Scots church enjoys Robert the Bruce funds - 700 years on

Robert the Bruce decreed a sum as a token of gratitude for the congregation's care of his late wife Elizabeth de Burgh. Picture: John Devlin
Robert the Bruce decreed a sum as a token of gratitude for the congregation's care of his late wife Elizabeth de Burgh. Picture: John Devlin
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A Scottish church still receives a small annual fee nearly 700 years after King Robert the Bruce first bequeathed it.

The king was so grateful for the congregation’s generosity after the death of his wife that he made sure they were repaid.

Cullen 'Auld Kirk', which still enjoys financial benefits nearly 700 years after Robert the Bruce bequeathed it. Picture: Contributed

Cullen 'Auld Kirk', which still enjoys financial benefits nearly 700 years after Robert the Bruce bequeathed it. Picture: Contributed

And the Cullen and Deskford Parish Church in Moray still receives a fee from the local council in accordance with the king’s wishes.

King Robert’s wife and queen Elizabeth de Burgh died after falling from her horse during a visit to what was then the Auld Kirk in Cullen - a royal residence - in 1327.

Her body was to be taken to the traditional burial ground of Scottish royals at Dunfermline Abbey in Fife, but concerned parishioners were worried that her remains would not arrive intact.

They also held masses to pray for her soul so that it could, as they believed, get to heaven.

They took the step of having her internal organs removed and transporting them separately to Fife.

The devastated king was so grateful for the care of the congregation that he decreed the then large sum of five Scots pounds be paid to the church.

He wanted his wife to be remembered every year at the church and promised that the sum would be paid for all eternity.

Reverend Douglas Stevenson, reverend of the current church, said: “King Robert left an endowment for the saying of masses for the soul of his deceased queen.

“There was a very powerful belief at the time that if prayers weren’t said for those who had died they would never get to heaven.

“This money was paid continuously to the incumbent priest, or minister.

“The original endowment of five Scots pounds was augmented by Mary Queen of Scots in 1543, providing 33 shillings and four pennies, to pray for Elizabeth’s soul.”

Prayers were said in the queen’s honour at a service on Sunday which also remembered parishioners who have died in the last year.

The king’s bequest has been paid by different bodies throughout the centuries.

Currently, a small fee of £2.10 is paid to the church by Moray Council every year.