Gifford, Main Street, Yester Parish Church And Hearse House / Church Of Scotland, Yester Kirk
- HER number: MEL733
- Site Name: Gifford, Main Street, Yester Parish Church And Hearse House / Church Of Scotland, Yester Kirk
- Grid Reference: 353482 668103
- Civil Parish:
- Monument Type:
- Church (18th Century, Post Medieval)
- Summary: Church, 1708-10
- Description: NT56NW 3.00 53482 68104
NT56NW 3.01 Centred NT 53505 68124 Graveyard
(NT 53482 68104) Church (NAT)
OS 6" map (1970)
(1) Gifford Parish Church was completed in 1710, superseding that at Bothans (NT56NW 4). Within it are preserved several pieces of ecclesiastical furniture removed from the old church.
RCAHMS 1924, visited 1913
(2) This church is still in use.
Visited by OS (BS) 22 July 1975.
(3) Historic Scotland Listed Building Description: 1708-10. T-plan church with 4-stage tower. White-painted harling with ashlar margins, chamfered at arrises. Various decorative wall plaques and 18th century wall monuments.
TOWER: advanced from centre of symmetrical, 7-bay SW elevation. Off-set above 2nd stage and with corbelled parapet and diminutive angle finials. Round-arched door at centre with oculus over; louvred opening to each stage above. Similarly detailed openings to each remaining elevation at 4th stage. Further narrow door set in re-entrant angle to SE. 2 paired shields to parapet of SW elevation. Slated polygonal spire with decorative gilded weathervane.
SW WING: SW elevation with 2 large round-arched windows flanking tower to each side, with smaller arched windows in outer bays. Gable end elevations with tall doorways; 2-leaf doors and small-pane fanlights; large pointed arch windows above with intersecting tracery and small oculi at apex.
NE elevation with round-arched window closely flanking NE jamb to each side.
NE JAMB: gabled, 2-storey jamb projecting from centre with narrow doorway at centre of 2-bay NE gable and 2 rectangular windows above off-centre oculi at apex, and coped apex stack. Windows to each floor by re-entrant angles at each side; further 1st floor window and doorway
in lugged, bolection moulded and corniced doorpiece to SE return; flight of stone steps with wrought-iron railings to architraved door.
Sash and case windows with small-pane glazing patterns, Gothic pattern to pointed arch windows. Plain raised skews; NE gable steeply pitched. Grey slates.
INTERIOR: central orientation retained; rendered walls, boarded to dado, coomb ceilings. Deep embrasures. Lofts to each jamb on cast-iron columns with panelled fascia; Tweeddale Gallery in NE jamb, with earlier carved panel inserted, dated 1687 and with entwined initials. Fine panelled oak pulpit with sounding board, probably 17th century, and possibly brought in from St Bothans Kirk, Yester; surmounted by gilded eagle and with decorative wrought-iron lamp bracket. Oak communion table, 1895, sympathetically designed. Oak front, circa 1945. Fine pierced balustrade with ornate scroll carving. Box pews. 5 fine oak chairs in later 17th century style.
HEARSE HOUSE: circa 1830. Piend-roofed rectangular plan building sited to E of kirk in graveyard. Rubble with droved dressings. Wide pointed arch carriage doorway, and narrow pointed windows to each side elevation. Slates.
GRAVEYARD GATEPIERS AND WALLS: square ashlar gatepiers to main entrance with droving and carved panels, moulded cornice and pyramidal coping. Lesser stugged stone gatepiers to side gate. Decorative cast-iron gates. Ashlar coped rubble walls toward burgh, rubble coped beyond to
Ian G Lindsay SCOTTISH PARISH KIRK, (1960), p58.
G. Hay ARCHITECTURE OF SCOTTISH POST-REFORMATION CHURCHES (1957), pp59-60.
A. D Scott YESTER: CHURCH AND PARISH (1978).
RCAHMS Inventory, 249.
The T-plan arrangement for 18th century churches, with central tower, stemmed from the example of the Tron Kirk, Edinburgh.
A contemporary parallel to Yester occurred nearby at Carrington, Midlothian. Perhaps the most famous figures connected with the church were James Witherspoon (minister from 1720) and his son, John Witherspoon who became President of Princeton College, New Jersey, and was the only minister to sign the Declaration of Independence. The former's fine table-slab gravestone is one of many notable 18th century tombstones in the graveyard. Hinge-pins of former shutters remain flanking windows on SW elevation. The possibility of the involvement of James Smith in the design of the church has been discussed, prompted by his contemporary work at Yester House: however, no conclusive evidence has been found and no attribution can thus be made with any confidence (see Colvin BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF BRITISH ARCHITECTS). Part of Gifford Village A Group.
- For more information contact: East Lothian Council HER
- Related Places:
- Associated Periods:
- Bibliographic reference: Simpson, J H. 1993. Yester Church, Gifford: a history of the building and the people 1708-1967.
- Bibliographic reference: Monro, G D. 1964. Yester Church and parish: a historical sketch.
- (1) Bibliographic reference: RCAHMS. 1924. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland. Eighth report with inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of East Lothian. 143, No.249.
- (2) Unpublished document: Ordnance Survey. Ordnance Survey Site Visit.
- (3) Bibliographic reference: Historic Scotland. Historic Scotland Listed Building.