Murder at the kirk – More we jaggy bits o’ history

The Cross Kirk, kirk being a Scots word for church was founded in 1261 by King Alexander III following the discovery of a cross on the site, which seems like a good excuse and by 1474 it was raised to conventual status as a house of Trinitarian friars. Conventful meaning  Relating or belonging to a convent  or relating to the less strict order of the Franciscans, living in large convents… figure that one out.

Anyway as things go ancillary buildings sprang up around the kirk.

Cross kirk

Cross kirk

You can see the outline of the cloister along the bottom of this picture.

Around 1747 a tower was built at the west end of the kirk. This is the view looking from inside the kirk.

Cross Kirk tower

Cross Kirk tower

I hope that you will excuse the poor quality of this photos but I was intrigued to see four “murder holes” in the roof of the gateway below the tower.

Murder holes

Murder holes

Anyone attempting to break into the church would have to pass under the murder holes, where they would be like shot like rats in a barrel.

This may have been a sign of the times as the kirk was burnt by an invading English Army in 1549 during the Rough Wooing.
To quote Wikipedia, “The Rough Wooing (December 1543 – March 1551) was a conflict between Scotland and England. War was declared by Henry VIII of England, in an attempt to force the Scots to agree to a marriage between his son Edward and the infant Mary, Queen of Scots. Scotland benefited from French military aid, under the Auld Alliance. Edward VI continued the war until changing circumstances made it irrelevant in 1550. It was the last major conflict between Scotland and England before the Union of the Crowns in 1603″



The end came like most religious establishments with the Reformation or the Protestant Reformation, where the state religion changed from Catholicism to Protestantism. The church was repaired in time for the order being dispersed around 1561. The Scots being canny, just changed the signs and redecorated then used the church as the parish church of Peebles until it was abandoned in 1784 in favour of a new parish church.

The ruins seemingly had a friend in the form of Clement Gunn, who lived long enough to see the kirk come under the guardianship of the Department of Environment in 1925 and therefore into state care, where the kirk has remained ever since.

That’s all from me, but…..Mair tae come


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