Balmerino or Balmurinach has been a place of Christian witness since 1229. However, as the construction of the Abbey was commenced in 1225 by the Cistercian monks from Melrose Abbey in the Scottish Borders you could say that a Christian witness has been present since then. According to Campbell’s history there were 19 Abbots who served the Abbey over the period 1229 until 1605.
St Ayle’s Chapel
The first protestant church was established here in 1560 when a church was built on a mound which is now the parish cemetery. Campbell informs us that this church was known as St. Ayles Chapel. St. Ayles was known as the Parish church of Balmerino. The year 1560 also saw the General Assembly hold its first ever meeting on 20th December. The 1560 church, prior to the Reformation, belonged to the Abbey of Balmerino until it was destroyed. There have been 23 ministers providing Christian service and witness in the Parish of Balmerino since 1560 to the present. (The list can be seen in the church hall at Balmerino). The longest serving minister was Walter Greig who served 51 years between 1621 and 1672. A most notable minister was the Reverend James Campbell who wrote the authoritative treatise Balmerino and its Abbey, published in 1899 by W.R. Blackwood and Sons.
Click the image of the church to see a tour inside.
The 1811 Church
In 1811 a new parish church was built on its present site at Bottomcraig, which was then moorland. It was opened on 17th November 1811 by Dr. George Campbell minister at Cupar. This replaced the previous church of St Ayles and was remodelled to give it a more ecclesiastical character. In 1887 a hall was added for the Sunday School and other purposes.
The 1883 Church
The church was remodelled in 1883 to its current design. It is interesting to note its previous features. The pulpit stood against the middle of the south wall and the gallery, the front of which was oval shaped, extended the whole length of the church. The communion table, in front of the pulpit, also extended almost the whole length of the church. There were two doors in the south wall, one at each end and opposite these doors were two doors in the north wall. There were windows immediately above the two doors in the south wall, but there were no windows in the north wall. The gallery was lit by two square headed windows in each of the gables. There was no session house, vestry or heating apparatus.
The 1939 Church
While the church was being remodelled the parishioners attended Kilmany Church which today is laid out in a similar configuration to Balmerino Church in 1811. Logie and Gauldry U.F. Church, Gauldry Church of Scotland The minister at Logie came out of the Church of Scotland at the Disruption in 1843, and a church was built in the Fife village and opened in 1844. A separate station was maintained at The Gauldry from 1843. In 1848 the Free Church General Assembly sought the union of the charges, but it did not occur until 1852 as a suitable site could not be found. The majority of the congregation was in The gauldry where a converted building was opened as a church in 1867. The congregation joined with the U.F. Church in 1900, on the union of the Free Church of Scotland and the United Presbyterian Church. After the union of the U.F. Church and the Church of Scotland in 1929, the charges designation became Gauldry, in the Presbytery of Cupar and the Synod of Fife; and it united with Balmerino under the designation Balmerino in 1937. The Gauldry Church was sited in the same location as it is today. In 1939, following the 1929 union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church, Balmerino was joined with the former UF Church congregation of The Gauldry, remaining after the union under the name Balmerino.
The Linked Charge
Balmerino declared a vacancy between the years 1978 and 1984 and following this period a link was established with Wormit Church in January 1984. The Kirk Session sat within the Presbytery of Cupar until restructuring of the presbyteries in 1976, when it became part of the Presbytery of St. Andrews.