Tweedsmuir Parish Kirk (1874 - Present)

The current Parish Kirk (Established Church of Scotland) was built in 1874 replacing the previous church built in 1648 that is considered as the first post-reformation church on the site.  Although the new Kirk was built in 1648 the Kirk was founded in 1644 and a Minister - Alexander Trotter appointed then.  More about the previous church on page 1.3.1a Tweedsmuir Kirk 1648-1874.  The mound on which the church is built was known as Quarter Knowe/Chapel Knowe and has a very complex history and it is certain that there was a religous building/site in pre-reformation times  and probabley much earlier - more about this on page 1.3.3. Quarter Knowe. Information about the Kirkyard can be found on page 1.3.2. Kirkyard.

The current Kirk built in 1874 was designed by John Lessels (1809-1883).  Lessels was a Scottish architect who designed and modified buildings in Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders.  One of his designs was for the porte-cochère at Stobo Castle in 1849(4) that has similarities with the polygonal tower and vertical slit windows of the stair tower at Tweedsmuir Kirk.  Lessels also did restoration work on Stobo Kirk in 1863.(4)  However there was criticism regarding his work at Stobo as it is claimed that he destroyed some of the original fabric of the ancient building.   From where the decision to completely rebuild the new Tweedsmuir Kirk from scratch is unknown - the original building would appear to have been servicable - see page 1.3.1.a. Tweedsmuir First Kirk 1648-1874.  The new Tweedsmuir building is Norman T plan gabled with tower and broach spire, whinstone with red sandstone dressings and spire.(5)  Lessels did make some concessions in the new build - for instance no fitted organ, no stained glass and a plain tiled floor.  Also the surround of the main door could have been a nod towards the east window of the old Kirk - see below.   



A feature of the exterior of the building along with the polygonal stair tower with the slit windows is the ornate arched doorway.   This has two sculptured heads, that are from Greek mythology, as guardians on either side of the doorway.  The head on the left side of the doorway would be the heavily bearded Zeus - King of the Gods with his sister Hestia, a veiled young woman heavily draped - Godess of the hearth and home on the right of the doorway. Closeups of Hestia and Zeus above.  

The doorway is said to have been inspired by a doorway at Dryburgh Abbey(5) - see image on left above which is one of several similar doorways at Dryburgh.  The surround of the doorway could also have been a nod to the surround of the east window of the Old Church - see image above right that also shows the Memorial Plaque.

However the Crown of Thorns window at Melrose Abbey may also have had some influence, regarding the two heads - male on the left with crown and female on the right - on either side of the doorway - see image below.(6)




The war memorial in the vestibule was made from an oak tree planted by Sir Walter Scott at Abbotsford. 


The memorial covers most of the east wall of the vestibule - unfortunately due to the small size of the vestibule one cannot stand far enough back to appreciate far less try and photograph the wall.  More information on the Memorial can be found the Tweedsmuir War Memorial page of this site. Apart from the War Memorial the vestibule, at one time, also housed the Community Notice Board - George Burnett in his book Companion to Tweed published in 1938(7) noted the following when entering Tweedmuir Kirk "I wish a law was made prohibiting the fixture in the porches of these old churches of incongrous notices and warnings.   The wart disease of potatoes and fever in swine are serious matters no doubt, but they are scarcely intimations of the holiness within.   Tweedsmuir Kirk, with its plain whitewash is still a symbol of the uncomprising spirit of the Covenanters."

Inside are some nice stained glass windows. The first stained glass window to be installed in the church would be the main window in the east gable, by Ballantyne and Gardiner of Edinburgh 1902 - shown on left.   This appropriately depicts Saint Paul with bible and sword in preaching mode as this window is dedicated to the Rev. Professor John Ker D.D. (1819-1886),(8) latterly Professor of Practical Training at the United Prebyterian New College in Edinburgh.   Although the window depicts Saint Paul the quotation - Glory to God in the highest and Peace on earth and goodwill to all men is from Luke 2:14 in the King James bible.   Professor John Ker was unmarried.  There is also a plaque on the gable end of the Bield, where he was born, son of William Ker a dairyman and Janet Ballantine.  There is a pair of "Elders Chairs" in the Kirk presented by one of his relatives - Elizabeth J Boog Watson - see below. Although he was buried in Edinburgh his name is remembered on the family headstone in the Kirkyard.  There is also a framed photograph mounted at the rear pew at the right hand access door.   Above the Ker window is another smallish central light depicting The Lamb and Flag - contrary to what had been recorded previously the cross on the flag is yellow and not red.   In this prominent position above the main window - see image above - a red cross on the flag would have been inappropriate for a Covenanting Kirk as it would seem, to some, to allude to Episcopacy. 

