The first known date of a church in Auchterhouse is 1238.
Fifteenth century charters refer to the foundation of a chaplanrie in the Parish Church of St Mary, Auchterhouse.
1426 - the original building was replaced with an extensive Gothic structure.
1567 - Rev. Alexander Tyrie became the first minister of the reformed Church of Scotland in Auchterhouse.
The present church was built in 1630. It has been described as the last specimen of early church architecture in Scotland. Due to some structural defect, it was partially re-built in 1775.
"Its only remarkable feature was one too characteristic of a poverty-stricken, uncultured, and in artistic age, - external and internal rudeness."
The clock illustrated here was made by Thomas Ivory, a well-known Dundee clockmaker. It can still be seen at the rear of the church
Two Norman fonts remain from the original thirteenth century church. A stone inscribed "Ave Maria" may be seen built into the east gable of the present church. This church font dates from mediaeval times.
The church in the 17th century
There were no pews and no flooring. The soil was strewn with rushes.
Light came from small windows partially fitted with glass and there was no heating of any kind. The interior was damp, cold and uninviting.
Underneath the present church is a very old burial vault containing remains of the Buchans, Ogilvies, and the Lyons of Strathmore but there are no memorial tablets. Burials took place in the church, under the rushes, despite the General Assembly having forbidden it in 1643
All parishioners were compelled to go to church.
Any attempt to work met with heavy penalties metered out by the beadle. Offences included failure to observe the sabbath, drunkenness, brawling and swearing.
During services the beadle went round the church to "wauken sleepers, to drive outh the dogs, and remove greeting' bairns". Padlocked collars called "jougs" were used as was a tar brush that he used to prevent parishioners from sleeping in church. He also used "branks" which was an iron hood.
Delinquents stood on "The Pillar" in front of the minister and congregation and were the subject of the "Wee Sermon"
If a parishioner was found guilty of spreading slander about their neighbours they were treated in the following way:
1st offence - they had to stand up before the congregation and cry out "Tongue ye lied"
2nd offence - they were made to sit on the repentance stool for a period of time
3rd offence - they were banished from the parish.
They visited houses between morning and afternoon services on Sundays to ensure church attendance and to clear out the taverns. They were responsible for the care of the poor - at home and abroad.
Extracts from the Church Session Records
To Christian Biddie, a poor child, to buy her shoues, 10d.
To James Christie, in Kirktoun, having a poor, small family, to help him buy a cow, 5s.
To distressed Protestants in Lithuania in Poland, a voluntary contribution for their relief.
The Session chest was the parish bank
Important dates in the history of the church
- 1717 New Communion cup
- 1719 Church bell refounded at a cost of £8 16s 6d.It was taken to Dundee, weighed, then taken to Forgan where it was founded, reweighed in Dundee, put up and drink money given to the servants.
- 1721 Rev John Glas of Tealing preached in Auchterhouse (later founder of Glasites) He was suspended by the Church of Scotland in 1728
- 1728 Seats erected in church - yearly charges of 8d - 1s
- 1740 David Scott became minister. Died 1773 (33 years minister)
- 1774 James Scott became minister. Died 1804 (30 years a minister)
- 1774 A meeting was called and it was decided to build a new church. The church was practically rebuilt, mainly out of the old material.
- 1783 Due to scarcity of meal, the kirk session agreed to buy a quantity of meal for the poor of the parish.
- 1789 Manse built
1789 The Great Church Robbery
A strong-box containing the poor money was broken into and stolen. A reward of £5 was advertised.
The following advert appeared in Edinburgh newspapers:
"Whereas some day of the week preceding Sabbath, the 19th April current, the Kirk-session's box of Auchterhouse, which stood in the session-house, was broken open, and sundry valuable papers and securities, with about Thirty or Forty Pounds in cash, were carried off, a reward of £5 stg. will be paid by the Kirk-Session to any person who shall make such a discovery as will be sufficient to convict any of the offenders."
Two men were detained but later acquitted. The amount taken was £31.10s 5d stg.
The church acted as local pawnbrokers to the poor on articles pledged. It also helped in times of food shortages by buying meal and selling it at the market.