Navar Parish Church

Navar churchyard

Summary description

Abandoned in the early eighteenth century, leaving only faint traces.

Historical outline

In common with most of the churches in Brechin diocese whose revenues were annexed to support a prebend in the cathedral, almost no historical record has survived of the pre-Reformation church at Navar.  The church of Navar, apparently annexed to the chancellory of Brechin, was recorded in Bagimond’s Roll in 1274, assessed for taxation at a value of 12 shillings, with 3 shillings more for the chancellor.(1)  At the Reformation the parsonage and vicarage were still annexed to the chancellor’s prebend.(2)

Notes

1. SHS Misc, vi, 52.

2. Cowan, Parishes, 154.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: The parsonage and vicarage were annexed to Brechin cathedral at the time of the Reformation; this had been the situation since at least 1274.(1)

[No references to the church in the pre-Reformation sources]

Account of Collectors of Thirds of Benefices (G. Donaldson): Third of parsonage £25 15s 1/3d.(2)

1587 Pension from the parsonage of Navar paid to minister John Hepburn.(3)

1637 (6 Jan) The Bishop of Brechin and Laird of Dun convened at the parish church of Lethnot to consider the true estate of church of Lethnot and consider whether that church and the church of Lochlee can be conjoined to Navar. The text notes that the kirk of Lethnot stands distant from the kirk of Lochee by 7 miles. These churches have been served by one minister for some time. The parish lies about a mile from the kirk by the river Esk. Lethnot has 140 communicants, Lochlee has 240 communicants. The kirk of Navar stands about a mile from the kirk of Lethnot (to the west) across the water over which there is no bridge or boat the water being impassable in winter. The kirk itself being the southernmost house in the parish. There are 140 communicants in Navar. The bishop and Laird recommend that Lochee and Lethnot be joined to Navar.(4)

1641 (19 Aug) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Brechin.(5)

1655 (12 July) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Brechin; the brethren enquire of the minister and elders how the fabric of the church is maintained; they reply ‘by penalties and collectors. The presbytery enjoins them to stent the heritors for maintenance thereof and not to take the charity collected for the poor for public use. The elders complain that the preacher does not reside there as he has no habitable manse. The minister answers that when he tried to organised a stent to repair the manse the heritors refused.(6)

1723 (12 Mar) Report from the Lords of Plantation of churches who have passed an act disjoining the church of Lethnot from Lochlee and the annexation therof to Navar. Extended report to the Presbytery on 1 May notes that Lochlee is 8 miles in length and has 100 examinable persons. The parishes of Lethnot and Navar if united would be about 4 miles in length and 4 in breadth with around 400 examinable persons. After the union, ratified by the sessions and presbytery, the church of Lethnot will become the meeting place for both parishes and be enlarged to that end. It is noted that the church of Navar is totally ruinous and the manse uninhabitable.(7)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev John Taylor, 1791): ‘The church is probably two or three hundred years old’.(8)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Alexander Gardner): [Parish united to Lethnot in 1723, parish church in Lethnot. No reference in either account to earlier church buildings in the parish of Navar]

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 154.

2. Donaldson, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, 9.

3. Registrum Brechinensis, ii, no. 368.

4. NRS Navar: Copies (2) of report of visitation of the parishes of Navar, Lethnot and Loghlie by commissioners appointed by the Commissioners for Surrenders and Teinds, GD45/13/181.

5. NRS Presbytery of Brechin, Minutes, 1639-1661, CH2/40/1, fol. 27.

6. NRS Presbytery of Brechin, Minutes, 1639-1661, CH2/40/1, fols. 332-335.

7. NRS Presbytery of Brechin, Minutes, 1721-1729, CH2/40/8, fols. 136-145.

8. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1791), iv, 13.

Bibliography

NRS Navar: Copies (2) of report of visitation of the parishes of Navar, Lethnot and Loghlie by commissioners appointed by the Commissioners for Surrenders and Teinds, GD45/13/181.

NRS Presbytery of Brechin, Minutes, 1639-1661, CH2/40/1.

NRS Presbytery of Brechin, Minutes, 1721-1729, CH2/40/8.

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

Donaldson, G., 1949, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, (Scottish History Society), Edinburgh.

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

Registrum Episcopatus Brechinensis, 1856, ed. C. Innes (Bannatyne Club), Edinburgh, i.

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

Architectural description

Both the parsonage and vicarage of Navar were annexed to the chancellory of Brechin Cathedral, certainly by the Reformation, and possibly as early as Bagimond’s Roll in 1274.(1)

On 6 January 1637 the Bishop of Brechin and laird of Dun together suggested that the parishes of Lochee and Lethnot should be joined to that of Navar.(2) On 12 March 1723, however, it was decided that Lethnot should be disjoined from Lochee and annexed to Navar; Lethnot was to be enlarged as the place of worship, and it was said that the church at Navar was in a ruinous condition.(3)

No more than faint traces of the church of Navar survive in the graveyard at NO 52996 67537. Apart from a number of gravestones, the only structure is a masonry pier capped by a collapsing bellcote. There is said to have been an inscription on it that stated ‘This bell-house was built in the year 1773’, with a list of those who had subscribed to its construction.(4) It appears to have had no connection with the church, which had been abandoned a half-century earlier.

Notes

1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 154.

2. National Records of Scotland, GD 45/13/181.

3. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Brechin, Minutes, 1721-29, CH2/40/8, fols 136-45.

4. A. Jervise, The History and Traditions of the Land of the Lindsays in Angus and Mearns, Edinburgh, 1853, p. 133.

Map

Images

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  • 1. Navar churchyard

  • 2. Navar churchyard, bell tower