850th Anniversary

Throughout 1973 there were various events to celebrate the 850th anniversary of the first known date of the church. It began on Sunday 7th January with a service led by the Moderator of the Presbytery of Dunfermline and Kinross, Rev. R P Mackenzie of St Leonards church. There was also a guest preacher each month.

Guest Preachers

March 11th – Rev. David Stalker, Lecturer in Biblical Studies at the University of Edinburgh – was minister of St Fillan’s 1940-48.
April 15th – Rev. Lawrence Johnstone, Kirkcowan – Son of Rev. Robert Johnstone who was responsible for the restoration of St Fillan’s.
May 20th – Very Rev. Hugh Douglas, St Marys Church Dundee – Moderator of the General Assembly in 1970.
June 10th – Very Rev. Leonard Small, St Cuthbert’s Edinburgh – Moderator of the General Assembly in 1966.
June 17th – Right Rev. George Reid, West St Andrews church Aberdeen – Moderator of the Church of Scotland – communion.
July 15th – Rev. George Lawrence, Burlington Vermont – was assistant minister in Aberdour & Dalgety in 1952.

Our Thanksgiving

It was thought that the main focus of the anniversary should be Thanksgiving. Because of the privilege we enjoy worshiping in such a beautiful church it was decided that we should raise £850 for the National Churches Extension Fund to aid building of new churches in areas of new housing in Scotland. An appeal letter was sent to all members and friends of the church. The target of £850 was exceeded and £1,120 raised.

A Sponsored Walk

This was held on Saturday 19th May. All ages took part, completing between one and 18 circuits. the route took them from the church, along Hawkcraig Road, the harbour, Shore Road and back through the Castle.

A History of the Church

To mark the 850th anniversary, Rev. Rutherford brought together what is known about the building from the earliest times to create a guide book. A thousand copies were printed and soon 500 were sold at 50p each. Rev. Rutherford also gave a lecture on the history of the church on the evening of 27th May.

A Commemorative Envelope An attractive envelope commemorating the 850th anniversary of the church and the 850th anniversary of the founding of the Abbey of Inchcolm was produced and 2,000 were sold. In association with Aberdour Post Office on 1st June a special post box was erected in front of the church hall and a special date stamp showing the date and the church were stamped individually by the postmaster. Inside was a card outlining the history of the church. One was even sent to the Queen.

An Exhibition

An exhibition of communion ware (including the gold cup), articles, furniture, pictures, manuscripts, maps etc. was held at the church Hall on 2nd June. Because of insurance issues, it was impossible to have the exhibition for more then one day.

Service on the Island of St Colmes The afternoon of 3rd June was sunny and peaceful when 400 people sailed to Inchcolm for the service celebrating the 850th anniversary of the founding on the monastery by Alexander I. Taking part in the services was Rev. Frank Smith Moderator of the Presbytery, Sir John McWilliam the Lord Lieutenant of Fife, Rev. Duncan Shaw minister Craigentinny, Lord Doune owner of the island was invited to read a lesson but was unable to attend.


Three concerts were held in the church. On 10th June Helen McArthur and the Catalan singers gave a rendition of sacred music accompanied by our organist Roland Walker.  This was followed on 13th and 20th June by a musical portrait entitled ‘The Life and Times of St Fillan’s Church’, This was a portrait in words and music of the church through history compiled by one of our members, Clifford Hughes with arrangements by Dr Kenneth Elliott.

Our Chairs Our current chairs are in poor condition, some are broken, others suffering from woodworm. It has therefore been decided to buy new chairs. A survey of possible chairs was made looking for one that would fit in our type of church and meet the current fire regulation. The ones chosen have been given a Design Centre Award by the Council for Industrial Design and have an original method of interlocking.  It was felt that they would fit in with the architecture of St Fillan’s and be a comfortable chair. The same chairs have been chosen by Canterbury Cathedral and York Minster. Padded seats were considered but were rejected with the church being open an unattended. The total cost is £2,500 and the order was placed just before VAT was introduced. The chairs were dedicated by Rev. Rutherford on 3rd June at the morning service.
Barometer The barometer was at the entrance to the Churchyard. a letter had been sent to past members and friends of the congregation. There was a generous response with contributions from as far away as Vancouver, Honolulu, Persian Gulf, Australia and New Zealand. In the end £3,500 was raised.
The 850 Committee Standing Left to Right: Mr William Miller, Mr Ken Sinclair, Mr Dawson Macfarlane, Mrs Jean Rutherford, Mr William Chalmers, Rev. Robin Trotter, Rev. David Rutherford (minister of St Fillan’s), Mr Ian Stuart, Mr Andrew Lowe. Seated Left to Right: Mrs Turnbull, Mr Johnny Bald, Miss Carleen Simmers.


The inscription on the lectern is a reminder to us all that the church dates from 1123 and of the 850th anniversary. It made by a member of the congregation – Ken Sinclair.

Thank you to Rev. Rutherford’s daughter, Jan Isles, for keeping this information and handing it over to St Fillan’s.

Read here about the plans for the 900th anniversary.

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The Early Years

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Stained Glass

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Inchcolm Abbey

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Church Hall

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The Hewitt Brothers

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