Mid Calder Church by Tom Gomez

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The Kirk of Calder in Mid-Calder, West Lothian, Scotland is a beautiful village church which comes with a fascinating history and, over the years, a bewildering variety of names. Sometimes referred to as the Parish Kirk of Midcalder, it was until the Reformation known as St Cuthbert’s. At various times since it has been known as Calder Kirk and, briefly, St John’s to reflect local links with the Knights Hospitaller of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. The name “Kirk of Calder” dates back to a merger of congregations in 1956 and has a neatness that suits the building well.

St Cuthbert’s Church was originally built on this site some time around 1150 and was among the properties granted to Dunfermline Abbey in the 1160s.

In 1526, Peter Sandilands became Rector of the church. He was the younger son of the Sandilands family who had been granted the Barony of Calder and large estates in the area in 1348. The head of the family later became Lord Torphichen and acquired the lands of Torphichen Preceptory after the Reformation in 1563. The family seat was (and remains) at Calder House, very close to Mid Calder and the Kirk of Calder.

By 1540 St Cuthbert’s was past its sell-by date and the Reverend Peter Sandilands had the church demolished to make way for a larger and more modern replacement. By 1542 it must have seemed to him that the rebuilding work would outlast him, because he left a highly detailed account of the way the church was to be completed for his nephew, Sir James Sandilands, together with the funds to allow it to happen.

At the onset of the Reformation in 1560 only the choir and vestry of Peter Sandilands’ church had been completed, together with a lean-to school building that has since disappeared. His original plans provided for a much larger nave continuing to the west and a cloister to the north. Neither was ever built.

For the next three hundred years the choir of the church served the needs of the local community, with multiple galleries inserted to try to fit an ever growing congregation into the relatively small space on offer. In 1863 the church was expanded with the addition of north and south transepts, turning it into the “T” shape then popular in Scottish churches. What emerged was pretty much what you see today.

The Kirk of Calder’s story was not without incident. Perhaps the low point was in 1644 when the wave of witch-hunting sweeping across Scotland was taken up with enthusiasm by the Minister, Huw Kennedy. Several alleged witches were burned in Midcalder as a result.

A more notable moment had occurred rather earlier, in 1556, when John Knox became a regular preacher following the Sandilands’ embracing of the Reformation. He probably preached in the partly completed new church.

Information supplied by Undiscovered Scotland

Camera: Canon EOS 450D (Digital Rebel XSi in the USA)

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Three bracketed JPGs converted to HDR in Photomatix.

Related shots can be found at: Lowland Scotland.

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All images shown in this redbubble portfolio are owned by the artist, Tom Gomez and are protected under UK and International copyright laws. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any part of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is STRICTLY PROHIBITED. All rights reserved. My images are NOT part of the public domain.

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Comments

  • blamo
    blamoover 5 years ago

    Marvellous church .thankyou for the history lesson also Tom well taken

  • Thank you Blamo, it is a lovely little church …

    – Tom Gomez

  • dinghysailor1
    dinghysailor1over 5 years ago

    superb work tom!! just gorgeous!!

  • Thank you Maggie …

    – Tom Gomez

  • Lois  Bryan
    Lois Bryanover 5 years ago

    Oh, Tom!!!!! Another absolutely gorgeous image … what color and detail!!!!!!!! And look at those amazing clouds!!!! And how I loved your bit of history!!!! Thank you so much for including it with your beautiful image!!!!

  • Thank you so much Lois, you are too kind. This whole area has a fascinating history. Have a look here

    – Tom Gomez

  • Delany Dean
    Delany Deanover 5 years ago

    Simply marvelous.

  • Thank you so much Delany for your marvelous comment …

    – Tom Gomez

  • jockey
    jockeyover 5 years ago

    Like this immensely

  • Thank you so much Bill, very much appreciated …

    – Tom Gomez

  • cherylc1
    cherylc1over 5 years ago

    Awesome!!!

  • Thank you so much Cheryl …

    – Tom Gomez

  • BigD
    BigDover 5 years ago

    Good job with the HDR treatment, Tom

  • Thank you BigD, appreciated as always …

    – Tom Gomez

  • Barbara Manis
    Barbara Manisover 5 years ago

    Wonderful capture, Tom! As always, thanks for the history!

  • Thank you so much Barbara …

    – Tom Gomez

  • simba
    simbaover 5 years ago

    Another great shot Tom.

  • Thank you kindly Linda …

    – Tom Gomez

  • Catherine Hamilton-Veal  ©
    Catherine Hami...over 5 years ago

    i just love churches Tom and this is a beauty, a fave for me.x

  • You are too kind, thank you dear Catherine …

    – Tom Gomez

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