The double window in the north gable depicts Jesus and Peter with two other disciples - the inscription Feed My Sheep is from John 21:17.   This window is in memory of John Martin and Margaret  Hope, long resident in the Parish erected by their son John Martin, Chicago USA. (John Martin died in 1850 and Margaret Hope in 1860 - Margaret was also known as Margaret Loch Hope and was descended from the Hope family of Hawkshaws noted Covenanters.  Margaret and her two husbands are buried in the kirkyard.   For more about Margaret Hope go to her Family Tree No TWM01 page

Another window depicts the parable of the Sower and has the inscription from Luke 18 The seed is the spirit of God. and bears the legend In Loving Memory of my forebearers who worshipped in these uplands , dedicated by Nanette Scott-Collins, Scranton PA, USA.   Who these forebearers were was a bit of a puzzle. However, diligent research has revealed (Jan 2015), that the inscription, not the window itself, could be in the wrong church!  Details of this research with family tree can be found on the Scott Collins page.  

A sister window to the Sower is the Reaper with the inscription from Galatians 6:8 He that soweth to the spirit shall of the spirit reap life everlasting.  This window is dedicated to Thomas Geddes a JP in Edinburgh, born in Tweedsmuir in 1838 and d1919.  A further Geddes window is dedicated to the parents of the above Thomas namely John Geddes b1909 d1894 and Mary Hamilton b1812 and d1904.  This Geddes window has the inscription Be faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life which is from Revelations 2.10.   The window depicts an old man reading a Bible - he has armour below his cloak but with an empty scabbard indicating that he is a retired soldier.  In the background is a banner with a red cross indicating that he was a Crusader. 

I believe that there used to be two rows of "Elders" pews on either side of the Kirk and not one each side as at present.   These pews would have been for the Elders on one side and for the choir and perhaps a pew for the family of the Minister on the other side.   What leads me to this conclusion is that if these pews had been designed for only one pew on each side then the front of these pews would be vertical like the front pew in the body of the Kirk.   However these pews have sloping fronts indicating that these fronts are in fact the sloping backs of another row of pews.

An image of 1952(9) shows that the pulpit used to be on the right hand side of the church and not on the left as at present - see below.   The move of the pulpit may have been coincidental with the removal of the above mentioned pews.   The image does seem to show that the pulpit used to be more towards the centre of the Kirk and is obscuring part of the east window - the pulpit would have been there first from 1874 with the window being added in 1902.   The removal of a side pew would allow the pulpit to be sited clear of the window as at present.  The section of floor in view shows that it was possibly tiled with a decorative edging - a favourite Victorian feature  however it was more likely grills for the heating.   The kirk was probably floored with wood that was subsequentlycovered with a  carpet of some sort before being covered with a fitted carpet in recent times.





Also in the church is the 1662 date stone from the original manse - more about this on page 1.3.1.a. Tweedsmuir First Kirk 1648-1874.  Also a brass memorial plaque to the Rev.  David Welsh D.D. who was the Moderator of the General Assembly in 1843 and who famously walked out with 121 Ministers and 73 Elders to form The Free Church.   The plaque however, is silent on the forming of the Free Church and Dr. Welsh's involvment!  Tweedsmuir claims Dr David Welsh as one of their own but he in fact was born in 1793 just over the County and Parish boundary at Braefoot Farm, Ericstane.  His parents- David and Margaret Welsh - did farm Earlshaugh which is at the south end of Tweedsmuir Parish  and they and several members of their family are buried in Tweedsmuir Kirkyard.   Dr Welsh himself is buried in St Cuthburts in Edinburgh - he died in 1845.   There is a framed photograph at the rear pew at the right hand access door.  


The following two WW1 memorial plaques dedicated to two cousins both named Tom Welsh can be found inside Tweedsmuir Kirk.  More information on this family can be found on The Welsh Family of Tweedsmuir page.


There are four further wall commemorative plaques:-

With Thanksgiving to God in Commemoration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Ordination and Induction of the Reverend William S. Crocket D.D. as Minister of Tweedsmuir 31st July 1894 - 31st July 1944.   A Token of Appreciation and Gratitude from his Friends. 

With Thanksgiving to God.  To the Dear memory of Mary Ross.  For duration of Fifty years been helpful wife of the Reverend W.S. Crocket D.D. Minister of this Parish.   Born October 4th 1866, Wedded Ostober 23rd 1894, Passed to Higher Service January 5th 1944.   A Truly Great and Gracious Women.

To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of William and Janet Anderson of Glenveg.  Both Life Members of this Church. In which William was an Elder for fifty years 1906-1956.   The Electric Lighting in this Church has been installed by their family, September 1957.  

To the Glory of God and in loving rememberance of RACHEL G. ANDERSON, Greenbraes, 1895-1977.  (Rachel Gibson Somerville married William Anderson of Glenveg in Edinburgh 30-09-1937)

In the church there are two pairs of wooden "Elders" chairs on the platform.

