macduff parish church
come as you are
Church Street
Macduff
Scotland
AB44 1UN
contactus@macduffparishchurch.org.uk

history

By James McPherson

Two buildings in Macduff dominate the skyline - the war memorial erected in 1921 to commemorate those who gave their lives in the 1914-19 war and Macduff Parish Church built during an earlier war in 1805, the year of the Battle of Trafalgar.

Adjoining the Church stands the Town Cross, erected in 1783 by the second Earl of Fife, who named the town Macduff when King George III granted the Charter declaring the village of Down or Doune a Burgh of Barony. In 1972, the Town Council, in an imaginative stroke, placed a large 18th century ship's anchor in an open space beside the Church and Cross.

Prior to 1768, the kirk-going inhabitants of Down walked each Sunday to the Parish Church of Gamrie, a distance of some 8 miles. In that year, a building in Schoolhill was fitted out as a chapel. This was the first church building in the town. Interesting details are recorded regarding the erection of a steeple at the cost of 1.15 and the provision of a bell at a cost of 8 guineas. Prior to 1768, the kirk-going inhabitants of Down walked each Sunday to the Parish Church of Gamrie, a distance of some 8 miles. In that year, a building in Schoolhill was fitted out as a chapel. This was the first church building in the town. Interesting details are recorded regarding the erection of a steeple at the cost of 1.15 and the provision of a bell at a cost of 8 guineas.

By the end of the 18th century, a larger building was needed to accommodate the increasing church membership and in 1805 the Church on its present site was built with the support and encouragement of the Earl of Fife. He also generously donated an organ but those were the days when an organ would not be tolerated in a Presbyterian place of worship. The congregation declined to use it and, after standing in a corner beneath the gallery for some time, it was presented to a Roman Catholic Church in the district where it remained in use for over a century.

Within 50 years, the steady growth of the town and its population and corresponding increase in church membership made a larger building essential. In 1864, an important step was taken in the history of the Church. Until then it had been a Chapel of Ease under Gamrie Parish Church but that year, with the generous support of the 4th Earl of Fife who contributed more than half the endowment, Macduff was raised to a Parish quoad sacre. Only then did Macduff have a permanent Minister competent to preside at communion, baptisms and marriages without special dispensation of the parish minister at Gamrie. At the same time the churchyard was enclosed, the first burials having taken place in 1808.

In 1865, the church building was altered and enlarged to form the church as we know it today with seating to accommodate 1100 worshippers. The original steeple of the 1805 building was replaced by a three storey square tower with lead domed roof and cupola in which was installed the town clock, which is the property of the Burgh.

In 1903 the organ, which is still in use, was installed. Other noteworthy items of church furniture are the handsome communion table of polished oak and the alabaster baptismal font presented in 1895 by Mrs Hunter, in memory of her husband, the Reverend Andrew Hunter, who was Minister of Macduff for more than 20 years.

In 1922, the two stained glass windows were installed and dedicated in memory of those who fell in the 1914-1918 war. The window on the right of the pulpit, appropriately called "The Children's Window", is especially fine, a masterpiece of the creators, The City Glass Co. of Glasgow. It had the distinction of being shown in the Royal Academy, London.

Apart from improvements in lighting and heating and other minor works, no significant alterations occurred until 1980, when several pews on the east and west sides of the pulpit below the gallery were removed and the areas enclosed to form two rooms and toilet facilities.

After the reunion of 1929, the United Free Church in Macduff became known as Gardner Church and the established Church as Doune Church. On 1st August 1989, following the vacancy at Gardner Church, the two congregations of Gardner and Doune were united to form Macduff Parish Church, with the Reverend David J Randall as minister.

In 1992, the accommodation and facilities at the Church were considerably increased and enhanced with the completion of an extension at a cost of 72,000, providing three additional rooms, together with modern kitchen and toilet facilities, which are now in regular use by the Junior Church, the Kirk Session and other Church organisations.