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Lauder Kirk (3)


Lauder Kirk

The original kirk for Lauder was outside the town boundary, near Thirlestane Castle and was built by Richard de Moreville in the 12th century.

In 1617, John, 1st Earl of Lauderdale petitioned the King (James VI) to have the kirk re-located at its present site although it was not until 1673 that work commenced.

The Duke of Lauderdale erected the present church in Lauder in 1673. The church underwent repairs in 1822 and again in 1864. There is an earlier chapel at Thirlestane Castle which was originally the private chapel of the Castle, but was used as the parish church while the new church, (that of 1673), was being built.

The building was designed by Sir William Bruce, master mason for Holyrood House in Edinburgh, whilst he was working on Thirlestane Castle. It takes the form of a Greek cross with all four arms or transepts being of equal length. The central crossing is square until it reaches the ridge; an octagonal spire then surmounts it. An elegant tripartite window at first floor level lights each transept of the kirk. Notice above the entrance, the castellated parapet; the entrance looks like a fortified building. The two extensions, which house the staircases, were built in 1820. Within the kirk is a Chinese style Chippendale pulpit.

In the turbulent years of the mid 17th century, there was a struggle for control of Scotland's religion. The minister for Lauder Parish between 1638 and 1649 was James Guthrie. He was known locally as the 'little man that could not bow'. He was also a fanatical witch hunter and it was said that during his time in office, the Town Hall had a waiting list for women waiting to be tried for witchcraft! Guthrie was vehement in his opposition to the 'Engagement' where the Church of Scotland sided with King Charles I and in 1638, he signed The Covenant. After the restoration of the monarchy he was tried for high treason and executed (1661). His last words were said to be "The Covenants, the Covenants shall yet be Scotland's reviving".

Within the churchyard (South West wall) a watchtower was erected in 1830 to prevent a repeat of the body snatching raid by the resurectionists. Unfortunately, all remains of this have recently been removed. The church was refurbished in 1973 for its tercentenary.

Also of interest is the Hearse House and vestry on the corner of Mill Wynd which is accessed from the churchyard. The arch headed opening onto Mid Row was once the housing for the church hearse. This building was built in 1831.



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Town Trail: Lauder Kirk, Lauder Scotland