Crathie Kirk

The History

Since 1979 Crathie Kirk has been linked with the Church in neighbouring Braemar. Crathie KirkThe combined Parish covers over 180.000 acres set in some of the most spectacular scenery to be found in the North East of Scotland. Crathie Kirk is part of the Church of Scotland, the Church established in Scotland by Act of Parliament with the responsability for the spiritual welfare of the people of Scotland. It dates from the Reformation in 1560 and gradually evolved a system of Presbyterian Government which was written into the Act of Union in 1707. Under this system there is a hierarchy of Church Courts rather than a hierarchy of Bishops.

In a Parish there is a Kirk Session consisting of the Minister and the ruling Elders who are appointed from the members of the congregation. This body is responsible for the spiritual oversight of the parish. A group of parishes, each represented by the Minister and an Elder forms a Presbytery and the supreme court is the General Assembly which meets once a year in Edinburgh. Legends tell of two Celtic missionaries who came to Deeside. The earliest was St. Colm who probably came from the Church founded by St. Ninian in Withorn in the 6th Century. He was followed in the 8thCentury by St. Monire who is said to have baptised converts to Christianity in a pool of the River Dee near Balmoral Castle, still called Polmanire.

There have been several centres of worship in Crathie from the 6th Century. Still visible are the remains of the 14th century Church, dedicated to St. Monire within the grounds of the old parish graveyard, situated close by the banks of the River Dee. The church ruins and the old graveyard can be seen from the front door of the present church. Many of the local people who served Queen Victoria are buried here, including her personal attendant, John Brown. On a number of headstones are personal epitaphs from Queen Victoria. This old church in the graveyard was in use until the latter part of the 18th Century but became too small for the growing population of the parish. A new, simple, unpretentious building typical of Scottish Presbyterian churches of the time was built on the site of the present church in 1805.

It was to this church that Queen Victoria came in 1848 on coming to Balmoral Castle. This began the custom, which continues to this day, of members of the Royal Family and their guests worshipping with local people in the parish church. Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone of the present church in 1893 and the new church was completed and dedicated in 1895. Funds for the new building were raised by subscription and gifts from parishioners and members of the public. A gift of £2,000 was made by Queen VIctoria's daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Louise who raised the money at a Bazaar held in the grounds of Balmoral Castle.

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