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Stories about the Auld Kirk

The following is taken from a - 'HISTORICAL SKETCH OF TULLIBODY PART 1' by Robert Kirk - Clackmannan District Libraries 1983 - Robert Kirk originally wrote this in 1890 - these are his words..

THE AULD KIRK (The Old Church)

Let us now examine 'God's House'. This Kirk was built by David I .. 'the Siar Saunt', in 1149, and its foundation stone is said to have been laid upon earth brought back by Crusaders from the Holy Sepulchur in Jerusalem. It is beautifully situated at the north end of the village, and commands a splendid view of the surrounding country. By charter, the King granted as a provision for its priest certain lands in the neighbourhood, and inches (islands) in the Firth of Forth, and at the same time set it under the supervision of the rich and splendid abbey of Cambuskenneth, which, two years previously, this pious monarch had built upon the very spot where his ancestor, Kenneth, had given the fatal blow to the Pictish dominion.

For upwards of 400 years the rites of the the Roman Catholic Faiths were celebrated within its walls, but in the 16th century this faith had largely fallen into disrepute in this neighbourhood, as thoughout the country at large, one of the reasons for this being the low character of the priests, as the following touching story of the 'Myretoun maid' will prove.

"The Maiden Stone"


At this gloomy period, 1449, of Scottish history it was, that Peter Beaton, priest of Tullibody, became enamoured by Martha, only child of Wishart, laird of Myretoun. The passion, according to tradition, was reciprocated by the lady, who, in maiden trustfulness and simplicity, too fondly believed that her own charms and her fathers broad acres would overbalance the abjuration of her heartless lover's monastic vows. The unprincipled seducer however, never dreamt this of. The Abbot of Cambuskenneth had long known his diplomatic qualifications; his name had even reached the Vatican, and the Holy Mother Church had, to his bewildered fancy, conjured up visions of power and pomp, blasting within him the last lingering vestiges of honour and honesty. Unconscious of the cruel wrong inflicted upon him, Myretoun had still the board spread for his unprincipled guest; nor did the beautiful Martha disclose the intimacy that existed between her Jesuitical lover and herself till blighted hopes and a broken heart brought her to the confines of that land 'where the weary are at rest' - then and only then, she solemnly enjoined her parents to enshrine her lifeless body in solid stone, and place it above ground by the pathway leading to the church, where, ever since, it has remained. The name of the priest has found no place in ecclesiastical history, but it is relate that…

'When the sun shown bright in the noontide sky,
Fair Martha's image met his eye,
Her spirit stood in the hallowed door,
And cried 'though must enter here no more';
Thus frantic, shunned and shunning men,
He, a maniac, died in the dim wood glen'.

Such conduct on the part of the clergy naturally proved a fatal blow to the Church. The last priest of Tullibody was Thomas Locklaw, who, owing to certain events, which happened during his time, 1538, severed his connection with the Church of Rome, and sought asylum in England, then under the gentle reign of Edward VI. This was the turning point of the reformation of religion in Tullibody.

In the year 1559, the Church was undoubtedly Protestant, for in that year it was unroofed by the French under the following circumstances..

The French army was situated on the Fife coast, but, hearing of the arrival of the English fleet in the neighbourhood, became much alarmed and at once began to retreat towards Stirling, intending to cross the Forth there. Kirkcaldy of Grange, determined to arrest or retard its progress, broke down the eastern arch of the bridge over the Devon near Tullibody. The French, finding the river impassable - never at a loss in an emergency - took the roof of the Auld Kirk and made a service bridge of it; or as John Knox puts it - 'Ye French, expert enough in sic feats, tuke down ye roofe of a paroch kirk and made ane brig over ye water called Dovan, and sae they escapit and gaed to Stirling, and thereafter to Leith.

From this circumstance it would appear that Tullibody had severed her connection from the Church of Rome, as the French, always strong partisans of that faith, would never have been guilty of such sacrilege as unroofing one of her chapels. Shortly thereafter the church was repaired, and the communicants, numbering between 400 and 500, having agreed to support a minister, the Presbytery of Stirling ordained Alexander Fergie in 1597. However, this gentleman had scarcely been a year in the place, not much to the credit of the Tullibodians, he 'was forcit for povertie to leave them'.

About the year 1600, Alloa, which was formerly a chapel, dependant on the Parish Church of Tullibody, became a separate parish, and, says Bishop Keith, 'swallowed up the Mother Church'. From this time the Kirk fell into disrepair, till by 1700, it was roofless and in ruins, the gables alone standing. About 1760, George Abercromby restored and roofed it with blue tiles, which were replaced by the present roof of flagstones (written in 1890!). We find from the 'Poors Fund' records that, in 1772, the Church was provided with a bell at the cost of £11 16s 7d and it is also stated that Sir Ralph Abercromby presented the Barony with a bell, and that the present belfry was built for it by Alexander Fairlie. It was an old man-o-war's bell and bore the inscription, 'Duke of Kingston, 1756'. In 1837, the old bell was unfortunately cracked, and was replaced by the present one, which bears the date, 'Tullibody, 1838'.

In 1833, the old building was thoroughly overhauled, the area being seated with pews, and once more a regular service was begun. This continued till the Disruption, when nearly the whole congregation 'came out' with Mr. Stevenson, then assistant, whose ordination as the first minister of the Free Church took place in the Kirk yard. After the Disruption there was only an occasional service in the Auld Kirk until 1879, when the present parish minister resumed regular fortnightly services, which still continue (in 1890). Within the building, which, by the way, is used as a burying vault for the Abercromby family, are several very fine monuments and tablets to the memory of the 'Great Departed', the most conspicuous of which is that to George Abercromby, laird of Tullibody, built in the east gable facing the pulpit. It bears a Latin inscription, of which the following is a translation: -

To the Memory of George Abercromby of Tullibody, who was accustomed to kindness and liberality, forgetful of wrongs, mindful of kindness, beneficent to his relatives, agreeable to his friends, beloved by this neighbours; second to none for an uncorrupted mind, inviolate fidelity, constancy in a right purpose, the cultivation of true friendship, hatred of insincerity, and for seasonable hospitality. Up to the very last breath he led a spotless life; he lived a bachelor, and died on the 26th June 1699, aged 74. In commemoration of whom, and as a most merited remembrance of his kindness towards his adopted, Alexander Abercromby erected this sepulchral monument. I have no care for myself, uncertain where I shall die.

On the south wall of the building, and scarcely legible, although under the protection of a Dutch Angel, with vermilion wings, the unique epitaph appears -

To the pious memory renowned patriot and patron of charity, Robert Anderson, merchant of St. Lucar, born in the green of Tullibody, who left to the poor of this place 50 pound sterling. He dyed the ……. Day of February, 1712. He also left 50 pound £ sterling to the poor of Alloa.

In Portugal, at Lisbon, he dyed.
His birth and burial being so remote
It was a wonder that he left to us a groat,
He left no children of his proper breed,
But left his means adopted sons to feed,
The triumphant trophies to his charity
Run parallel to all eternity.
Richard Main, his nephew and heir,
erected this monument.

It is recorded that the adopted son of this magnificent philanthropist, having purchased a neighbouring estate, appropriated a widow's kailyard, under whose malison, both he and his progeny have sunk into oblivion





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