Service of thanksgiving marks end of 800 years of worship at Brechin Cathedral

More than 800 years of history came to an end on Sunday when the members of one of Scotland’s most ancient places of worship met as a congregation for the last time.

By
Mark Dowie
Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 7:00am
Service of thanksgiving marks end of 800 years of worship at Brechin Cathedral
Pictured (from left): Rev Fred Coutts, Rev Dr Wayne Pearce, Presbytery moderator Elaine McLean, Rev Ian Gray and Rev Martin Fair. (Wallace Ferrier)

Crippling debts, dwindling congregations and the pandemic have all contributed to the eventual demise of the imposing Brechin Cathedral.

Angus Presbytery met in February last year and decided to prepare for a ‘basis of dissolution’.

At that time the church was carrying a debt of £169,114, including £73,000 which was paid to repair dry rot in the Canadian pine timbers of the roof more than a decade before.

The Presbytery meeting was told that membership stood at around 420, but that weekly attendances were significantly lower.

Ownership of the cathedral was then transferred to the Kirk’s general trustees, who prepared for it to be closed and disposed of.

In the meantime, they approved the sale of the manse to cover the cost of the outstanding debt and a meeting will be held today to set out the timescale of closure.

On Sunday local people and church members from across Angus were joined by Presbytery members for a final service of thanksgiving.

Although the building dates from the 13th century, its adjacent round tower, one of only two in Scotland, points to its earlier history in the 11th/12th century, although its origins as a religious site are thought to lie as far back as the 10th century.

There is still uncertainty over what will happen to the imposing building, but a Church of Scotland spokesperson said that a meeting will be held with the Society of Friends of Brechin Cathedral to discuss its future.

He said: “The closure of Brechin Cathedral has been part of the presbytery plan for some time. After much discussion, this decision was agreed by the congregation, the kirk session and the presbytery.

“A final service in the cathedral was arranged so that the congregation can join together in worship for one last time and to say their farewells. We encourage them to attend services in neighbouring churches where they will find a warm welcome.

“The General Trustees are meeting with the Friends of Brechin Cathedral to explore possible future plans for the cathedral building.”

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