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Publication Account

Date 1985

Event ID 1016544

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


The Church of the Holy Rude was the parish church of the medieval burgh, and its large size and imposing design reflect the importance of the town in late medieval times. Records show that there was a church in the burgh from at least as early as the 12th century, but the present building was not begun until 1456.

Work on the church was divided into two phases, presumably to help to defray the considerable costs of erecting such a large building. The nave was built first and was completed sometime in the 1470s; it is rectangular on plan, with north and south flanking aisles of five bays each, and it has a centrally placed tower at the west end. To this simple design wealthy burgesses soon added chantry chapels, which comprised rectangular projections from the aisle bays.

Of the three originally built, only St Andrews Aisle (dating from before 1483) now survives, the other two having been removed in the course oflater building work.

The second stage of the work began soon after 1507, with the construction of the chancel. It was to consist of projecting transepts with a substantial tower placed above the crossing, a choir which continued the form of the nave, and an apsidal presbytery attached to the east of the choir. Construction was slow, and work appears to have stopped by 1546 before the transepts or tower had been completed. In the 17th century a dispute among the parishioners led to the church being partitioned and the formation of two separate congregations. Further extensive internal and external changes were carried out early in the 19th century, greatly altering the character of the medieval work. At the beginning of the present century it was decided to undo some of the damage wrought during the past 150 years: between 1911-14 and 1936-40 the internal arrangements of the building were restored, as far as possible, to those of the late medieval church, and the transepts, originally planned in 1507, were finally added.

There are no medieval burial monuments in the graveyard, but it contains a large number of 18th and 19th century gravestones and memorials whose inscriptions testify to the activity of the towns folk and surrounding landowners and farmers.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: The Clyde Estuary and Central Region’, (1985).

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