. Dundee Church, exterior, tower, walkway and cap house

  • 27. Dundee Church, exterior, west door

  • 28. Dundee Church, exterior, west door and window

  • 29. Dundee Church, exterior, west door, north cap

  • 30. Dundee Church, interior, St Mary's, looking east

  • 31. Dundee Church, interior, St Mary's, looking east before re-ordering

  • 32. Dundee Church, interior, St Mary's, looking west

  • 33. Dundee Church, interior, Steeple Kirk, looking north west

  • 34. Dundee Church, interior, Steeple Kirk, looking south east

  • 35. Dundee Church, interior, Steeple Kirk, vestibule

  • 36. Dundee Church, interior, tower, architectural fragments, 1

  • 37. Dundee Church, interior, tower, architectural fragments, 2

  • 38. Dundee Church, interior, tower, architectural fragments, 3

  • 39. Dundee Church, interior, tower, architectural fragments, 4

  • 40. Dundee Church, interior, tower, bell chamber

  • 41. Dundee Church, interior, tower, bell chamber window rear-arches

  • 42. Dundee Church, interior, tower, bell chamber, seating for crown steeple flyers, 1

  • 43. Dundee Church, interior, tower, bell chamber, seating for crown steeple flyers, 2

  • 44. Dundee Church, interior, tower, cap house fitreplace

  • 45. Dundee Church, interior, tower, caphouse, seating for crown steeple flyers

  • 46. Dundee Church, interior, tower, chamber above vault

  • 47. Dundee Church, interior, tower, clock chamber

  • 48. Dundee Church, interior, tower, east arch north respond, 1

  • 49. Dundee Church, interior, tower, east arch north respond, 2

  • 50. Dundee Church, interior, tower, ringing chamber

  • 51. Dundee Church, interior, tower, upper flight of stair

  • 52. Dundee Church, interior, tower, vault

  • 53. Dundee Church, interior, tower, vault shaft cap, 1

  • 54. Dundee Church, interior, tower, vault shaft cap, 2

  • 55. Dundee Church, interior, transept looking north

  • 56. Dundee Church, interior, transept, looking south