Larbert Parish Church

Larbert Parish Church(SMR 127)

NS 8562 8220

Larbert Parish Church 1929
1929 Larbert and Dunipace Old 1962
1962 Larbert Old present

TIMELINE

1160: Robert, Bishop of St Andrews gifted the Church of St Ninians, with its subordinate chapels at Larbert and Dunipace, to the Abbey of Cambuskenneth.

1528: St Ninians erected into a collegiate charge and Larbert became its responsibility again.  After the Reformation one reader served both Dunipace and Larbert.

c1585:  Larbert erected into a separate parish, although Dunipace had a larger constituency at that time.

1617: Re-united by Parliamentary Commission with Dunipace.

1621:  Old church demolished and a new church built shortly afterwards by Rev Robert Bruce of Kinnaird and Master Livingston.   Bruce was buried under the pulpit of his church, and a simple stone inscribed “Christos in vitae et in morte Lucrum.  R.B., 1631” situated in the NE part of the present graveyard indicates its location.  The church appears to have had a single small aisle to the south (RHP 1497A).

1635: Large new manse built.

1818:  David Hamilton, architect, (see also Falkirk Steeple) suggested that a new church should be built rather than rebuilding the old one.  The Heritors agreed.

1819: Field next to the kirkyard purchased for £105 and the contract for a new church awarded to Muir and Wright, builders, for £3,300 and the stone from the old church.  Church built in common Tudor or perpendicular Gothic style.

1821:  New church opened according to a design by David Hamilton, Glasgow for £4432.   It has a rectangular plan with a ridge roof. The church would have measured externally 82 ft 6ins by 51ft 6ins.  From the west end a tower projected 17 ft for its breadth of 20ft 6ins.  Each side was divided by intaken buttresses into five bays, and further buttresses rose at the corners of the main building and of the tower.  All these bore finials, crocketed at the west end of the main building and on the tower, and another crocketed finial stood on the apex of the east gable.  Each bay except the westernmost on each  side contained a tall window with a returned hood-mould,  splayed  jambs, plain  Gothic  tracery and a transom; the westernmost bay had a pair  of  small lancets,  one above the other, lighting respectively a ground-floor  lobby  and landings  giving access to the gallery.  At the wall-head there was a moulded eaves-course and a plain parapet.  At the west end there  were  two  pointed doorways, one on each side of the tower, opening into the entrance lobby  which gave  access to the body of the church by two inner doors; and above them  were lancets lighting the gallery landings.  The tower was divided into four stages.  At ground level it contains a renovated west door opening into a vaulted vesti­bule from which stairs rose to right and left to the gallery landings.   A smaller stair leads up the tower from the left-hand gallery-stair.  The second stage shows three windows with plain Gothic tracery, which light the stairs; the third showed three lancets, and the uppermost, which contained the bell chamber, large louvred openings with tracery.  The parapet is embattled, and the finials are four in number.  The new stone came from Thorny Dyke quarry.

1874:  After  the  tower  had  been hit twice  by  lightning  a  conductor  was installed.

1887:  Renovations cost £1700.  Designed by Mr Black, architect, Falkirk these included re-seating, changing the design of the pulpit, replacing two turrets with Boyle’s patent ventilator, and replacing old railings by massive oak balustrades designed by the minister in Gothic style.

1894: Decision taken to erect a new hall.

1905: New hall completed with the help of a donation of £500 from Major Dobbie.

1911: Further renovations and a chancel at the east end and vestry suite of halls added for £4300.  Heating and electric lighting also introduced.   This work was probably designed by Alexander Strang.

1946: Dunipace hall destroyed by fire and rebuilt the following year.

1960: Substantial addition to the hall cost £9,000.  Church officer’s house demolished to give a clearer view from Larbert Cross.  The old manse gardens and tennis court removed to make way for a car park.

1962: Union of Larbert and Dunipace Old dissolved.

1968: Storm damage to tower.

1978: Church exterior cleaned and repaired at a cost of £23,000.

1991: Extension and refurbishment of the hall.

MANSE

1635: Manse bears the date 1635, restored 1955.   One lintel bears the date of 1635 and the initials A N for Alexander Norrie.

1790: New manse to the west of the church.

1828: Large addition to manse.

1944: Manse moved to Broomage Ave and old one demolished.

FITTINGS

1680: Two silver communion cups donated by Sir Robert Elphinstoun of Quarrel’s younger brother, John.

1683: Silver bread plate gifted by Sir Robert Elphinstone.

ORGAN

1886:  Installed by Wilkinson & Son, (or William McKereth) Kendal, for Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.   New oak screen.

1982: Renovated for £20,000.

BELL

1669: Small bell inscribed “LERBEIRT 1669 A B” is in the keeping of the church.

1820:  New bell cast by Thomas Mears in London for £145, bearing the date 1819 when the church was built.  It weighed c15 cwt and was similar to the one at Falkirk.

1981: Old bell scrapped when a peal of nine bells was hung.  The new bells were made in 1866 at the Whitechapel Foundry, London, for St. James Church in Leith and bought by the Rev D Searle with the aid of an anonymous donation of £4500.  They were too heavy and so the largest four were recast at Taylor’s of Loughbor­ough into five bells between 4.5 and 2.5 tons and arranged in a static hanging.

WINDOW

See separate entry for stained glass.

WAR MEMORIAL

See separate entry for War Memorial.

SEATING

1820: Three sided gallery.

1886: Seating reduced from 1035 to 1020 when old pews removed and replaced by pews with inclined backs, a book rest and no doors.   Designed by Black, Falkirk.

CHURCHYARD

1663: The churchyard (see separate entry for Churchyard) lies to the west of the present church.   In its east wall a walled up entrance 5ft 6ins wide with rounded arises supports a massive stone lintel with a relieving arch above it.  The lintel bears in relief two groups of initials S/RE and D/EC and the date 1663.  The initials are those of Sir Robert Elphinstone, second of Quarrel, and his wife Dame Euphame Carstairs.Several of the more significant stones are described by the Royal Commission.  There are also a number of important cast iron grave memorials, most noticeable of which was the obelisk set up for the traveller, James Bruce of Kinnaird, and his wife Mary Dundas, who died respectively in 1794 and 1785.

c1910:  Several houses in the kirkstile were removed and a new approach road with gate piers provided.

MINISTERS OF LARBERT PARISH CHURCH

Robeson, Alexander 1574?

1574

Gillespie, Patrick 1587

1597

Forrester, Henry 1600

1601

Ambrose, Thomas 1603

1603

Caldwell, James 1616

1621

Bruce, Robert 1631

1619

Norrie, Alexander 1645

1645

Forsythe, James 1649

1650

Hog, Thomas 1662

1662

Muschet, Archibald 1686

1686

Sutherland, Alexander 1690

1690

Whyte, Hugh 1716

1717

Campbell, Archibald 1731

1732

Aitken, William 1740

1741

Smith, James 1746

1748

Taylor, Lachlan 1785

1785

Harvie, George 1793

1794

Knox, Robert 1825

1826

Bonar, John 1843

1843

McGil, Francis Jan 1847

1847

McLaren, John 1898

Dec 1902

Fairley, John Apr 1931

Jan 1932

Thomson, John James Scott Dec 1943

Aug 1944

Gordon, Walter James Apr 1962

Feb 1963

Cooke, John Mackay Feb 1975

Oct 1975

Searle, David Charles 1985

1985

Rennie, Clifford A. J.

G.B. Bailey (2019)