Visitors flock to Stirling’s Church of the Holy Rude

More than 53,000 people visited Stirling’s historic Church of the Holy Rude during the summer and lit more than 6000 candles, according to figures released today.

Knights of St John leave Holy Rude Church Stirling after the annual commemoration service of the Priory of Scotland

They also left 1000 prayer requests - the largest number ever - in a facility provided in the church’s St Andrew’s Chapel.

The Church of the Holy Rude was founded by King David I around 1380.

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According to tradition, King James IV helped masons build the later eastern end of the church during the early 16th century.

The infant king James VI was crowned King of Scots in the church on 29 July 1567, with John Knox preaching the sermon -- making it one of only three churches still in use in Britain that have been the sites of coronations. The others are Westminster Abbey and Gloucester Cathedral.

Bullet marks on the church tower are thought to date from a siege of Stirling Castle by Cromwell’s troops in 1651.

In a report, church group secretary Brian Morrison said around 53,000 people visited from May until the end of September.

He said: “This represents an increase of 1000 over the total number who visited in 2014, and is an amazing result, considering that the weather during the first part of the summer was very indifferent.

“People came from most countries of the world with the largest number being from the USA. Over 10,000 visitors signed the visitors’ books and were highly complimentary about the church and the friendliness of the volunteers in the welcome they offered.”

“Holy Rude” means Holy Cross, giving it the same origin as Holyrood in Edinburgh.

The church is the second oldest building in Stirling, after the castle, but receives no state funding.