“St Michael is kinde to strangers”. So runs the motto of the Ancient and Royal Burgh of Linlithgow, West Lothian, Scotland.
St Michael is the patron saint of the town and, in the form of the ancient church of that name, he still stands guard above its inhabitants, both residents and strangers alike.
Although it is undoubtedly of earlier origin the first mention of “the great church of Linlithgow” is in a charter of 1138 in which King David I gifted it “with all its chapels, lands and other rights” to the Cathedral of St Andrews.
On 22nd May 1242, the Church of St Michael of Linlithgow was consecrated by David de Bernham, Bishop of St Andrews. Whether he was hallowing a new building or rededicating an established House of God, is not certain. What is clear is that the ancient kirk has for centuries been recognised as a place of worship and as an historical memorial without equal in Scotland.
The year 1646 saw the arrival of the roundhead troops of Oliver Cromwell. St Michael’s found itself incorporated in the general defences of the town with horses stabled in the nave and soldiers billeted in the triforium. By the time the Cromwellian army left Linlithgow the church had deteriorated and the heritors estimated that £1000 Scots was required to repair the roof and windows.
St. Michael’s Church is the most complete surviving example of a large late medieval ‘burgh kirk’ in Scotland. Its western tower originally had a distinctive stone ‘crown spire’, of the type seen also on St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, or St. Nicholas’ Cathedral, Newcastle-on-Tyne, which was removed in the early 19th century as it had become unsafe. In 1964 a replacement, the present aluminium spire, was added. The choice of spire was controversial at the time and the town was divided about it.
Three bracketed JPGs converted to HDR in Photomatix Pro 4.1.4.
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