One pair has the following memorial plaque on both chairs:- Francis Waldo Channon, Violinist, born Plymouth 1898, died Edinburgh 1957. Praise him upon the strings, Ps. 150.   Does anyone know who Francis was and why he is remembered in the Tweedsmuir Parish Kirk?     Research has yielded some further information and this can be found on the Francis Waldo Channon page.

The second pair of chairs has the following memorial plaque on both chairs :- In memory of Jane Ballantyne Boog Watson, elder daughter of William Nairn and Elizabeth Ker and neice of the Rev. Professor John Ker D.D. presented by their daughter Elizabeth J. Boog Watson, 1957.

The impressive timber stand for the bowl of the font has the following memorial plaque :- To the memory of Jane Heard Mundell, Lilybank Tweedsmuir, 22nd July 1920.  The baptismal bowl itself is a pewter bowl, with a possible pewter mark is and is inscribed Tweedsmuir Kirk 1783.   This date indicates that the font bowl dates from the previous  Kirk and has the same date as a pair of communion cups.

The Communion Table has the following ingraved into the wood :- For the Kirk Tweedsmuir 1903 along one side and Do This In Rememberance of Me. along the other.

The excellent organ has the following memorial plaque:-  To the Glory of God and for the Parish and People of Tweedsmuir.   Presented in memory of Lawrence and Lella Tweedie Stodart and their son Oliver (Mac).   Dedicated on 1st October 1995. 

There are important surviving relics of the previous Kirk that have tangible links to the current building.   One being the kirk bell dated 1773 and also Sacremental Vessels in the form of three pairs of communion cups dated 1783, 1810 and 1838 respectively and bread patens.   The cups dated 1783 are co-dated with the pewter font bowl mentioned above.   There is also an armorial plaque outside leaning against the north facing wall - more about this very important plaque in 1.3.1a Tweedsmuir Kirk 1648-1874.  Another relic is the symbolic spy-hole in the Kirk door - more about this on page 1.3.1.c. Church door spy-hole. 

Because of the proximity of the headstones surrounding and predating the present Kirk it has to be assumed that the present Kirk, being wider than the previous Kirk, does cover the foot print of the previous Kirk.

 View of Kirk on left showing the modern single gate and below the previous double access gate.   The large trees on either side of the double gate have sadly gone.  The double gate has now been redeployed along with the support pillars to give access from the car-park to the lower new section of the Kirkyard.   The new section, of approx a third of an acre, was added in 1952.  The image below is dated to circa 1933.   


List of the Ministers.

John Dick 1860- 1894 (m. Eleanora Littledale - their daughter Eleanora Littledale Dick married Thomas Tweedie Stodart of Oliver.)

 William S Crockett D.D. 1894-1945. (m. Mary Ross)

 George Gray 1945-1959.

George Bulloch 1959-1980. (In 1960 Tweedsmuir Parish combined with Stobo & Drumelzier Parishes and George Bulloch the Minister of Stobo & Drumelzier became the Minster for the combined three Parishes. In 1977 the three Parishes combined with Broughton/Glenholm/Kilbucho and Skirling to form the Parishes of Upper Tweed.)

John D Rennie 1980-1996 Minister of Parishes of Upper Tweed.

Rachel Dobie 1998-2007

 Robert Milne 2008-2017 

Tony Foley 2017-2018 (Locum) 

John Smith 2019 (Locum)



1)  Robson, Michael; Surnames and Clansmen Border Family History in Earlier Days, Michael Robson, Isle of Lewis, 1998. p131.

2)  Paton, Henry, Editor; Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, Third Series, General Register House, Edinburgh, 1924. Vol 9 p498. 

3)  National Archives of Scotland, Old Parochial Records, Kirk Session Records, Tweedsmuir, 1644-1690.

4)   Cruft, Kitty, Dunbar, John, Fawcett, Richard; The Buildings of Scotland-Borders, Yale University Press, USA, 2006. pp 699-701.

5)  Strang, Alexander Charles, An Illustrated Architectural Guide to the Scottish Borders and Tweed Valley, Rutland Press, Edinburgh, 1994. p249.

6) Allan, W G; The Monks of Melrose, James Thin, Edinburgh , 1892. p87.

7)  Burnett, George; Companion to Tweed, Methuen, London, 1938. pp19-20

8)  Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, John Ker D.D.

9)  Clavering, Molly; From the Border Hills, Nelson, Edinburgh, 1953. Plate 17, p136. 

10) Mathison, Paddi, Compiler; The Greyfriars Story, Edinburgh, 1990. p7.



TOP & Navigation Bar


Return to Tweedsmuir History page

or proceed to section 1.3.1.a covering First Tweedsmuir Kirk 1648-1874.

or proceed to Section 1.3.2. covering the Tweedsmuir Kirkyard.

or proceed to Section 1.3.3. covering Quarter Knowe/Chapel Knowe.