history

Restoration

A Dream Come True St Fillan’s Church closed in 1790 and deteriorated until 1926 when it was restored. The Parish Church situated in the High Street was then closed and became St Fillan’s Church Hall.

In 1914 the Rev Robert Johnstone, BD, became minister of the Parish Church. He saw the possibility of restoring the ruined church. The Misses Laurie of Starley generously funded the main work of restoration.

In 1925, Mr William Williamson, FRIA, was appointed architect; Lyon Bros, the local joiners, were responsible for the beautiful roof. Suitable slating was procured from old buildings and the mason’s work was done by W & A Moyes of Aberdour. The floor was laid with stone flags from Cullullo Quarry and electric lighting installed. The paving round the church was laid by members of the congregation.

Gifts were quickly forthcoming from individuals and families who had a close connection with the church – pulpit, chancel stalls, organ and stained glass windows. The font was discovered in the churchyard and placed on a new ‘stalk’. The children of the congregation contributed to a silver basin which was made on Iona and is brought out for the Sacrament of Holy Baptism.

The cost of restoring the fabric, including the preparation of the ground, the removal of the Morton vault and the provision of the present oak doors, was £2,709; gifts from parishioners amounted to £1,300. The total cost was just over £4,000 (approximately £250,000 today). St Fillan’s Church was re-dedicated and re-opened for worship on 7th July 1926 by the Moderator of the General Assembly, the Right Rev. J.D. McCallum, DD. Amongst those present was Lt. Col. W. Glen Liston, CIE, great grandson of the Rev. Robert Liston, the minister in 1790.

This was a great day for Dr. Johnstone whose vision and energy had driven the project through to completion. In 1949, a brass plaque commemorating Dr. Johnstone’s work and containing a record of all the known clergy pre and post Reformation was placed on the north wall of the chancel.

At the Session Meeting in September 1926 it was agreed to ask Presbytery for consent to make the restored church of St Fillans, the ‘Parish Church’. Also it was agreed that, “the chairs should be ‘let’ to members and adherents and charged at one shilling a year for each ‘sitting’ (seat) and that a number offree seats should be left”.

The Misses Laurie did not care for the limelight, and the only reference to their great generosity is a small brass plate below the sacramental window in the chancel. They were gifted ‘two sittings’ as a compliment from the kirk session.

The Manse situated in Manse Street was built in 1803, and was the residence of the minister of Aberdour Parish Church until 1996 when a new Manse was built in Dovecot Park.

The 850th Anniversary of the Church in 1973 was celebrated with new chairs. The roof was retiled in 2006.

A fire in 2013 was fortunately discovered early on a Sunday morning. St Fillan’s was blackened and closed for several months for cleaning and refurbishment. Since the 1926 restoration, church members and others have raised the funds to maintain the building, and legacies have been given for this sole purpose.

As well as for worship the church is used for weddings; recitals; primary school services; flower festivals; art and photography groups and film sets such as Grey Friar’s Bobby and Outlander.

The church visitors’ book gives an indication of the many people from far and wide who visit the church and how much they appreciate its beauty and its peace (some 2000 visitors in 2018). Many people return to the church where they, or their ancestors, worshipped, were baptised or married.

‘Even to enter St Fillan’s is to worship.’

This information was provided by the Aberdour Heritage Centre.

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