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Yetholm Scotland

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Information on the village of Yetholm, near Kelso in Scotland.

Yetholm Parish Church

Parish Church 1925

The church and graveyard are at the west end of the town. The present church, which is a very handsome building, was erected in 1836, on the site of the old church, which was a long, low building, thatched with reeds, with the floor below the level of the ground.

Pigot in his Directory of 1837, records '

'Till lately, the oldest thatched church in Scotland was standing in this Parish.'

Rutherford, in 1866, states:

'The parish church situated in Kirk-Yetholm, a turreted structure built of squared blue whinstone pricked out with white cement, is in a style of excellent taste and keeping with its surrounding scenery.'

This, then, is the new church which had been promised to Baird before 1840, and is the same one, with alterations, which we see today.

Charles Strang describes the church today as

'Gloomy Gothic style, whin rubble with sandstone dressings. Minor addition c1900, interior altered, c1935 and then c1980. Still no lightness of touch.'

The church is first recorded about 1233, when Nicholas de Gleynwin, rector of the church of Jetham, is a witness to Mariote, the daughter of Samuel, quit-claiming the land of Stobhou in favour of the church of Glasgow.

In 1295, the rector of Yetham was the commissioner for the abbot of Dunfermline, who was arbiter in a dispute between William Folcard and the monks of Kelso.

In 1296, 'Maestre Walran' the parson of Yetholm swore fealty to to Edward 1, and two years later, Edward made a presentation to the church of Yetholm Parva.

Edward III, in 1368, presented John of Alnewyk to the church of Yetham, but the bishop of Glasgow refused to induct him into the charge, causing the English king to order the sheriff of Roxburgh to ensure that no other person was inducted.

Six years later he presented John Walays to the same charge.

In the same year, 1374, Edward III issued a writ for the exchange of Minto for Yetham.

Richard II, who came to the English throne in 1377, presented Robert Gifford to the church of Yetholm in 1379.

In the year 1406, William de Hawdin, laird of Kirk Yetholm, gave the monks of Kelso the advowson of the church of Yetham, and imprecated the curse of the Almighty upon whomsoever of his heirs should dispute their right to it; binding himself and them, if he or they molested the abbot in his right, to pay 20 to the church of St Lawrence at Merebotyle for each offence.

{Advowson is the right of recommending a member of the clergy for a vacancy, or of making the appointment.}

Patrick, Earl of Bothwell obtained the advowson of the church of Yetham in 1495.

Tradition has it that the bodies of many of the nobles, killed at the Battle of Flodden, in 1513, were brought back to the nearest consecrated ground for burial. This happened to be Kirk Yetholm, which is only six miles from the site where the 'flowers of the forest' made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
The large collection of bones which was discovered in the graveyard, and which has been taken to be a mass grave, could according to Binnie, be equally well explained by the removal of the remains of pre-Reformation burials from beneath the floor of the church during renovations, and their reburial.

By the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century the Buccleuch family had the advowson.

The church was enlarged to the west in 1609.

About 1650, the right of appointment passed to the Wauchope family, with whom it remained, certainly up to the time when Jeffrey wrote his History.

In 1662, the Presbytery of Kelso was discharged by the Privy Council from proceeding to ordain a minister to Yetham.

Major repairs to the church building were carried out in 1763.

The present building dates mainly from the year 1836, when the existing building was demolished and the present one built.

Major rebuilding work took place in 1933-35, 1974 and 2000.

Modern though it is in relative terms, there are still fragments of the earlier buildings, which according to RCAHMS records, are from the middle of the 12th century;

'two voussoirs (wedge shaped stones) from the chancel arch enriched with chevron ornament; three bases, two of them prepared to to support nook-shafts; the capital of a column enriched with cable ornament and leafage, the bell carved with conventional reptiles.'

In addition there is a 17th century sun dial with two exposed faces.

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