Kinclaven Parish Church
Diocese of Dunkeld
Deanery of Angus
County of Perthshire
Perth and Kinross Council
NO 1512 3849
SUMMARY DESCRIPTIONThere are no visible traces of the medieval church, which is assumed to have stood where the present church now stands. The only relic of the earlier building is the monument of Bishop Alexander Campbell of Brechin (1566-1608), which has been re-set against the south retaining wall of the churchyard, to the south-east of the church.
HISTORICAL OUTLINEThe church, with its land, teinds, all kinds of offering and other pertinents, was granted to Cambuskenneth by King William 1189x1194 and confirmed to the uses of the abbey by Pope Celestine III in 1195.(1) In November 1260, Richard of Inverkeithing, bishop of Dunkeld, issued letters with the consent of his dean and chapter which narrated that the fruits of the church of Kinclaven had actually been divided in two parts; one belonged to the precentor or chanter of Dunkeld, the other to the canons of Cambuskenneth.(2) The bishop deemed this division unsatisfactory on the grounds that the souls of the parishioners were not being well served. He therefore ordained that the whole fruits of the church should pertain to the chantory of Dunkeld in perpetuity but reserving six merks yearly to be paid by the precentor to the canons. The precentor was also bound to find a chaplain to serve the cure as vicar pensionar. Kinclaven is not named in Bagimond’s Roll in the list of benefices taxed in the first year, presumably being accounted for under the prebend of the precentor, and although it is named in the second year, the precentor’s prebend is not.(3)
Penalties were to be imposed on the chanter should he fail to pay the pension due to Cambuskenneth in time, this provision being brought into operation in 1315, when it was stated that he had failed to make payment for eight years.(4) At some date after 1315, a vicarage appears to have been set up but in 1461 this was re-annexed to the chantory.(5) The sir Robert Gray named as vicar of Kinclaven in April 1476 was presumably a vicar pensionar.(6) The annexation to the chantory remained in force at the Reformation, when Mr William Anderson held the benefice, from which pensions were paid to John Douglas, rector of St Andrews, ‘my stallar of Dunkeld’, the chaplains and choir of Dunkeld, minister of Kinclaven, abbey of Cambuskenneth and bishop of Dunkeld.(7) It was also noted that 13 merks were paid to the vicar pensionary of Kinclaven out of chanter’s revenues.(8)
ARCHITECTURAL ANALYSISIn its present form the church is a building dating largely from 1848, though it was given a more characterful appearance in 1893 through the liberal addition of buttresses of rock-faced masonry, a central gable to the south front and some new fenestration.
The church is an oriented structure on the northern edge of a small and irregularly shaped graveyard that contains a number of interesting eighteenth-century memorials. Confirmation that the churchyard has been the historic location for the parish church may be found in the survival of the monument of Alexander Campbell, the first reformed bishop of Brechin (1566-1608), which has been re-set against the south revetting wall of the churchyard, to the south-east of the church. According to the New Statistical Account in 1845 this was at the east end of the church, and it was presumably removed from there in the works of 1893, since a plaque attached to it states that it was reconstructed in its present location in 1896 by Lord Blythswood.
The core of the existing church measures 21.52 metres from east to west and 11.5 metres from north to south. Despite the fact that it had by then already been rebuilt, the Imperial Gazetteer of 1865 said that the church was an old building, and it is likely that the reconstructed fabric of 1848 embodied parts of its predecessor. While the width of the church appears more likely to have resulted from an attempt to give it proportions deemed acceptable for reformed worship, the length and orientation support the likelihood of a medieval building having at least partly conditioned what is now seen.