Communion Vessels and Linen

Once the communicants were seated around the table to partake of the sacrament, they would have found it covered with a plain linen cloth and holding the plates, flagons and cups from which they would receive the bread and wine. Because large numbers of people attended these events several of each kind were needed. There are few references to the linen cloths used on the tables. In 1738 Polmont session recorded :

“that the Linen furnished for the Communion Table was worth fifteen shillings per yard. The session allowed nine pound five shilling for twelve yards & a half thereof the quantity furnished.”

In 1833 the Bo’ness session recorded:

“The Communion Linen consisting of two long Table Cloths and a small one, Two large Towels and Four small ones were delivered to the Officer to be deposited by him in the Manse and he was instructed to get said Linen washed and mangled after every Sacrament.”

In 1709 the Bo’ness session :

“appoints four flagon stoups to be bought for the service at Administration of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, two of a larger and two of a bigger size.” 

These items were costly:

“For the two big ones eighteen shillings sterling, and for the two lesser ones sixteen shillings sterling.”  

In 1676 Muiravonside Kirk Session had paid for :

“two new Silver Cups for use of the Communion £190.10.8 Scotts money”. 

At Bothkennar in 1725:

“Two silver cups, a silver plate, a pewter plate, two pewter flagons” were “received”. 

By 1793 the session decided that the

“flagons and other implements used for the sacraments having been got near a century [ago] would require to be renewed.” The purchase of new “utensils” cost £1.9.6, from which 9/10d was “received for old pewter.” 

In 1825 and 1826 Carriden Session taking into consideration :

“that they have no plate for the Sacramental bread & no small Flagon for the Wine ordered these necessary utensils for the dispensation of the Lord’s Supper to be procured.” The flagon cost 15/- and the “Dish for Bread w[eigh]t 4 ½ lb. 8/-“ and ten shillings was spent on engraving them.

 In 1731 Falkirk session spent :

“eight pounds Sterling or thereby due to the Goldsmith for renewing a pair of old Communion Cups.”  

These may well have been the “Two Silver cups which weigh a pound & thirteen ounce” recorded at Falkirk in an inventory of 1694.

Illus: Gravestone in Larbert Churchyard commemorating John Elphinstone “who gifted to this kirk tvo communion cupps.”  These are still in the possession of the congregation.

There are several records of local gentry donating or keeping safe the communion vessels. Alexander Mitchol [sic] of Mitchol, Writer to the Signet,

“gave the Kirk and Paroch of Slamannan and did deliver to the custody and Members of the Session two silver cups to be made use of at the Celebration of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper in this Paroch with this condition, that the paroch of Muiravonside is to have use of these two cups once every year if desired.”

 It was Muiravonside Kirk Session which recorded in 1700 :

“that their Communion Cups had lyne long in Lady Callendar’s Custody”

and recommended “the Minister to speak with the said Countess that she would deliver the said Cups to them.”  

At Carriden in 1821 another flagon was gifted to the church by George Napier of Bonhard, one of the heritors:

“Recollecting that our Session are always obliged to borrow a Flagon for carrying the wine at the Sacrament and having one of that kind which belonged to my father I request the Session’s acceptance of it & do now send it by Bearer.”

Allan Ronald, 2021

See Food and Drink to continue reading about the administration of Communion.